Our Fiocchi Ammo Sacramento shop understands the need for enthusiasts to know the history behind the firearms they’re shooting. Today we go into the origins of gunpowder and the tools used to create it into a firearm we know today.
Gunpowder was first created in China in the 9th century, but for unusual reasons. Chinese alchemists were finding out ways to improve their medical treatments by using sulfur and saltpeter (potassium nitrate). The true purpose of gunpowder, however, was to gain immortality. The next place to utilize gunpowder after China was Mongolia, then the islamic empires of the day. The matchlock was the next step in the ignition process.
The new innovation of the Matchlock was that it could be fired with one hand, but the main problem is that it needs the match to stay lit which is a problem in rain and snow. The next step after the matchlock is generating a spark on-demand.
No one knows the true origins of the wheellock, though they seemed to have come from Nuremberg or Vienna at the beginning of the 16th century. Some historians credit Leonardo Da Vinci with inventing the wheellock based on drawings he made.
Wheellocks were followed by the snaphaunce, which preceded the flintlock. This time if the wheel spun against a piece of flint, it held up against the hammer and struck the anvil above the priming powder.
The flintlock followed in the steps of the snaphaunce, which included a flint that bolted into the hammer and strikes the anvil. The creation of the flintlock had a transformational effect on warfare. Soldiers were now able to stand together and volley fire effectively without the threat of a burning match.
The next step in the ignition process was pioneered by Reverend Forsyth. He created the percussion ignition using the gun’s hammer which ignites a fulminate of mercury. This causes an ignition in gunpowder. Once the British discovered Forsyth’s creation, they quickly realized it could be used on enemy armies.
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