Kabyle musket

Moukhala with snaphance lock, Džeferdar with miquelet lock, two moukhala converted to percussion lock.

The Kabyle musket or moukalla (moukhala) [1] was a type of musket widely used in North Africa, produced by many native tribes and nations. Two systems of gunlock prevailed in Kabyle guns, one, which derived from Dutch and English types of snaphance lock, usually with a thicker lockplate. Half cock was provided by a dog catch behind the cock. At full cock, the sear passing through the lockplate engaged the heel of the cock. The other mechanism was the so-called Arab toe-lock, a form of miquelet lock, closely allied to the agujeta lock (which required a back or dog catch for half cock) and the Italian romanlock. The term miquelet is used today to describe a particular type of snaplock. The miquelet lock, in all varieties, was common for several centuries in the countries surrounding the Mediterranean, particularly in Spain, Italy, the Balkans, and Ottoman domains including the coastal states of North Africa. The type of musket would be described as a Kabyle snaphance or a Kabyle miquelet. (Blair: 1982 pages 281,289)

The caliber of musket ball fired was large, usually in the .67 range. These guns were very long, around 6 feet. The plain barrel alone is 44 to 52 inches in length. The barrel was retained in the stock by about twelve iron, brass, or silver bands (capucines). When silver was used, it was often done in the niello form. These muskets may have all metal work engraved and locks may be covered in sheet silver. The stock and trumpet-shaped butt is typically enhanced by engraved silver shapes inlaid with coral or ivory. Even the exposed parts of the wooden ramrod is encased with silver. (Blair: 1982 page 289)


Most of these muskets were produced in Kabylie, an area inhabited by the Kabyle tribes, a Berber tribe spread across the area known as the Maghreb in northern Algeria, western Libya, Morocco, and Tunisia.


The Kabyle musket played a major role in the tribal wars in the Kabyle and Maghreb regions. They were used for a long time, from the 17th to the 20th centuries; production only stopping when weapons that use centerfire cartridges became widespread.


  1. (Elgood: 1995 page 69)
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