Blunderbuss

Golden Age of Piracy - Chapter Decoration

Background

Blunderbusses were unique flintlock pistols that were designed more similar to a shotgun than an accurate pistol or rifle. The barrel of a blunderbuss is much wider than a typical flintlock pistol. This was designed with two things in mind. First, it was easier to load and second it allowed multiple shots to be fired at once. This would often mean clearing a deck before boarding and was very effective in crowd control situations.

Blunderbusses were horribly inaccurate weapons, however they had devastating killing power when used correctly. These types of guns were accurate only at close range and would often miss an enemy completely at further ranges. Therefore blunderbusses were popular weapons when initially boarding ships. They were designed to be fired from the hip not the shoulder and were often a little larger than a pistol but smaller than a full rifle.

Blunderbusses were designed not for shooting but for practicality in reloading. The mouth of the barrel was enlarged so it could be easily reloaded. It was often very difficult to reload a flintlock musket in a ship battle, so this was invented as a means around that. Often blunderbusses would not even be packed with musket balls. It was possible to load all sorts of projectiles such as nails or gravel into the barrel and fire away.

The blunderbuss was designed as such a practical weapon that it even came with its own gang-mould which the user could create their own ammunition in the field. Overall blunderbusses were inaccurate and unwieldy weapons, it was best not to fire one when your allies were within sight. However when boarding a ship they were known to easily 'clear the deck' and was capable of hitting an entire group of soldiers. It could also miss all of them entirely as well.

In fact it was such common nature of these weapons that the word 'blunderbuss' itself came to mean anything clumsy or stupid, including references to people.

Pirate Weapons

Sources

Primary Sources

Secondary Sources