• This community needs YOUR help today. We rely 100% on Supporting Memberships to fund our efforts. With the ever increasing fees of everything, we need help. We need more Supporting Members, today. Please invest back into this community. I will ship a few decals too in addition to all the account perks you get.

    Sign up here: https://www.muzzleloadingforum.com/account/upgrades
  • Friends, our 2nd Amendment rights are always under attack and the NRA has been a constant for decades in helping fight that fight.

    We have partnered with the NRA to offer you a discount on membership and Muzzleloading Forum gets a small percentage too of each membership, so you are supporting both the NRA and us.

    Use this link to sign up please; https://membership.nra.org/recruiters/join/XR045103

New Wheellock

Muzzleloading Forum

Help Support Muzzleloading Forum:

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.

Canute Rex

40 Cal.
Apr 19, 2012
Reaction score
Last week I went down to Westhampton Massachusetts to see Len Day Sr. and Jr. and pick up my new wheellock. I thought I'd share my joy with you folks.

This is a long saga that started with much pipe dreaming. I got kind of obsessed and started looking around for a maker. Of course, the world champion is Bolek, the Polish gunsmith, but he had a wait list years long. Steve, a friend of mine and fellow matchlock shooter had listened patiently to my rambling and that paid off. He was at an event at Fort #4 in Claremont NH and looked over at another sutler and saw a wheellock lock on the table. He asked about it and the sutler, a gunmaker, told him it was a lock made by some Polish guy. Bing! Steve made the connection and I bought the lock. It was a copy of an Italian lock used in the so-called John Alden gun found in Massachusetts. I didn't like that style so I did some research and found a regional Brescian style gun that I liked. I have a Len Day matchlock I like, and he is into wheellocks, so I gave the job to Len and Len. Fast forward a year.

Here are photos of the original:


The original, from the 1640s, is 43" long with a 32" barrel in about 54 caliber. It has a LOP of only about 10", being a transition cheek stock. There are other similar guns with longer shoulder stocks.

I decided that a longer 14" LOP for me would demand a longer barrel for visual balance, so I went with a stock 42" Coleraine octagon-to-round barrel. I wanted to save my overworked shoulder from recoil so I went for 45 caliber. These two things together are problematic in terms of weight. In retrospect I probably should have gone for a 50 or 54 and/or had the barrel shortened to 36" or so. I'll get steadiness and a left arm like Popeye.

Here's the new version:

I took it out shooting the day I picked it up, but it was about 7 degrees out and fumbling with patch and ball was ridiculous, so I got three shots off. It is heavy (about 10 pounds) but it balances nicely and doesn't waver. The cheek/sighting position is better than you'd think given the stock shape. Len moved the top ridge of the butt to the right a little and the surface is slightly concave. There is essentially zero recoil with 65 grains of 3F. It feels like a 22. The trigger pull is light and the ignition is plenty fast.

Now I have the happy labor of finding a ball/patch/powder combination it likes.
It's rifled - Coleraine round bottom rifling. The original was smooth, as far as I know.
Hi Rex

WOW!!! That turned out wonderful !!! What luck finding that lock at a local show. I too would have grabbed that lock even if I had no plans to build a wheellock. The Days' did a fantastic job of duplicating a Bresican wheellock from the period. (Did I send you some pics/drawings of a variety of butt stock shapes ?) Anyway, a terrific job all around. Most impressive.
Did you happen to take any close up pics of the lock inside/outside before installing on the gun ? Would love to see those if available. Bolek's work looks outstanding. Wish his wait list wasn't so long.
Congratulations. Rick
Hi Rick,

I believe you did post some Brescian pics for me. Very helpful, thanks. As to lock photos, glad to oblige:

Absolutely fantastic! Good on you!

Just picked up the #786 early Germanic wheellock casting set myself of their large diamond-shaped lockplate from The Rifle Shoppe, as they had them in stock (can you believe it?). Intending to build a Mayflower ‘Alden’ gun replica. The original of that is now about 66-cal and I’m envisioning a 62-cal.
That looks fantastic! (and I am jealous) I follow Bolek on Facebook and much admire the construction pictures he posts.

A wheellock is usually a bit of an attention getter at the range, have fun and give it lots of exercise.
Last edited:
I to am totally jealous. I really like the way the smith did the entry/exit of the barrel pins (I'm assuming that is what the stars are, please advise). I will try to do something similar with the musket I'm working on now. (Ref barrel pins in blind holes, removal?)
Feamir, those are the barrel pins. A great copy of the original decorative scheme. Slight mystery: The original has *four* barrel pins, and the rearmost one has what looks like a screw rather than a pin.

In the left hand view you might notice that the original also has a sling attachment. It must have been a carbine for horseback use.

I'm still figuring out a load for it. I'm also trying to figure the care and feeding of the lock itself. Pyrite is not flint and a wheel is not a frizzen. A lot more moving parts involved and opportunities for crud to get in the mechanism.
That is just about THE most beautiful gun I've seen on these fora for ages. You MUST make a video and post it on Youtube so that the rest of us can share the love. And BTW, capandball has recently posted a 30+ minute movie on wheellocks guns of all kinds - long and short - I'd like to think that you could do something like that.
At some point when it is a bit warmer (-5F in central Vermont right now, teens during the day) I'll do a video on the care and feeding of this wheellock. Share the joy - that's what it's all about, right?
Any idea what is on the stock of the third "stock photo" just rear of the trigger? It looks like the star has something large protruding from it .
cw1873, that seems to be an attachment point for a sling. It comes out from the stock in a curve and has a rectangular slot in the end.
cw1873, that seems to be an attachment point for a sling. It comes out from the stock in a curve and has a rectangular slot in the end.
thanks, I haven't seen one quite like that....will have to look for more pictures. I enjoy seeing features I think of as more "modern" on very old pieces
I built both a wheellock pistol and a rifle way back in the early 1970s my biggest problem with them was the ignition . I first tried the pyrites which after a hit and miss ignition broke into little pieces , second was the flint which was not much better and finally the modern fire lighting flint which did not work, so if I may what do you wheellock shooters use for ignition ?.

50 CAL Rifle with German style paddle stock
Last edited: