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From the History Books

Nock Volley Gun

by Garry James   |  May 27th, 2011 8

by Garry James

Naval warfare back in the 18th and 19th century wasn’t only about  ships coming up close and banging away at one another with heavy artillery until one of them sank. As ships got close there was quite a bit of musketry fire exchanged between marines and sailors. As things could get pretty hot’n heavy during such a melee, British gunmaker Henry Nock figured why have a gun with one barrel, when you could have two… or three… or, even better, how about seven! Enter his hefty, stubby “Volley Gun.”

Designed as the ultimate rigging-clearer, this formidable flintlock involved a cluster of seven .60-caliber barrels that all went off more or less simultaneously with one pull of the trigger. It worked well enough, and even though it had some weight to absorb recoil, about of a third of a pound of bullets, pushed along with several hundred grains of blackpowder produced more recoil than even the stoutest Jolly Jack Tar was comfortable with. That, along with a penchant for spewing out enough flame to catch lines and sails on fire, caused the Royal Navy to rethink the whole matter.   Though a couple of models were designed, numbers produced  were limited and the guns were prudently withdrawn from service. Still, the Volley Gun has achieved some fame in recent, being the gun of choice of Sergeant Patrick Harper in Bernard Cornwell’s marvelous series of  “Sharpe” novels and in the television shows based on the books.

  • Varmintmist

    Its kind of like a trophy wife, useless, but I would like to have one hanging on my arm. I love it in the "there is no kill like overkill" category "along with a penchant for spewing out enough flame to catch lines and sails on fire"

  • robert38-55

    JJJJJJJJEeeccccchhh Gary!,, This is one gun I would love to see you take out and shoot!!!!!

  • Garry James

    Would love to, but they are seriously scarce (and expensive!)The Rifle Shoppe apparently makes parts for them, so perhaps I could put one together and try it out. Needless to say, I'd start with light loads and work up, and would steer clear of any rigging or other nautical paraphernalia.

  • Gene L

    There is one of these guns in the semi-hitorical "Sharp" series of novels.

    • Garry James

      Yes, Sergeant Harper carries one. He's big enough to shoot it, and I suppose one volley would do a real number on a phalanx of Bonaparte's best, but then he'd have to load all the barrels again. Rather labor intensive in a skirmish, I would think. Fun stories, though.

  • http://I.E. Chuck regnier

    I seen one of these many years ago. A friend attempted to build one Never worked real good. Blew up one day while he was testing it. NO INJURIES.

  • Robert Johnston

    This weapon was also used to help quell mutinies on warships belonging to His (or Her) Brittannic Majesty's Royal Navy. A line of loyal jolly Jack Tars, armed with volley guns, made a formidable barrier to anybody wanting to waste the captain and officers, then "go pirate."


  • Alan_T

    Ever notice that there's never a Nock Volley Gun around when you need one ? ? ?

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