Technology is continuously evolving, and one piece of technology that you can easily observe how far we’ve gone with are weapons, mainly firearms. From the first ones being as simple as bamboo tubes loaded up with gun powder, and with the modern ones being powerful semi or full-automatic firearms. And some time along the way, we’ve used manual loading firearms called muzzleloaders that would seem like simple pieces of history when compared to modern firearms. But three things are for sure, people still use muzzleloaders especially in the hunting scene, muzzleloaders are a growing community, and using these guns is still tons of fun. Today let’s talk about muzzleloaders, and what parts on modern firearms replaced the lock on a muzzleloader.

So Which Part of a Modern Firearm Has Actually the Same Function as the Lock on a Muzzleloader?

As its name implies, muzzleloaders are firearms that are used by loading the gun powder and projectile into the muzzle of the gun. Muzzleloaders are the very first guns that are put into day-to-day use and it has been around since the start of the 17th century. Common examples of muzzleloaders are cannons and muskets like the M1861 Springfield Rifle used by the USA military back in the day. All muzzleloaders no matter the size and shape involve several things; a propellant, a bullet or projectile, and a method of igniting. A modern firearm would have most of that within the ammunition cartridge which explains why reloading became better nowadays. And Muzzleloaders have to take care of those three things separately, and they would also have to load them separately resulting in a significant reloading time.

Different Types of Muzzleloaders

Like the firearms we have today, muzzleloaders came in at a wide variety of shapes and sizes. But for the basics, here are some firearm types that had muzzleloaders applications before:

  1. Pistols
  2. Shotguns
  3. Rifled muskets
  4. Smoothbore muskets
  5. Cannons
  6. Older Mortars

Another thing worth mentioning about what qualifies as a muzzleloader is whether the projectile or bullet is loaded separately with the propellant. That’s why I specified older mortars on the list above since modern mortars have their propellant and projectile together as a cartridge.

What are locks and what are the different types of locks?

The lock is a mechanism that is controlled and connected to the trigger. There are many varieties of the lock, some are self-igniting, some are not. Here are some examples.

Matchlock – This is one of the earliest types of lock found on muzzleloaders, it is a very simple mechanism in which the trigger controls a rotating arm that holds a match commonly made from an ammonia-soaked rope, and it brings that match into a pan with black powder which then ignites the black powder inside the barrel. 

Wheel lock – This type of lock is only found on high-end muzzleloaders that at the time are used by wealthy people. Firing wheel locks started with preparing the wheel by spinning it and locking it, the trigger then releases the wheel allowing it to spin whilst it’s in contact with a sparking material thus making sparks that are then directed to the pan filled with black powder resulting in the gun being fired.

Flintlock – Flintlocks are one of the famous types of locks due to their effective and simple mechanism. It consists of two sprung arms, one is called the Frizzen, and the other is the hammer. To fire, the hammer is cocked back and since it’s sprung, it’ll fling forward once the trigger is pulled. Once that happens, the flint will make contact with the frizzen, the friction will allow the flint to make sparks which are then directed to the pan allowing the gun to fire. 

Caplock – Caplocks are mechanically very similar to the flintlock but only with the Frizzen replaced by a nipple in which a percussion cap is loaded. It’s then struck by the hammer and the percussion cap creates a small explosion causing ignition.

Modern Parts that have the same function as a lock on a muzzleloader

Today’s main issue and question are what portion of a modern gun acts similarly to a muzzleloader lock. That would be a difficult question to answer without some prior knowledge that’s why I also explained everything about locks. So answering that question, the modern part that has the same function as a lock is the Action. The action is responsible for priming the firing pin and setting off the primer on the cartridge. It is also responsible for ejecting a used cartridge and loading a new one, yes the lock on the muzzleloader didn’t do all that, but the action on modern firearms does that two things at the same time. And another thing worth mentioning is that modern actions don’t have to worry about ignition any more, it only has to worry about cocking and releasing the firing pin, thus making it safer since all the explosion happens from inside the cartridge. Here are some examples of modern actions on modern guns. 

Some examples of modern action are bolt actions, straight-pull action, break-open action, pump action, bolt release, and let’s not forget the action that made muzzleloaders obsolete which are lever actions.

And it’s also worth mentioning that there are new types of muzzleloaders that don’t even use a lock anymore. There are bolt actions, break open actions, and pull plunger action muzzleloaders that are used in special hunting events and are a growing hobby among shooters right now. 

Conclusion

As shooters, we commonly tend to take how our guns work for granted, I mean if it works it works right? Although reviewing and knowing everything about gun mechanisms is rewarding as a shooter and it gives you a deeper appreciation of your firearms even though it can be hard and tedious to do so. Other than that, you can be great at repairing your guns. And lastly, it gives you an opportunity to be curious about guns of the past. I mean, it’s certainly old and obsolete, but it’s never boring. Keep shooting, and keep firearms history alive!

🤔 What are muzzleloaders exactly?

As its name implies, muzzleloaders are firearms that are used by loading the gun powder and projectile into the muzzle of the gun ...

🔍 Modern Parts that have the same function as a lock on a muzzleloader

Today's main issue and question are what portion of a modern gun acts similarly to a muzzleloader lock. That would be...