Pair of muzzle loading flintlock pistols. Russian, early 19th century.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
A pair of pistols said to have belonged to Napoleon Bonoparte. The flintlock mechanism replaced the earlier wheel-lock type for igniting gunpowder. Pulling the trigger caused a piece of flint to strike a piece of steel. The resulting spark ignited a small quantity of gunpowder in the pan. This communicated through a small hole in the barrel with the main charge.