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Favorite Historical Firearms

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Old 04-24-2013, 10:05 AM   #91
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I've been fascinated by the Puckle gun ever since seeing a replica one once many years ago. Yep, dated 1718! In fact it pre-dates the first true flintlock revolvers by almost 100 years. Although it never gained fame and popularity in itself, it interesting to note that many years later when Ft. Ticonderoga was first captured very early in the American Revolution, some of these were seized and used in defense by the first Continental Army...


James Puckle's 'Defence Gun' 1718

This was the first well-documented rapid-fire gun, patented to new patent regulations in 1718. It was, in effect, a flintlock revolver with a barrel 3 feet long and a bore of 1.25 inches. The pre-loaded 'cylinder' held 11 charges and could fire 63 shots in 7 minutes. This rate of 9 shots/min was three times quicker than the fastest infantryman.

It was designed for ship-board use, to prevent boarding, but never really took off. A quirk of the original patent was that it was designed to fire ball at 'civilised' enemies and square shot at Turks. Square shot was considered more damaging and would convince the Turks of the 'benefits of Christian civilisation'.

While this seems rather racist today, it should be seen in the context of the time. The Turks were pushing into Eastern Europe, one of the cradles of Christianity, converting the conquered to Islam. They occupied much of the southern and eastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea and raided any ships sailing these coasts, as they did by habit. The method of attack was by small, fast sailing craft, which were hard to hit with broadside cannon. They came alongside, boarded the vessel and killed or enslaved the crew. Puckle and his contemporaries must have considered this behaviour most barbaric.
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