Historical weapons

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  • #1751
    Hans Hellinger

    Firearms before their time

    Breech-loading matchlock arquebus, Nuremberg 1470

    More about this breech loader here

    Plan for a nearly identical weapon from a manuscript from 1456 by Lorenzo Ghiberti

    Eight barrel matchlock revolver from 1580 Nuremberg

    Breech-loading wheelock pistol, ~1560, German

    Matchlock breechloader for Henry VIII (one of two he possessed, and used multiple times for hunting) – 1537

    This was originally a wheel-lock


    Hans Hellinger
    Hans Hellinger
    Hans Hellinger

    Self spanning crossbow from Codex Löffelholz


    Modern reproduction by Andreas Bichler, shooting three bolts


    I think this was over on the old forum, but it was still great to see it again. To me, the stock/lever looks like it could use to be reinforced… I guess I don’t quite trust that hollowed out piece of wood with several hundred pounds of prod force!

    …Can’t find a video, but I do know the Uruk-Hai crossbows in the Lord of the Rings movies had a lever recocking mechanism. The only question there is if the props shop was aware that this was actually a historic development, or if they simply felt they were being extra clever.

    Hans Hellinger

    Yes you are right about the Uruk-Hai in LOTR, I think they were copying this thing down there in New Zealand. They also had pikes (sort of) and functional armor and gunpowder weapons. I think I saw Sallet helmets too. In a way the Uruk Hai were the closest thing to late medieval army in that movie. The Gondor dudes didn’t even use lances in their charge and their armor was apparently made of cardboard.

    I think these latchet crossbows were an historic development. Anyway at least three functional replicas were made based just on the Löffelholz manual so I think it’s clearly a viable design.

    It is a light weapon as medieval crossbows go, Bichler mentions his has about 100 kg draw weight. I suspect the handle would hold up if you made it with the right materials.

    It would have limited value as a weapon, not really ideal as a military weapon though it would have some utility for a horsemen (such as as a backup weapon). I see it as a personal defense / hunting weapon ideal for horseback. Maybe equivalent to carrying a small caliber automatic pistol like a 9mm for personal protection. Not something you would use as your main weapon if you were in the military and being deployed overseas, but it might be good as a backup.

    Hans Hellinger

    And speaking of battlefield uses, here is an excellent paper that someone just linked on MyArmoury which is a very interesting overview of both longbows and crossbows


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