Jamestown Matchlock Musket Demonstration (with Live Rounds)

J.M. Aucoin . Firearms, History 2199

Back in 1611, a Jamestown law was enacted that ordered all musketeers to wear armor. In order to obey the law and shoot more comfortably, the Jamestown musketeers began adapting their armor.

To see how this adaptive armor compared to a standard breastplate, the Jamestown Rediscovery group fired matchlock muskets wearing three types of armor:

  • No breastplate (control)
  • Standard breastplate
  • Adaptive breastplate

From Jamestown Rediscovery:

Live rounds were fired from this matchlock with the musketeer first using no armor, then wearing standard armor, and finally equipped with a modified armor breastplate that had an attached piece for the musket butt to rest. Accuracy did not seem to be a factor, as all three tests yielded similar results. However, the modified breastplate was much more comfortable and easier to use than the standard breastplate.

And although accuracy didn’t change much between one type of armor to the next, the adaptive breastplate had the advantage of giving the musketeer a place to secure the butt of the musket, meaning a quicker rate of fire.

By the mid-17th century in Europe, infantry regiments started to abandon metal armor in favor of thick leather armor called buffcoats or no armor at all.

Be sure to check out Jamestown Rediscovery’s Youtube page for more cool videos.

J.M. Aucoin

Author. Fencer. Sometimes actor. Full-time nerd. I write swashbucklers & historical adventure novels.