During the early part of the 16th century the arquebus's successor the musket starter to appear in Spain. The musket was considered the largest and most powerful gun that a single soldier could easily operate. Most muskets were five to six feet long, weighed around twenty pounds and required the use of a forked rest to support the gun during firing. The simple serpentine of the arquebus was replaced with the more advanced sear lock which used a spring operated trigger or lever to lower the slow match into the priming pan. The operation of this lock can be seen in the animation below.

The matchlock musket would soon become the major arm of Europe's armies and would see action in large scale conflicts such as the English Civil Wars and the Thirty Years War. Although more advanced systems of ignition came about such as the wheellock (1510), the snaphaunce (1547) and the flintlock (1610), the inexpensive and easy to manufacture matchlock musket remained in service in Europe until the 1690's.

All images on this page are original images created by J. E. Quest
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