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Pirates got everything they used by stealing. All their food, medicine and weapons were taken from their victims. This meant that the weapons used by pirates were no different from those used by the seafarers of the times:


The cutlass is believed to have grown from the long knives used by the original buccaneers to butcher their meat for cooking on fires. Its short broad blade was good for use in the tight space of a ship and it was the most common weapon of nearly all fighting men at sea.


With its short barrel the musketoon wasn't very accurate but, like the cutlass, was easier to use on board a ship where enemies were close and accuracy was not as important. The brass-barrelled musketoon pictured above dates from 1758.

Flintlock Pistol

The pistol was light and portable and so was the ideal weapon for boarding the victim ship. One major problem (especially at sea) was that if the gunpowder got damp the gun would not fire. The pistol could only fire one shot at a time and as reloading took a long time, the pirate would have to carry several pistols or use the butt of the gun as a club. This is a flintlock pistol of c. 1730


A dagger could easily be hidden, so it was ideal for a surprise attack. It was also useful in areas where there was no room to swing a sword. This picture shows an Eighteenth century naval dirk and its scabbard.

Boarding Axe

The boarding axe was used by pirates to help climb the high wooden sides of a ship. They would bash it into the side of the hull, and then use it as a handhold to climb up. Once they were on the deck, the axe could be used to cut down the sails, so the ship was brought to a stop. This is a naval boarding axe of 1870.

Powder Horn

This was a container used to store the gunpowder needed for all the pirate's pistols and muskets. It usually hung from a belt. The picture shows an Eighteenth century powder horn.

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