Talk:Musket

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
WikiProject Military history (Rated C-Class)
MILHIST This article is within the scope of the Military history WikiProject. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the project and see a list of open tasks. To use this banner, please see the full instructions.
C This article has been rated as C-Class on the quality assessment scale.
WikiProject Firearms (Rated Start-class)
WikiProject icon This article is within the scope of WikiProject Firearms, a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of firearms on Wikipedia. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the discussion and see a list of open tasks.
Start-Class article Start  This article has been rated as Start-Class on the project's quality scale.
Checklist icon
 ???  This article has not yet received a rating on the project's importance scale.
 

Doubt it[edit]

Your photo: "Matchlock musket balls, alleged to have been discovered at Naseby battlefield." Might have been discovered at Naseby but they ain't musket balls, no way no how. They are steel canister shot from a cannon. There were never any steel musket balls used. 1) Steel is way way harder to cast than lead. 2) Steel balls would render your musket barrel useless after about 10 rounds. Back to the drawing board for your photo if you want it to be of actual musket balls.

So your claims are these:
  • You can tell that these unlabelled spheres are steel, not lead. Just from one photo.
  • Canister shot was steel (It wasn't, it was iron. Until the later 19th century, steel was expensive compared to iron)
  • Canister shot was in use at Naseby, in the mid-17th century.
Or just possibly, these are lead musket balls, as commonly found on any civil war battlefield. Andy Dingley (talk) 00:18, 12 March 2013 (UTC)


Those are clearly iron balls, not lead. Lead does not form reddish oxides --- "rust" --- as can clearly be seen on the Naseby projectiles. If Andy can't tell the difference between red iron rust and white lead oxide then he is clearly not competent to be editing here.
Iron was not used for musket balls for any number of reasons, including the difficulty of making a consistently-sized ball that would be large enough to provide an acceptable seal in the musket bore while not being so large that it would jam and cause destructive pressure levels resulting in the barrel bursting. The inability to produce iron balls in the field, compared to the ease of casting lead using nothing more than a camp fire, was another reason.
Removed image of iron canister shot balls. There is an image of a lead musket ball at http://www.nm.blm.gov/features/dinetah/disk_images/new_spain/musket_ball_600.jpg which should be available for use, as it's on a US government website with non-copyright content. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 63.152.111.158 (talk) 20:38, 7 July 2014 (UTC)

Rifles. Jagers[edit]

I got ri of: "When the rifle was invented in the West, the musket lost its status as the dominant weapon." because risles were i n use in early 1600's long before it became common as a battle weapon. I also put in about rifles in use in early 1600s warfare. 68.239.11.62 (talk) 09:46, 17 July 2009 (UTC)

14th century?[edit]

Where does that date come from? All the references I have seen say 16th century. --Brunnock 15:12, Jun 13, 2005 (UTC)

Wondering the same. Earlier ones must have been arquebuses, confused with muskets. 85.157.2.152 11:13, 1 August 2005 (UTC)
I changed it to 15th century, because the earliest date for a musket I can remember is 1502 and it is possible there were earlier muskets I assume the writer mistook the late 1400s for late 14th century. 82.135.92.153 16:41, 4 March 2006 (UTC)

Review of this article[edit]

This article has been reviewed - not very favorably - by comparing it against the corresponding World Book article here ("Wikiwatch"). regards, High on a tree 23:51, 10 January 2006 (UTC)

It's been improved a lot since then however Jdorney 18:16, 6 February 2006 (UTC)

I must disagree with this statement: "alibers ranged from .50 to .75 inches (Numbers. [-1])" - a -1 is a "useless" fact. I don't believe this is useless. I also don't find the following "useless" - " a user is called a "musketman"/"musketeer". (Obvious. [-1])" It may not be obvious to some. Some may think that calling one a musketman is inaccurate, which is not the case.
The critic also states that "As bullets, muskets used spherical lead balls packed in a paper cartridge which also held the Gunpowder propellant. The balls, slightly smaller than the bore, came wrapped in a loosely-fitting paper patch which formed the upper part of the cartridge." is redundant. Hardly. - Ta bu shi da yu 03:23, 18 February 2006 (UTC)

Italy - the first designers of the Musket?[edit]

According to this site:

The value of breech-loading is the time saved in inserting the cartridge into the breech (the back end of the barrel) rather than down the muzzle. Experiments in this direction go back to the 17th century, when a breech-loading musket is produced in Italy (possibly invented in Florence by Michele Lorenzoni). Practical versions are later developed in Britain by Patrick Ferguson (in 1776) and in the United States by John Hall (in 1811).

Can anyone confirm this? - Ta bu shi da yu 03:16, 18 February 2006 (UTC)

"packed in a paper cartridge"[edit]

According to WikiWatch (see above), the sentence "packed in a paper cartridge" is somewhat misleading as "only later ones were". Is this correct? If so, can we get it corrected? - Ta bu shi da yu 03:27, 18 February 2006 (UTC)

The paper cartridge was introduced after about 1650 - Source Jeremy Black, European Warfare 1660-1815 (Routledge 1994) page 39. It's introduction co-incided with the replacement of hte matchlock by the flintlock. Jdorney 17:48, 1 March 2006 (UTC)

Arquebus Are Muskets?[edit]

As far as I have read Arquebus are not muskets but a earlier gun of their own. So I might change this. Zachorious 10:07, 30 April 2006 (UTC)

Moral objection to rifles?[edit]

"At the time of the American Revolution, many British soldiers were outraged by the American colonist's use of rifles. They believed that since the Brown Bess musket had no sights, they were not responsible for the deaths of enemy soldiers. But riflemen, who selected a target and fixed the enemy soldier or officer in their sights were no better than murderers."

I had never heard of this objection or outrage. Have you a source?


I heard a lot about the rifles and muskets in the revolution but I have never heard about this. Did someone just make this up or is there a source? Bunker fox 20:06, 3 February 2007 (UTC)

This is nonsense - the British had a regiment of light infantry partially armed with rifled muskets set up just before the American Revolution.


"They believed that since the Brown Bess musket had no sights, they were not responsible for the deaths of enemy soldiers."

One of the most ridiculous sentences I've ever read! NOT true!!! —Preceding unsigned comment added by 82.82.55.8 (talk) 17:37, 9 January 2008 (UTC)

Just shoot me?[edit]

I rewrote this:

"A musket is a muzzle-loaded, smoothbore long gun, which its user generally fires from the shoulder. The date of the origin of muskets remains unknown, but they are mentioned as early as the late 15th century, and they were primarily designed for use by infantry. Muskets became obsolete by the middle of the 19th century, as cartridge breechloading repeaters superseded them. Typical musket calibres ranged from .50 to .80 inches. Depending on the type and calibre, it could hit a man's torso at up to 200 yards, though it was only reliably accurate to about 100 yards. A soldier primarily armed with a musket had the designation of a musketman or of a musketeer."

I've already changed rifle to "cartridge breechloading repeaters", because I added this:

"Improved with the introduction of rifling around 1800, muzzleloading rifled muskets (of the kind common in the American Civil War) became obsolete by the late 19th century"

and this:

"the rifle musket, common on both sides in the U.S. Civil War, was accurate at twice that, and could easily kill a man at over a kilometer."

(To that, I'd add it could do the job through 10cm of pine, but I wasn't sure that much detail was really necessary.)

I also rewrote this:

"Gustavus Adolphus pioneered the use of the volley or "salvo" as an offensive tactic for Swedish infantry in the Thirty Years' War."

to this:

"Gustav II made two important changes. First, he simplifed and standardized reloading, then drilled his musketeers ceaslessly until they reload in action by reflex, without becoming distracted. (Recall the scene in the film "Glory".) Second, he pioneered the use of the volley or "salvo" as an offensive tactic for Swedish infantry in the Thirty Years' War."

I rely on Dyer's War & Dupuy's Evolution of Weapons & Warfare. Trekphiler 01:18 & 01:32, 13 October 2006 (UTC)

Why this emphasis on the American Civil War?

Outside Europe[edit]

Actually musket-type guns were available to many non-Europeans in the Middle East and Asia as early as 1500s. It was the Middle Easterners that introduced firearms to Europe. The Mughals introduced musket-type firearms to India during their invasion nearly 500 years ago. The Ming had musket-type firearms as well. We need to correct this. Zachorious 20:34, 11 November 2006 (UTC)


The earliest European "hand-gonnes" date to the 1300s, well before any Mughal or Ming usage.

http://www.musketeer.ch/blackpowder/handgonne.html —Preceding unsigned comment added by 97.127.152.206 (talk) 15:59, 24 February 2011 (UTC)

Obsolescence and replacement by the rifle[edit]

"The disadvantage of the early rifle for military use was its long reloading time and the tendency of rifling to get damaged when reloaded hurriedly."

Over the life of a rifle, wear of the rifling would have degraded accuracy. However, during the course of battle the real problem was that powder fouling would accumulate in the rifling making the piece harder to load with each shot, until finally the weapon couldn't be loaded anymore until the bore was wiped clean. I have made an edit to reflect this. Jmueller71 16:40, 9 January 2007 (UTC)

Battle Of Nagashino[edit]

I always thought that the Oda army used arquebuses instead of muskets? Is that right or wrong? All the sources I read (and I can't remember the names of the books so don't ask) stated that they used arquebuses. It would be good if someone could help sought this out

Bunker fox 20:01, 3 February 2007 (UTC)

Outside Eurasia Instead[edit]

I can't believe that no one has done anything about this......muskets were used all over Eurasia. Outside Eurasia is more accurate. I'm going to change this section a bit. Zachorious 04:54, 17 July 2007 (UTC)

Musket vs Arquebuse[edit]

There seems to be a confusion on what the definition of a musket vs arquebuse is. While both terms are often treated differently, arquebuse are often treated as muskets. Both are smoothbore that use similar ammunition (and have similar actions). So the arquebuse can be considered a earlier form of a musket. And if muskets don't only include the later smoothbore firearms, then all earlier firearms with the same method of action including the first Chinese bamboo hand canon fits the description. Unless citated otherwise I am going to restore some mention of arquebuse as a musket. I am aware that the term musket is of European (French if I'm correct) origin.......but that linguistics doesn't change anything here. Zachorious 22:00, 24 August 2007 (UTC)

Opening paragraph is a mess[edit]

The first paragraph, far from given a clear summary of the subject, is just plain confusing. Some of that confusion has been noted in discussions above, but nothing's been resolved. Dates of introduction, use and obsolescence are in conflict, smoothbore vs. rifled jumps about, and range and weight are disputed.

Usually, it's agreed that the arquebus preceded the musket, and the rifle followed it. But it's not that simple.

Originally, the term "musket" was used for a heavy version of an arquebus. Later, it appears that some muskets were the first to use the matchlock. When the matchlock became more popular, the name migrated from referring to weight to referring to the firing mechanism.

Rifling was around for a long time before "the rifle". At first, only hunting weapons used rifled grooves, because it took so long to load them. With the minié ball and reliable percussion caps replacing flint sparkers, the "rifled musket" replaced the smoothbore musket, but was still usually still called a "musket".

In short, at least three very different weapons were all called muskets.

With excellent training, people could hit targets at 200 yds with smoothbore muskets. Most soldiers weren't trained for range, and seldom fired at more than 50 yds. But the same could be said for rifles; training matters far more than the weapon for range.

I'd fix the opening paragraph, but saying "it's all confusing" isn't much help. Plus, this is all from my memory -- I don't have references at hand. But maybe with these hints someone can start to improve things.

--A D Monroe III 01:33, 25 August 2007 (UTC)

Enough sourced information has been added to the "development" section to allow me to try an clean up the intro. Please review. --A D Monroe III (talk) 19:11, 8 November 2008 (UTC)

Loading and Firing Commands[edit]

Just a question about the commands used. Were these the actual commands that were uttered in battle? Or were these just for practice/training? Also, how about the command "Make Ready"? This command is used in movies. Is it real? If it is, does it warrant a mention in this section? I'm guessing that the commands were not always the same (ie. Present vs. Take aim). Ace blazer (talk) 18:23, 28 July 2008 (UTC)

The actual commands varied significantly. Not only the terms used, but the steps themselves could be quite different. Some drills has fewer, more general steps, some had more than twice as many, with every single motion called out. --A D Monroe III (talk) 19:17, 8 November 2008 (UTC)

I have a question why the description of loading an 18th century musket has been altered to not have the butt of the musket touch the ground? i notice there is no attribution for this description. In loading according to the manual of arms, the weapon was placed along the left leg, the butt essentially against the left foot, trigger guard facing inward. There are enough contemporary descriptions and surviving manual of arms to attest to this. The height and weight of the musket would have made it touching the ground during this procedure quite cumbersome.

I thought I would ask before making an corrections. MarechalNey (talk) 23:27, 13 August 2012 (UTC)

biting?[edit]

This article discounts as a modern myth the idea that bullets were bitten off of a paper cartridge. However, in the article on paper cartridge (and one or 2 other related articles I have come across but the titles of which escape me at the moment) has this as a standard practice. So what is it?Wschart (talk) 21:21, 24 January 2009 (UTC)

First evidence[edit]

I'm removing the line "Used by the Ming and Qing dynasties of China from at least the 14th century,[1]" for the reference text does not really contain a mention to anything resembling musket; cannons are by no means personal weapons as musket is. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 98.171.162.152 (talk) 07:27, 26 January 2009 (UTC)

I suggest removing the whole "First evidence" section. In the intro and the in "Development" section that follows, it's stated that the musket was a name applied to many weapons. So having a "First evidence" section is nonsense, and is troll bait. It's like having "First cruiser" section in automobile; the name could retroactively be applied to any number of vehicles, making in meaningless to say which is first.
BTW, the picture of 14th century "musketeers" in China is meaningless for the same reason. Unless the Chinese used the actual European word "musketeers" for these soldiers (unlikely since it hadn't been invented yet), whose to say these aren't 14th century "arquebusiers"?
--A D Monroe III (talk) 15:07, 26 January 2009 (UTC)
With no other opinions given for a month, I'm going ahead and removing this section. --A D Monroe III (talk) 20:39, 28 February 2009 (UTC)

Incorrection[edit]

At the first line it states: "A musket is a muzzle-loaded, smooth bore long gun" somewhat further however, it states that the final muskets were equipped with "rifling". This is untrue, as it states that is was a smooth bore weapon. Rather, it think the writer meant that the bullets had a stabilising spin, which was done using the minié bullet; however the barrel itself was still smooth (not rifled). In the rifled musket article this same incorrection returns by making it sound like the minié ball required rifling of the barrel; this is not so, it was simply shot from a conventional smooth bore rifle. Please correct this, and also change the rifled musket page accordingly. It should be aligned with a rifled barrel article, or (even better), the rifled musket page is best moved to rifled barrel and a new article is made stabilising-spin balls incompassing the minié bullet.

Finally, perhaps it can be mentioned that muskets had the propellant mixture (gunpowder) and the metal ball seperated, and these needed to be introduced seperatly when loading the musket.

KVDP (talk) 11:01, 29 December 2009 (UTC)

Rifled muskets are generally referred to as muskets. This is further clarified on the rifled musket page. Minié balls were also used with rifled barrels and were not generally fired from smooth bore muskets. More info on that is on the talk page for rifled muskets where you made a similar comment.

This page does not need to be changed. Engineer comp geek (talk) 06:23, 30 December 2009 (UTC)

I undid the previous edit by the user at IP 173.168.109.15, which added "or rifled" to the definition of a musket. Generally, muskets were not rifled. Rifles were rifled, muskets were smooth bore. Rifled-muskets were a special case, which is why they have a separate article dealing with them.

It would be ok to add a short description of rifled muskets somewhere within the musket article, as long as it makes it clear that these were a specific type of weapon. To generally say that muskets were smooth bore or rifled is incorrect, though. The general definition of a musket is that it is smooth bore. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Engineer comp geek (talkcontribs) 07:02, 15 April 2010 (UTC)

Ottomans using matchlocks[edit]

There is a gross misinterpretation of the source here. The source clearly states the ottomans adopted the matchlock after witnessing the hungarians using it. See here for the evidence.--Knight1993 (talk) 21:25, 13 September 2010 (UTC)

Modern military/police "muskets"[edit]

Added some info on "muskets" based on smooth-bore conversions of modern rifle designs as used by police and military, such as the .410 Indian Police musket conversion of the MkIII Lee-Enfield rifle.

Cartridge info at http://www.municion.org/41/410Indian.htm —Preceding unsigned comment added by 97.127.152.206 (talk) 19:18, 24 February 2011 (UTC)

Frizzen or Hammer ?[edit]

Using the term "Frizzen" to describe the plate of steel that sits atop the priming pan is incorrect. The proper 18th Century term is "Hammer"

In addition, the object that holds the flint which strikes the steel is NOT the Hammer; it is called the COCK. Once we enter the age of the percussion cap, then it is called a hammer.

"Frizzen cover" is also an anachronism. Both Simes and Cuthbertson talk of "hammer stalls", being used as a safety device, but there is no mention of frizzens or frizzen covers in either text. The hammer can also be referred to as a "steel," but should never be called a frizzen.

Cuthbertson, Captain Bennett, System for the Compleat Interior Management and Oeconomy of a Battalion of Infantry, Dublin, 1775 edition. Simes, Thomas, A Military Course for the Government and Conduct of a Battalion, London, 1777, Petersen, Harold L. Treasury of the Gun, Golden Press, New York, 1962 http://www.nwta.com/couriers/5-96/parts.html

16:46, 24 August 2011 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by 67.200.118.1 (talk)

There is absolutely nothing wrong with calling it a frizzen. That has been the accepted term since at least the late 1800s. Calling it a hammer just gets confusing with modern terminology, which is probably why that term fell out of favor some time in the the mid 1800s.

The differing terms and their use over the years might be worth discussing in the article on flintlock mechanisms, but it would probably be needless clutter in this article on muskets. The term frizzen isn't discussed in enough detail here to justify it, in my opinion. (just my 2 cents)

Engineer comp geek (talk) 07:29, 26 August 2011 (UTC)

Sound[edit]

Appearantly, some (rifle) muskets fired their balls at subsonic speed (ie .75 Brown Bess, see http://wn.com/Brown_Bess_Accuracy). However, I'm not sure whether as the caliber was reduced (to .577 and lower ) and as the shape of the ball was improved (to Minié ball), the ball was still subsonic. If it became supersonic over time, the loudness of the weapon being fired would have increased. The amount of loaded gunpowder also seems to have a huge impact on the sound levels, see http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/archive/index.php/t-486573.html 91.182.35.167 (talk) 10:38, 22 June 2012 (UTC)

Is this article really about muskets? Doesn't the whole article has to be changed completely?[edit]

Hey. Just by overlooking this article I'd say it totally misses its topic. It is mainly about handguns and arquebuses, not about muskets. This is especially true for Asia. However, I am not a native English speaker, but I do know someting about definitions of historical firearms as we use them on the European continent, e.g. in French and German. So maybe a native speaker WITH some knowledge about the official definitions can help me out here: According to continental terminology, muskets are 1. the heavy, long rifles which you have to use on a stick, as improvements of the lighter and shorter arquebuse, beginning EXCLUSIVELY in Europe during the mid of the 16th century; further muskets are 2. the historically following rifles. After the original forms became lighter and more and more practical, later every rifle (not shotgun) was called a musket until the first repeaters were developed, except from the shorter carbines that could be used on horses. According to this definition, there have never been muskets in Japan until 1866. The rifles they got from the Portuguese were arquebuses, and they didn't develop them any further for 250 years. Therefore most of the Asia section would have to get kicked out of this article, and in the rest of Asia and Europe sections it' d have to be seen: what is a musket, what an earlier handgun or arquebuse. If it's the latter, kick it out and replace the information in the relevant articles. What do others say, before I'd start with this? --JakobvS (talk) 06:43, 1 November 2011 (UTC)

I just read through the article and I don't think it misses its topic at all. The development section certainly talks about other weapons, but that's the point of that section. It shows how the musket developed. I think your definition of a "musket" is unnecessarily strict, and I think the article would lose relevant content if you greatly reduced the Asian section as propose. My vote is most definitely not to do such a change. Engineer comp geek (talk) 02:38, 2 November 2011 (UTC)

Depends. In continental languages, my definition of a "musket" is not unnecessarily strict, but simply the only correct one (I spare you the German and French references - by the way, note that also the German Wiki article on muskets doesn't really know what to write about, however, due to the global contributions to the English Wiki you might exspect higher standards here). So I'd have to ask for any reference that the term musket is used in English for any muzzle loader. If that's not the case, I'd vote for the deletion/replacement of the unfitting sections. Even if it's sad to have such jolly good information replaced: if it's off topic, it will make Wikipedia look dilettantish and sloppy- Plus, the information on Asian rifles wouldn't be totally lost, it could still be used in the articles on arquebuses and handguns. --JakobvS (talk) 13:59, 6 November 2011 (UTC)

File:Early matchlocks.jpg Nominated for Deletion[edit]

Image-x-generic.svg An image used in this article, File:Early matchlocks.jpg, has been nominated for deletion at Wikimedia Commons in the following category: Deletion requests April 2012
What should I do?

Don't panic; a discussion will now take place over on Commons about whether to remove the file. This gives you an opportunity to contest the deletion, although please review Commons guidelines before doing so.

  • If the image is non-free then you may need to upload it to Wikipedia (Commons does not allow fair use)
  • If the image isn't freely licensed and there is no fair use rationale then it cannot be uploaded or used.

To take part in any discussion, or to review a more detailed deletion rationale please visit the relevant image page (File:Early matchlocks.jpg)

This is Bot placed notification, another user has nominated/tagged the image --CommonsNotificationBot (talk) 14:14, 11 April 2012 (UTC)


Use of the name already in 1504[edit]

I have found a 1868 book in which is mentioned a 1504 French manuscript which uses the name "Mousquets" as part of a ship's cargo manifest . I am doubtful of the manuscripts' veracity . My question is : Is the name "mousquet(s)" already in existence in that year ? — Preceding unsigned comment added by 177.3.138.21 (talk) 22:58, 10 August 2012 (UTC)

French tactics[edit]

The paragraph describing French tactics seems at odds with column (formation); the latter makes it seem as if the French intended to fight in a typical line formation but simply did not do so, and also makes mention of the Revolutionary War where the intent was to drive through the enemy lines (which seems more in keeping with how this article describes the French Napoleonic tactics). I'm not well-versed in this period; could someone take a look at both these articles and sort them out? 24.237.64.130 (talk) 05:21, 30 April 2013 (UTC)

Sources for probably wrong statements needed[edit]

The British Army was the first army that fought in two ranks rather than three. This allowed the infantry soldier to fire his musket without the need for the front rank to kneel. Another British tactic was platoon fire. At the time a platoon was a half-company. The right-hand files of a company would form the first platoon and the left-hand files of that same company would form the second platoon. The platoon fire would begin at one of the flank platoons of the battalion or regiment, and one or two seconds after the platoon beside them fired, the next platoon would fire. The effect would be platoon volley after platoon volley rolling down the face of the battalion or regiment, and the result of such disciplined fire was a constant hail of bullets on the enemy formation.

This reads like the author completely misunderstood the Maurice-of-Nassau tactics. You should source these statements, because they make no sense whatsoever. Volleys were only fired when the enemy was charging, but otherwise they were using Maurice's tactics (see my other edits...), which by the way also destroys the enemy's fighting spirit and prevents charging (because nobody would run into a "wall of bullets" being fired every ten seconds or so). --178.197.228.81 (talk) 22:44, 1 August 2014 (UTC)