3. EVOLUTION OF FIRE ARMS.
Written records of early fire arms are incomplete due to the reasons stated in sub-para 2.1 above, as such it has, so far, not been possible to find out when and who designed the first metallic tube through which to propel projectile using an explosive substance. The term “lock” was used with early fire-arms to indicate the device used to fire the weapon. A brief on main types of lock is given below:
3.1. The Cannon Lock:
The earliest fire arms were fired by holding a lighted coal or hot iron against powder placed over a touch hole at the rear of the barrel section. The flame flashed through the hole into the powder charge which had been loaded from the muzzle.
3.2. The Match Lock:
The Match Lock was originally a ‘C’shaped piece of metal pivoted to the side of the stock. It was split to grip a cord generally made of hemp treated with chemicals to make it slow burning at the rate of about 8 to 12 cm per hour.
3.3. The Wheel Lock:
The Military and sporting needs for an ignition system which would not depend on lighted match or live coal led directly to the development of the “Wheel Lock”. Its principle was same as that of early time cigarette lighters.
3.4. The Snaphaunce:
In the jaws of the cock a piece of pyrites was fastened instead of match holder (as in case of match lock). A steel point or anvil was provided near the touch hole. Pulling the trigger released the cock. Its spring forced it ahead. The flint striking a glancing blow at the steel anvil showered sparks into the priming powder.
3.5. The Flint Lock: It was a modification of the snaphounce.
3.6. The Percussion Lock:
Percussion firing required use of an explosive which will detonate when struck a sharp blow. Gun powder of an early day could not be exploded this way, though certain types made today can be. In its initial form fulminate of mercury was used as priming powder.