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Wheel-lock pistol: HEN.M.437-1933

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Object information

Current Location: Gallery 31 (Armoury)






Wheel-lock pistol, Italian, c.1600, with mark inside lock.

Legal notes

J.S. Henderson Bequest

Measurements and weight

Length: 47 cm
Weight: 1305 g

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Bequeathed (1933-03-16) by Henderson, James Stewart


17th Century, Early#
Production date: circa AD 1600


The wheellock pistol, which first appeared around 1500, had a firing mechanism which consisted of a steel wheel with a serrated edge mounted on the lockplate and attached to a strong spring. The axle of the wheel was square and it was turned with a detachable key through about half a turn where it was held by a catch attached to a trigger mechanism. The cock was mounted behind the wheel and could be lowered to hold a piece or flint or pyrites, fixed in its jaws, against the edge of the wheel. On releasing the trigger the wheel spun back to its resting position and in so doing the serrated edge caused a spray of sparks to ignite the priming powder in the pan set against the side of the barrel. A small hole connected the pan with the inside of the barrel where the main charge was set, igniting it and setting off the bullet. This is a very typical wheellock pistol – the stock, the wooden piece on which the barrels and lock are mounted, is very straight, unlike later pistols where the grip is angled downwards.

Identification numbers

Accession number: HEN.M.437-1933
Primary reference Number: 19548
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Tuesday 20 April 2021 Last processed: Thursday 3 August 2023

Associated departments & institutions

Owner or interested party: The Fitzwilliam Museum
Associated department: Applied Arts

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The Fitzwilliam Museum (2023) "Wheel-lock pistol" Web page available at: Accessed: 2023-10-05 01:37:12

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