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Wheellock Pistols: Are These Real or Counterfeit?

wheellock pistols

What’s the difference between an authentic vintage weapon, a copy, and a reproduction? Look at these two magnificent wheellock pistols and see.

Ian from Forgotten Weapons is looking at a couple of beautiful old wheellock pistols that are in the forthcoming Rock Island Auction Company‘s auction.

The two pistols are wonderful, and look practically identical. But one is a 16th century German wheellock pistol and the other is a reproduction of the first gun and was built in the 19th century. This disparity brings up a few questions that Ian tries to answer.

“On the one hand you have ‘faked guns’, where someone tries to pass of a gun as being older than it really is,” says Ian. “Or having a specific provenance that it doesn’t actually have.”

That is, he says, “Really scuzzy behavior, frankly. Despicable.”

“On the other hand, we have exactly the opposite opinion of someone who tries to make a new copy of an old gun,” he indicates. “That’s fantastic. That allows people to be able to go out and shoot a pistol of the style that was in use 100 or 200 years ago, without having to put wear and tear on an original gun. Or fork out the money for an original gun.”

Now this brings up an interesting question. What is the status of a gun that was, 100 or more years ago, a fake or unethical copy of an original firearm. Given the passage of time, this one-time fake has now increased in value and is seen as a reproduction piece rather than a fake.

Both guns are spectacular examples of the gunsmith’s art. They are handcrafted with numerous artistic flourishes. It’s relatively easy to tell which one is the 16th century wheellock and which is the Victorian era, when they are side by side. But take them individually and you’d have a much harder time dating them and telling the reproduction from the original.

It is questions like this that create conundrums for the collector, and are why you really need to become a student of firearms history to be a collector.

While you’re at it, take a look at this magnificent wheellock rifle that was in an earlier auction. It’s spectacular.

Like what you see here? You can read more great articles by David Smith at his Facebook page, Stumpjack Outdoors.

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Wheellock Pistols: Are These Real or Counterfeit?