During the Elizabethan period and the English Civil War
the matchlock musket (caliver, arquebus, and other incarnations) was
most prominent firearm in use. Other firearms/lock mechanisms where
(wheel lock, snaphaunce), yet the matchlock was selected as the primary
You will need to acquire a fair tool set to build yourself a matchlock.
You should have a number of wood and metal files, rasps, sanding
draw knives, chisels and sandpaper. A drill is also indispensible.
There are a number of items that you must buy. Some items may be made
a home workshop but others must be purchased.
You should buy a commercial barrel. A number of companies sell nice
barrels that fit the time period. A good barrel will cost anywhere from
$140 to $250. The barrel should be smoothbore and between 62 and 75
should be of walnut or maple with a moisture content of no more than
If you buy your stock from a gunstock manufacturer you should be
to have a good piece of wood that will not warp or split. I use the
stock blanks from The Rifle Shoppe (therifleshoppe.com). A stock
blank will cost approximately $250.
You will need a number of small parts to complete your piece; lock
screws, thimble, ramrod parts, buttplate, etc.
your parts the first step is to inlet the barrel. You should assure
the top of your stock is cut straight and flat to accomplish this. I
mark center lines down the top and bottom of the stock first. This will
allow me to align the barrel and the ramrod. The stocks from Mike
may be purchased pre-inlet if you buy specific barrels. You should lay
in the barrel so that the stock comes at least halfway up the barrel.
inletting the tang, make sure to inlet the tang down far enough into
wood so that when you work the stock down the tang will not be above
Be very careful when inletting your barrel so that you obtain a good
fit. Your barrel should not have a sloppy fit to the stock. Once the
is pinned to the stock it should have a very tight fit with no movement
of the barrel. You may use lampblack on the bottom of your barrel and
a wood mallet to lightly tap your barrel down into the channel. Remove
any high spots to allow for a perfect fit.
made in your shop or you may purchase it from the The Rifle Shoppe,
Arms or another locksmith. To see some locks from the period look at Firearms
Ignition Systems. The lock is composed of a number of parts
the cock, the sear, the tumbler, the mainspring and the lock
The picture to the right shows the internal mechanism for a matchlock
step in putting together the lock is to fit all the pieces, making sure
to polish the parts that have bearing surfaces. Step one after
the pieces is to fit the cock and the tumbler. A peg from the
goes through a hole in the lock plate and the tumbler is fit over
The fit should be tight on the cock plug but do not make the fit too
at the plate or else the cock will bind making it difficult to bring
cock down to the pan for firing. The next step is to fit the
With the cock in the upright position the arm of the tumbler should be
in the postion shown in the lock internal picture with the arm at
a 45 degree angle to the top of the lock plate. The sear pin is
in the tumbler slot and the holes marked for the pivot screw. And
8/32 screw may be used for the pivot pin. I would suggest using a
gunscrew for this that is not threaded all the way to the head of the
Drill the holes for the sear and tap the lock plate for the pivot
To prepare the spring you should read Kit Ravenshear's booklet on
springs. This booklet is available through Track of the Wolf and
other blackpowder firearms suppliers. The spring fits in a slot
the lock plate. The last step in finishing the lock is to pin the
tumbler to the cock peg so that it does not slip. I suggest
a 3/32" hole and using a 3/32" peg to secure the tumbler.
parts may be made out of mild steel except for the spring which must be
made out of spring steel. Spring steel may be purchased from Brownell's
or Dixie Gun Works. The lock shown on the link given above is fairly
to complete. The picture to the right is a copy of a tumbler from an
continental matchlock lock. Your parts should be polished and hardened
to assure longevity.
Below your barrel you will need to inlet a ramrod channel. You must
also drill a hole into the stock following the line of the ramrod
to allow you to carry your ramrod on your musket. The length of the
must be long enough to easily load your firearm. When planning the
of your ramrod channel, the portion that extends into the stock must be
set up so that it will not enter the lock mortise and it will miss the
lock bolts. You must also be careful so that the ramrod hole does not
the bottom of the stck or come up into the barrel channel. Commercially
available ramrod drills are available from a number of companies
Mountain State Muzzleloading.
you have finished inletting the barrel and you have a functional lock,
you should then inlet the lock. The use of a good razor knife to mark
inlet is preferable. You may then remove wood inside this cut. Be very
careful when working your chisels that you do not remove too much
It is very easy to ruin a stock. During this process you should also
the slot for the squeeze bar or trigger. Again, make this slot as small
as possible. You may always remove more wood but it is very hard to put
it back on...
Once completed you should have a functional (and deadly remember)
musket that will be useable at shooting or reenacting events. But
before you can fire it you will need slow match for the ignition
You can go to the following site for information: http://www.metamuseum.com/us/slowmatch/index.cfm
If you have any questions about building 16th and early 17th
C. Arms, please
feel free to contact the