Ignition system for firearms developed in the early 16th century. It superseded the matchlock and the wheel lock and remained in use until the mid-19th century. The most successful version, the true flintlock, was invented in France in the 17th century. When the trigger was pulled, a spring action caused the frizzen (striker) to strike the flint, showering sparks onto the gunpowder in the priming pan; the ignited powder, in turn, fired the main charge in the bore, propelling the ball.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
For the full entry on flintlock, visit Britannica.com.
Seen & Heard
What made you look up flintlock? Please tell us what you were reading, watching or discussing that led you here.