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Handgonnes?

Discussion in 'Blackpowder' started by Cooldill, Mar 18, 2016.

  1. Cooldill

    Cooldill Member

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    Well hello all!!

    For some reason, I've become interested in the subject of medieval handgonnes, and would like to possibly have one made for me in the near future for shooting at the range. There are a few custom makers out there making quality pieces at good prices. For those not familiar with them, these were used from about the 1200's through the 1400's and are perhaps the earliest true firearm ever. They were eventually replaced by matchlock guns. Handgonnes are generally nothing more than a short, stout metal pipe with a touch hole, mounted on a long wooden shaft:

    [​IMG]

    I am thinking about having one made in .62 caliber so I can use the components for a muzzleloading 20 gauge shotgun. I have watched many videos of people shooting these, and it looks like great fun. They are very simple and crude, but seem awesome.

    Does anyone out there have a handgonne? What caliber is it? I am having a hard time finding what the average caliber would have been during the medieval days. Any input on these ancient guns is appreciated.

    Thanks all!
     
  2. 4v50 Gary

    4v50 Gary Moderator Staff Member

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    My teacher has one and it has octagon flats for the barrel. The rear portion is round and has been bored out to take the standard hardware store shovel handle.

    A classmate made one that was slightly larger in diameter than a golf ball. He welded it on the end of an Ax/Pick combo to make a formidable medieval footman's weapon.

    C'mon 25schaefer. Post it.
     
  3. Patocazador

    Patocazador Member

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    It seems like you could take a beat-up flintlock barrel with an intact breech plug, cut off the forward part of the barrel and make your own.
     
  4. SC45-70

    SC45-70 Member

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    I have 2. One is 58 the other is 54 cal.
    I used smooth bore gun barrels to make the barrels.


    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    SC45-70
     
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  5. Cooldill

    Cooldill Member

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    Wow, that looks great! Is it fun to shoot?
     
  6. BCRider

    BCRider Member

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    Have you tried Google or other web searches on "hand gonne"? I got the same itch some time ago and did some searching of this sort. It was surprising how many drawings turned up that even had dimensions on them in a lot of cases.

    You may want to cuddle up to someone in your area with a small home machine shop. With the right steel making one would not be at all hard to do.
     
  7. 4v50 Gary

    4v50 Gary Moderator Staff Member

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    SC45-70. I'm going to have to make a handgonne and a matchlock fired one like you've got.
     
  8. Patocazador

    Patocazador Member

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    SC45-70's handgonne is a transitional model to a matchlock. It's easy to surmise that's the way matchlocks got started.

    Question: How were the handgonnes used in an actual battle? I'd want one with a pike or bayonet on it for using after that first shot. :eek:
     
  9. SC45-70

    SC45-70 Member

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    4v50 Gary & Cooldill
    They are cheap, easy to build and fun to shoot.
    It's surprising how well one can be shot after a little practice.
    All you need is a piece of barrel, a piece of round steel bar (large enough to thread for the barrel and drill for a socket to fit a closet pole) a closet pole, a small bar to make the serpentine and a couple long rivets.
    If you don't want a serpentine use heavy leather gloves to hold the match or you will burn your fingers!

    SC45-70
     
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2016
  10. Cooldill

    Cooldill Member

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    Thanks gang! Does anyone know what caliber the average medeival handgonne was? Would .62 caliber (20 gauge/bore) be a good choice?
     
  11. 25cschaefer

    25cschaefer Member

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    I think back when they were common, they were in just about any caliber. You really cannot go wrong, they are fun.

    Like Gary said, mine is 1.7cal, 1 bore, or golfball sized (how ever you want to size it). I just a fuse in a touch hole to set it off. It has very little barrel and I have found that a lot of compression is needed for anything to happen. It holds about 100gr of fun stuff and I have no idea how fast it shoots - you cannot see it for sure. I shot a 2x4 target backer once and it shattered it into a million pieces from 10yds. I have more pictures on my phone - I will try to get them off later.

    Oh, don't forget your hearing protection, they are really loud.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  12. TruthTellers

    TruthTellers member

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    The bigger the better as these were traditionally filled with whatever they could stuff into the bore, usually rocks.
     
  13. Cooldill

    Cooldill Member

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    Awesome! I've run across a man going by "FreekForge" who makes these, and they look great. I think a .615" bore (20 gauge) will suit me very well. That's plenty big, should be fun, and it's about the largest bore size where buying components isn't too cost prohibitive.
     
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2016
  14. TruthTellers

    TruthTellers member

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    Besides the lit rope, how else can these be ignited? Would a camping lighter be okay?
     
  15. 25cschaefer

    25cschaefer Member

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    I use a fuse on mine but have set it off with some ffffg in the flash hole and a propane torch.
     
  16. 4v50 Gary

    4v50 Gary Moderator Staff Member

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    Kennette refinished that table.
     
  17. Kaeto

    Kaeto Member

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    They used to use a wire heated in a fire to ignite the charge. These were used more in seiges and not so much in open combat.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  18. Patocazador

    Patocazador Member

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    Very interesting. Do you have contact information for freekforge?
     
  19. Cooldill

    Cooldill Member

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    He can be found on the ar15.com forums, just run a search for him and you'll find his handgonne posts. :)
     
  20. TruthTellers

    TruthTellers member

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    This might be his channel on youtube. If you have a youtube account you can message him.

    https://www.youtube.com/user/freekforge1
     
  21. 4v50 Gary

    4v50 Gary Moderator Staff Member

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    SC45-70, they can be easy if you turn everything on a lathe, but I want to put it on a mill to put octagon flats on it. That requires some set up time and dedicated use of the mill until the job is finished.

    A classmate, Dan, is looking into a table top mill right now.
     
  22. TruthTellers

    TruthTellers member

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    Would be a breeze if you do it on a CNC vertical mill. If the length of the flat is not excessively long, stand it up in a chuck and write a program. Don't even need CAM software to do it, could write it in notepad.
     
  23. BCRider

    BCRider Member

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    Ya know.... a desire to make stuff like this would be a good excuse to buy a 7x14 mini lathe.

    For those that would like to fire them using a "match" I seem to recall from my reading that once they got past the hot poker wire and moved on to the slow match cord that they started using a stick with a metal holder for the match or that the holder, which was much like the jaws of a serpentine, was around a yard long and just got stuck into the dirt while loading for the next shot. So that would be an option.

    For those that want to try something like this and don't want to figure out how to make their own slow match there's a slow burning fuse available for use from the model airplane flying hobby. It burns at around a 1/4 inch per minute and has a nice bright coal on the end when you blow on it.

    There are two types and three length options on this page where it's listed as D-T fuse. (DT stands for dethermalizer)

    http://volareproducts.com/BUY/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=1_36
     
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  24. SC45-70

    SC45-70 Member

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    4v50 Gary
    They can be as simple or as complicated as you want to make them.
    Cutting the flats for an octagon is no big deal if you have an indexer, dividing head or rotary table and a tailstock for your milling machine, or start with an octagon barrel blank.
    SC45-70
     
  25. 25cschaefer

    25cschaefer Member

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    You can buy pre heat treated hexagon stock to work with, it's not octa but it's closagon enough.
     

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