Traditionally, the image of the Blunderbuss featured a bell-shaped (or "flared") muzzle for the spreading of shot with the barrel set within a solid wooden frame. The frame contained the working components including a compressed spring, the cock with flint stone and gun powder pan (also known as the "flash pan" or "frizzen"). The cock was set to the right hand side as was the open pan. The trigger was set underneath the body of the gun and protected by an oblong trigger ring. A shoulder stock assisted in containing the inherently violent recoil of such a short, powerful weapon and also served to provide a rifle-type hand grip. A ramrod was fitted underneath the barrel for ramming shot contents down the barrel when loading/reloading. Overall length was shorter than any available musket of the time which lent itself well to rising use worldwide - some examples measuring between 14 and 30 inches long with a variable-length barrels to boot. Pistol forms, of course, were shorter than their full-length Blunderbuss counterparts. Caliber was equally variable as well with some Blunderbusses fielding a 2.5 inch flared muzzle opening. Military Blunderbusses additionally sported fittings for the use of a bayonet.
Despite its military applications, the Blunderbuss will forever be associated with its use by privateers and pirates of the high seas. Understanding the form and function of the Blunderbuss in such a role and the reader immediately understands the ideal nature of the weapon in the close-fighting environment involved with a boarding action between rival ships. Even the British Royal Navy found value in such a weapon that it issued Blunderbuss-type weaponry to its sailors for that very role. The spread shot could be put to lethal use in such quarters as could its portability, particularly in fighting below decks. Once the gun was fired, the user could then close in on his enemy by way of blade (or bayonet if equipped as such) or use the butt-end of the Blunderbuss as an effective club of sorts. Since reloading of flintlock weapons was generally time consuming, it made sense to provide the soldier with both firearm and blade at this point in history. British use of the Blunderbuss even extended into land-based protection of convoys and mail service for her coachmen operating between destinations where bandits roamed. As a proven weapon worldwide, it was not surprising that colonists in the Americas also kept Blunderbusses for protection against all matter of target - needless to say, use of Blunderbuss-type weapons was quite global, particularly noted for its use in European Armies.
The tenure of Blunderbuss survived into the 19th Century to which by this time the carbine had staked its claim on the modern battlefields. Regardless, many still held their Blunderbusses in higher regard due to her inherently excellent man-stopping qualities and in-the-field ruggedness. Nevertheless, the Blunderbuss - the imposing weapon with the funny name - would still go down as one of the most recognizable firearms in history and live a long healthy life in the romanticized pirate tales to follow.