Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Bavaria, Germany - the center of 15th and 16th century gunmaking
Were recoil support hooks on guns made of wood?
I hope to be able now and sort out the qestion if there were wooden hooks to guns. Let's stick closely to terms, meaning that a hook has to look like a hook and a lug is - well, a lug.
In his Park Land Arms Fair catalog article, Bernhard Rietsche refers to ZHWK, vol. 2, 1900-1902, pp. 119. This article by Paul Sixl is based on the Pilsen guns and solely refers to the piece that I posted twice above, and a third time below, with the large wooden base to its underside. In fact, Sixl does not call this a "hook" but attributes its function to absorbing the recoil. He writes that pressing the heavy piece down on its rest must have reduced the kick back.
He also mentions a historical drawing in Vienna codex ms. 53 (actually, in his first quote in ZHWK vol. I, 1897-1899, p. 182, he calls it codex ms 55) arguing that the stock of that drawing was absolutely identical ("in voller ‹bereinstimmung") to the one in Pilsen.
Let's check out the two pieces ourselves. Here is the Pilsen gun once more, contrasted to the gun from the Vienna codex.
Not only is there almost no similarity, let alone "identity" between their stocks, the Vienna gun has in fact no wooden lug or "hook" at all. So this argument is missing any base.
Things remain the same they used to be:
There is no original historical source evidence of the existence of "wooden hooks".
What makes the Pilsen gun special is the big wooden lug on its underside that was certainly used to rest the heavy handgun (Sixl gives its length with 130 cm and its weight with 10,37 kg) e.g. on a wall. This lug alone was doubtlessly apt to soften the recoil a bit, but, as I pointed out before, it does clearly have a rudimentary iron lug protruding from the underside which must have served as the real recoil stop. It may even be the rest of a regular hook.
The Pilsen gun is not really an example for a wooden hook.
Only iron hooks could stand the recoil and prevent the wood from being heavily damaged. It cannot be categorically excluded that heavy wooden lugs were the first stage in recoil prevention, but if so, they were certainly not "hooks", and it was not for long. The next stage were iron hooks nailed thru the stock (as is the case in the Berne gun) oder drawn over the barrel and rivited, as in my piece. From ca. 1440-50 we know both the earliest illustrated sources and various surviving haquebut barrels with integral fire welded wrought iron hooks. Bronze barrels had cast hooks, of course.