Saturday, April 9, 2016

The History of the Flintlock Blunderbuss Pistol



If you were going to sail the high seas in the late 1600s, then you may very well have had a Flintlock Blunderbusspistol on board to keep the enemy from boarding your ship and stealing your cargo. This short-barreled firearm with its flared muzzle was a favorite weapon of pirates who sometimes also used the weapon to steal cargo from other ships.

Historians believe that Henrich Thielman first developed this muzzle in Germany. He applied for a patent for the gun in 1598 calling it the Donderbuschse which translated means the thunder gun. The components of this gun were usually made of brass while the stock was usually made of walnut. Early manufacturers played with using other woods, however, none proved to be as durable as those made from walnut. Since these were military arms made to be used by the lowest paid soldiers most were created without any adornment.

Shortly after its development, military men in Denmark and England found this to be their weapon of choice as it was very useful when facing their enemies in close quarters. Often, a crew member would cling to the outside of a ship with one hand while firing the Blunderbuss gun at their enemy with their other hand.

It’s very likely, that the gun made its way to America aboard early ships that brought some of the first settlers to the new country.

As gunsmiths had time to experiment with different designs when there were no active wars going on, these pistols became more elaborate often being engraved with simple scroll work or classical figures. Soon, gunsmiths started experiment with different designs adding a sliding safety catch, a checkered wrist improving the shooter's grip, and roller bearings with frizzen springs attacked. While a few guns were made with folding bayonets, most warriors found these too dangerous so they never became popular.

As tools and gunsmith's skills improved, the pistol was further enhanced with cannon-type muzzles being added to guns. It was not until the later part of the 17th century that Blunderbuss pistols made their first appearance complete with percussion ignition systems. Gunsmiths made these pistols, unlike the earlier guns, very ornate selling them to wealthy clientele that were interested in protecting themselves. Most of these pistols were created in England with Joseph Heylin making many for use during the English Civil War of 1642-48 as a personal defense weapon against highwaymen. While they were never adopted by the Royal Family, many military guards used them as their personal guns when they needed to control large crowds.


The flintlock Blunderbuss pistol was the weapon of choice for many of England's first police officers. They were also often carried by American leaders during the American Revolution. This pistol has left its mark on many different countries.

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