Around 1650, the overall weight of the musket was reduced to about 16 pounds and the caliber made standard at 10 gauge. Recife Subway Map This then meant that musket bore became a standard of measure. It is interesting to note that the standard musket ball was a 12 gauge, substantially smaller in diameter than the musket’s caliber. Using a smaller ball would have eased loading, because the barrel would foul after several discharges, reducing the actual bore, but it also increased the musket’s unreliability with regard to accuracy.
The actual operating system of the matchlocks was simplicity in itself. There was a forked holder for the match mounted on the outside of the lock, which became known as the serpentine. This was, in turn, attached on the inside of the lock to a lever (sear). This lock would then pivot in the center on the inside of the lock plate. The trigger, which looked like a crossbow trigger, was attached to the end of the lock opposite the serpentine. An upward pressure on the trigger, working through the sear, depressed the serpentine, which held the match in an arc toward the flash pan, which held the priming powder.
The match would ignite the powder, which would set off the charge in the barrel by means of a small hole from the pan into the interior of the barrel. There would also be a small spring fastened to the lock that put a force on the sear, keeping the serpentine away from the pan and avoiding accidental discharges. A hinged cover on the pan could be closed when not firing. The match itself was a loosely braided cord soaked in saltpeter so that it would burn at a measured rate, which was about 4 to 5 inches an hour.
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