CONCEALMENT 16 Flashback: The Wheel-Lock Pistol Ashley Hlebinsky Some of the earliest firearms or “handgonnes” date to the 1200s. However, they were basically a shrunken-down cannon. By the 1400s, the first true ignition system, the matchlock, was developed. But even with this invention, the need for a slow-burning match cord to fire the gun really put a damper on the ability to carry concealed. Around 1509, however, the development of a new ignition system, the wheel-lock, made the idea of a concealable handgun not only possible, but popular. The wheel-lock was originally developed in a short configuration for cavalry warfare, since horses weren’t huge fans of burning ropes hanging around their bodies while they were working. The benefit of having a firearm that could be kept in a more ready-to-fire state led to wheel-locks quickly becoming popular handguns and rifles. However, the complexity of the mechanism wasn’t ideal for battlefield use, so it saw more common use as a civilian arm — for those permitted to own firearms. The wheel-lock mechanism fires through the manipulation of a serrated disc. In order to fire, the jaws of the cock hold a piece of pyrite. It’s manually lowered into the pan of the firearm into contact with a serrated disc. Gunpowder and the projectile are loaded down the barrel and additional powder is put into the pan. An external device called a spanner is then used to wind up the disc. Pulling the trigger causes a slight rotation of the disc against the pyrite, creating a spark that ignites the powder and fires the gun. It’s important to note that while the wheel-lock was a great improvement over earlier arms, allowing the option of concealment, this was no small handgun. Thankfully, overcoats and capes were in fashion back then, so concealing something this large was doable. But, the development of the wheel-lock and its concealment capabilities worried the period’s nobility. The resulting assassination concerns prompted some of the world’s earliest gun laws. If you want a look at the history of concealed firearm carry, start with the wheel-lock pistol — the OG of concealment. 1650 Winchester Wheel-Lock Pistol Caliber: .60-ish Length: 24.25 inches Action: Wheel-Lock Wheel-lock Pistol. Cody Firearms Museum. Buffalo Bill Center of the West, Cody, WY. Gift of Olin Corporation, Winchester Arms Collection, 1988.8.3707 Explore RECOILweb:The Anschütz MSR RX22 arrived - did you catch it? The Ashley Update: Winchester Ice Skates, and other Unknown ProductsUnusual Suspects: SpikesMore on the Remington R51 NEXT STEP: Download Your Free Target Pack from RECOILFor years, RECOIL magazine has treated its readers to a full-size (sometimes full color!) shooting target tucked into each big issue. Now we've compiled over 50 of our most popular targets into this one digital PDF download. From handgun drills to AR-15 practice, these 50+ targets have you covered. Print off as many as you like (ammo not included). Click here to get IMMEDIATE ACCESS to a digital PDF of this target pack!