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Old 17th September 2008, 04:08 PM   #1
Matchlock
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Default Re: The oldest known handgun in existence, ca. 1400-10

I should mention that the hook, like the firing mechanism, seems to be a working amendment as it is not wrought to the barrel but split in half, drawn over the muzzle and riveted on the underside.

The comparison with the attached illustrations of 1405, 1410 and 1411, with no support hooks present, indicates that the hook which actually defines a haquebut (German: Hakenbüchse) was an invention of the first half of the 15th century.

For having patience with me you are credited with additional images.

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Old 21st September 2008, 07:20 PM   #2
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A few more details of this 600 year-old handgun.

Michael
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Old 27th September 2008, 06:52 AM   #3
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Very interesting to see the spring-loaded serpentine,
This must be an extremely rare hand gun!

Lovely pictures, Michael.

Best wishes,

Richard.
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Old 28th September 2008, 07:27 PM   #4
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Hi Michael,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Matchlock
... which actually defines a haquebut (German: Hakenbüchse) was an invention of the first half of the 15th century ...


I wonder about paralel situations, like the picture i am posting here, of a large Malabar 'Esmerilhão' (Merlin); considered an early stage exemplar ( XV-XVI century transition), due to still being equiped with a wooden hook. Having been found that this type of hooks broke easily with the kick of the gun against bulwarks and battlements, they started making them in iron, still in the beginning of the XVI century.
Text and gun from the great collection of Rainer Daehnhardt, as illustrated in his work 'Homens Espadas e Tomates' (1997).

Fernando

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Old 2nd October 2008, 06:34 PM   #5
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Also amazing is that this Malabar example doesn't have a firing mechanism, having to be ignited manualy.
What can you tell us about this, Michael ?
Any correction to its dating ?
Fernando
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Old 19th October 2008, 11:40 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando
Hi Michael,



I wonder about paralel situations, like the picture i am posting here, of a large Malabar 'Esmerilhão' (Merlin); considered an early stage exemplar ( XV-XVI century transition), due to still being equiped with a wooden hook. Having been found that this type of hooks broke easily with the kick of the gun against bulwarks and battlements, they started making them in iron, still in the beginning of the XVI century.
Text and gun from the great collection of Rainer Daehnhardt, as illustrated in his work 'Homens Espadas e Tomates' (1997).

Fernando

.




Hi Fernando,

Sorry to have to destroy a possible myth but Rainer Daehnhardt's gun is far from being European and/or early 16th century.

The barrel is clearly Indian, 18th/19th centuries, the stock is a crude modern reproduction missing only the tiniest touch of original German style...

Mind: hooks were never parts of the stocks but only of the iron barrels! Otherwise they would have made no sense at all.

Michael
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Old 20th October 2008, 12:33 AM   #7
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Hi Michael, thanks a lot for your coments.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Matchlock
Sorry to have to destroy a possible myth but Rainer Daehnhardt's gun is far from being European and/or early 16th century.


As you will notice, i have quoted that the gun is from the Malabar (Southwest India) and not from Europe.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Matchlock
The barrel is clearly Indian, 18th/19th centuries, the stock is a crude modern reproduction missing only the tiniest touch of original German style...


If you say so i will have no doubt ... but i don't think he ever said it is of German style either.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Matchlock
Mind: hooks were never parts of the stocks but only of the iron barrels!


So i must assume this stock shape never existed ?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Matchlock
Otherwise they would have made no sense at all.


Sorry for my ignorance, but i don't understand; what is the difference between the hook being placed in the stock or in the barrel ? doesn't it prevent the firing impact (kick back) in both cases ?




Sorry Michael, but these are all doubts from a layman like me. I am not worried about this specimen being a mith, nor about Daehnhardt's sincerity; i don't like helping to build gurus. But i need to be sure to myself that this thing is a fake ... to the extent that i can tell it in his face when i see him.

Thanks again
Fernando
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Old 20th October 2008, 03:04 AM   #8
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I think that the shearing force of the recoil would break off the hook unless it was heavily reinforced. Of course, a metal hook is simly a reinforced wooden one without the wood.
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Old 20th October 2008, 06:47 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ed
I think that the shearing force of the recoil would break off the hook unless it was heavily reinforced. Of course, a metal hook is simly a reinforced wooden one without the wood.



You are doubtlessly right, Ed: a wooden hook set against a castle wall with the muzzle sticking out the fire slit would not have stood the immense recoil. Mind that the barrels at those times were filled up with (poor) black powder by two thirds of their length!

Michael
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Old 20th October 2008, 07:08 PM   #10
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Hi Fernando,

Let's cut a long story short:

You are right in assuming that this type of hooked stock originally never existed - neither in India nor in Europe.

The one that you illustrated must be modern, for what purpose ever.

As Ed supposed, a wooden hook would never have stood the recoil - please see my reply of today to his posting. This is due to the graining of the wood.

Calling this crude phantasy stock a fake would imply a bad intention on the maker's side. I do not mean to put a suspicion on anyone. This is not what this forum is for, I believe.

Just do not take this gun for an original, enough said.

Michael
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Old 20th October 2008, 07:32 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ed
I think that the shearing force of the recoil would break off the hook unless it was heavily reinforced. Of course, a metal hook is simly a reinforced wooden one without the wood.


Sorry for my ignorance but ... what am i missing here?
Don't i see that the Berne Harquebus has the hook peened through the stock ?
On the other hand, isn't the system of casting the hook to the barrel a 'third generation' development ?
If i well understand, in the first step the gun had a gunstock with a wooden shoulder on the underside, as shown in a specimen in the museum of Pilsen, which dates to around 1400.
But as this design involved severe stress to the wood, which did not withstand the strain for long, the next step was the development of an iron hook with bands or nails being fitted to the shaft, further improved by positioning the hook on the barrel with a band and securing it in the shaft with a cross pin.
It was only after this that, the hook was either forged directly on to the barrel or cast with it, when of bronze.
This is the way i understood an article written by Bernhard Rietsche, in his work Meine gotischen Handfeuerrohre (page 47), which was gently passed to me by a notable person in this Forum .
However i know i don't have the minimum preparation to discuss this subject, so i beg you to correct me if or where i am wrong .
Fernando
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Old 20th October 2008, 07:41 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando
Sorry for my ignorance but ... what am i missing here?
Don't i see that the Berne Harquebus has the hook peened through the stock ?
On the other hand, isn't the system of casting the hook to the barrel a 'third generation' development ?
If i well understand, in the first step the gun had a gunstock with a wooden shoulder on the underside, as shown in a specimen in the museum of Pilsen, which dates to around 1400.
But as this design involved severe stress to the wood, which did not withstand the strain for long, the next step was the development of an iron hook with bands or nails being fitted to the shaft, further improved by positioning the hook on the barrel with a band and securing it in the shaft with a cross pin.
It was only after this that, the hook was either forged directly on to the barrel or cast with it, when of bronze.
This is the way i understood an article written by Bernhard Rietsche, in his work Meine gotischen Handfeuerrohre (page 47), which was gently passed to me by a notable person in this Forum .
However i know i don't have the minimum preparation to discuss this subject, so i beg you to correct me if or where i am wrong .
Fernando



As there are lots of early guns in both Berne and Pilsen, please post pictures of the two pieces you quoted.
Michael
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Old 20th October 2008, 07:58 PM   #13
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Hi Michael

Quote:
Originally Posted by Matchlock
... Calling this crude phantasy stock a fake would imply a bad intention on the maker's side. I do not mean to put a suspicion on anyone. This is not what this forum is for, I believe.


I am sorry for my lack of diplomacy ... or education, if you prefer.
But good faith fits in this Forum as it fits anywhere. If a person quotes an item as an early specimen, implicitely omitting it is a replica or a modern reproduction, such person is lacking transparency ... here or anywhere in the world. I know this author for some ten years; i don't think he has a necessity to 'sell cat for hare'. I can allways find a way, with the best of my diplomacy (?), to ask him why the specimen support text drives us to beleive the gun is an original, when it is not.

My respects
Fernando
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Old 20th October 2008, 08:16 PM   #14
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I first met Rainer Daehnhardt in 1990 and know quite a bit about him and his pieces.
Enough said.
Michael
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Old 20th October 2008, 08:19 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matchlock
As there are lots of early guns in both Berne and Pilsen, please post pictures of the two pieces you quoted.
Michael


According to Bernhard Rietsche, the specimen in Pilsen is illustrated in ZHWK 1900-1912 p. 118); i wonder if you have such publication.
The Berne specimen seems to be quite popular, as largely divulged in the Internet. It is also, for example, in Clephan's work 'An outline of the History and Development of Hand Firearms' (page 47). I also happen to have a picture of it, myself.
But again, i may obviously be labouring in error, and confusing the whole thing.
Fernando
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Old 20th October 2008, 08:54 PM   #16
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Default Berne handgonne, inv.# 2193, 1st half 15th century

Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando
According to Bernhard Rietsche, the specimen in Pilsen is illustrated in ZHWK 1900-1912 p. 118); i wonder if you have such publication.
The Berne specimen seems to be quite popular, as largely divulged in the Internet. It is also, for example, in Clephan's work 'An outline of the History and Development of Hand Firearms' (page 47). I also happen to have a picture of it, myself.
But again, i may obviously be labouring in error, and confusing the whole thing.
Fernando


O.k.
Now this is Berne inv.# 2193. See Rudof Wegeli: Inventar der Waffensammlung des Bernischen Historischen Museums in Bern, vol.4, Feuerwaffen, 1948, p.153f.

As the text mentions, the hook is of iron and hammered through the stock as an addition in the gun's working time. As this must have proofed less stable, hooks were fire welded to the barrels from ca. 1440-50.

My library of more than 3,000 books and catalogs contains the complete original edition of the Zeitschrift fuer Historische Waffenkunde from its origins in 1897 until today. I have been a member of this society for more than 25 years.
Michael
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Old 20th October 2008, 09:01 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matchlock
O.k.
Now this is Berne inv.# 2193. See Rudof Wegeli: Inventar der Waffensammlung des Bernischen Historischen Museums in Bern, vol.4, Feuerwaffen, 1948, p.153f.

As the text mentions, the hook is of iron and hammered through the stock as an addition in the gun's working time. As this must have proofed less stable, hooks were fire welded to the barrels from ca. 1440-50.

My library of more than 3,000 books and catalogs contains the complete original edition of the Zeitschrift fuer Historische Waffenkunde from its origins in 1897 until today. I have been a member of this society for more than 25 years.
Michael



BTW, give my greetings to Bernahrd Rietsche. He came to see my collection only a few weeks ago.
Michael
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Old 20th October 2008, 09:44 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando
According to Bernhard Rietsche, the specimen in Pilsen is illustrated in ZHWK 1900-1912 p. 118); i wonder if you have such publication.
The Berne specimen seems to be quite popular, as largely divulged in the Internet. It is also, for example, in Clephan's work 'An outline of the History and Development of Hand Firearms' (page 47). I also happen to have a picture of it, myself.
But again, i may obviously be labouring in error, and confusing the whole thing.
Fernando



Now here is the Pilsen handgonne that you mean, Fernando.

I was in the Pilsen Armory in 2000, being kindly allowed by Dr. Hus to handle and photograph all the items I liked to.

The stock of this piece with the staged wall support may be original and may have worked against the recoil with this small and short barrel as the "hooked" stage is both very long and thick! It would never work with a long barrel and slender stock as in Daehnhardt's gun, though.

I enclose another early 15th century Pilsen handgonne with an iron hook drawn over the barrel (!) and put through the stock - the last stage before welding the hook directly to the barrel for optimum stability.

I have tried to do my best and sure hope to have made things as clear as possible. I spent 30 years of my life studying to be able and tell wrong from right.

Michael
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Old 20th October 2008, 09:48 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matchlock
Mind that the barrels at those times were filled up with (poor) black powder by two thirds of their length!

Michael



Yes but it would never have combusted.
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Old 20th October 2008, 09:55 PM   #20
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As you can see in the first Pilsen gun, what actually works as the real wall support is a small rudimentary rectangular iron piece extending down through the stock, and being a vertical prolongation of the rear underside of the barrel! It may have been shortened later.

So there is a wooden stage, true, but this was not the wall support because it would have been too weak!

Allright?

Michael
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Old 20th October 2008, 09:59 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ed
Yes but it would never have combusted.


???!!!
Please help my aged mind along, Ed!
Michael
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Old 20th October 2008, 11:03 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matchlock
I first met Rainer Daehnhardt in 1990 and know quite a bit about him and his pieces. Enough said

I thaught so ... i had the feeling that you knew him, since the moment you posted that coment on the Malabar gun.
I also know him since about that long; i buy weapons at his shops and frequently listen to what he has to say about questions i ask him on pieces i take to him for apreciation. I have also read a couple of his books. Our relation is only a little more than that between customer and supplier. However i never had the chance to visit his private mannor house and apreciate his collection. But up to this moment i don't have an actual reason to dislike him; given the discount that everyone has virtues and defaults. Our talks are about weapons and their history; nothing else.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Matchlock
As the text mentions, the hook is of iron and hammered through the stock as an addition in the gun's working time.

I knew it was of iron; as you know, i quoted this specimen just because the hook is in the stock and not in the barrel; i confess i ignored it was applied later in time.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Matchlock
As this must have proofed less stable, hooks were fire welded to the barrels from ca. 1440-50

So.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Matchlock
My library of more than 3,000 books and catalogs contains the complete original edition of the Zeitschrift fuer Historische Waffenkunde ...

Fascinating; so you are in a condition to tell if the 1900 catalogue contains the Pilsen gun with a hook in the stock, as Bernahrd Rietsche relates ?
I surely would like to hear your coments about this particular subject. Eventualy also Daehnhardt quotes that hooks were first made of wood; i still have to learn a huge lot about this fascinating area of early firearms.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Matchlock
... give my greetings to Bernahrd Rietsche. He came to see my collection only a few weeks ago.

I don't have the honour to know the Gentleman; i incidently know his quoted article since a week ago. And i was far from realizing that such would be the origin of a misunderstanding.

My respects
Fernando
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Old 21st October 2008, 12:25 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matchlock
???!!!
Please help my aged mind along, Ed!
Michael



Sorry, I mean that a large mass of unignited powder would have been expelled from the barrel.

You can see the same effect today if you overload a black powder rifle. The powder that never got a chance to burn is expelled.
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Old 21st October 2008, 01:01 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matchlock
... The stock of this piece with the staged wall support may be original and may have worked against the recoil with this small and short barrel as the "hooked" stage is both very long and thick! It would never work with a long barrel and slender stock as in Daehnhardt's gun, though. ... I spent 30 years of my life studying to be able and tell wrong from right. ...

I don't have the slightest doubt that you know more about this subject while you are asleep than most people awake, and i thank you a lot for your patience and teachings. Only there are positions to consider; for example Bernahrd Rietsche states without hesitation that the Pilsen specimen was a clear example of a wooden hook being a primary solution to recoil. I assume you have read his article ... have i made a wrong reading ? So i was misguided by such source. And as Daehnhardt has aproached the same problematic of the wooden hook fragility, i assumed it made sense.
The Daehnhardt's gun is an Indian item... not necessarily an example of European haquebus expertize. Allright, it has an atypical design and you say such stock could never work; noted.
But ironically, every wooden hook experiments, after time, ended up failing.
But i bother you no more. Now it's my turn to say: enough said

With respect.
Fernando
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Old 21st October 2008, 02:52 PM   #25
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This thread has gotten me to thinking.

I wonder how bad the recoil was for these little guns.

Lets think about it a bit together.

- The actual charge of black powder was limited. Filling a barrel all the way might not result in greater velocity/force for the projectile than filling it 1/8 of the way. This is directly related to recoil.

- there was not a fine ball to bore fit, couldn't be. This would result in lowered velocity and recoil.

- it isn't clear that using modern powders for testing is appropriate.

These are sorta random thoughts that bear on the basic question of the reality of using vey early handguns.

If there were a way to really duplicate the performance I could run some live tests out back.
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Old 21st October 2008, 07:09 PM   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ed
This thread has gotten me to thinking.

I wonder how bad the recoil was for these little guns.

Lets think about it a bit together.

- The actual charge of black powder was limited. Filling a barrel all the way might not result in greater velocity/force for the projectile than filling it 1/8 of the way. This is directly related to recoil.

- there was not a fine ball to bore fit, couldn't be. This would result in lowered velocity and recoil.

- it isn't clear that using modern powders for testing is appropriate.

These are sorta random thoughts that bear on the basic question of the reality of using vey early handguns.

If there were a way to really duplicate the performance I could run some live tests out back.



Hi Ed,

The old black powder was, as I noted, quite poor in performance. Of course, there was one or more rolling balls used but then followed by a heavy wad, often a wooden plug; so the recoil must have been hard. Hadn't it been very hard there would have been no need for hooks.

In an earlier posting I mentioned the firing tests that the Landeszeughaus Graz carried thru with 400 year old guns, and gave the literature. An accompanying video shows the heavy recoil of the various pieces which sometimes made the testers step back or aside.

A friend of mine builds exact copies of earliest guns and fires them the old way, using 500 year old powder recipes. The recoil is very hard, comparable to a 12 or 10 gauge shotgun with "nomal" loads and going worse with heavy ones. The testers had black shoulders after each time they tried.

Michael
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Old 21st October 2008, 07:20 PM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando
I don't have the slightest doubt that you know more about this subject while you are asleep than most people awake, and i thank you a lot for your patience and teachings. Only there are positions to consider; for example Bernahrd Rietsche states without hesitation that the Pilsen specimen was a clear example of a wooden hook being a primary solution to recoil. I assume you have read his article ... have i made a wrong reading ? So i was misguided by such source. And as Daehnhardt has aproached the same problematic of the wooden hook fragility, i assumed it made sense.
The Daehnhardt's gun is an Indian item... not necessarily an example of European haquebus expertize. Allright, it has an atypical design and you say such stock could never work; noted.
But ironically, every wooden hook experiments, after time, ended up failing.
But i bother you no more. Now it's my turn to say: enough said

With respect.
Fernando


Fernando, have you seen the pictures of the Pilsen gun mentioned by Bernhard Rietsche that I posted? It was the short rectangular iron lug protruding from the underside that would soften the recoil, not the lug of wood; the last was only for support to rest the gun comfortably.
It looks as if the short iron lug was originally a hook and broken off or shortened later.
In any case it had the function of a wall hook.

I am afraid that Herr Riestche had overlooked that detail.

With my respect and best wishes,
Michael
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Old 22nd October 2008, 02:16 PM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matchlock
Hi Ed,


In an earlier posting I mentioned the firing tests that the Landeszeughaus Graz carried thru with 400 year old guns, and gave the literature. An accompanying video shows the heavy recoil of the various pieces which sometimes made the testers step back or aside.



Michael



Can you point me to that posting/video?
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Old 22nd October 2008, 08:02 PM   #29
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Default Graz catalog and VHS video

Done, Ed.

Michael
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Old 22nd October 2008, 10:35 PM   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matchlock
Fernando, have you seen the pictures of the Pilsen gun mentioned by Bernhard Rietsche that I posted? It was the short rectangular iron lug protruding from the underside that would soften the recoil, not the lug of wood; the last was only for support to rest the gun comfortably.
It looks as if the short iron lug was originally a hook and broken off or shortened later.
In any case it had the function of a wall hook.

I am afraid that Herr Riestche had overlooked that detail.

With my respect and best wishes,
Michael


Duly noted Michael,
I must say that the part of this topic that has mainly raised my curiosity was whether indeed the first generation of harquebus recoil hooks was made of wood ... even soon to be assumed they were doomed to failure.
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