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GUNS Magazine August 2012 Digital Edition - Page 36
HOLT BODINSON the First surPLus AMeriCAN ArM? The National Guard’s first firearm was a matchlock. S tepping just inside the permanent exhibit on American Military History in the National Museum of American History, you will immediately come face-to-face with a maple-stocked matchlock musket. Standing a bit over 5' tall and sporting a .75-caliber bore, it’s an imposing firearm. What catches your eye though is the name “Newtowne” burned three times into the stock. The “Newtowne” branding establishes both the origin of this matchlock as coming from an early fortified outpost of Boston, established in 1631, and tasked with maintaining and issuing muskets as well as the matchlock’s ownership, to the local militia circa 1636. The Enlisted Association of the National Guard is selling a stunning, limited edition reproduction of the Newtowne militia matchlock as a fundraiser for their “National Guard Soldier and Airmen Emergency Relief Fund.” The fund, part of the We Care For America Foundation, was established to provide emergency grants to National Guard members who have experienced catastrophic financial hardship or personal property losses, ranging from sudden and long-term mobilizations to house fires. Al Garver, Executive Director of the Enlisted Association and the person responsible for creating the Newtowne program, said only 375 Newtowne matchlocks would be produced, celebrating the 375th anniversary of the National Guard. Each gun will be numbered. We’ve all seen hundreds of variations of fund-raising appeals, but in my experience, nothing comes close to the imaginative and the artistic quality of the Newtowne matchlock appeal. exacting reproduction Built by The Rifle Shoppe of Jones, Oklahoma, the world’s unparalleled source of classic and historic reproduction parts for building muzzleloading arms of all national patterns, the Newtowne matchlocks they’ve crafted are historically correct and beautifully executed. The reproduction is so exact you could swap out their Newtowne for the original Newtowne in the National Museum, and no one would know the better. Actually, The Rifle Shoppe catalog begins with parts for assembling hand “gonnes,” matchlocks and wheellocks, covers extensively the 250-year reign of the flintlock and ends with the 40-year pop of the percussion lock. If you’re interested at all in historic arms and/or the parts to make them, The Rifle Shoppe’s catalog is a must have reference. Nice folks, too. In use from the late 1400s to the early 1700s (except in Japan, where its employment continued into the 1800s), the matchlock was the primary weapon of the early American settlers. One step up from the hand cannon, it is a simple gun, but it could be quite elegant. Like the .75-caliber Newtowne, the colonial matchlock was typically a The Matchlock really has no trigger in the conventional sense, but has a lever that pivots the “serpentine” holding the match down into a pan of powder. 36 W W W. G U N S M A G A Z I N E . C O M • A U G U S T 2 0 1 2