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Device for igniting the powder in a firearm such as a musket. Developed c. 1515, the wheel lock struck a spark to ignite powder in the pan of a musket by means of a holder that pressed a shard of flint or a piece of iron pyrite against an iron wheel with a milled edge; the wheel rotated and sparks flew. The principle was used in the design of the flint-and-wheel cigarette lighter. See alsoflintlock.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on wheel lock, visit Britannica.com.