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Saturday, December 2, 2023

History of the Firearm and How it Changed Warfare

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The “firearm” was invented in China in the 13th century for celebration or for signaling.

The Chinese used gunpowder in the following centuries without ever testing it on the battlefield. Note that gunpowder was invented in the 9th century, and it’s usage would evolve and the firearm shall be invented. Later this invention would be transmitted from the Middle East to Europe.

The history of the fire lance

Before the invention of the firearm, the fire lance was used. It was a black-powder tube that was attached to the end of the spear and used as a flamethrower, in some cases shrapnel was also used so it could fly out with the flames.

This weapon was mostly used in the mid 10th century. There are also records of this weapon in the siege of De’an in 1132.

So how did the gun emerge?

Well the lance was filled with black-powder but they also added more saltpeter (Potassium nitrate) in the propellant to increase explosive power. The powder was placed into a bamboo that had the perfect shape and afterward was replaced with a metal tube. As for the shrapnel mentioned above, they introduced the projectiles that were made for this specific reason.

So this was the first “gun” ever made, the sources suggest that the Chinese had used this vase-shaped structure that threw balls out of it. They knew how much this weapon offered and it only took time until it was mastered. Here is the earliest saved hand cannon in the world:

The firearm was introduced to the Arabs in the 14th century. There are sources that the Mamluks used cannons against the Mongols and they are known as the first cannons in the history.

They also mastered gunpowder and made it almost perfect, this made it far more deadly. But many Muslims protested against these weapons and firearms weren’t very much welcomed there.

Europe and the history of firearms

There are multiple theories on how gunpowder came to Europe, one is about the Silk Road that traveled through the Middle East while the other is about the Mongols and their invasion in the 13th century.

There are also sources about the kingdom of England using some types of cannons in the 1340s. Other sources show up in Russia about firearms being used against the Mongols in Moscow 1382. Muscovites used firearms called “tyufyaki” which is translated to “gun”.

In the 14th century, Italy developed hand-held cannons or as they are called Schioppo. The Ottomans started using firearms in their army in the same time.

The modern age where many discoveries were made had a huge impact on firearms. During the early modern age, the “gun” was reformed, it was evolved into the famous flintlock rifle that could be seen here:

Then it evolved again Breech-loading weapon were discovered and showed a huge effect on the battlefield, here is an image of how it looks:

As a final evolution of the gun – the automation.

It all started in 1500 with the Spanish empire that equipped their units with guns called aquebusiers. They were accurate handguns that were light and portable.

People with low equipment could carry and use them and no armor was needed. They started dominating on the battlefield against the other armies that were mainly knights. The first battle that was ever won with firearms was in 1530 by the Spanish army in the battle of Cerignola.

But the weapons weren’t fast at all, they take very long in order to be reloaded and also took a lot of time to be fired.

The bayonet as a gadget was also invented and started to appear on the battlefield.

A lot changed with the Springfield rifle. They were one of the best breech-loading rifles that were produced in the 1860s in the US. As time passed by firearms became more accurate, effective, fast, and deadly.

This was the quick history of how the gun was invented and it’s fast evolution.

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