View Full Version : Snaphaunce Lock

April 3, 2009, 09:58 AM
A friend (Machinist) is working on a Snaphaunce lock that is extremely similar to the lock on this musket (http://www.therifleshoppe.com/(579).htm)
The lock is missing the pan cover push rod and a spring that looks to tention the sliding pan.
The question I have is there is a safety catch on the sear which protrudes through the lock plate engaging the cocking piece.
In this picture I see only a trigger. How was that safety sear engaged/dis-engaged?
This old lock is so fascinating to marvel over just thinking this thing could be about 400 year old.

From what I can figure and haven't been able to verifie searching, is this lock looks to function by loading, then priming the pan, cocking the hammer thereby closing the pan cover. The frizzen is pivoted away for safety (and the safety catch on the sear).
Then there is the round knob on the outside of the flash pan. Is this knob just for protection of the frizzen and hammer???
I will post pics if I get permission from the owner of the lock.
The owner is interested in getting the lock functional and a musket built for it. My friend is going to try and encourage him to allow him to build one from the parts for sale in the link, and keep this old gem just as it is.

James K
April 3, 2009, 11:17 PM
Let me try to answer at least some of those questions. First, the main difference between the snaphance and the later flintlock is that in the former the frizzen (called the "hammer" at that time) and the pan cover are separate. Originally, the shooter loaded the barrel, then pulled the cock back to let the safety engage. He then flipped the frizzen foward, uncovered the pan and primed it, and closed the pan.

When he was ready to fire, he cocked the gun (the safety spring released the safety automatically), moved the pan cover aside and pulled the frizzen back by hand, then pulled the trigger, releasing the cock. The flint in the cock's jaws scraped the frizzen, generating sparks that fell into the powder in the pan, igniting it and then the powder charge in the barrel. Later some elaborate mechanisms were developed to move the pan cover and lower the frizzen automatically, usually when the hammer was cocked.

The flintlock has its pan cover and frizzen in one piece and is very much simpler and more reliable. It's safety is a half-cock, although some early ones used a safety "dog", a hook also used on some snaphances, that caught the rear of the cock and was also disengaged automatically when the cock was brought fully back. (You can see a doglock on that site by going to the Assembled Lock button.)

I can't tell exactly how the safety on the pictured lock works, but the sear seems to engage the top of the triangular rear of the cock. The sear moves horizontally in and out of the lockplate, unlike more modern locks where the sear moves up and down and engages notches on the tumbler.

That round piece you mention puzzles me. I don't recall ever having seen anything like it. I will try to do some research tomorrow as this is off the top of my head. Don't forget that the snaphance shown is a modern repro, though it is claimed to be authentic.


April 4, 2009, 11:03 PM
Thanks Jim,
I will have to fondle the lock (I hate to do that ya, know) and see if the safety catch could work that way. I had read that the frizzen was refered to as the hammer some time back but didn't even know a snaphaunce existed then. I think it was in one of Harold Peterson's books maybe "Pagent of the Gun"?
From the mechanics of the lock, it sure looks like once the cock is pulled back the pan is then able to be covered and will be pushed open by the rod attached to the tumbler upon being fired.
There certainly isn't a secondary notch for the sear to engage unless it is internal with the safety catch.
The cocking piece notch for the sear has been adjusted many times from all the peening in that area.
The Knob on the end of the pan is exactly like the picture in the link. My friend thinks it is just a protection knob to prevent any other part from coming into contact with anything.
I sure hope I get to post some pictures soon. I have been practicing with my daughters camera as mine has trouble with macro shots.

James K
April 10, 2009, 07:53 PM
As I said, I think the full cock "notch" was the top surface of the back of the cock; there would be no "half-cock" as that function was done by the safety*. Another difference from the flintlock was that the half-cock was used for loading and normal carry and the safety was discontinued. The doglock was sort of an attempt to make a safety, but the half-cock served well so the dog was also discontinued.

*There were a few made with a half-cock notch inside the cock, but I don't think that lock is one of them. The notch looks a bit like the notches in the cylinder of a revolver, just a circular cut into which the sear fits.