Classic Firearms | All you need to know about historical firearms and their characteristics

Classic firearms encompass a category of historically significant firearms that have gained popularity among the military, law enforcement, collectors, and


Shubham Kumar

1/29/20246 min read

Classic firearms encompass a category of historically significant firearms that have gained popularity among the military, law enforcement, collectors, and enthusiasts. These firearms typically belong to older models that played a crucial role in significant historical events. Furthermore, they served as the foundation for the development of modern firearms.

In this article, we will delve into the realm of classic firearms, providing examples and discussing their mechanization importance throughout history.

Lets Start with Historical Classic Firearms

Historical classic firearms hold prominent grounds in developments of today's modern firearms. These classic firearms is the base foundation of the modern firearms, however, classic firearms are still eye catchy and will always be.

Early Hand Cannons | Classic Firearms

The earliest type of firearm was simply a cannon of iron and bronze fitted to a frame or stock. The weapons were loaded from the muzzle end of the barrel with powder, wad and the ball. A small hole at the breach end of the barrel was provided with a pan, to place the primer powers to ignite the charge. On ignition into that hole, the primer powder burns and produces the gaseous pressure, followed by launching the projectile.

To launch the projectile from the hand cannons, the ball was firstly filled via muzzle end. Then the primer power was stiffed from the muzzle end after the ball was inserted. On the breach end of the hand cannon, a hole is provided. From that small hole, the ignition was done. On ignition from that hole, the shot was launched by the force exerted during the expansion of gases occur within the action mechanism of hand cannon.

Matchlock | Classic Firearms

The construction of the match lock firearm is similar to that of early hand cannon, however, with one minor change. The match lock firearm requires a slow burning match cord to launch the projectile. Projectile of the match lock is loaded from the muzzle end of the barrel. Furthermore, a small touch hole was provided on the breach end of the barrel, for ignition. The hole contains the primer charge, ignited by the slow burning match cord, fitted on the curved hook screw at the side of the frame.

To the launch the projectile, the ball was first filled into the firearm, via muzzle end. The primer powder was placed in the touch hole. Slow burning match cord was fitted on the curved hook screw present at the side of the frame. When the trigger is pulled, the curved hook screw bend towards the touch hole, followed by the ignition of primer powder by burning match cord. The ignition produces the gaseous pressure, followed by the launching of projectile.

Wheellock | Classic Firearms

The wheel lock firearm consists of the serrated steel wheel mounted on the side of weapon at the rare of the barrel. The wheel adjusted on the side of firearm is loaded with the spring. Moreover, it contains chain which rounds its axel via a knob or spanner.

The small hole is provided on the breach end of the barrel, however, there are no burning object present. Instead, the piece of iron pyrite is place on the pan. When the trigger is pulled, the piece of iron pyrite is subjected to strike the primer powder, producing spark, followed by ignition of firearm. The evolution from a burning match cord to the wheel holds prominent grounds in major development of firearm.

To launch the projectile, the ball is filled from the muzzle end of the barrel. The piece of iron pyrite is fixed on the pan, and primer powder is placed in the small hole. When the wheel is spined by the spanner, the chain would round the axel. Furthermore, the spring will get tensioned, while a simple lock will keep the wheel unwinding, until the trigger is pulled.

The piece of iron pyrite and the primer powder is dully checked relative to their respected positions. When the trigger is pulled, the flash pan containing the iron pyrite, Stikes on the hole, containing primer powder. This creates a spark, leading to burning of the primer powder, followed by launching of the projectile by the wheel lock firearm.

Though wheel lock firearm, holds prominent grounds in evolution of firearms, therefore, during early ages, wheel lock was bit expensive. However, has only one limitation. Once spanner lost, the users will left by no other mechanism to spin the wheel. Therefore, the wheellock will not help for further applications.


The ignition system that surpassed the wheel lock mechanism' limitation was the flint lock mechanism. This mechanism includes the spark produced by striking a piece of flint against the iron-steel plate. The flint is tightly held by the hammer screw, which is rotated towards the steel plate, when the trigger is pulled. Moreover, flint lock mechanism also includes the safety notch, which prevents from further accidental fires.

To fire the projectile from the flint lock firearm, the primer powder is first filled in the firearm from the muzzle end, followed by loading the ball (Lead Shot) covered in the paper or cloth from the same muzzle end. The ram rod placed down the barrel is used to settle down the projectile in the barrel. The iron pyrite is filled in the flash pan and the piece of flint is fitted in the hammer cock screw. When the trigger is pulled, the piece of flint strikes the iron-steel plate, produces flash, leads to ignition of primer powder, followed by launching of projectile by the flintlock firearm.

Percussion Cap

This mechanism evolved the loading practices of projectiles in the firearms. Unlike other classic firearms, percussion cap firearm, is loaded from the breach end. This mechanism fires the projectile by striking on the percussion cap. The striking produces flash, followed by the ignition of main primer charge in the breach end, which launches the projectile. One of the special feature of the percussion cap firearm is that, they use Mercury Fulminate as the primer powder. This is highly sensitive chemical compounds, which holds potential to launch projectile with high velocity. The evolution in percussion cap firearm is reflected in today's self contained cartridges.


Rimfire cartridges featured a thin-walled casing with a hollow flanged rim. Striking the rim with the firing pin crushed the rim and ignited the primer compound, igniting the propellant inside the case.


Pinfire firearms were the earliest self-contained cartridge-loading weapons. The propellant, missile, and primer were held together in a brass case. Striking the pin with the weapon's hammer caused the pin.

Additionally, we have some evolved Classic Firearms

Mauser C96 (Broomhandle Mauser): It a semi-automatic pistol falls in the category of handguns. This pistol was Designed by Paul Mauser and was first time introduced in 1896. On of the most eye catchy feature of this pistol was the hostler and detachable box magazine.

Colt Single Action Army (Colt Peacemaker): This firearm is widely known as the Colt Peacemaker. This revolver was introduced in 1873 and gets widespread attention among lawmen, outlaws, and settlers during the late 19th century.

M1 Garand: The M1 Garand was the first ever semi-automatic rifle to be adopted as standard military firearm. This spectacular firearm was designed by John Garand. M1 Garand gained widespread popularity among war zones, therefore served as standard-issue rifle for the United States military during World War II and the Korean War.

Winchester Model 1873: This is regarded as one of the best and successful lever action rifle to be used during 1900s. Popularly referred to as the "Gun that Won the West. The most prominent feature of this rifle was its reliability and smooth action, moreover, it can be chambered in various calibers.

Browning Auto-5: The Browning Auto-5 was the first ever successful semi-automatic shotgun made in 1900s. This spectacular weapon was designed by John Browning in1902. One of the most prominent feature of this firearm was its long-recoil operating system.


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