Original Mainspring Vise

Muzzleloading Forum

Help Support Muzzleloading Forum:

May 24, 2005
Reaction score
Hello ALL. Of passing interest to some, here is an original period, hand forged mainspring vise used for Spanish and Italian style miquelet locks. Don't feel surprised if you've never seen one, as they are quite rare. I've searched for one at auctions for years, and finally located one from an Italian auction. It was listed as just a spring vise for ? Fortunately, I recognized what it was. It came in a Lot with two other nice, period tools.
Those of you who are familiar with these locks are probably aware that the current vises on the market for standard type flintlock and percussion locks will not work with most miquelet locks, the mainspring being on the outside versus inside of the lock plate.
The way this vise works is that it is positioned from the back of the lock plate, with the hook arm catching the bottom edge of the lock plate, and the turn screw pushing down on the mainspring to relieve tension against the hammer (for Spanish heel-lock versions). For Italian (Roman) style toe locks, the vise is simply reversed 180-degrees with the hook portion gripping the top edge of the lock plate, and the turn screw pushing up on the mainspring to relieve tension. The purpose of the curved piece I haven't figured out yet, but think it might have something to do with relieving tension on the frizzen spring (?) Will have to experiment more.
There is very little historical information on these miquelet vises. But it was known that gunsmiths of the period would keep 3-4 different sizes on hand depending on the lock size. The primary difference only being the length of the hook arm. They do indeed work. The vise in this photo fits a pistol to small/medium fowler size.
In the past, I've tried to interest (and pay) the current makers of vises to make a simplified variation using say 1/4" square stock welded together, but no one seems interested. Guess they figure the potential market is too small (probably right LOL).

Anyway, glad to finally get my hands on one. These vises were probably in drawers all over Spain and Southern Italy during the first half of the 20th Century. But no one knew what they were for. So probably thrown out or turned into scrap metal. Thought you guys that work on locks would like to see one of these vises. In a way, they would be simpler to make that the vises for typical flintlock/percussion locks.

001 (Medium).JPG
002 (Medium).JPG
003 (Medium).JPG