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Old 10th May 2011, 12:48 AM   #1
rickystl
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Default Japanese Matchlock Barrel

Hello all. Can anyone translate Japanese? Hope these pics are clear enough? Any help most appreciated. Thanks, Rick.
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Old 15th May 2011, 05:48 PM   #2
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I made contact with a Mr. Phillip Tom through Fernando here on the Forum. Thank you again Fernando. Phillip says the inscription appears to be the number "183". A lady at a local Japanese restaurent believes it says:
"100 and 13". And the script on the breach plug basically says the same.
Well, unfortunatly, it's not a signature But we now know it's a number in any case. The number makes me wonder wheather the gun was built under some type of Military contract? As Japanese Matchlocks go, this one is rather plain. I'm assembling the gun this weekend and will post pics. Rick.
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Old 15th May 2011, 11:12 PM   #3
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I re-assembled the gun and here are some pics. She's now a .56 caliber with a modern steel smooth bore liner. I found some additional markings on the inside of the stock where the barrel fits. I'll have to do some more research. Would like to find out what school or period of time this piece dates to. The Japanese used these matchlocks for some 300 years, all the way up till about 1850. Talk about slow technology evolution Anyway, hope you enjoy the pics. Rick.
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Old 16th May 2011, 12:46 AM   #4
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Yes, it does seem to be "183" (百八十三), although the 8 (八) is rather elaborate. It looks like the number is to match the barrel with the breech plug.

Attached is a picture of a Japanese matchlock barrel I have. It is signed on one flat and is numbered on another flat "116" (百十六).
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Old 16th May 2011, 01:14 AM   #5
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Default Matchlock Barrel

Hi bluelake. Thanks for the confirmation - and the pic of your barrel. So, your's is both signed AND numbered. I looked real close under magnafication before I re-assembled the gun. But no signature, not even a trace. I'll try to get marking on the inside of the stock and the tiny piece of rice paper translated. Might you know what they mean? See photos. Thanks again, Rick.
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Old 16th May 2011, 04:09 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rickystl
Hi bluelake. Thanks for the confirmation - and the pic of your barrel. So, your's is both signed AND numbered. I looked real close under magnafication before I re-assembled the gun. But no signature, not even a trace. I'll try to get marking on the inside of the stock and the tiny piece of rice paper translated. Might you know what they mean? See photos. Thanks again, Rick.


Hmmm... The barrel bed writing is not very clear and fairly elaborate, so I'm not really sure what it says. The writing on the piece of paper seems to be incomplete; It kind of looks like an upside-down "2" (二), although the brush stroke would be opposite, I think. Maybe an incomplete character like 川 ("river"), but it's hard to say.
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Old 16th May 2011, 07:15 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluelake
Hmmm... The barrel bed writing is not very clear and fairly elaborate, so I'm not really sure what it says. The writing on the piece of paper seems to be incomplete; It kind of looks like an upside-down "2" (二), although the brush stroke would be opposite, I think. Maybe an incomplete character like 川 ("river"), but it's hard to say.

OK. Thanks again for your comments. Rick.
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Old 16th May 2011, 10:40 PM   #8
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Nice old matchlock Rick.
Refreshing subject on the forum
Quote:
Originally Posted by rickystl
...She's now a .56 caliber with a modern steel smooth bore liner...

With this remark, do you mean the old barrel has a new liner ?
Do you intend to fire it ?

Best regards,
Willem
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Old 17th May 2011, 04:34 PM   #9
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Default matchlock

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Originally Posted by asomotif
Nice old matchlock Rick.
Refreshing subject on the forum
With this remark, do you mean the old barrel has a new liner ?
Do you intend to fire it ?

Best regards,
Willem

Hi Asomotif. Yes, this one will be a shooter. That was my intention from the begining. Yes, it has a new steel liner inside the old iron barrel for safe shooting. There is a fellow in Pennsylvania that can do this. He has done others for me. Since this piece lacks the embellishment disired by most collectors, it is a good candidate for a shooting piece. It is in good condition. The whole gun is held together with pins (brass and bamboo!). Not a single screw. It will come apart and go together only one way. Took me a while to figure out. Actually, it's a clever design. After a few private emails with Philip Tom, we concur that due to the lack of a signature and decoration, this piece is probably a "munitions rack type" gun. Probably contracted by one of the local Lords. Thanks, Rick.
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Old 18th May 2011, 09:59 PM   #10
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Dear Rick,

Interesting. Black powder shooting with an oriental touch.
Is it a discipline int he US ?
Will the steel liner make it more accurate ?
And how accurate is such a weapon ?

Best regards,
Willem
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Old 19th May 2011, 02:49 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by asomotif
Dear Rick,

Interesting. Black powder shooting with an oriental touch.
Is it a discipline int he US ?
Will the steel liner make it more accurate ?
And how accurate is such a weapon ?

Best regards,
Willem

Hello Willem. Black powder muzzleloading shooting is just one of many shooting disciplines in the U.S. In Japan they actually have annual competition shooting these original (or custom made copies) matchlocks. While I shoot many different black powder guns, I've never shot an original Japanese matchlock. Should be fun.
The old iron barrels are usually rough inside. The barrel on this gun was actually good enough where just burnishing would be OK. But the steel liner makes it very smooth and adds a larger degree of safety. These smooth bore barrels are accurate out to about 50-60 yards. After that, the ball starts to veer sideways due to the lack of rifling. Rick.
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Old 20th May 2011, 01:55 AM   #12
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I would shoot my .45 cal. repro Japanese/Korean matchlock (Koreans started shooting that design after the Japanese invasion at the end of the 16th century) when I would visit my hometown in the States; however, I have that one here in Korea now, as I use it as a show-and-tell item when I give lectures on the subject. I still have a .50 cal. Japanese repro in the States, but don't shoot it much.

I fired my original barrel (shown above) in a test. I loaded it with 50gr black powder, .54 cal. round ball and paper wad. I strapped it to a saw horse and touched it off with a slowmatch attached to a linstock.
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Old 20th May 2011, 02:44 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluelake
I would shoot my .45 cal. repro Japanese/Korean matchlock (Koreans started shooting that design after the Japanese invasion at the end of the 16th century) when I would visit my hometown in the States; however, I have that one here in Korea now, as I use it as a show-and-tell item when I give lectures on the subject. I still have a .50 cal. Japanese repro in the States, but don't shoot it much.

I fired my original barrel (shown above) in a test. I loaded it with 50gr black powder, .54 cal. round ball and paper wad. I strapped it to a saw horse and touched it off with a slowmatch attached to a linstock.

Hi Bluelake. If my memory serves me, those repros were actually made in Japan. I believe the early ones were .45 caliber, and the later ones were .50 caliber. I recently heard that production of the repro is being discontinued. But I haven't yet confirmed this. If that is the case, hold on to both of yours. I never see one of the repros -second hand - offered for sale.
The barrel wall thickness at the breech of my barrel is over 1/4". I going to try to get it to the Shooting Range this weekend (if it ever stops raining here). I have the powder, correct ball size, patching, (mine is now a .54 caliber with the liner) and nitrated match cord. I'll post pictures of targets. Rick.
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Old 20th May 2011, 03:50 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rickystl
Hi Bluelake. If my memory serves me, those repros were actually made in Japan. I believe the early ones were .45 caliber, and the later ones were .50 caliber. I recently heard that production of the repro is being discontinued. But I haven't yet confirmed this. If that is the case, hold on to both of yours. I never see one of the repros -second hand - offered for sale.


My .45 cal. was made by American gunsmith, John Buck. He used a barrel that was about 150 years old, but never used. I also have a .50 cal. Japanese matchlock that was made in Japan. To be honest, I prefer the .45 cal. (It's more reliable).
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Old 20th May 2011, 07:16 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluelake
My .45 cal. was made by American gunsmith, John Buck. He used a barrel that was about 150 years old, but never used. I also have a .50 cal. Japanese matchlock that was made in Japan. To be honest, I prefer the .45 cal. (It's more reliable).

Bluelake: Very nice looking gun - with original barrel!! Very cool
By the way, John Buck is making me a Powder Horn - Landsknechts style. I'll let him know about our correspondence next time I talk to him. Rick.
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Old 20th May 2011, 11:18 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluelake
To be honest, I prefer the .45 cal. (It's more reliable).

Reliable in black powder matchlock terms. I wonder what that is I see that Rick also has a Katana close at hand, just in case

But seriously. Cool hobby. makes me wonder why I am playing with knives.
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Old 21st May 2011, 01:06 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rickystl
Bluelake: Very nice looking gun - with original barrel!! Very cool
By the way, John Buck is making me a Powder Horn - Landsknechts style. I'll let him know about our correspondence next time I talk to him. Rick.


Cool, Rick

Sometime I'd like to see if John can make what the Koreans call a cheonbochong (thousand pace gun) , which is a matchlock wall gun (five foot barrel and about .92 cal.).

Here is one supposed example:
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Old 21st May 2011, 07:11 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by bluelake
Cool, Rick

Sometime I'd like to see if John can make what the Koreans call a cheonbochong (thousand pace gun) , which is a matchlock wall gun (five foot barrel and about .92 cal.).

Here is one supposed example:

WOW!! Bluelake.......THAT GUN IS SO COOL!!! I'm sure that would be an interesting project for John Buck. Thanks for the pic. I would love to get my hads on that one to study
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Old 21st May 2011, 11:29 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rickystl
WOW!! Bluelake.......THAT GUN IS SO COOL!!! I'm sure that would be an interesting project for John Buck. Thanks for the pic. I would love to get my hads on that one to study


Yeah, me, too. I have no idea where it was taken or who is in the picture, but I'd like to find out so that I could have a good look at the musket. In 1637, the wall guns were made in quantity, but when an inventory was taken in 1871, only one was listed.
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