Classic cannonballs weighed up to 32 pounds and did little damage at long range. As they were also very inaccurate, cannon were usually loaded with a various selection of ammunition in case of different targets. Some were specialized for personnel and some enemy ship (rigging and sail). These included gravel, nails, and combined small cannon or musket balls, effective against enemy crew.
Bar and Chain Shot
Main purpose of bar and chain shot was damaging the rigging and sail of enemy ship. This type of ammunition were two or more cannon balls connected together with iron bar or chain. When fired, the shot would rotate through the air creating destructive force able to destroy any sails and riggings.
This type of shot are specially designed for damaging opposing crew. Bundle shots were packs of short metal bars bundled together with a length of rope. When fired, the rope would loosen and the iron bars would begin to spread apart hitting everyone around. They were most effective at close distance.
Specially designed small iron balls or stones, about three quarters of an inch in diameter, were packed in bags and used as grapeshot. Grape shot was used to make deadly blows for crew on deck, causing little damage to the ship. One of the most famous pirates, Bartholomew Roberts was killed by this type of shot.
Another type of cannon ammunition with multiple shots. A cloth bag was filled with gravel, nails and spikes. When shot hit target it would burn and release of sharp shards all over the deck, which caused severe wounds.
Powderbox or Powderhorn was a key element to the most pirate firearms. If the gunpowder got wet it would be totally useless, the weapons would not be able fire correctly or fire at all. Of course, it was very difficult to keep gunpowder dry on a ship and it was powderbox job to keep gunpowder ready for instant action. Powderbox was not suitable for caring in close combats, but sometimes there was a pirate who’s job in combat was to load small arms and provide them to other pirates.
Pirates used early form of grenades called “The Grenado”. This type of hand grenade was most used during 17th century.