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The Wonderful Wheel Lock

The Wonderful Wheel Lock
By Tom Metcalf-Jackson 1 month ago 182 Views No comments

Incredible Early Wheel Locks at Henry Krank

The Wheel Lock is one of those unusual inventions which is absolutely ahead of it’s time. First invented circa 1500, 33 years before Henry VIII married Anne Boleyn, and closer to the Norman Conquest than to the present day, and allegedly by Leonardo da Vinci, the wheel lock mechanism epitomises technological advances and craftsmanship of the Renaissance period. Early gunmakers would most likely have been schooled as clockmakers (hence the reason a number of gun parts share names with clock parts), and this is evident in the wheel lock mechanism. Utilising a chain driven spring, much like a clock’s escapement, the mechanism uses spring power to drive a serrated wheel to spark against a piece of pyrite held in the jaws, setting off the charge. Cocking is achieved by turning the wheel with a special key. Each component is secured in place by a screw, an exceptionally intricate and complicated fastening device in the period, predating the screw cutting lathe by nearly 300 years.


Inlaid heavily with bone, ebony and intricate carvings, wheel locks would have been exceptionally expensive to produce, and therefore were mainly the province of the extremely wealthy, and would not have seen service on a battlefield of the period in vast numbers. As time wore on, gunmakers found much more cost effective and simpler mechanisms, such as the flintlock, and the wheel lock was therefore consigned to history by the end of the 17th century. Today, wheel locks serve as a fascinating insight into the skills and tastes of the time, and are an important milestone in firearms and engineering history.

We have a fantastic selection of antique wheel lock pistols and rifles that frankly must be seen to be believed, click here to view.

Full selection of our other antiques, please click here.

To order, please either email us at sales@henrykrank.com or telephone 0113 2569163. All our antiques are shipped on a 24-hour service. We understand buying online or over the telephone isn’t quite the same as having the item in your hands, therefore, as with all our antiques, we offer a no quibble returns policy if for whatever reason you’re unhappy with your purchase. Simply return the item for a full refund.