Belton flintlock

Cover page of Belton's first letter to the Continental Congress, sent April 11, 1777

The Belton Flintlock was a repeating flintlock design using superposed loads, invented by Philadelphia, Pennsylvania resident Joseph Belton some time prior to 1777. The design was offered by Belton to the newly formed Continental Congress in 1777, and a number of examples were commissioned and tested.[1]


There are no known surviving examples of Belton's gun; in fact, the only evidence of its existence is the correspondence between Belton and Congress. Belton described the gun as capable of firing up to "sixteen or twenty [balls], in sixteen, ten, or five seconds of time". It is theorized that it worked in a manner similar to a Roman candle, with a single lock igniting a fused chain of charges stacked in a single barrel, packaged as a single large paper cartridge.[1] Despite commissioning Belton to build or modify 100 muskets for the military on May 3, 1777, the order was dismissed in May, 15, 1777, when Congress received Belton's bid and considered it an "extraordinary allowance".[2] After the war was over, Belton is reported to have attempted to sell the design to the British Army, also without success.[3] Belton then began making superposed load flintlocks, which used a sliding lock mechanism, with the London gunsmith William Jover, and attempted to sell them to the East India Company. At least two examples survive, of pistols which utilize four touchholes, and these are housed in the Pitt Rivers Museum at the University of Oxford.[4] The Belton sliding lock design was later improved and used in slightly more successful designs, such as Isaiah Jenning's repeating flintlock rifle.[5]


Wikisource has original text related to this article:
  1. 1 2 Harold L. Peterson (2000). Arms and Armor in Colonial America, 1526-1783. Courier Dover Publications. pp. 217–218. ISBN 0-486-41244-X.
  2. United States Continental Congress (1907). Journals of the Continental Congress. USGPO., pages 324, 361
  3. Lincoln Diamant (2004). Chaining the Hudson: The Fight for the River in the American Revolution. Fordham University Press. p. 210.
  4. Peter Rivière. "London gun makers represented in the Pitt Rivers Museum collections". Pitt River Museum. Archived from the original on 2010-11-19.
  5. George D. Moller (1993). American Military Shoulder Arms: From the 1790s to the end of the flintlock period. University Press of Colorado.
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