Michael Carrick is widely known as a collector of rare firearms. He has written articles for Gun Digest Reloader's Manual, The Gun Report Magazine, Muzzle Blasts Magazine, and other specialized publications relating to antique firearms collecting. His large collection contains examples of all the weapons—he prefers to call them "tools of survival"—carried by Lewis and Clark and the Corps of Discovery.
Formerly he was the owner of Lightning Powder Company of Salem, Oregon, manufacturers and distributors of equipment for crime scene investigators. He still serves as a consultant, lecturer and instructor for the firm, with his responsibilities continuing to take him to all quarters of the globe. He is a life member and a Distinguished Fellow of the International Association for Identification, an organization of police scientific investigators founded in 1916, and has published several technical articles in their journal.
Michael Carrick is a diligent historian and a member of the Historical Society of Marion County, Oregon, and the Mission Mill Historical Association of Salem. He is a member of the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation, Inc., and a past president of the Oregon chapter of the foundation. He has published several articles on historical stereo-photography in Stereo World.
While pursuing his wide range of interests with equal passion, he has also left his mark in community service, not only locally but also in other countries. He has traveled with the Northwest Medical Team to Romania to work in orphanages, to Mexico City to work with children living in the city dump, and three times to Honduras to help develop potable water systems for poor communities.
Articles on this site by Michael Carrick:
Captains Lewis and Clark frequently referred to the "fusils" "fusees," or "fuzees" in the hands of Indians.1 Near Fort Pierre, South Dakota, on September 26, 1804, Clark noted that some of the Indians were "badly armed with fuseis." The word evolved from a Latin vernacular word, focus, meaning "fire." By the 17th century it came to denote a light musket or firelock.2
From the seventeenth century on, French fur traders and later the British supplied their Indian clients with smoothbore muskets both as gifts and in trade for pelts. By the late 1700s the style of these guns had standardized into a form the Indians came to prefer. Those flintlock muskets, which were universally called by their French name "fusils," generally were lighter and more slender than contemporary military muskets, were of .60 caliber (24 gauge).3 They had an oversize trigger guard, a flat brass butt plate attached with nails, and a side plate of a coiled sea serpent. It was long thought that the extra-large trigger guard was made to accommodate a gloved hand. But recent inspection of original documents from the Hudson's Bay Company reveals a request sent to gunmakers in England in 1740 stating the Indians demanded large trigger guards because they liked to use the first two fingers of the hand to pull the trigger. Apparently that grip was more stable when firing from horseback than just the index finger.
On January 15, 1806, Captain Lewis commented on the armament of the Chinook Indians, incidentally revealing the quality of their arms, and their tendency to abuse them (cp. "Thunder Gun ").
their guns are usually of an inferior quality being oald refuse American & brittish Musquits which have been repared for this trade. they are invariably in bad order; they apear not to have been long enouh accustomed to fire arms to understand the management of them. They have no rifles, . . . obtain their ammunition from the traders; when they happen to have no ball or shot, they substitute gravel or peices of potmettal, and are insensible of the damage done thereby to their guns.
Even though the Hudson's Bay Company and other traders passed tens of thousands of trade fusils to the Indians, the guns are quite scarce today. In the hands of the Indians, the guns suffered extensive use and abuse. When they were beyond repair, they were broken down for scrap. The buttplates were typically used as hide scrapers, and the barrels were flattened at the muzzle to serve as digging implements
1. Noah Webster, in his Compendious Dictionary of the English Language (1806), chose the Americanized spelling—fusee.
2. The word firelock at first (in the 17th century) denoted the mechanism by which sparks were produced by flint struck by a piece of steel, in order to ignite some priming powder in the pan of a gun. That mechanism soon came to be called a flint-lock, and that term soon came to denote the weapon as a whole.
3. Gauge is a standard of measurement applied to shotgun barrels. It represents the number of lead balls exactly the same diameter as the inside of the barrel that will add up to one pound in weight.
Funded in part by a grant from the National Park Service Challenge Cost Share Program.