uhhhmmmmmmm I know so.
It was put there to provide a good grip. You even said "to provide a comfortable place for the soldier to place his hand when carrying." Like a grip does? A foregrip maybe? Foregrips were on guns early on. Ever shot anything with authentic 1620 recipe black powder? I have & everything gets so fouled so quickly that extended, non-stop shooting sessions just didn't happen. One had to stop every now and then. Arquebusiers usually carried around 12 rounds of powder in individual cartridges. After that, it's clean and swab time.
The early ones were very heavy, too, maybe 20 pounds or more. They used a metal-forked wooden pole as a rest. I think if a metal barrel had to rest on a metal fork, it's going to be a real slippery rest and very hard to control.
Dent protection: A very good grip purpose on more modern, thin walled barrels made out of decent steel, like with shotgun barrels. But, have you looked at any of those early guns' barrels? The wall thickness may be 1/4" thick or more! They're made of soft-ish steel but it's still steel. Kinda hard to ding that severely enough to compromise the bore. Maybe if one rests it on a rock or an anvil and then blasts it with a decent sledge hammer.
Foregrips weren't heat shields at first. Heat only became an issue much, much later, long after foregrips were in use. Matchlocks had foregrips. Even if it weren't to quickly foul up (impossible back then but mentioned here hypothetically,) how would one fire one of those monsters rapidly enough to make it uncomfortably hot?
A Makarov? Simple, easy and works perfectly every time. ¡Vale!
Last edited by woad_yurt; August 25, 2008 at 07:57 AM.