Wheellock Firearms 4E (1500-1540)

William the Silent: Assassinated with a Wheellock Pistol (July 10, 1584)

The next step in firearm evolution after the matchlocks are the wheellocks.

This weapon uses a trigger to release a spring-loaded rotating steel wheel against a lowered piece of pyrite which strikes sparks to ignite the powder. They were expensive to produce and were often used by nobility.  With the expense of creating the striking mechanism, the overall quality of the gun was often improved as well.  The weapon could be pre-loaded and then fired later without a lit match which made it ideal for cavalry and assassination.  William the Silent was the first head of state assassinated with a handgun.

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