Flintlock
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Basic Information

The last of the "self sparking" firearm lock types which replaced matchlock and wheellock in small arms (and was in turn replaced by caplock) and which was also adopted for ordnance triggering by most nations. Almost exclusively a system for black powder, muzzle loading weapons, although a few, primitive breech loading weapons also used this system.

The lock itself comprised of a spring loaded arm holding a piece of shaped flint which the user cocked back against the spring and then released with the trigger - the flint would then be struck against a steel plate called the frizzen generating a spray of sparks which would - in theory - ignite the propellant.

As long as you had a few spare flints and mainsprings the flintlock was pretty good for its day - a lot cheaper and harder to break than a wheellock and yet self sparking which put it up head and shoulders over matchlock weapons. Of course it still worked on powder and shot and was vulnerable to bad weather, but it lasted from the start of the seventeenth century until the caplock came into widespread use in around the 1830s.

When the end came, flintlock weapons could be converted to caplock fairly easily - replacing the frizzen with a nipple on which to place a cap allowed old weapons to be kept in use (albiet crudely).

Sources

Bibliography
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