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The musket was a muzzle loading, black powder firearm introduced in the 17th century. It was most frequently smooth-bored and replaced the arquebus and caliver. Initially made with an forked rest (Modern: forky stick) on which to steady the heavy barrel they initially also had a matchlock firing mechanism, although some more expensive versions had wheellocks. The doglock flintlock eventually replaced the matchlock and the forked rest was abandoned in favour of a lighter musket. The percussion cap eventually replaced the flintlock.

Measured charges of powder in sets of powder flasks (Modern: Apostles) but were replaced by measured charges of powder. Some muskets had their barrels rifled, but these were not standard issue during the Thirty Years War or the English Civil Wars.

Late in the 17th century the bayonet became an added attachment but did not become widely used until the 18th century.

The musket became the primary weapon of war during the English Civil Wars as the pike fell further from favour. This trend had begun in the Thirty Years War.

The ancesters of this weapon were introduced to the Japanese during the 16th century where it was quickly adapted to their own style of warfare. The position of commander of the gunners was considered quite prestigious. The Japanese name for such guns, tanegashima, is taken from the island where it was first introduced to the Japanese.