What was the First Gun Like?

What first small firearms appeared late in the fourteenth century and were known as hand cannon they had cover and iron tubes (barrels) closed at the rear. Near this end (the butt) was drilled a small “touch-hole” for setting fire to the powder inside.

The butt ended in a hollow socket. Inti this fitted a straight, wooden stick, or stock. The mechanism that fires a gun is called “the lock”. A Forked piece of a metal that pivoted to one side of the stock was added about 1425.

It held a bit of smouldering wick or match. this piece could be worked back and forth to let burning down into the touch-hole and so fire the charge. Firearms shot this way were known as “matchlocks”. The next step (between 1475 and 1500) was to bend the stock down ward.

The next step (between 1475 and 1500) was to bend the stock downward. Then the user could hold it against his shoulder to take up the recoil, or kick. At the same time, he hold aim along the tube or barrel at his targets.


This gun was called a “hackbut”. About 1515, the Wheel lock was invented. A Rough-edged steel wheel was spun pan which sat on top of the wheel. The pan was filled with powder and a small hole connected it with the inside of the barrel.

Several forms of flintlock were developed in Europe; the earliest was known as “the snaphance”. By the end of the seventeenth century, the flint and steel like earlier guns. It was used with little change until about 1840 .

In 1807, the “percussion” system was invented. There was now a small, hollow, metal tube, one end of which screwed into the barrel, while the other was a seat for an explosive capsule, or cap. When struck by the hummer, this flashed fire into the powder chamber.     

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