Thursday, February 26, 2015


Weapons have been used from time immemorial. But they have been developed from time to time, catering to the needs of humans. The use of Longbow and swords are found in the historical wars or battles. Rat race of collecting arms for the national d├ętente is not new. Whether for purpose of self defense or offence, guns have a fascinating history.

Mythical monk from Germany is believed to have given idea of propelling projectile with the gunpowder in the 1300s. And Arabs are known to be inventors of earliest cannon named madfaa. This cannon was a wooden bowl with gunpowder in it and cannonball was made to stand on bowl’s rim. Its name that meant pot of fire, described how the iron bottle gripped gunpowder. Modern cannons were developed from this model only.

It was in 1364 that mankind first recorded the use of a firearm. These weapons, called “hand cannons,” were the first step in the creation of guns.
hand cannon
Originally, a wick was tied to “touch hole” inside of the barrel of guns. Then, when one lit the wick, the powder would inevitably be ignited inside, creating the reaction needed to launch the projectile. Obviously it was awkward to hold both gun & slow match while trying to dip the match to the touch hole of the hand cannon.

It was due to the matchlock gun arrived in the 1400s that guns began to evolve. This particular firearm was the first gun that used mechanics to release a bullet.
matchlock gun
Serpentine, the device was S-shaped and lowered slow match in priming pan whenever a gunman pressed the trigger. Introduction of this device had modernized gunnery while letting the aimers shoot and aim using both their hands. Musket was around 5-6 feet long with twenty pounds of weight. Supported by forked stick, musket users were known as musketeers.

In 1509, the creation of the wheel lock made for an even more intriguing and advanced weapon. Contrary to the matchlock, which required a wick to ignite the gun for usage, the wheel lock was a steel wheel that created the spark needed to ignite the gun.
This wheel lock led to introduction of pistols. Slightly curved and with length of two feet made their way as gun of cavalry. But wheel lock used in the pistols was costly and hence army prepared cheaper matchlocks as replacements.
Wheel lock gun

The flintlock solved a longstanding problem. In the late 1500s, a lid was added to the flash pan design. To expose or protect the powder, the lid had to be moved manually. The flintlock mechanism was designed to push back the lid and spark a flint at the same time. The flintlock ignition system reigned for two centuries, with virtually no alteration.
Flint is an amazingly hard form of rock. If iron or steel is striked with flint, the flint flakes off tiny particles of iron. The force of the blow and the friction it creates actually ignites the iron, and it burns rapidly to form Fe3O4. The sparks are the hot specks of iron burning.  If these sparks come near gunpowder, they will ignite it.
Flintlock gun

The first multi-shot, revolving firearms that were mass produced came from Samuel Colt. Colt produced a gun that enabled people to fire multiple shots without reloading — a development that forever changed warfare.

Introduced at the start of the Civil War, Spencer repeating guns were technically advanced, used cartridges (a recent development), and could fire 7 shots in 15 seconds. But the Army didn’t want a repeating gun, fearing that soldiers would fire more often, constantly need fresh ammunition, and overtax the supply system.

But in 1863,President Lincoln test-fired a Spencer. His approval led to the purchase of 107,372 Spencer repeating carbines and rifles (of 144,500 made), and the Spencer became the principal repeating gun of the Civil War.

Winchester rifles were affordable, and became the generic rifle. The Winchester had such a powerful hold in some regions that it actually became known as "the gun that won the West." In 1887, Winchester came out with their first repeating shotguns.

The next major milestone for Winchester came in 1903, when the company introduced the first automatic rifle that would become widely used.

According to the National Firearms Museum, the first truly fully automatic machine guns (firearms that fire continuously while the trigger is held down) emerged in the 1880s when Hiram Maxim perfected the technology. Then, John Moses Browning followed these weapons up with the .30 caliber Model 1917 and the .50 caliber M-2 “Ma Deuce” — the latter of which is still used today.

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