Muskets and bayonets aboard the frigate Grand Turk
Flintlock mechanism
Heavy muskets, image produced 1664.
Early matchlocks as illustrated in the Baburnama (16th century)
Various antique Tanegashima.
Large Korean Jochong (Matchlock Musket) in Unhyeon Palace with Korean cannon Hongyipao (Culverin).
Minié balls
An English Civil War manual of the New Model Army showing a part of the steps required to load and fire an earlier musket. The need to complete this difficult and potentially dangerous process as quickly as possible led to the creation of the military drill.
Diagram of a 1594 Dutch musketry volley formation
Illustration of a 1639 Ming musketry volley formation. From Bi Maokang 畢懋康, Jun qi tu shuo 軍器圖說, ca. 1639.
Iron ball mould

Muzzle-loaded long gun that appeared as a smoothbore weapon in the early 16th century, at first as a heavier variant of the arquebus, capable of penetrating heavy armour.

- Musket

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Firearm in which the user loads the ammunition via the rear (breech) end of its barrel, as opposed to a muzzleloader, which loads ammunition via the front (muzzle).

Breech from Russian 122 mm M1910 howitzer, modified and combined with 105mm H37 howitzer barrel
An animation showing the loading cycle for a large naval breech-loader. A series of interlocking doors closes and opens the path from the gunhouse to prevent a flash from traveling down the path to the magazine.
Three-shot experimental breech-loading cannon (burst) belonging to Henry VIII of England, 1540–1543.
Early types of breech-loaders from the 15th and 16th century on display at the Army Museum in Stockholm.
Henry VIII's breech-loading hunting gun, 16th century. The breech block rotates on the left on hinges, and is loaded with a reloadable iron cartridge. Thought to have been used as a hunting gun to shoot birds. The original wheellock mechanism is missing.
Breech-loading firearm that belonged to Philip V of Spain, made by A. Tienza, Madrid circa 1715. It came with a ready-to-load reusable cartridge. This is a miquelet system.
Mechanism of Philip V's breech-loading firearm (detail).
The breech mechanism of the Ferguson rifle.
de Bange breech
Wahrendorff breech

Roughly two hundred of the rifles were manufactured and used in the Battle of Brandywine, during the American Revolutionary War, but shortly after they were retired and replaced with the standard Brown Bess musket.


Form of long gun that appeared in Europe and the Ottoman Empire during the 15th century.

17th-century arquebus at the Château de Foix museum, France
A "double arquebus," 15th century
Depiction of an arquebus fired from a fork rest. Image produced in 1876
A serpentine matchlock mechanism
Two soldiers on the left using arquebuses, 1470.
Early matchlocks as illustrated in the Baburnama (16th century)
Musketeer from Jacob van Gheyn's Wapenhandelingen van Roers, Musquetten ende Spiesen (1608)
Tanegashima arquebus of the Edo period
Illustration of a 1639 Ming musketry volley formation
Diagram of a 1594 Dutch musketry volley formation
Early arquebuses, the hook guns
Placing the weapon on its rest
Aiming, finger on the trigger
The lock ignites the primer
The main propellant is ignited, and much smoke ensues

The heavy arquebus, which was then called a musket, was developed to better penetrate plate armor and appeared in Europe around 1521.


General term for any firearm that uses a flint-striking ignition mechanism, the first of which appeared in Western Europe in the early 16th century.

Flintlock of an 18th-century hunting rifle, with flint missing.
An English gentleman circa 1750 with his flintlock muzzle-loading sporting rifle, in a painting by Thomas Gainsborough.
Flintlock pistol in "Queen Anne" layout, made in Lausanne by Galliard, circa 1760. On display at Morges military museum.
Flintlock mechanism
Russian flintlock rifle made in 1654 by master Grigory Viatkin.
The flint for flintlock – 17th century
Flintlock firing
Sparks generated by a flintlock mechanism
A flintlock musket being fired
Reproduction flintlock musket detail
Flintlock firearm ignition sequence

Flintlock muskets were the mainstay of European armies between 1660 and 1840.

Rack and pinion

Type of linear actuator that comprises a circular gear engaging a linear gear (the rack), which operate to translate rotational motion into linear motion.

Rack and pinion animation
Lock gate controls on a canal
Rack steering in an automobile
Rack railway axle
Pneumatic rack and pinion actuators

The Wu Pei Chih (1621) later described Ottoman Turkish muskets that used a rack-and-pinion mechanism.


Skirmishers are light infantry or light cavalry soldiers deployed as a vanguard, flank guard or rearguard to screen a tactical position or a larger body of friendly troops from enemy advances.

Austrian pandur, c. 1760, using a tree for cover while skirmishing
As with most other modern foot soldiers, the US 6th Marine Regiment, on patrol near Marjah, 2010, routinely uses skirmish formation.
An Agrianian peltast holding three javelins, one in his throwing hand and two in his pelte hand as additional ammunition
Slinger from the Balearic islands, famous for the skill of its slingers
Austrian Jäger around 1800, showing the relatively drab uniforms of soldiers specializing in skirmishing in Napoleonic times, as an aid in using cover
Modern reconnaissance vehicles can perform skirmishing duties, as is shown here by members of the British 4 Mechanised Brigade, Brigade Reconnaissance Force mounted on Jackals, on a training exercise in Jordan, in preparation for deployment to Afghanistan in 2009

Despite its lower rate of fire, its accuracy at long range offered advantages over the smoothbore musket, then commonly used by regular armies.

Jäger (infantry)

German military term referring to specific light infantry units.

Hessian Jäger 1835–1843
Franz Rudolf Frisching in the uniform of an officer of the Bernese Jäger Corps with his Schweizerischer Niederlaufhund, painted by Jean Preudhomme in 1785
Jägerpatrouille, painting by Richard Knötel (1910)
Royal Bavarian Jäger Battalion No. 2 Aschaffenburg. Oberjäger, field marching order, around 1910
Emperor Franz Joseph I in the parade dress of the Kaiserjäger 1879
German Fallschirmjäger (paratroopers) in Normandy June 1944, wearing camouflage smocks

By the early 19th century, because of their civilian occupations, Jäger were usually familiar with the first true rifles, rather than the muskets used by regular infantry.


Machining helical grooves into the internal surface of a gun's barrel for the purpose of exerting torque and thus imparting a spin to a projectile around its longitudinal axis during shooting to stabilize the projectile longitudinally by conservation of angular momentum, improving its aerodynamic stability and accuracy over smoothbore designs.

Conventional rifling of a 90 mm M75 cannon (production year 1891, Austria-Hungary)
Rifling of a 105 mm Royal Ordnance L7 tank gun.
Traditional rifling of a 9 mm handgun barrel.
Conventional rifling (left) and polygonal rifling (right). Both types of rifling use a spiraling pattern.
The spiraling pattern (here with polygonal rifling) is shown.
Rifling in a French 19th century cannon.
57-N-231 standard 7.62×39mm military bullets with steel core - the one on the left is unfired, the one on the right is fired, with the rifling grooves visible. Notice the copper wash scraped off and the steel jacket is exposed on the groove marks.
Three recovered 7.62×51mm NATO bullets (next to an unfired cartridge), showing rifling marks imparting anti-clockwise spin
Russian 122 mm shrapnel shell (which has been fired) showing rifling marks on the copper alloy driving band around its base, indicating clockwise spin
Cannonball equipped with winglets for rifled cannons circa 1860
Ogival shell of the La Hitte system, 1858, designed to engage with clockwise rifling
A Parrott rifle, used by both Confederate and Union forces in the American Civil War.

Muskets were smoothbore, large caliber weapons using ball-shaped ammunition fired at relatively low velocity.

Musket Wars

The Musket Wars were a series of as many as 3,000 battles and raids fought throughout New Zealand (including the Chatham Islands) among Māori between 1807 and 1837, after Māori first obtained muskets and then engaged in an intertribal arms race in order to gain territory or seek revenge for past defeats.

Rifled musket

Type of firearm made in the mid-19th century.

Springfield Model 1861 rifle musket
Pattern 1853 Enfield rifle musket
Various rifled musket projectiles

Originally the term referred only to muskets that had been produced as a smoothbore weapon and later had their barrels replaced with rifled barrels.


A Dutch musketeer, holding a musket; painting by Jacob van Gheyn in 1608
A painting of a Mughal infantryman.
Musketeers in China from the Ming dynasty.
A tercio musketeer c. 1650
Uniforms of Musketeers of the Guard, 1660–1814
D'Artagnan's monument in Paris
A heraldic supporter: a musketeer of the Honourable Artillery Company, in sand, 19th century
An illustration of Janissaries.
Streltsy in 1674
Musketeer from Altblau regiment (1624–1650) from Swedish army with musket and with bardiche (long poleaxe)
18th-century musketeers from Świdnica (reconstruction).

A musketeer (mousquetaire) was a type of soldier equipped with a musket.