Styles of Dutch Snaphaunce pistols.
Hello to all readers.

I've come in the possession of an antique (probably late 18th- early 19th century) Snaphaunce mechanism.
It's very corroded, but not to a point of no return. It's exactly the same mechanism as this one
but in a far worse state, plus to top jaw screw is different.

I want to clean it and give it a new casing, in other words I want to turn it into an early 17th century Dutch Snaphaunce pistol. The style of this mechanism is precisely the same as a Dutch 17th century Snaphaunce mechanism, as the Dutch where making and exporting these mechanisms until the 19th century.

But there's one problem, I'm not sure what shapes Dutch pistols of 1600-1630 could have.

I can barely find any examples of Dutch Snaphaunce pistols. But quite some English types.
The only Dutch Snaphaunce pistol I could find was one of around 1600 (Found in the book: Dutch muskets and pistols: an illustrated history of seventeenth century gunmaking in the Low Countries by Kist, J. B.)

This Dutch pistol had a shape seen in many English Snaphaunce pistols, having a slightly curved handle with a large wooden or metal ball at the end.
Here are some examples:

Another (very similar) style used was the pear shape at the end
And a style of large pistol used in the English Civil War often with a simplified snaphaunce mechanism

This style of pistol shape was identical in both England and the Netherlands,
but does this mean that more English styles where copied by the Dutch (or the other way around)?
What other shapes could such Dutch pistols have from 1600-1630?

Thank you for your time!

Kind regards,


I have a rather large library on firearms of all sorts. When I read your post I reviewed a number of my references, including Pistols of the World by Claude Blair, in an effort to find an illustration of a Dutch snaphaunce pistol. I came up empty. Considering that the Dutch may have invented the snaphaunce lock there is a dearth of pictures of Dutch snaphaunce guns. The links you posted are all good examples of snaphaunce pistols and I have seen most of them in the past, they just are not Dutch.

I think it is safe to say there was substantial similarity in the guns made in Western Europe and Britain during the snaphaunce era. Where you run into significant differences is when you head east, to the Balkans, Russia and the Ottoman Empire. In reviewing the work cited above I found that many of the guns made in various countries and illustrated in it were so similar that ID might best be made through proof and makers marks rather than stylistically.

The only advice I can offer you, absent any illustrations that are specifically Dutch snaphaunce pistols, is to study other guns from that era from Western Europe and perhaps to review Dutch wheelocks which preceded the snaphaunce and Dutch flintlocks that followed to try to gain some sense of the architectural progression. Other than that I am out of ideas.

Good luck and I hope you complete your project and post pictures here.
Most of the ball-butt pistols probably pre-date the early seventeenth century whereas the Netherlands/English wheellocks and doglock horse pistols are probably more in line with what you're looking for. By the time of the English Civil War, doglocks were probably the preferred option, the King's armies, having lost control of the London armouries had to import Dutch wheellocks. Interestingly, Blackmore's ''Arms & Armour of the English Civil Wars'' has some early doglocks made using wheellock plates and stocks - English or Dutch, who knows. I'd say that any snaphaunce of this period would probably be a utility job using an old lock on a wheellock stock, but like you, have only seen pictures of the earlier puffer type ball-butt snaphaunces.

I'll try to attach some pictures, but would say that if you're planning to use the commercially available Indian-made doglock then you'd need to shave a good fifth of the stock to make it realistic as its way too thick and heavy.

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Found this one on an auction site, subtly different from the Anglo/Dutch style as its Italian, but you get the picture! Also one of the ''bellied'' doglocks I was on about and an English lock from Dunster in Somerset - presumably English but could easily be Dutch.

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Thank you for your reply!
He Lin.

Thank you for the quick reply! And thanks for your search!

The main reason that there are few surviving Dutch Snaphaunces of the time is that the major production in Dutch firearms started at around 1625, by then the Flintlock was already there, a mechanism preferred over the Snaphaunce by must Dutchmen. Because of this, there weren't that many made compared to other types of Dutch guns. Before 1625 Dutch firearms where constructed from various parts imported form Germany and Belgium. Somewhere in the first quarter of the 17th century the ball at the tail of the pistol started to disappear. That is, no new ones where made. But those made in previous years where still used no doubt.

All in all it seems the only design I know of that I can safely use for 1620-1630 is in fact the one with the ball at the end, given that it can be used throughout this period of time. The same type used for wheel locks is certainly another choice, but I simply do not have the appropriated lock for this design.

So for now I think I'll go for the design with the ball at the tail.

Thanks for the info! And I will most certainly post photo's of my pistol here when It's finished.

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