Golden Age of Piracy

Pirate Weapons

Pirate Weapons

Golden Age of Piracy - Chapter Decoration

Background

Pirates used a variety of weapons in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. Each weapon had a different purpose on a pirate ship with many of the weapons such as cutlasses and boarding axes having dual purposes in combat and for sailing a ship. Pirates were probably a scary site when they boarded a ship, screaming and yelling, shooting pistols and hacking with swords. Most of the time this was enough for a merchant ship to surrender, however when it wasn't the pirates had to back up their claims. These are the weapons they did it with.

Pirate Weapons - Pirate Attack

Pirate Attack - Famous Privateersmen & Adventurers of the Sea (1911)

Hand to Hand Combat

After boarding pirates would have to engage in hand to hand combat with the merchants or soldiers of the enemy ship. There were many effective weapons during boarding, remember this was right after the medieval times, but before the age of Gunpowder really went into full swing. Pirates would fight with many different hand weapons such as the cutlass, boarding axe and even small shields.

Sometimes they would have to improvise and use whatever was available including their bare hands. Ship fighting was one of the most brutal and deadly methods of combat in history. It involved scores of men armed to the teeth slaughtering each other in close quarters with all manner of weapons and artillery. It is very understandable when some merchants stood down in the face of 250 blood thirsty and battle ready pirates.

Learn more about the different types of hand weapons that pirates used to maim and kill each other with.

Flintlock Firearms

Flintlock firearms were one of the first early hand held firearms to be used in naval warfare. Flintlock rifles were extremely suited for naval battles. Firing flintlock weapons was difficult in colonial times but pirates were masters and this was extremely beneficial in a world that was just transitioning into the age of gunpowder.

Flintlock Pistols

Flintlock Muskets

Flintlock muskets provided a longer range than pistols.

Explosives

Combustibles and explosives

Pirate Weapons

Sources

Primary Sources

Secondary Sources