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Da Vinci's Killer Pistol Facts

Facts From Lords of War: Da Vinci's Killer Pistol

Suited up with full armor, a Viking enthusiast lines up with his comrade, whose axe is visible behind him.

Suited up with full armor, a Viking enthusiast lines up with his comrade, whose axe is visible behind him. (View larger version)

Photograph by National Geographic Channel

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  • Because wheellocks had so many working parts, generally only the wealthy could afford to have one of them.

  • In the 16th and 17th centuries in Europe, wheellocks were responsible for many assassinations.

  • It's rumored that Leonardo da Vinci actually designed the wheellock firing mechanism.

  • Back during the time of the English Civil War, circa 1640, flintlock pistols were for cavalrymen, who would have a pair right in front of the saddle of their horse.

  • Like a cigarette lighter, where spinning a wheel ignites a spark that turns fuel into flame, the wheel-lock works by spinning a spring-loaded steel wheel to ignite the charge in the gun's barrel.

  • A wheellock took forever to reload, so once it was fired the shooter was basically a sitting duck.

  • Around 1776, Americans were just developing their monetary system.

  • Individual signatures, little pieces of blue fiber, and tiny specks of mica, a shiny mineral, would be put in the paper used for currency as an anti-counterfeiting device.

  • The 18th century printing firm Hall & Sellers was actually a continuation of Benjamin Franklin's original print shop, as David Hall was Franklin's former printing partner.

  • Crossbows began as specialty weapons only owned by the richest people in society.

  • Crossbows were primarily used for hunting, although in times of war people used anything they had.

  • Assassins loved crossbows because they were silent and deadly.

  • The single-shot Model 1873 Springfield Trapdoor Carbine was used by General Custer and the 7th Cavalry at the Battle of the Little Bighorn, where it is thought that the Native Americans' use of lever-action repeaters was one of the reasons for Custer's defeat.

  • The M1873 Springfield Trapdoor Carbine was designed for a cavalryman to clip to his saddle while riding his horse.

  • The M1873 Springfield Trapdoor Carbine was used in the wars against the Native Americans in the American West, as well as by American troops in Cuba and the Philippines.

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