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The flintlock mechanism, or just flintlock, was an earlier style of gunlock invented in the mid-1600s, that succeeded the wheellock. It was later adopted by the British Army during the 1660s; they later built and manufactured the iconic Brown Bess rifle, which utilised a flintlock mechanism. The flintlock was very popular in colonial America, as well as during the American Revolutionary War, on both British and American sides. The flintlock was heavily used until the mid-1800s, when it was replaced by the caplock mechanism.


The flintlock mechanism consists of four main parts.


The side mechanics of a flintlock rifle.

  • The hammer, which contains the piece of flint that strikes the frizzen.
  • The flash pan, which contains the powder which ignites the powder in the barrel after being ignited by sparks from the hammer striking the frizzen.
  • The frizzen, that creates sparks when the hammer strikes it, igniting the powder in the flashpan.
  • The barrel, which is loaded with the main powder and projectile.

After the weapon had been fired, the wielder, would load gunpowder down the barrel, along with a projectile wrapped in either cloth or paper. Next, the wielder would cock the hammer containing the flint, then the wielder would load black powder into the flashpan, and secure the frizzen down on the pan. Then when the wielder pulled the trigger, the hammer with the flint would strike the frizzen, exposing the flashpan, and at the same time creating sparks, which ignited the powder in the pan, which then ignited the main powder in the barrel, then firing the projectile out of the barrel.

The snaphanceEdit


An animated diagram of a snaphance while being fired.

The snaphance was actually an early version of the flintlock, which was invented around 1570, that is mainly labeled as the main flintlock invention in timelines. It utilized the same parts as a regular flintlock, though instead of a frizzen (which also covered the flash pan), it used a part that was mearly a shaped piece with a steel face, which the hammer with flint struck, which made sparks that ignited the powder in the flash pan.

Differences between the snaphance and the flintlockEdit


A typical flintlock pistol.


An animated diagram of a flintlock while being fired.

Thereare certain differences between the snaphance and the main flintlock, for instance, instead of a frizzen, the snaphance has a piece with a face of steel, (which didn't always make enough sparks to ignite the powder in the flash pan after being stricken by the hammer containing the flint); as well as the fact that the snaphance's flash pan is smaller.

See alsoEdit


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