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The Puckle Gun: A 1700s Machine Gun

Readmikenow enjoys writing about unique and interesting people. He likes to learn about individuals who live or have lived unusual lives.

Puckle Gun

Puckle Gun

The Puckle gun is also referred to as the defense gun. It was a crew-served flint-locked weapon that was manually-operated. The device was patented by James Puckle in 1718. Puckle was a lawyer, writer, and inventor. The operation of the Puckle gun does not represent what is known today as a machine gun, but it is often referred to as one. Production of the Puckle gun was limited. There may have only been a total of two guns manufactured.

James Puckle

James Puckle

Design

The Puckle gun had a unique design. Its designer said it could fire round bullets at Christians. He also said it could then fire square bullets a Muslim Turks. It was believed at the time, the square bullets would cause more damage to a person than round ones. During this time, the Ottoman Empire controlled a significant portion of southeastern Europe as well as North Africa and western Asia. It was involved in various wars with European countries. All defeated Christian populations were forced to convert to Islam. Turks were regularly boarding and raiding foreign ships. The ships used by the Turks were far too small and fast to be destroyed with a cannon.

Patent drawing of Puckle Gun

Patent drawing of Puckle Gun

Patent

The Puckle gun was designed to be mounted on a tripod. It was a single-barreled flintlock that worked with a revolving cylinder. Puckle tried to sell it as an effective gun that would prevent enemies from the unwanted boarding of European ships. The barrel of the Puckle gun had a bore of 1.25 inches and was 3 feet long. The revolving cylinder held up to 11 shots. It was hand-loaded using shot and powder. The patent number for the Puckle gun was 418 and one of the first to have such a detailed description.

Puckle Gun Lever

Puckle Gun Lever

Operation

The firing mechanism on the Puckle gun resembled the common flintlock musket. A crank was located on the rear of the gun. It had a threaded shaft that went through the cylinder. It would be turned after each shot. This made it possible for the cylinder to be turned by hand to the next loaded chamber. When the cylinder was turned, a slot and stud mechanism was able to shift the firing pan from the previous chamber. This would open the next cylinder so it can be primed. The crank would then be turned until it was again tight. This would lock the tapered end of the chamber into the barrel. Doing this would create a gas-tight seal Once it was primed, the Puckle gun would be fired by using a long trigger lever. This lever went down to approximately the waist of the operator.

Puckle Gun cylinder

Puckle Gun cylinder

Reload

The Puckle gun was reloaded by using the crank handle to completely unscrew the cylinder and detach it. This is when a used cylinder could be replaced by a new one. It was similar to other breech-loading swivel guns with detachable chambers. The cylinder was called the charger.

Production

A prototype of the Puckle gun was demonstrated to Great Britain's Board of Ordnance in 1717. They were not impressed with the Puckle gun. There was a public demonstration given in 1722. During the demonstration, the Puckle gun successfully fired 63 shots in seven minutes. This equaled nine rounds a minute. This demonstration took place during a very bad rain storm.

Few Investors

Puckle did set up a company in 1721 to market the gun. Unfortunately, the Puckle gun drew very few investors. It was never able to be put into mass production or sold to the British military. The Puckle gun suffered from the same struggles of other flintlocks of the time. This was the flintlock ignition system. It also had some other mechanical problems. Production of the Puckle gun may have only consisted of two of them. There was a crude prototype that was constructed from iron. Another one was made from brass.

Gun Purchase

The 2nd Duke of Montagu was a man named John Montagu. He was known as the Master-General of the Ordnance He bought two Puckle guns. He was part of a 1722 expedition to capture St Vincent and St Lucia. This expedition was a failure. Shipping manifests of the time clearly list two Puckle guns as part of the cargo that was loaded onto ships that left Portsmouth. No evidence has been discovered that shows if the Puckle gun was ever used during a battle. Its inability to attract investors was probably based on the lack of faith in 18th-century flintlock technology. The Puckle gun was a commercial failure.

Sources

Wikipedia

Military Wikia

Historic UK

The Federalist Papers

© 2021 Readmikenow

Comments

Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on October 01, 2021:

Mike, yes and thank you. Enjoy the weekend.

Readmikenow (author) on October 01, 2021:

MG, Thanks. It all comes down to they didn't have faith in the flint-lock technology and weren't willing to invest in a new flint-lock technology on a large scale.

Readmikenow (author) on October 01, 2021:

Fran, Thanks. First time I have heard of square bullets.

Readmikenow (author) on October 01, 2021:

Miebakagh, thanks. I believe you would then be a very successful 1700s mercenary.

MG Singh emge from Singapore on October 01, 2021:

Excellent information, wonder why it was not used by the British army.

fran rooks from Toledo, Ohio on October 01, 2021:

Mike, Very interesting. I had not known of this gun. Imagine a gun firing square bullets! Thanks for this bit of history.

Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on October 01, 2021:

Mike, yes. I would by that gun and produce it if I were a mercenary.

Readmikenow (author) on October 01, 2021:

Pamela, thanks. It is interesting.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on October 01, 2021:

I never heard of the Puckle gun before, and this is a very interesting article, Mike. I also would not have thought about this type of weapon in the 1700s. Thanks for sharing all this information.

Readmikenow (author) on October 01, 2021:

Miebakagh, thanks. You make a good point.

Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on October 01, 2021:

Since the Pucle gun is a military weapon, I believe the British Army lack of faith in the weapon cause it to be put out of use.

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