written by Mats Persson
The oldest firearm ever found in Sweden is a small bronze gun named
Loshultbössan. It's dated to the mid 1300s. It was found in a peat bog in
the southern parts of Sweden in 1861 - just a few miles into what before the
year 1658 used to be Danish territory. The gun is 310 mm long, and the calibre
is 30-36 mm.
Knallbössan is of the same age, it was found in the harbour of Stockholm some years ago. This gun is made of steel, 128 mm long and the calibre is 8-10 mm.
In the battle of Brunkeberg in 1471 the Danish King Christian I lost a couple of teeth when he was hit by a bullet fired from a Swedish musket.
In the Russian war of 1555-57 most Swedish shooters were armed with muskets instead of crossbows.
In the Seven Year War (1563-70) against Denmark, about half of the Swedish Infantry was equipped with musket, the rest used pikes. But when Erik XIV was dethroned in 1568 almost all infantrymen had muskets. Foot-soldiers with musket and no pikes worked well against the Russian Infantry in the many Russian wars between 1570 and 1595, but caused a disastrous loss against the heavy Polish Cavalry in the battle of Kirkholm in 1605. The pike was then put back in service and stayed for more than a hundred years.
Soon after Gustaf II Adolf had intervened in Germany, at the first
battle of Breitenfeld (1631), the Swedish army won a decisive victory over the
Catholic Holy Roman Empire's army. The Catholic foot soldiers were armed with
heavy (7-10kg) arquebusiers while the Swedish infantry used much lighter muskets
(5kg) that could be fired three times as fast as the enemy's. Somewhere between
one forth and half of the Swedish infantry men were equipped with muskets, the
rest carried pikes.
The Swedes also had much lighter guns. The range was no more than 300 metres, but they were easy to handle and the rate of fire was actually higher than for the muskets.
Even though every infantryman had a musket, and every cavalryman had a carbine and two pistols, the Carolian Army (1676 - 1720) relied heavily on edged weapons such as swords, pikes and bayonets (the later introduced in 1697). The soldiers were trained not to shoot till they could see the whites of the enemies eyes, and as soon as they had fired one round they charged. They never used such unmanly tactics as volley-firing or circulating formations (caracole).
In 1689 King Karl XI ordered that the local Drill-officers should keep a record of who possessed and not possessed firearms in his area, so that the good King could help to arm the unarmed. The Drill-officer should exercise all fit male in the use of firearms and also fine people who didn't take proper care of there own weapons.
In the 1500s arms were made by local blacksmiths, as a kind of moonlighting. The payment was often a tax reduction or a small cottage. Firearms were often imported from Europe.
In the early 1600s king Gustav II Adolf ordered that every blacksmith should deliver a certain amount of arms each year. The local Sheriff was to decide how many and when. A gunsmith could make 40 musket a year. The Sheriff should collect and inspect weapons, and then send them to Stockholm. Due to bad communications the deliveries were often late or irregular.
In 1620 the same King decided that the best blacksmiths should move to
certain towns, and work there. Such towns as Örebro, Arboga, Jönköping,
Sundsvall, Söderhamn, Norrtälje and Norrköping. The blacksmiths and gunsmiths
still worked in their own workshops, but a kind of cooperation was established.
Farmers delivered stocks as a form of tax. Gunsmiths were paid for each lock
they made. A "Faktor" was responsible for the assembly of arms.
These loosely bonded organizations were called "Faktorier". All
firearms were proof-fired in the presence of an Inspector from the
War-administration, before they were accepted.
The state arsenals did not have monopoly and a lot of weapons were still made by privately owned works. Some more exclusive weapons were made by independent gun smiths in Stockholm.
During the end of the Thirty Year War (1618-48) the annual production of musket was 15000 - 20000 in the whole Kingdom.
In the 1700s the state arsenals ("Faktorier") were better organized, the blacksmiths in these towns were forced to work for the arsenal. During the Great Northern War (1700-21) the annual production at each of the seven state small arms arsenals was between two- and ten-thousand musket.
By 1840 the only remaining rifle factories were; Norrtälje, Husqvarna and Carl Gustaf.
Large scale production begun in 1530 by the help of foreign gun makers. Production and quality increased during Gustav II Adolf's reign - much thanks to Walloon iron-workers that imigrated from Holland. By the mid 1600s Sweden made 30-40% of all cannon produced in Europe.
During the Carolian period the Swedish Army got most of their artillery pieces from four state arsenals, Åkers, Nävekvarn, Ehrendal and Stavsjö.
But the major export company was the private-owned Finspong, at one time the largest exporter of cannon in Europe. By the time of 1860 Finspong was the only reminding gun manufacturer in Sweden. In 1880 Finspong got competition from Bofors. Being a small country, Sweden could only support one gun-manufacturer in the long run. Due to older methods of production Finspong lost the the battle.
A list of some private works and factories, which are or have been manufacturing arms.
'Barnekow cried for fourteen days because he could not manage to blow the gun to pieces. He was religious and did not dare to curse.'
In 1983 the Swedish Navy placed its first order for Bofors guns.
The first independent gun design was the 15 cm M/89 naval gun for the Göta class. In 1892 Bofors introduced its ingenious single-motion ogival breech-screw, adopted by the Navy as M/94, which put the company in lead of medium calibre naval artillery for decades.
Except for an experimental gun from 1893 the first Bofors-designed field-gun was the m/10 howitzer.
In 1895 the major owner, Alfred Nobel, had a powder mill built close to the original ironworks.
|A very brief history of Swedish Arms manufacturing|
|Swedish Military Designations|
|Bottom stamps of swedish military ammunition|
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