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Ingeniously Simple Caplock Mechanism Designed by Moses Babcock

When I first saw the images of this mid 19th-century muzzle-loading firearm, I thought it is probably missing the side plates covering lock mechanism. But then I noticed the hammer spur which, as you know, is designed to make it possible to manually cock the hammer and you will barely see an internal hammer with a spur. Fortunately, the images were accompanied by a description which revealed some really interesting design features of this gun.

Ingeniously Simple and Ambidextrous 8-Bore Muzzleloading Shotgun Moses Babcock (4)

This firearm is an 8-bore muzzle-loading percussion shotgun. One of the interesting design solutions is that every part of this gun’s lock mechanism (hammer, mainspring, sear, percussion nipple etc.) is concentric with the bore axis which makes it an ambidextrous gun in terms of location of the controls. Particularly, you can equally easily reach the hammer or the nipple from either side of the gun.

Ingeniously Simple and Ambidextrous 8-Bore Muzzleloading Shotgun Moses Babcock (2)

Closeup view of the lock mechanism. The hammer is dropped.

The lock mechanism design is simplified as much as possible. For example, the extension of the trigger above its pivot point is the sear. So the trigger and sear are a single part. The next multifunctional part is the trigger guard which is basically a leaf spring and works as a mainspring powering the hammer. Note that the hammer has a bottom protrusion (below the pivot point) that applies tension to the trigger guard/mainspring when the hammer is cocked.

Ingeniously Simple and Ambidextrous 8-Bore Muzzleloading Shotgun Moses Babcock (1)

Closeup view of the mechanism. The hammer is cocked.

The markings on this gun indicate that it was made by a gentleman named Moses Babcock of Charlestown, Massachusetts. Unfortunately, a patent search didn’t reveal anything. However, it is known that Mr. Babcock has also been designing and making cane guns and other black powder firearms.

Ingeniously Simple and Ambidextrous 8-Bore Muzzleloading Shotgun Moses Babcock (5)

Markings on the octagonal portion of the barrel

If you know more about this firearm, please share the information in the comments section.


Many thanks to Chase McEvoy, the owner of this firearm, for providing the information. 

Images by Chase McEvoy and Troy Griggs of Black Web Photography

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