Weatherproofed arquebuses of the Ming Dynasty

One of the major hurdles that prevented matchlock guns from being adopted on large scale in North China was the strong wind that could blow the gunpowder in the flash pan away (an opinion apparently shared by Sir John Smythe from England). Using Lu Mi Chong (魯密銃) as base model, Ming Dynasty firearm specialist Zhao Shi Zhen (趙士禎) developed two arquebuses that are less susceptible to the elements.

Xuan Yuan Chong (軒轅銃, lit. 'Xuanyuan's arquebus')
Ming Dynasty Weatherproofed Matchlock Gun
A Xuan Yuan Chong and its parts, from 'Shen Qi Pu (《神器譜》)'.
Named after the legendary forefather of all Chinese people, Xuan Yuan Chong is a modified arquebus with a bronze rain cover connected to a pendulum. The weight of the pendulum always points downwards, ensuring the rain cover to be always upright regardless of the orientation of the gun.

Drawing of a soldier reloading a Xuan Yuan Chong. The rain cover remains upright even though the gun is held in a tilted position.
Xuan Yuan Chong has the same barrel as a typical Lu Mi Chong, but uses a special rack and pinion matchlock mechanism that is unrelated to Japanese, European or Turkish design. This trigger mechanism is connected to flash pan cover so that the cover opens automatically whenever the trigger is pulled.

He Ji Chong (合機銃, lit. 'Closed mechanism arquebus')
Ming Chinese Weather-proofed Matchlock Arquebus
A He Ji Chong and its parts, from 'Shen Qi Pu (《神器譜》)'.
He Ji Chong appears to be an improved and simplified version of Xuan Yuan Chong that uses a modified Turkish serpentine lock (also connected to flash pan cover) and a smaller rain cover.

Zhao Shi Zhen's designs, while usable, add to the cost of the already expensive matchlock gun, making these weapons prohibitively expensive to mass produce. His modification was also largely unnecessary, as later Dzungar Khanate and Qing Dynasty troops used unmodified matchlock guns in the North without much issue at all.


  1. Also noticed that foreign observers during the Qing dynasty, noticed the Chinese armies carry lots, lots of umbrellas. I assume part of the reason at least is to keep their powder and fuses dry while operating their matchlocks. Strange why from Ming to Qing, they still stuck to matchlocks...not that flintlocks are weather-proof but did they ever utilized flintlocks?

  2. @Raymond
    They (Qing) did, and not just as plaything for the emperor either, and caplock too, actually. But most troops still used good ol' matchlock.
    I can only find this picture at the moment, three Qing muskets at Military Museum of the Chinese People's Revolution, clearly rugged and designed for military use. The middle musket is a caplock.

  3. Xuan Yuan Chong and He Ji Chong remind me of japanese wheellock guns

    1. I need to double-check my source again, but as far as I can remember, Xuan Yuan Chong doesn't have a serpentine designed to clam pyrite.

      He Ji Chong has a mechanism nearly identical to Toradar matchlock. Personally I am fairly certain it is a matchlock gun instead of a wheelock.

    2. Serpentines of both guns also point away from the "wheel" instead of towards it, so they can't utilise the friction of the wheel to ignite charge.

      However, Zhao Shi Zhen was almost certainly aware of wheellock gun, although (if I remember correctly) he considered it overly complicated and decided not to include the gun in his firearm treatise.

    3. ok, i asked because i found this on chinese internet and as chinese isn't my first language:

    4. Oh I referenced his articles from time to time.



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