Albanian muskets

Albanian muskets (Alb. musqet, hut, martinë, kapakli, vershanë or karajfilja shqiptarë) were the type of first Ottoman-made and later Albanian cap lock and flint lock muskets produced between the 16th century and 19th century used by Albanian military personnel and civilians in Albanian territories during conflicts with Ottoman and Montenegrin forces. Muskets were a symbol of social status and part of Albanian highlander tradition.[1]


The first usage of muskets is reported in 1450, according to Marlin Barleti, who writes that Scanderbegs forces had, among other guns, roughly 500 muskets.[2] Firearms production began in Albania in the 17th century producing mostly pistols and rifles.[3] There were different types of muskets characteristic of Albanian style made through out Ottoman-Albania. When Albanians made fortified stone towers, the fire holes (Alb. frengji) were carved to fit the musket barrel. The firer was protected from abrasion by a leather flap[4]. Some rifles had a fish tail butt (known as Tyta in Albanian) with a stock sheathed in steel, and pierced and engraved with motifs in rococo taste. The stock could be of the double headed eagle of Albania in quartered foliage panel and the barrel was 46". Firing with an Albanian musket produced a cannon muzzle. Albania is mentioned as the only country in Europe in the 16th and 17th century to produced bifacially worked gun-flints.[5]

There were three types of muskets: Kapakli, tanchika or tanćice[6] or arnautka (Albanian), a type of miquelet rifle[7]. The miquelet was also known as the "Long Gun" or "Arnaut gun" and was used up until 1910 by Albanian highlanders.[8] There was also the "rat-tail" version, a miquelet pistol, of Albanian origin.[9] The arnautka was a long gun used in the first half of the 19th century up to the 1880s, usually decorated with brass with a miquelet lock and steel engraved furniture. Some rifles had Damascus steel and were roughly 146-168 cm long. Albanian muskets were considered important to Albanian independence and customs through out the centuries and there was a belief that you could not part an Albanian from his rifle[10]. Albania was the birthplace of western Balkan flintlock rifles inspired by the Italian models[11] with rocks used in workships from Hajmel in the region of Shkodër[12].

In the museum of Romania, there are other types of Albanian muskets: the rashak[13] (1800s) or kariophili, the prizrenci (Prizren rifle), and the celina and Ioannina type. The most famous Albanian gunsmiths in the 18th to 19th century were in Prizren, Pejë, Shkodra and Elbasan, as well as in Debar, Tetovo and Skopje and Ioannina. Alongside the rifles, there were also the Pejë holster pistol, the most common one in the 19th century[14] and the Albanian blunderbuss[15]. One of the types of muskets used for self-defence, the primary purpose, amongst Albanians was the kapakli (Turkish: Kapakli), a type of Ottoman leaden-made cap lock musket[16]. According to Mehmet Zeki Pakalın, the name derives from the Turkish word kapak meaning cap which was often used in Albanian military terminology[17]. Generally, the rifle was also used by Macedonians in Vranje[18] The musket is also mentioned in Albanian folklore.[19][20].

In 1872, the Ottomans purchased thousands of American made Peabody Martini rifle which were common amongst Albanian highlanders who cherished them as the cartridge cases were easy to refill and cheaper than bolt-action mechanisms. Albanians also marked the rifle after each life had been taken.[21]


There are various terms used, one of them being hutë, an archaic Albanian word referring "an old musket with one bullet" of unknown origin.[22] The second is the "martinë" and more common, defined in Albanian as "as type of old rifle, similar to the hutë"[23], inspired by the British made Martini-Henry rifles but with a peabody action version. The third is the word kubure (Eng. flintlock) which is of Arabic or Ottoman origin. The most common is pushkë which means "rifle" deriving from the Serbo-Croatian puška.[24] Gjergj Fishta used the word vershanë deriving from the Italian breshana, a cap lock musket, in the cycle of Oso Kuka in the Lahuta e Malsis.[25]


  1. ‘The rifle has the devil inside’ Gun Culture in South Eastern Europe (PDF). South Eastern and Eastern Europe Clearinghouse for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons. Retrieved 8 December 2019.
  2. New Albania (As regards the large quantity of firearms during the 15th century we have documents which show that during 1447-48 Banja possessed heavy guns. According to Barletti, during the first siege on Kruja in 1450, Scanderbeg's army had about 30 small cannons. In the Battle of Berati, Barleti informs that Scanderbeg used 5 big guns, 13 small guns, and 500 muskets, 14,000 fighters in action all told. ed.). New Albania. 1971. p. 37. Retrieved 10 December 2019.
  3. Alternativat dhe rrugët e mundshme për grumbullimin e armatimit në Shqipëri. Shoqata Shqiptare e Atlantikut. 1999. p. 140. Retrieved 10 December 2019.
  4. Awards, United States World's Columbian Commission Committee on (1901). World's Columbian Exposition, Chicago, Ill., 1893. U.S. Government Printing Office. p. 1192. Retrieved 8 December 2019.
  5. Publicações culturais. Companhia de Diamantes de Angola. 1963. p. 177. Retrieved 10 December 2019.
  6. North, Anthony (1985). An Introduction to Islamic Arms. Her Majesty'S Stationery Office. p. 15. ISBN 978-0-11-290384-0. Retrieved 10 December 2019.
  7. Auctions, Probus (2015). Swedish auction (PDF) (MIQUELET-LOCK GUN Albanian, steel covered stock with decoration of brass and mother of pearl, 170 cm, hammer and mainspring later ed.). Stockholm: Vapen & Ordnar Auktion nr 24 den 13 April 2015. Retrieved 8 December 2019.
  8. Mutti, Sperandio. Albanian musket "long gun". Retrieved 10 December 2019.
  9. Kelvin, Martin (1996). The Scottish pistol: its history, manufacture, and design. Cygnus Arts. p. 2. ISBN 978-0-8386-3745-6. Retrieved 10 December 2019.
  10. Carver, Robert (1999). The Accursed Mountains: Journeys in Albania. Flamingo. p. 197. ISBN 978-0-00-655174-4. Retrieved 8 December 2019.
  11. Marcov, Zoran (2015). Contribuţii la identificarea şi clasificarea puştilor vest-balcanice cu cremene prezente în muzeele din România / Contributions to Identifying and Classifying Western Balkans Flintlock Rifles from the Romanian Museums. Analele Banatului: Arheologie - Istorie XXIII:331-341 · October 2015. Retrieved 8 December 2019.
  12. O. Çakaj, E. Duka (2012). Preliminary study of various iron slags from northern and central Albania. p. 3. Retrieved 8 December 2019.
  13. Elgood, Robert (1995). Firearms of the Islamic World: In the Tareq Rajab Museum, Kuwait. I.B.Tauris. p. 97. ISBN 978-1-85043-963-9. Retrieved 8 December 2019.
  14. Markov, Zoran. Balkan Arms of the 18th to 19th Centuries on the Current Territory of Romania. Retrieved 8 December 2019.
  15. Stone, George Cameron (2013). A Glossary of the Construction, Decoration and Use of Arms and Armor: in All Countries and in All Times. Courier Corporation. pp. 259, 264. ISBN 978-0-486-13129-0. Retrieved 8 December 2019.
  16. Morina. Motif Akademi Halkbilimi Dergisi / 2012-1 (Ocak-Haziran) (Balkan Özel Sayısı-I), s.13-32 Arnavut Epik Destanlarında Türkçe Silah Adları / İ. MORİNA, Irfan. ARNAVUT EPİK DESTANLARINDA TÜRKÇE SİLAH ADLARI (Names of Turkish Arms in Albanian Epics) (Translation: Kapaklija: It is a kind of rifle used in Albanian with cover. It was named after the cover made to fill the gunpowder. This weapon was used by Albanians especially during the wars they fought with Montenegrins. In folk songs and epics, cover guns are often mentioned. The word Kapakli comes from Turkish. Like other weapons, Busilah is no longer involved in history pages. ed.). p. 24. Retrieved 8 December 2019.
  18. Stojčev, Vanče (2004). Military history of Macedonia. Military Academy "General Mihailo Apostolski". p. 243. ISBN 978-9989-134-05-0. Retrieved 8 December 2019.
  19. Hadri, Ali (1976). Kosova (in Albanian). Enti i Historisë së Kosovës. p. 275. Retrieved 8 December 2019.
  20. Haxhiu, Ajet (1982). Shota dhe Azem Galica (in Albanian). Shtëpia Botuese "8 Nëntori". p. 50. Retrieved 8 December 2019.
  21. Gloyer, Gillian (2012). Albania: The Bradt Travel Guide. Bradt Travel Guides. p. 74. ISBN 978-1-84162-387-0. Retrieved 10 December 2019.
  22. Fjalorthi (Hutë: lloj pushke me çark dhe me një fishek: çarku i hutës. ed.). Retrieved 9 December 2019.
  23. Kuptimi i fjalës Martinë ‹ FJALË (in Albanian) (Martinë: Lloj pushke e gjatë, e ngjashme me hutën. Shtinin me martinë. Te plepi i Bilishtit / dy martina ranë. kr. pop. ed.). Retrieved 9 December 2019.
  24. pushkë - Wiktionary. Retrieved 9 December 2019.
  25. Fishta, Gjergj; Elsie, Robert (2005). The Highland Lute. I.B.Tauris. ISBN 978-1-84511-118-2. Retrieved 9 December 2019.

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