The Nock volley gun: The seven shot ‘sea-sweeper’
By Chris Eger
If you have ever fired a blackpowder muzzleloader, you’ve experiences the mini-fireworks show that results when the powder ignites and you instantly become shrouded in a cloud of smoke. Now imagine that multiplied by a factor of seven. As strange as this may sound, you have just visualized a Nock Volley gun.
Why would you do this?
Naval warfare in the 1700s revolved around sailing ships that would close and board enemy vessels so that their huge crews, sometimes over 800 sailors, could fight it out at close-quarters. Besides minimizing overall casualties, this strategy had strong financial incentives for the attacking party since sinking an enemy battle ship usually meant losing the spoils of war — guns, gold and other trade goods — to the ocean floor. Accordingly battles at sea were decided by musket, blunderbuss, and cutlass at bad breath range more often than by cannons. And this type of warfare, characterized by close combat with a limited ability to retreat, spawned the need for a different type of firearm…
The design of the Volley Gun
Though the volley gun design — itself just a simple arrangement of multiple barrels fired all at once by a single mechanism — goes back as far