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Old 21st August 2016, 09:59 PM   #1
KuKulzA28
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Default questions about Taiwanese matchlocks

Hello guys, I have been wanting to assemble a muzzleloading firearm and I wanted to make something to do with my heritage. I think interest began 7 yrs ago and cannot be contained now.

From what I can tell, Taiwanese matchlocks seemed to have been essentially Chinese ones - I don't think there was a Taiwanese-specific flair to them - though if there is I'd love to find out. While I will be substituting the matchlock for a flintlock mechanism (due to laws in my area) I want the rest to be somewhat authentic in construction...

Here are my questions, and I hope you guys can help me...

Securing the barrel:
Did they use tenons or just bands to secure the barrel to the stock? Were the bands pinned to the stock? What material are the bands made of? Did they have a breech-plug with a tang?

Ramrod:
Were the ramrods stored under the barrels? Was it just a groove on the underside or a tunnel drilled in there?

Sights:
Did Taiwanese matchlocks use sights? If so, what were they like?
I am under the impression Taiwanese ones did not generally have sights... maybe their Chinese counterparts did..?

"Pistol-grip":
They often have an L-shaped pistol grip, do you find that they usually select wood that has a natural curve in the grain? ...if not, was the way they were shot not as stressful for the grip?
I can see that being a weak point, but then again, it's not like a conventional shoulder-stock where the recoil goes to the shoulder...
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Old 27th August 2016, 03:26 AM   #2
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There ARE distinct differences between Chinese and Taiwanese guns as there are in the case of the swords and knives of the two culture-spheres. This can be expected since the aboriginal peoples of Formosa are not at all related to the Chinese ethnically, linguistically, or culturally. They share strong affinities with certain tribal peoples in Borneo and mainland SE Asia.

A classic example of a Taiwanese gun (these are very rare) can be found in Stone's GLOSSARY... OF ARMS AND ARMOR in the article "Gun", fig. 333. Its matchlock mechanism is unique in all Asia, a rudimentary thing worthy of late medieval Europe when the gun was in its infancy. In fact, the rearward-pivoting serpentine is very un-Asian, and is more typical of the West. So little is known about the development of guns on Taiwan that any supposition as to the introduction of this particular lock to the island would be very speculative. It is not found on the mainland of China.

The Taiwanese guns do not have sights. Chinese ones mostly do -- muskets have a bead or blade front and a notch or peep rear (Stone is wrong when he says some have 3 sights -- I've never seen such.
They are aimed by holding the crook of the stock against the CHEEK, the shoulder is not involved. The trigger hand helps brace the stock against the cheek, and helps steady the piece during aim. The arms absorb the recoil. It is a surprisingly efficient system once you get used to it. Cheek stocks were typical in Germany during the 16th-17th cent., and were introduced to Asia by the Portuguese along with the snapping matchlock mechanism in the 1500s. (the Japanese teppo is a classic example) Other Asian countries used long, shoulder-braced buttstocks of Turco-Persian type, China was unique in using both systems but I've never seen a Taiwanese gun with a shoulder stock.

The slender pistol-grip stock has a deeper crook than any of its counterparts in Tonkin (northern Vietnam) or China. Stone describes the barrel mounting as having a single barrel band and a key-bolt through the barrel tang. I handled this very gun some years ago (It's in the Peabody-Essex Museum in Salem, MA, you might be interested in contacting the staff for better images and details) and recall no provision for a ramrod. Despite its mechanical crudity, the fit and finish are decent for a tribal weapon made with limited resources.

In general, the deeply curved 90 degree bend of of these Taiwan gunstocks has parallels in some TRIBAL guns of continental Asia. Note in particular the guns of the Miao aborigines of Southwest China (see Howard L Blackmore, GUNS AND RIFLES OF THE WORLD, plate 70.) That piece has a far more sophisticated lock of Indo-Portuguese type, undoubtedly copied from the Chinese. The hill-tribes of Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia used until recently a small smoothbore musket equipped with an ingenious but crudely made flintlock, these have half-stocks held by barrel bands like both the Miao and Taiwan pieces. (you have probably seen a number of these things before at gun shows since many were brought back by GIs during the Vietnam War). All of these plus the Miao guns lack ramrods, the powder and ball were apparently settled at the breech with a few smart raps on the butt with the muzzle held vertically. I can't imagine a patched ball being used, projectiles must have been a good deal undersized to get past the fouling that accumulates after a number of shots fired.

I hope this info is helpful. Let me know if you have further questions. Good luck on your project.
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Old 27th August 2016, 04:32 PM   #3
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Hi Philip.

While my primary interest is Ethno firearms, I know very little about these Chinese/Tiwanese matchlocks. Thank you for the history lesson. Most interesting. While you were handling the gun in MA did you notice wheather or not the 90 degree bend in the butt stock was made in two pieces or one ?

Hi KuKulzA28.

That would be a very interesting project. A tapered, round musket barrel would not be difficult to locate, as long as you can use one about 46" long or less. Otherwise, it would have to be custom ordered. (I'm just now expecting delivery of a barrel I've been waiting for a year and a half).
If you can't use a matchlock, the crude-style flintlock that Philip mentions would be the way to go. It would likely be the only flintlock "style" that would look right with the gun. I know the lock that Philip mentions. There was one that came up for sale a couple years ago. I should have bought it. DARN. While having an original lock to copy would be best, there are lock makers here in the U.S. that can make a copy of this lock from photos. They can even copy the crudeness, but make it function correctly and reliably.

Let us know if we can be of help in sourcing material.

Rick
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Old 30th August 2016, 01:32 PM   #4
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WOW. Thank you both so much for that. Learning more about my own culture's Martial history is great.

Any name or picture of this primitive flintlock?

Time to go hunt down parts and the right stock, and quality chisels!

I'm sure more questions might come up as I go...


Edit: and I do want to note that while I do know of many of the ethnic and cultural differences in Taiwan, between settlers and Aborigines, between the 'tribes', between hakka and hoklo... ..I was under the impression that the matchlocks were imported Chinese ones... There's much for me to learn!

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Old 2nd September 2016, 12:14 AM   #5
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Default designing your functional replica

Ricky,
The stock was originally painted or lacquered and there's this lovely patina of age on it. All of which didn't allow me to check if it was two piece. (plus, the lighting in the museum's depot leaves something to be desired!). Getting such a deep curve and slender profile from one piece of wood takes some doing. I wonder if saplings were bent to shape and the trees allowed to grow into the shape, leaving the upper part straight for the fore-end? That would provide maximum strength, and a lot of trees grow rather quickly in the tropics. I have no idea what kind of wood the original is made of. A buddy of mine in CA happens to have one of these guns, let me ask him what his is made of. Stay tuned.

Hey guys -- if you want to go the crude tribal flintlock route, why not pick up one of those Vietnam "Montagnard" guns I was talking about at a gun show, find one with a lock in good shape, and use that? The things are so simple and sturdy I hardly ever see one that's really damaged. The guns themselves have little collector value so taking the lock off isn't the kiss of death. Wait... I remember that they are dismountable without the need to bust anything. Slide the large rearmost barrel band forward, it allows the "tongue" at the front of the lockplate to lift free. Rotate it sideways away from the stock. The rear is a hook engaging an iron staple pounded into the stock. The thing is easier to field-strip than an AK-47!

Be forewarned, though, that these locks are primitive. Forget about what you saw in that movie about the Alamo. There is no screw-tightened jaws for the flint, it's probably anchored with tree resin and rawhide (changing it is a chore, in fact just about all of the originals you see lack a flint). There is no depression to speak of for a priming pan. Just pour a tad of powder on the wide ledge next to the touchhole, close the frizzen, invoke the blessings of St Barbara if you're Catholic, and take on that tiger that's staring you down on the jungle path.
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Old 3rd September 2016, 04:19 PM   #6
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Hi Philip.

Thanks for your reply. Yes, maybe your friend can advise us on the stock. All the photos I've seen seem to show it being a one-piece stock. I've never held/seen one up close. Even with the prolonged use of steam, I can't imagine being able to make that severe of a bend without weakening or breaking the stock. I think your theory of positioning a young sapling in the desired position, and letting it grow in that direction has merit. Would be interesting to know.
But for a shooting replica, a two-piece stock is one option.

Another option, as Philip mentions, would be to purchase a complete Vietnamese gun and use the lock. There doesn't seem to be any real collector interest/value in these guns. They tend to sell for a low price.

One more option. Unless there is a big difference between the Tiwanese and Vietnamese stock and barrel design, you could purchase the complete Vietnames gun and re-orient the look of the gun to fit the Tiwanese style, and use a new barrel or have a new steel liner installed in the existing barrel. And that might be the least expensive route. Just a thought.

I'm still kicking myself for not getting that lock off Ebay when I saw it 2-3 years ago.

Rick
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Old 3rd September 2016, 08:13 PM   #7
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Default difference in locks

LOCK:
If you're after ETHNOGRAPHIC ACCURACY in your design, the Viet hill-tribes flintlock will not do. They are distinctly different from the extremely primitive matchlock typical of Taiwan. In fact, those Taiwan matchlock mechanisms are so simple that a replica can be fabricated for very little money, can be made at home by anyone who's handy with tools and has basic workshop equipment including a torch. After all, the originals were made a milieu with the most elementary metalworking skill-set. Good images should be obtained from the Peabody-Essex museum, and you can go from there.

BARREL:
I think the originals were probably imported, most likely from Chinese traders. W. W. Greener, in THE BOOK OF THE GUN, offers eyewitness descriptions of itinerant Chinese smiths making good quality twist forged smoothbore barrels in shops set up at their customers' homes in south China. VOC records show various arms imported into northern Burma from China in the 17th cent., and you've probably seen Moro barongs with Chinese markings on the blades.

You could conceivably use the barrel off a Viet hill-tribe musket, they are quite nicely forged considering the crudity of the rest of the gun. Problem here is that they are shorter and smaller in bore than the existing Taiwan examples. Shooting one may be problematic from a safety standpoint because ethnographic iron objects from SE Asia tend to have corroded a fair amount due to climate and irregular maintenance (sometimes outright neglect after they were collected in the field).

STOCK
From a practical standpoint, 2-piece is the way to go if you don't want to wait for a sapling to grow for you. I don't know how skillful the Taiwan aborigines were at carpentry, whether they borrowed the skill of Chinese joiners who could do these tight and near invisible scarf joints on the curved backs/arms of those Ming style "horseshoe" armchairs.

Lemme call my buddy in San Diego who has a Taiwan gun and ask him if his stock is 1 or 2 piece. Stay tuned, guys.
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Old 4th September 2016, 04:22 PM   #8
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Well, apparently, there is a sizable difference between the Taiwanese and Vietnamese guns other than the rudimantry first glance. So, you can ignore most of my post mentions above. LOL
So, what we want to do is replicate a Taiwanese matchlock. And I assume with as much accuracy as reasonable (?) Since I don't recall ever seeing a picture of one, I can't really comment on the specifics. But Philip has done an outstanding job. If there is an original available to copy from photos and specs, it is doable. Here's what I visualize so far:

BARREL: Smoothbore barrels in virtually any length, caliber, and dimension can be made. And at a reasonable cost. So I don't see this being much of an issue.
STOCK: I'm thinking the stock could be made as one-piece. There are gunstock blanks 2" thick readilly available (although I don't know what wood was typically used with these Taiwanese matchlocks). But you would need a wood plank that is about 12" WIDE (guessing) by 2" thick, in the desired length. That might be difficult to find (?). Would be worth waiting to see what Philip's friend tells us.
LOCK: The MATCHLOCK lock seems to be the only lock to replicate authenticity. But if you CAN'T use a matchlock lock, not sure what the alternative should be? While the Vietnamese style flintlock would be historically incorrect, any contemorary made flintlock would be even more so, and look very odd on the gun. Possibly a percussion variation similar to another Thread recently posted here on the Forum?

Is there actually a law in Taiwan using a matchlock? Just curious.

Rick
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Old 4th September 2016, 06:29 PM   #9
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Default addressing points you raised

1. PICS . I talked to my friend yesterday who has perhaps the best example of these known in private hands in the US, he recalls the stock being one piece but will check and send images of relevant details including the lock. He's a tad absent minded (and dealing with a plumbing leak) so it may be awhile, I'll keep after him. I will have to send you these by private email since he doesn't want them publicized.

2. Barrel: Will also try and get the dimensions.

3. Alternative info sources: It's always good to corroborate data against another known example. Good idea for you to contact the Peabody-Essex Museum in Salem, MA to see if you can get pics and measurements of theirs. The entry in Stone's GLOSSARY only gives an overall length of 4 ft 10.25 in, no barrel length and no caliber. Barrel is "covered with brass". Having bore dimensions of different examples is good to determine historically accurate boundaries for the replica. One thing I have noticed is that a lot of these SE Asian and western Pacific archipelago pieces have relatively small bores. The Vietnamese highland ones, especially so, like around .35 - .40 cal. at most. Compare to Chinese and other north Asian guns which are around .50 cal, bigger for rampart guns.
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Old 4th September 2016, 10:57 PM   #10
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Thanks for the info guys, I'm intently awaiting pictures and Specs!

I will go the flintlock route because local laws forbid hunting with matchlock and I want to hunt with this Taiwanese style muzzleloader, but I will make it to match the simplicity of the Formosan style.
For "realism", would I want to be using flint held there with gum or pine pitch or birch tar, further tightened with rattan cord or rawhide?
If a Formosan in 1800s were to make a flintlock, would that be how they'd make it? A modification of the existing matchlock they're familiar with?

Ramrod... Now I won't pretend Seediq Bale is a historical source, but in the movie they show Seediq and Bunun braves using and holding ramrods. Was this a mistake or did some Formosans use ramrods? It seems if they did, they carried them instead of carving a groove under the barrel trough... ? I wonder if ramrods were actually nonexistent or just not considered necessary...

Stock, I can make it one piece or two piece and do a good job I think, amateur woodworker here, but I think carving wooden sheaths, knife handles, longbows, and dugout canoe has given me some skills....
If it's one piece and the grain doesn't bend into the grip (quite an extreme angle), I wonder if that's structurally acceptable because the arms bend to accomodate the recoil rather than the harder resistance from a shoulder stock?

Today yuanzhumin in Taiwan CAN hunt legally, they register and can use guns, almost always some primitive homemade firearm, many are making them with shoulder stocks now. However many are unregistered, hunters unlicensed, and hunting unregulated - I guess their ecological and social impact is just not damaging enough to really warrant heavy regulation. Taiwan, as y'all know went through pretty intense disarmament with that last two regimes and hunting is generally illegal for most people...

I live in Mass, I will definitely check out the Peabody museum gun.
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Old 5th September 2016, 05:48 AM   #11
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Default managing the project-- parameters and goals

Seems to me that you are working within three parameters:
1. Keeping it as authentic as possible based on available ethnographic info
2. Keeping it doable -- within the bounds of resources and manufacturing ability
3. (since you intend this to be a functional item used for hunting) Conformity to local regulations on hunting.

Looks to me that between you and Ricky, #2 is not a problem. #3 is already spelled out, you need to go flintlock (or percussion) in Massachusetts.

Satisfying #1 may take some doing, considering that we really don't have a great deal of information on Taiwan aborigine firearms, with just a few examples available for study in museums. Good thing you live in MA -- you can (and should) make arrangements to study their gun in person. The one my friend has here is almost identical, having pics of it would be nice but you would probably get more out of hands-on study of the one in the Peabody-Essex Museum.

Of course as we have discussed, this is a matchlock, and one of the most primitive variety. At this point, may I suggest that you contact curators and academics in Taiwan to see what other guns are in collections there, and have been studied by scholars. There must be something about them in ethnographic journals, Taiwan is a modern country with well developed academic institutions (the National Palace Museum Monthly of Chinese Art has published some good articles on imperial court arms and military equipment which I have found most useful, but this does not have a tribal-cultures orientation). The point I'm trying to pursue is that since the Portuguese and Dutch arrived on Formosa in the 17th cent., there must have been at least a trickle of Western material culture influencing the native mountain people, and thus some attempt to duplicate a flintlock mechanism. There is probably an example or two in an ethnographic collection, at a museum or university, on Taiwan. If such an anomaly can be studied and copied, you have it made. You can develop the design into something that will actually work (hopefully be more advanced than the rather crude SE Asian tribal flintlocks we've been talking about), and which reflects an actual development in the native cultures.
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Old 5th September 2016, 05:11 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KuKulzA28
Thanks for the info guys, I'm intently awaiting pictures and Specs!

I will go the flintlock route because local laws forbid hunting with matchlock and I want to hunt with this Taiwanese style muzzleloader, but I will make it to match the simplicity of the Formosan style.
For "realism", would I want to be using flint held there with gum or pine pitch or birch tar, further tightened with rattan cord or rawhide?
If a Formosan in 1800s were to make a flintlock, would that be how they'd make it? A modification of the existing matchlock they're familiar with?

Ramrod... Now I won't pretend Seediq Bale is a historical source, but in the movie they show Seediq and Bunun braves using and holding ramrods. Was this a mistake or did some Formosans use ramrods? It seems if they did, they carried them instead of carving a groove under the barrel trough... ? I wonder if ramrods were actually nonexistent or just not considered necessary...

Stock, I can make it one piece or two piece and do a good job I think, amateur woodworker here, but I think carving wooden sheaths, knife handles, longbows, and dugout canoe has given me some skills....
If it's one piece and the grain doesn't bend into the grip (quite an extreme angle), I wonder if that's structurally acceptable because the arms bend to accomodate the recoil rather than the harder resistance from a shoulder stock?

Today yuanzhumin in Taiwan CAN hunt legally, they register and can use guns, almost always some primitive homemade firearm, many are making them with shoulder stocks now. However many are unregistered, hunters unlicensed, and hunting unregulated - I guess their ecological and social impact is just not damaging enough to really warrant heavy regulation. Taiwan, as y'all know went through pretty intense disarmament with that last two regimes and hunting is generally illegal for most people...

I live in Mass, I will definitely check out the Peabody museum gun.
OK. You live in MA. And you want to hunt using the gun. Yes, I think there are maybe two or three States that won't let you use a matchlock. I see the dilema now. Also, some States have a minimum caliber (for muzzle loaders) for hunting larger game such as whitetails, etc. (I think .40 or larger) (?) You might want to check that out if you haven't already.
FLINTLOCK LOCK: As we've noted, the Vietnamese lock has no top screw or top jaw. And the lock seems to be held to the stock with a horse show type nail on the rear, and the rear barrel band on the front. In other words, no screws. This was likely due to there not being any means to drill holes or make threads. And I would guess the situation in Tribal Formosa would be similar. Unless you can locate an original flintlock specimen in Taiwan (would be great!) you might consider using a similar architecture of flintlock as the Vietnamese example, with a lockplate closer to the matchlock plate on the Formosa gun ? Just a thought.
RAMRODS: Philip could easily be right that they were loaded with a very undersized ball and tapped on the butt a couple times. Maybe a piece of tow was rammed down afterward to help keep the ball from rolling forward? (I unloaded an Albanian long gun that was loaded just this way). I would think at some point a rod would be needed for cleaning the bore. Unless, the bores were not properly cleaned after firing (?) But if they did use rods, it is obvious they were carried seperately. And of course you would want to have a rod for loading and cleaning.
STOCK: From a strength stanpoint, I would think the one piece would be best. A good straight-grained hardwood. Would be interesting to know the most common hardwood utilized in Taiwan/Formosa. With your woodworking skills, it shouldn't be too dificult to duplicate the stock. Being a half-stock, with no ramrod hole to drill or groove in the bottom will simplifiy things.

This sounds like it will make any interesting project.

Rick
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Old 5th September 2016, 05:35 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Philip
Seems to me that you are working within three parameters:
1. Keeping it as authentic as possible based on available ethnographic info
2. Keeping it doable -- within the bounds of resources and manufacturing ability
3. (since you intend this to be a functional item used for hunting) Conformity to local regulations on hunting.

Looks to me that between you and Ricky, #2 is not a problem. #3 is already spelled out, you need to go flintlock (or percussion) in Massachusetts.

Satisfying #1 may take some doing, considering that we really don't have a great deal of information on Taiwan aborigine firearms, with just a few examples available for study in museums. Good thing you live in MA -- you can (and should) make arrangements to study their gun in person. The one my friend has here is almost identical, having pics of it would be nice but you would probably get more out of hands-on study of the one in the Peabody-Essex Museum.

Of course as we have discussed, this is a matchlock, and one of the most primitive variety. At this point, may I suggest that you contact curators and academics in Taiwan to see what other guns are in collections there, and have been studied by scholars. There must be something about them in ethnographic journals, Taiwan is a modern country with well developed academic institutions (the National Palace Museum Monthly of Chinese Art has published some good articles on imperial court arms and military equipment which I have found most useful, but this does not have a tribal-cultures orientation). The point I'm trying to pursue is that since the Portuguese and Dutch arrived on Formosa in the 17th cent., there must have been at least a trickle of Western material culture influencing the native mountain people, and thus some attempt to duplicate a flintlock mechanism. There is probably an example or two in an ethnographic collection, at a museum or university, on Taiwan. If such an anomaly can be studied and copied, you have it made. You can develop the design into something that will actually work (hopefully be more advanced than the rather crude SE Asian tribal flintlocks we've been talking about), and which reflects an actual development in the native cultures.
As Philip mentions, photos, dimensions, and measurements are very useful. But nothing tops being able to hold/view an actual specimen. I hope you do get to have a private view. Be sure to take clear photos and measurements. Don't forget to note if the barrel is round and tapered. If so, besides the barrel length, measure the approximate diameter at the breech, middle, and muzzle end. And take a bore gauge to measure the approximate caliber.
And a close-up photo of the lock/trigger and approximate length and height.

Philip: Thanks again for the education/history. Most interesting.

Rick
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Old 5th September 2016, 05:50 PM   #14
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A couple of thoughts, pertaining to use of the replica gun today for hunting:
SIGHTS: I don't recall seeing any on the Peabody-Essex Museum example, and none of the Indochina highland tribal examples have sights either. The latter judging from all the Vietnam War souvenirs I've handled at gun shows. I suppose that tribesmen used to taking game at short distances with bows, or crossbows, would find sights all that necessary on a gun barrel used under the same conditions. Especially considering that the barrel was smoothbore and we are looking at the likelihood of undersized slugs loaded without a ramrod.

You may feel more comfortable aiming at your game animals with a sighted barrel -- how about an unobtrusive shotgun-type bead sight on your barrel? In fact you may want to check your state hunting regulations to see if there are any minimum requirements. In a SE Asian and Far Eastern context, there is no "across the board" rule when it comes to the dominant, majority-population cultures in the region. Malay muskets tend to have no sights at all. Lowland Vietnamese matchlocks have a blade or bead front and no rear. Chinese and Japanese guns have both front and rear.

MINIMUM CALIBER: The regs probably specify that, for larger game like deer and boar. Most of these aboriginal muskets have very small bores, they are reminiscent of early American "squirrel rifles" or some of the sporting wheellock guns of central Europe. So if you want to be an ethnographic purist, you'll be using the gun for small game (hey, rabbit and squirrel is delicious!), or you may want to tweak things and go bigger if you'd like to go after deer.

RAMROD: For sheer convenience and ballistic performance, I can't imagine doing without one and it's a pain to carry one separately in the field. How about making your stock to hold a rod under the barrel, you can always display the gun without it at home and the small hole at the front end won't be noticeable. In the other thread on Taiwanese matchlocks I did a post on ramrods and there may be ideas you can use. If the rod fits snugly enough and the length of the forestock gives it enough support, you shouldn't need ramrod pipes on the bottom of the barrel.
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Old 15th September 2016, 05:44 PM   #15
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Thanks for the additional tips guys...

Talked with MassWildlife and read up on MA hunting laws... This firearm would fall into a weird category of being a muzzleloader pistol and because it doesn't have a shoulder stock, it is illegal to hunt with in MA.

But it is not illegal in neighboring states... Which now also opens up the possibility of hunting with a matchlock (probably more difficult due to match)... So, no longer restricted to flintlock though I'm not against it.

Scheduling a time with Peabody Essex Museum, excited to see this musket...

Hmmm…
I think I will make this .45 to meet requirements in most states, and I do think use a ramrod, just done in a way not to deviate too much from the aesthetic of the originals...

I am tempted to put sights on it, I don't have the lifestyle to allow me to get intimately attuned with and accurate with the firearm without sights at longer range... Then again, I can hit a deer with a longbow at normal hunting range so maybe it'll just take a little practice.

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Old 23rd September 2016, 07:56 PM   #16
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From the Qing Dynasty, the Han began to trade guns with the aborigines. Now, although the bolt-action rifles have replaced matchlocks from the seventeenth century, the aborigines continued to use them until the early twentieth century.

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Old 2nd October 2016, 01:06 AM   #17
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Hey y'all, so I contacted the Peabody-Essex Museum... looks like they're in a period of expansion and have cut down drastically on collection visits.

However, Gordon at the PEM has graciously taken some pics for me. I will of course be looking to schedule a visit regardless.

According to him:

"The matchlock rifle is described as follows in its original 1911 catalogue entry: "very long barrel, no trigger guard or sights, hammer lashed on. Short stock, varnished with black decorations, curves down like big pistol grip." Its dimensions are recorded as: length, barrel: 126.5 cm; stock: 26 cm; muzzle to butt: 149.5 cm. The work in question was donated in 1911 by a Rimpei Otsu or Taihoku, Formosa. A quick internet search suggests that Otsu served as the Superintendent of the Bureau of Aboriginal Affairs in the Government of Formosa during Japanese colonial rule. "
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Old 2nd October 2016, 04:57 PM   #18
rickystl
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Hey!! Thanks for the pics. The gun is really different than I expected.
STOCK: Appears from the photos it's one-piece. But the severity of the bend and the length of the pistol grip are more than I expected. Wonder how they did this ?
BARREL: Appears from the photos that it is octagon at the breech and round - but not tapered - for the rest of the length.

I don't really see a pan on the barrel. And can't really figure out how the trigger/serpentine action works.

Please do keep us updated after your eventual visit. Building a copy could turn out most interesting. Thanks for the pics.

Rick
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Old 3rd October 2016, 05:18 AM   #19
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Hey Ricky,
Can't believe this is the same gun I handled at the Peabody-Essex a decade ago. Seems to have deteriorated. It was once in functioning condition. Note that the serpentine is detached and of course the connecting cord is busted. Hard to determine from these low-res pics where exactly it was once attached. And yes, don't see any provision for a pan either. Looking through the images in Stone's GLOSSARY I see that they are very low-res and provide no further detail. The caption does, however, mention that the stock is held by one capucine, and by a key-bolt under the tang. The latter is a very interesting feature that these online images DO show, it's an ingenious solution in a culture without screw-cutting technology. I've seen some very similar barrel-attachment methods on some Malay and Sri Lankan guns. Let me call my buddy in San Diego and try and get him to take better pics of his example. He had a plumbing leak affecting a couple rooms of the house and things have been a mess this last month or so.
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Old 3rd October 2016, 05:33 AM   #20
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The illustration in Stone, and my recollections from handling the piece, indicate a very rudimentary mechanism (which is unfortunately damaged at present, the serpentine is separated from the gun). The trigger hangs from a pin driven transversely through the stock, through a neatly-chiseled rectangular mortise opening on the underside. A piece of cord, tied through a hole at the approximate midpoint of the exposed part of the trigger, attaches to the shank of the serpentine which is located ahead of the trigger by a few inches. Serpentine rotates on a pivot pin, and swings back (towards shooter) to reach the pan. So pulling the trigger back also moves the serpentine backward via the cord. It doesn't get any simpler than that. I did not see any provision for a return spring for either trigger or serpentine, as would be the case with a European sear-action matchlock, or a Turco-Persian style lock (common also in India, Tibet, and most of China).

So presumably, the shooter had to manually reposition the serpentine in its forward, away-from-the-pan position after shooting. I remember it being fairly loose on the original gun, but for safety and ease of handling, the reproduction lock should have a modicum of "tightness" to the pivoting action so the arm (and lit match) don't go flopping back and forth as the gun is handled in the field. This is also a consideration since I don't recall there being a pivoting cover attached to the pan. The degree of pressure holding the serpentine in any given position should not, of course, be enough to make operation of the trigger inconvenient.
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Old 4th October 2016, 04:23 PM   #21
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Hi Philip.

Thanks for the explanation. Now I understand. As you mention, it doesn't get any simpler than that. LOL I think the most difficult part of building the replica is finding a stock blank WIDE enough to accommodate that length. Good, clear photos of the lock area will be needed. Would make for an interesting build.

Rick
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Old 4th October 2016, 08:26 PM   #22
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I would suggest you find a tree limb roughly shaped to what you want. It was probably steam bent at the time. If you cut the form out of a plank like pine and use it the first time it gets to much pressure it is going to crack along the grain.
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