All About History
Having to light the priming powder of a gun by hand proved rather distracting for soldiers. By inventing a mechanism that automatically handled the firing process with the pull of a lever, soldiers could focus their concentration on the intended target instead. the first of these mechanisms was known as the matchlock and it made use of a curved metal lever called the serpentine. it held a slow burning match that would lower into the priming powder held within the flash pan of the gun and ignite it. this would light the main charge in the gun and cause it to fire. the pistol could then be reloaded.