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Old 16th December 2017, 05:59 PM   #1
Norman McCormick
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Default Flintlock Musket Advice Required

Hi Guys,
This flintlock is puzzling me. Apart from somebody thinking it would be a good idea to paint the stock orange the font of the word London on the lock seems to be more modern than the gun would suggest? Although I'm not clued up on that sort of thing. The barrel has proof marks on the top, have not looked underneath yet as lots of pins to extract, looks to be a crown over BP and a crown over BV along with the number 22. The inside of the lock has an S and a V and what looks to be CC as well. It is approx six feet long and fully stocked with the correct length of ramrod. The keepers for the ramrod are also pinned through the stock. It looks overall to be a reasonably well made thing but definitely utilitarian. Any help would be great.
Regards,
Norman.
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Old 16th December 2017, 06:14 PM   #2
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Looks like a "trade musket", made for the African colonies and similar. Nice piece. Don't know much more about them, but I think they were made even into the late 19th/early 20th centuries ??

I am sure others can tell more...
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Old 16th December 2017, 06:27 PM   #3
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Youv'e got a riddle there, Norman.
I may be completely off track but, this lock being flint, the barrel has the marks of Birmingham Proof house and inspection Viewed, implemented as 1904 .
Then the LONDON font would be consistent .
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Old 16th December 2017, 07:54 PM   #4
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Hi Colin and Fernando,
Thanks for your replies.The BP and the BV certainly point to 1904 and onwards. I am surprised that trade firearms may have been flintlocks and not percussion locks at that late date but I guess that not having to have percussion caps would be a plus when you can't just pop into the local gunsmith for supplies. Thanks again,
My Regards,
Norman.

P.S. A better close up of marks inside the lock.
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Old 16th December 2017, 08:22 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Norman McCormick
...but I guess that not having to have percussion caps would be a plus when you can't just pop into the local gunsmith for supplies...

Yes, the idea of not depending from things you can't make yourself. They say that Samuel Colt was resistant to change production of his revolvers from cap & ball to complete cartridges because, down in the prairie, one could always get hold of some lead and cast his own bullets, whereas he couldn't cast his cartridges.
Not so much of an analogy, but i felt like telling this (true) story .
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Old 16th December 2017, 11:15 PM   #6
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Hi Fernando,
Yeh, I suppose that's why Indian and Arabian muskets of the 19thC were still matchlocks, nothing really to go wrong with them mechanically and if it did it was easy to repair. I have looked at trade muskets and the form hasn't really changed for a long time, even the Hudson's Bay Company trade muskets of the late 17th early 18thC don't look that dissimilar to this one. I suppose if you have something that works why change it.
My Regards,
Norman.
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Old 17th December 2017, 04:33 AM   #7
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Hi Norman.

Now that is an interesting gun. And as Fernando mentions, a bit of a riddle.
The overall profile and hardware of this gun look very similar to the English made trade guns exported to North America by the thousands, and sold by companies such as Hudson Bay and others, as you noted. Sometimes referred to as a "hardware store" gun. Plain and rugged for the early North American frontier. Your's looks very similar to ones from the late 18th to the first half of the 19th Century that were so popular during the North American fur trade period. And as you noted, there was little change in these guns for a long period. It seems most were traded to the North American Indians. The Indians would even paint the stocks, usually blue or red. Sometimes even painting a decoration on top of that in a vine pattern. I thought of this when you mentioned the "orange" stock. LOL The locks were usually English made and the barrels (made in various lengths) were often of Belgium make.

Now the Riddle: The 1904 and latter proof date on the barrel paints a different picture than above. While the gun shows definate use, it appears to be in reasonable condition. This could be one of the earlier variations of the trade guns sent to South Africa during the first half of the 20th Century, utilizing surplus parts - as was often the case. If so, it does not surprise me it ended up in your neck of the woods. LOl The orange-ish stock stain is a mystery to me. But all of the original South African trade guns I've seen look different. The stocks look more like European or North American 1860's. This gun looks like a knock off of the early 19th Century. Curious.

Rick
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Old 17th December 2017, 02:34 PM   #8
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I don't recall where in my imense (?) library you can read that, Portuguese flintlock trade "Lazarinas" were exported to Africa (Angola) with a reddish paint in their stocks, aledgedly to prevent them from wood worms.
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Old 17th December 2017, 03:14 PM   #9
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Hi Rick and Fernando,
The orange hue is thick paint, not a stain, of a particular virulent hue so as far as I can ascertain definitely modern and chemical and not earth colours. I had thought that some moron had thought the orange would go better with their sense of decor as all of us no doubt have come across perfectly good items sullied usually with gold and silver paint used to 'enhance' their appearance. I will attempt to remove the barrel from the stock over the coming days and maybe there might be more info underneath the barrel. I have to say as it looks like it is an early 20thC piece I've got to get rid of that orange. Thanks again.
My Regards,
Norman.
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Old 17th December 2017, 03:38 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Norman McCormick
Hi Rick and Fernando,
The orange hue is thick paint, not a stain, of a particular virulent hue so as far as I can ascertain definitely modern and chemical and not earth colours. I had thought that some moron had thought the orange would go better with their sense of decor as all of us no doubt have come across perfectly good items sullied usually with gold and silver paint used to 'enhance' their appearance. I will attempt to remove the barrel from the stock over the coming days and maybe there might be more info underneath the barrel. I have to say as it looks like it is an early 20thC piece I've got to get rid of that orange. Thanks again.
My Regards,
Norman.

Norman - I think the orange paint was put on at time of manufacture to make the muskets more appealing to the natives. I've seen pictures of trade muskets in an African weapons book somewhere, and the stocks were painted red. I had a trade musket myself several years ago almost identical to yours (long since sold), and as I recall the stock is made of beechwood in two parts with the join halfway along the barrel, which can work apart over time... Maybe the paint was also meant to cover up imperfections ?

Regards,
Colin
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Old 17th December 2017, 03:57 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando
I don't recall where in my imense (?) library you can read that, Portuguese flintlock trade "Lazarinas" were exported to Africa (Angola) with a reddish paint in their stocks, aledgedly to prevent them from wood worms.

It is known that many of the early British sea service muskets had the stocks and barrels painted black to help protect against the salt sea air.

Here is one of those trade locks I believe was used with those "Lazarinas". It's a crude copy of the Portugese locks.

Rick
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Old 17th December 2017, 04:12 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Norman McCormick
Hi Rick and Fernando,
The orange hue is thick paint, not a stain, of a particular virulent hue so as far as I can ascertain definitely modern and chemical and not earth colours. I had thought that some moron had thought the orange would go better with their sense of decor as all of us no doubt have come across perfectly good items sullied usually with gold and silver paint used to 'enhance' their appearance. I will attempt to remove the barrel from the stock over the coming days and maybe there might be more info underneath the barrel. I have to say as it looks like it is an early 20thC piece I've got to get rid of that orange. Thanks again.
My Regards,
Norman.

Hi Norman.

Yes, if you can remove the barrel, that might give us additional clues. I'm loosely wondering if the 1904 stamp might possibly be a re-stamp approval of an older surplus barrel ? A question: It appears the breech plug tang screw enters from the top. Correct ?
If it is determined the orange paint was not original to the gun, and is a later 20th Century addition, I don't see any reason to not remove it. Nothing to lose.

Rick
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Old 17th December 2017, 05:34 PM   #13
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Hi Colin and Rick,
Have removed the barrel and there some additional marks but I guess there are just initials, no earlier proved marks. Rick the barrel plug tang screw does enter from the top. Colin the stock is all one piece and you might be right about the orange being done for export but I can't find any evidence to determine yes or no and I must admit it's a pretty awful paint job but who knows.
Thanks to you both for your continued interest.
My Regards,
Norman.
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Old 17th December 2017, 05:53 PM   #14
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Hiya Rick, I think you just solved a bit of a mystery for me. I have had this gun lock knocking around for years, and assumed it was Balkan in origin.....
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Old 17th December 2017, 06:32 PM   #15
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Hi,
Evidence of a previous finish possibly! On close inspection there appears to be the possibility of black/brown paint or if not certainly a different finish under the orange This is the ramrod where the orange paint is worn.
Regards,
Norman.
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Old 17th December 2017, 06:49 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rickystl
... It is known that many of the early British sea service muskets had the stocks and barrels painted black to help protect against the salt sea air.

That being a different issue. Lazarinas were painted with a stuff to resist African weather, not sea air.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rickystl
... Here is one of those trade locks I believe was used with those "Lazarinas". It's a crude copy of the Portugese locks...

Rather crude indeed. It lacks expression.
But say Rick, this is not a(nother) replica, is it ?
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Old 17th December 2017, 08:15 PM   #17
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One (three screw) Lazarina lock plate, shown in "As Armas e os Barões" by Eduado Nobre.

.
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Old 18th December 2017, 03:52 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Norman McCormick
Hi Colin and Rick,
Have removed the barrel and there some additional marks but I guess there are just initials, no earlier proved marks. Rick the barrel plug tang screw does enter from the top. Colin the stock is all one piece and you might be right about the orange being done for export but I can't find any evidence to determine yes or no and I must admit it's a pretty awful paint job but who knows.
Thanks to you both for your continued interest.
My Regards,
Norman.

Hi Colin

Hmmmm. These additional stamps under the barrel don't seem to help us. But then, my knowledge of markings is very limited. As long as you have the barrel off, could you post a couple of pics of the muzzle end and the octagon section of the barrel ? I'm assuming the barrel is octagon at the breech, fading to round ? How long is the barrel itself ? I know, I'm just full of questions here. LOL
OK. So the breech plug screw on this gun enters from the top, and probably threads into the trigger plate itself. This is a later feature. On the earlier guns the breech plug screw would enter from the bottom securing the front of the trigger guard and threaded into the breech plug tang.
Hard to believe there was a market for smooth bore fowler barrels at that late of date. But the proof mark is there. Hmmm. Maybe Britian was still making these barrels for hobbyist/sporting use (?) Possibly someone had this gun made utilizing old parts and adding a new barrel (then) for sport shooting ? Just speculating. With that photo of the ramrod, it is obvious the orange paint was added later. Possible for some decorative purpose as you mentioned earlier.
I'm starting to think this gun never left the Continent. If it were not for the late proof mark date (and the orange paint) the entire gun looks just like many of the trade guns exported to North America during the first half of the 19th Century.

Rick
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Old 18th December 2017, 04:21 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David R
Hiya Rick, I think you just solved a bit of a mystery for me. I have had this gun lock knocking around for years, and assumed it was Balkan in origin.....

Hi David.

Yes, your lock is identical to mine, and came from the same batch. The story as told by the late Turner Kirkland was these locks were made (in Belgium I think) sometime before 1950 for sale to South Africa. Well, the sale never went through. So in the early to mid 1960's Turner bought the entire lot for little more than scrap metal cost and posted them for sale in his catalog, mainly as a novelty item. I seem to recall the price was around $12.50USD then. I do remember them in the earlier catalogs. Why the maker chose to copy an early Portugese lock design is unknown. Possibly for the simplicity. So any of these locks you see all came from this same lot. Occassionaly, one will show up for sale on Ebay and the like. Notice there are no holes in the lock plate for mounting. And I've never seen a gun with these locks.
So they are not really a replica per say. Just made at a very late date.

Rick
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Old 18th December 2017, 04:23 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando
One (three screw) Lazarina lock plate, shown in "As Armas e os Barões" by Eduado Nobre.

.

Ohhhh......I wish that gun were in my collection. Notice the lock similarities. LOL

Rick
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Old 18th December 2017, 08:30 PM   #21
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Hiya Rick, and thanks for solving this minor mystery for me.
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Old 20th December 2017, 06:27 PM   #22
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Hi Rick,
The barrel is 52 inches long, excluding the tang, and I have attached the photos you requested. The barrel does indeed go from hex to round. I have discovered that the proof marks are from 1904 to 1925, I suspect that in this case it would probably have been prior to 1914 if for no other reason than there was a huge surplus of modern arms after this date and if indeed this is an African trade item I doubt if they would continue to be happy with the antiquated technology of the musket. Thanks again for you help with this piece.
My Regards,
Norman.

P.S. The photo of the muzzle end is indicative of the found condition of all the metal parts of the musket.
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Old 22nd December 2017, 03:53 PM   #23
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Hi Norman.

Thanks for the additional barrel photos. OK. Octagon fading to round. The most common style. The most common barrel lengths on these "Trade" guns are usually 36" to 42". The longer ones such as your's are more rare. And more desired among collectors.
I'm wondering, even at the turn of the 20th Century, if all gun barrels wheather muzzle loading or modern (for the time), old or new, had to be proof-marked ? Even for civilian use in the Kingdom ? Possibly your barrel is older and re-stamped latter ? But it doesn't look that way. Hmmmm. Don't know.
One other thing I do notice. The wood, at the inletting of the lock mortise looks old. But not old enough to be first half of the 19th Century.
The lock looks to be of good, plain trade gun quality of the original period. As well as the style of iron butt plate and trigger guard. I can't imagine their would be enough of these locks/parts surplus to build some type of production for African trade guns.
So, at this moment, my best guess is that this gun was built sometime after 1914 for civilan sporting use, utilizing an older lock, butt plate, and trigger guard, with a later barrel.
In any case, it's sure an interesting piece.

Rick
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Old 22nd December 2017, 06:09 PM   #24
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Hi Rick,
Thanks for the further input. I reckon I'll just label this one a bit of an enigma and enjoy it for what it is. It may be an African trade item as Colin theorised or a bitsa wildfowler I think we will never know. Thanks again.
My Regards,
Norman.
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Old 28th December 2017, 07:10 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rickystl
Hi David.

Yes, your lock is identical to mine, and came from the same batch. The story as told by the late Turner Kirkland was these locks were made (in Belgium I think) sometime before 1950 for sale to South Africa. Well, the sale never went through. So in the early to mid 1960's Turner bought the entire lot for little more than scrap metal cost and posted them for sale in his catalog, mainly as a novelty item. I seem to recall the price was around $12.50USD then. I do remember them in the earlier catalogs. Why the maker chose to copy an early Portugese lock design is unknown. Possibly for the simplicity. So any of these locks you see all came from this same lot. Notice there are no holes in the lock plate for mounting.

Rick


Rick, it may be that this batch that Turner bought in Belgium was assembled and then simply warehoused before they could be fully finished (note the grinder marks), and drilled and tapped for the sideplate screws needed to mount them onto whole guns. If they were made sometime between WW II and the 1950s, the market for such things in the final decades of the African colonies might have simply petered out due to the influx of inexpensive surplus rifles smuggled in from postwar Europe.

Long guns with this type of Portuguese lock were made in Belgium in the 19th cent. and possibly before. There is one of superb quality, maybe made in Liège and probably for export to Portugal or its colonies, dated 1821 that is published in Rainer Daehnhardt / Claude Gaier, Espingardaria Portuguesa, Armurerie Liègeoise (1975), pp 86-87. The specific type of lock is a fairly late one originating towards the end of the 17th cent. in Portugal, a Luso-French mechanical hybrid combining the innards of a French flintlock and the exterior design of the earlier Portuguese fecho de molinhas. The centuries-long presence of Portugal as a colonial master in equatorial and east Africa (Angola, Guinea-Bissau, Moçambique, etc) created a familiarity with and demand for Portuguese armament among the local cultures. (hence the local production of crude copies of 15th-16th cent. Portuguese and Spanish-style broadswords as symbolic regalia in Kongo and other areas down to the last century).
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Old 29th December 2017, 05:42 PM   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Philip
Rick, it may be that this batch that Turner bought in Belgium was assembled and then simply warehoused before they could be fully finished (note the grinder marks), and drilled and tapped for the sideplate screws needed to mount them onto whole guns. If they were made sometime between WW II and the 1950s, the market for such things in the final decades of the African colonies might have simply petered out due to the influx of inexpensive surplus rifles smuggled in from postwar Europe.

Long guns with this type of Portuguese lock were made in Belgium in the 19th cent. and possibly before. There is one of superb quality, maybe made in Liège and probably for export to Portugal or its colonies, dated 1821 that is published in Rainer Daehnhardt / Claude Gaier, Espingardaria Portuguesa, Armurerie Liègeoise (1975), pp 86-87. The specific type of lock is a fairly late one originating towards the end of the 17th cent. in Portugal, a Luso-French mechanical hybrid combining the innards of a French flintlock and the exterior design of the earlier Portuguese fecho de molinhas. The centuries-long presence of Portugal as a colonial master in equatorial and east Africa (Angola, Guinea-Bissau, Moçambique, etc) created a familiarity with and demand for Portuguese armament among the local cultures. (hence the local production of crude copies of 15th-16th cent. Portuguese and Spanish-style broadswords as symbolic regalia in Kongo and other areas down to the last century).

Hi Philip.

I'm sure all of your analysis above is correct. The Portuguese dominence in the Region may very well account for the original prototype for this lock. It makes sense. Good point.
Yes, the lack of mounting holes and the unpolished finish seem to indicate that's where the production ended. And just stored away in a warehouse and forgotten. LOL
Notice also, there is not even a half-cock/safety notch cut into the tumbler. Seems like they were trying to cut every corner making these. LOL
Thanks for the additional Regional knowledge.

Rick
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Old 29th December 2017, 06:09 PM   #27
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Not only is there no half-cock detent in the tumbler, there appears to be no functioning lockplate safety pawl on the outside of the lockplate as is typical on several earlier Portuguese locks -- the molinhas, the horse-neck or pescoço de cavalo, and the half-Portuguese half-French or meio à portuguesa e meio à francesa systems in particular. On the trade-gun flintlock we are discussing there appears an oblong projection from the plate just ahead of the cock -- I haven't examined one of these locks in a long time but as I recall it doesn't swivel so that it can't perform the function of the "Portuguese brake" on the above-mentioned locks, and would therefore be just a stylistic flourish.

When I was in high school I saw a film about tribal life in equatorial Africa (this was in the 1960s, pre-Kalashnikov era), and a local hunter had a Belgian-type halfstock trade gun with a conventional percussion cap lock. Pretty basic gear, the lead balls weren't remotely spherical, and when he loaded the gun and carried it around, he gently lowered the hammer onto the capped nipple and let it be until he was ready to cock and fire. If this was traditional practice in the culture-sphere, maybe that's why a half-cock detent was considered superfluous! (by the way, he missed a coke bottle on a stick at less than 20 paces...)
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Old 29th December 2017, 06:14 PM   #28
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Be careful if you remove the paint. red lead paints can look a quite bright orange & can be bad for your health.
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Old 29th December 2017, 09:18 PM   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Philip
Not only is there no half-cock detent in the tumbler, there appears to be no functioning lockplate safety pawl on the outside of the lockplate as is typical on several earlier Portuguese locks -- the molinhas, the horse-neck or pescoço de cavalo, and the half-Portuguese half-French or meio à portuguesa e meio à francesa systems in particular. On the trade-gun flintlock we are discussing there appears an oblong projection from the plate just ahead of the cock -- I haven't examined one of these locks in a long time but as I recall it doesn't swivel so that it can't perform the function of the "Portuguese brake" on the above-mentioned locks, and would therefore be just a stylistic flourish.

When I was in high school I saw a film about tribal life in equatorial Africa (this was in the 1960s, pre-Kalashnikov era), and a local hunter had a Belgian-type halfstock trade gun with a conventional percussion cap lock. Pretty basic gear, the lead balls weren't remotely spherical, and when he loaded the gun and carried it around, he gently lowered the hammer onto the capped nipple and let it be until he was ready to cock and fire. If this was traditional practice in the culture-sphere, maybe that's why a half-cock detent was considered superfluous! (by the way, he missed a coke bottle on a stick at less than 20 paces...)

Hi Philip.
Yes, that piece just ahead of the hammer neck is rigid. Just a stying excercise. Doesn't even act as a hammer stop. I guess the lock designer was not much worried about the locals carrying the gun in full cock mode all the time. LOL Yes, looks like they cut every corner not having the original style exterior dog-style safety.

Rick
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Old 7th February 2018, 08:30 PM   #30
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Hi,
Barrel definitely made in U.K.
Regards,
Norman.
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