Gun

Last updated

SIG Pro semi-automatic pistol SIG Pro by Augustas Didzgalvis.jpg
SIG Pro semi-automatic pistol
Battleship USS Iowa fires a full broadside from its nine sixteen-inch naval guns Uss iowa bb-61 pr.jpg
Battleship USS Iowa fires a full broadside from its nine sixteen-inch naval guns

A gun is a ranged weapon designed to use a shooting tube (gun barrel) to launch typically solid projectiles, [1] but can also project pressurized liquid (e.g. water guns/cannons, spray guns for painting or pressure washing, projected water disruptors, and technically also flamethrowers), gas (e.g. light-gas gun) or even charged particles (e.g. plasma gun). Solid projectiles may be free-flying (as with bullets and artillery shells) or tethered (as with Taser guns, spearguns and harpoon guns). A large-caliber gun is also referred to as a cannon .

Contents

The means of projectile propulsion vary according to designs, but are traditionally effected pneumatically by a high gas pressure contained within the barrel tube, produced either through the rapid exothermic combustion of propellants (as with firearms), or by mechanical compression (as with air guns). The high-pressure gas is introduced behind the projectile, pushing and accelerating it down the length of the tube, imparting sufficient launch velocity to sustain its further travel towards the target once the propelling gas ceases acting upon it after it exits the muzzle. Alternatively, new-concept linear motor weapons may employ an electromagnetic field to achieve acceleration, in which case the barrel may be substituted by guide rails (as in railguns) or wrapped with magnetic coils (as in coilguns).

The first devices identified as guns appeared in China from around CE 1000. By the 12th century, the technology was spreading through the rest of Asia, and into Europe by the 13th century. [2]

Etymology

The origin of the English word gun is considered to derive from the name given to a particular historical weapon. Domina Gunilda was the name given to a remarkably large ballista, a mechanical bolt throwing weapon of enormous size, mounted at Windsor Castle during the 14th century. This name in turn may have derived from the Old Norse woman's proper name Gunnhildr which combines two Norse words referring to battle. [3] In any case the term gonne or gunne was applied to early hand-held firearms by the late 14th or early 15th century.

History

Hand cannon from the Chinese Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) Yuan chinese gun.jpg
Hand cannon from the Chinese Yuan Dynasty (1271–1368)
Western European handgun, 1380 HandBombardWesternEurope1380.jpg
Western European handgun, 1380
Depiction of a musketeer (1608) Jacob de Gheyn - Wapenhandelinge 4.jpg
Depiction of a musketeer (1608)

The first device identified as a gun, a bamboo tube that used gunpowder to fire a spear, appeared in China around AD 1000. [2] The Chinese had previously invented gunpowder in the 9th century. [4] [5] [6] [ full citation needed ]

An early type of firearm (or portable gun) is the fire lance, a black-powder–filled tube attached to the end of a spear and used as a flamethrower; shrapnel was sometimes placed in the barrel so that it would fly out together with the flames. [6] [ full citation needed ] [7] [ full citation needed ] The earliest depiction of a gunpowder weapon is the illustration of a fire-lance on a mid-10th century silk banner from Dunhuang. [8] The De'an Shoucheng Lu, an account of the siege of De'an in 1132, records that Song forces used fire-lances against the Jurchens. [9]

In due course, the proportion of saltpeter in the propellant was increased to maximise its explosive power. [7] [ full citation needed ] To better withstand that explosive power, the paper and bamboo of which fire-lance barrels were originally made came to be replaced by metal. [6] And to take full advantage of that power, the shrapnel came to be replaced by projectiles whose size and shape filled the barrel more closely. [7] [ full citation needed ] With this, the three basic features of a gun were put in place: a barrel made of metal, high-nitrate gunpowder, and a projectile which totally occludes the muzzle so that the powder charge exerts its full potential in propellant effect. [10]

Breech-loading guns called cetbang were used by the Majapahit Empire during the conquest of Nusantara in 1336–1350. The knowledge of making powder weapons in Java is thought to have originated from the Mongol invasion in 1293. [11] These swivel guns mounted on various vessels of the Majapahit navy were used to great effect against traditional boarding-style warfare of other kingdoms in the archipelago. [12] [13]

One theory of how gunpowder came to Europe is that it made its way along the Silk Road through the Middle East; another is that it was brought to Europe during the Mongol invasion in the first half of the 13th century. [14] [ full citation needed ] [15] [ full citation needed ] English Privy Wardrobe accounts list "ribaldis", a type of cannon, in the 1340s, and siege guns were used by the English at Calais in 1346. [16] The earliest surviving[ clarification needed ] firearm in Europe has been found from Otepää, Estonia and it dates to at least 1396. [17]

Around the late 14th century in Europe, smaller and portable hand-held cannons were developed, creating in effect the first smooth-bore personal firearm. In the late 15th century the Ottoman empire used firearms as part of its regular infantry.

The first successful rapid-fire firearm is the Gatling Gun, invented by Richard Gatling and fielded by the Union forces during the American Civil War in the 1860s. The Maxim gun, the first machine gun came shortly thereafter, developed in 1885 by Hiram Maxim.

The world's first submachine gun (a fully automatic firearm which fires pistol cartridges) able to be maneuvered by a single soldier is the MP 18.1, invented by Theodor Bergmann. It was introduced into service in 1918 by the German Army during World War I as the primary weapon of the Stosstruppen (assault groups specialized in trench combat).

The first assault rifle was introduced during World War II by the Germans, known as the StG44. It was the first firearm to bridge the gap between long range rifles, machine guns, and short range submachine guns. Since the mid-20th century, guns that fire beams of energy rather than solid projectiles have been developed, and also guns that can be fired by means other than the use of gunpowder.

Operating principle

Most guns use compressed gas confined by the barrel to propel the bullet up to high speed, though devices operating in other ways are sometimes called guns. In firearms the high-pressure gas is generated by combustion, usually of gunpowder. This principle is similar to that of internal combustion engines, except that the bullet leaves the barrel, while the piston transfers its motion to other parts and returns down the cylinder. As in an internal combustion engine, the combustion propagates by deflagration rather than by detonation, and the optimal gunpowder, like the optimal motor fuel, is resistant to detonation. This is because much of the energy generated in detonation is in the form of a shock wave, which can propagate from the gas to the solid structure and heat or damage the structure, rather than staying as heat to propel the piston or bullet. The shock wave at such high temperature and pressure is much faster than that of any bullet, and would leave the gun as sound either through the barrel or the bullet itself rather than contributing to the bullet's velocity. [18] [19]

Components

Barrel

Rifling of a 105 mm Royal Ordnance L7 tank gun. 105mm tank gun Rifling.jpg
Rifling of a 105 mm Royal Ordnance L7 tank gun.

Barrel types include rifled—a series of spiraled grooves or angles within the barrel—when the projectile requires an induced spin to stabilize it, and smoothbore when the projectile is stabilized by other means or rifling is undesired or unnecessary. Typically, interior barrel diameter and the associated projectile size is a means to identify gun variations. Bore diameter is reported in several ways. The more conventional measure is reporting the interior diameter (bore) of the barrel in decimal fractions of the inch or in millimetres. Some guns—such as shotguns—report the weapon's gauge (which is the number of shot pellets having the same diameter as the bore produced from one English pound (454g) of lead) or—as in some British ordnance—the weight of the weapon's usual projectile.

Projectile

A gun projectile may be a simple, single-piece item like a bullet, a casing containing a payload like a shotshell or explosive shell, or complex projectile like a sub-caliber projectile and sabot. The propellant may be air, an explosive solid, or an explosive liquid. Some variations like the Gyrojet and certain other types combine the projectile and propellant into a single item.

Terminology

The term gun may refer to any sort of projectile weapon from large cannons to small firearms including those that are usually hand-held (handgun). [20] The word gun is also commonly used to describe objects which, while they are not themselves weapons, produce an effect or possess a form which is in some way evocative of a handgun or long gun.

The use of the term "cannon" is interchangeable with "gun" as words borrowed from the French language during the early 15th century, from Old French canon, itself a borrowing from the Italian cannone, a "large tube" augmentative of Latin canna "reed or cane". [21] Recent scholarship indicates that the term "gun" may have its origins in the Norse woman's name "Gunnildr" (which means "War-sword"), which was often shortened to "Gunna". [22] The earliest recorded use of the term "gonne" was in a Latin document circa 1339. Other names for guns during this era were "schioppi" (Italian translation-"thunderers"), and "donrebusse" (Dutch translation-"thunder gun") which was incorporated into the English language as "blunderbuss". [22] Artillerymen were often referred to as "gonners" and "artillers" [23] Early guns and the men who used them were often associated with the devil and the gunner's craft was considered a black art, a point reinforced by the smell of sulfur on battlefields created from the firing of guns along with the muzzle blast and accompanying flash. [24]

The word cannon is retained in some cases for the actual gun tube but not the weapon system. The title gunner is applied to the member of the team charged with operating, aiming, and firing a gun.

Autocannons are automatic guns designed primarily to fire shells and are mounted on a vehicle or other mount. Machine guns are similar, but usually designed to fire simple projectiles. In some calibers and some usages, these two definitions overlap.

In contemporary military and naval parlance the term gun has a very specific meaning and refers solely to any large-caliber, direct-fire, high-velocity, flat-trajectory artillery piece employing an explosive-filled hollowed metal shell or solid bolt as its primary projectile.[ citation needed ] This later usage contrasts with large-calibre, high-angle, low-velocity, indirect-fire weapons such as howitzers, mortars, and grenade launchers which invariantly employ explosive-filled shells. In other military use, the term "gun" refers primarily to direct fire weapons that capitalize on their muzzle velocity for penetration or range. In modern parlance, these weapons are breech-loaded and built primarily for long range fire with a low or almost flat ballistic arc. A variation is the howitzer or gun-howitzer designed to offer the ability to fire both low or high-angle ballistic arcs. In this use, example guns include naval guns. A less strict application of the word is to identify one artillery weapon system or non-machine gun projectile armament on aircraft.[ citation needed ]

A related military use of the word is in describing gun-type fission weapon. In this instance, the "gun" is part of a nuclear weapon and contains an explosively propelled sub-critical slug of fissile material within a barrel to be fired into a second sub-critical mass in order to initiate the fission reaction. Potentially confused with this usage are small nuclear devices capable of being fired by artillery or recoilless rifle. [ citation needed ]

In civilian use, the captive bolt pistol is used in agriculture to humanely stun farm animals for slaughter. [25]

Shotguns are normally civilian weapons used primarily for hunting. These weapons are typically smooth bored and fire a shell containing small lead or steel balls. Variations use rifled barrels or fire other projectiles including solid lead slugs, a Taser XREP projectile capable of stunning a target, or other payloads. In military versions, these weapons are often used to burst door hinges or locks in addition to antipersonnel uses.[ citation needed ]

Types

Military

Handguns

Hunting

Machine guns

The Heckler & Koch MP5 submachine gun is widely used by law enforcement tactical teams and military forces. Hkmp5count-terr-wiki.jpg
The Heckler & Koch MP5 submachine gun is widely used by law enforcement tactical teams and military forces.

Autocannon

Artillery

Tank

Rescue equipment

Training and entertainment

Energy

See also

Notes

  1. The Chambers Dictionary, Allied Chambers - 199, page 717
  2. 1 2 Judith Herbst (2005). The History of Weapons. Lerner Publications. p. 8. ISBN   978-0-8225-3805-9. Archived from the original on 2016-07-29. Retrieved 2016-02-27.
  3. Merriam-Webster, Inc. (1990). The Merriam-Webster's New Book of Word Histories. Basic Books. pg.207
  4. Buchanan 2006 , p. 2 "With its ninth century AD origins in China, the knowledge of gunpowder emerged from the search by alchemists for the secrets of life, to filter through the channels of Middle Eastern culture, and take root in Europe with consequences that form the context of the studies in this volume."
  5. Needham 1986 , p. 7 "Without doubt it was in the previous century, around +850, that the early alchemical experiments on the constituents of gunpowder, with its self-contained oxygen, reached their climax in the appearance of the mixture itself."
  6. 1 2 3 Chase 2003 , pp. 31–32
  7. 1 2 3 Crosby 2002 , p. 99
  8. Needham 1986 , pp. 8–9
  9. Needham 1986 :222
  10. Needham 1986 , p. 10
  11. Song Lian. History of Yuan.
  12. Ooi, Keat Gin (2004). Southeast Asia: A Historical Encyclopedia, from Angkor Wat to East Timor. ABC-CLIO. ISBN   9781576077702.
  13. Reid, Anthony (2012). Anthony Reid and the Study of the Southeast Asian Past. Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. ISBN   978-981-4311-96-0.
  14. Norris 2003 :11
  15. Chase 2003 :58
  16. David Nicolle, Crécy 1346: Triumph of the longbow, Osprey Publishing; June 25, 2000; ISBN   978-1-85532-966-9.
  17. "Ain Mäesalu: Otepää püss on maailma vanim" (in Estonian). Archived from the original on 2012-06-14.
  18. Dunlap, Roy F. (June 1963). Gunsmithing. Stackpole Books. ISBN   978-0-8117-0770-1.
  19. "How Guns Work". Pew Pew Tactical.
  20. "Gun - Definition of Gun by Merriam-Webster". Archived from the original on 2013-04-04. Retrieved 2013-04-01.
  21. "cannon - Origin and history of cannon by Online Etymology Dictionary". Archived from the original on 2012-08-12. Retrieved 2008-08-19.
  22. 1 2 Kelly 2004, p. 31.
  23. Kelly 2004, p. 30.
  24. Kelly 2004, p. 32.
  25. "Captive Bolt Stunning Equipment and the Law - How it applies to you". Archived from the original on 2014-04-05.

Related Research Articles

Firearm Gun for an individual

A firearm is any type of gun designed to be readily carried and used by an individual. The term is legally defined further in different countries.

A rifle is a long-barrelled firearm designed for accurate shooting, with a barrel that has a helical pattern of grooves (rifling) cut into the bore wall. In keeping with their focus on accuracy, rifles are typically designed to be held with both hands and braced firmly against the shooter's shoulder via a buttstock for stability during shooting. Rifles are used extensively in warfare, self defense, law enforcement, hunting, and shooting sports.

Bullet Projectile propelled by a firearm, sling, or air gun

A bullet is a kinetic projectile, a component of firearm ammunition that is shot from a gun barrel. The term is from Middle French, originating as the diminutive of the word boulle (boullet), which means "small ball". Bullets are made of a variety of materials, such as copper, lead, steel, polymer, rubber and even wax. Bullets are made in various shapes and constructions, including specialized functions such as hunting, target shooting, training and combat. bullets are often tapered, making them more aerodynamic. Bullet sizes are expressed by their weights and diameters in both imperial and metric measurement systems. For example: 55 grain .223 caliber bullets are of the same weight and caliber as 3.56 gram 5.56mm caliber bullets. Bullets do not normally contain explosives, but strike or damage the intended target by transferring kinetic energy upon impact and penetration.

Cartridge (firearms) Ammunition consisting of a casing, projectile, propellant and primer

A cartridge or a round is a type of pre-assembled firearm ammunition packaging a projectile, a propellant substance and an ignition device (primer) within a metallic, paper, or plastic case that is precisely made to fit within the barrel chamber of a breechloading gun, for the practical purpose of convenient transportation and handling during shooting. Although in popular usage the term "bullet" is often informally used to refer to a complete cartridge, it is correctly used only to refer to the projectile.

Muzzle brake

A muzzle brake or recoil compensator is a device connected to, or a feature integral to the construction of, the muzzle or barrel of a firearm or cannon that is intended to redirect a portion of propellant gases to counter recoil and unwanted muzzle rise. Barrels with an integral muzzle brake are often said to be ported. The concept of a muzzle brake was first introduced for artillery and was a common feature on many anti-tank guns, especially those mounted on tanks, in order to reduce the area needed to take up the strokes of recoil and kickback. They have been used in various forms for rifles and pistols to help control recoil and the rising of the barrel that normally occurs after firing. They are used on pistols for practical pistol competitions, and are usually called compensators in this context.

Action (firearms) Functional mechanism of breech-loading

In firearms terminology, an action is the functional mechanism of a breech-loading firearm that handles the ammunition cartridges, or the method by which that mechanism works. Actions are technically not present on muzzleloaders, as all those are single-shot firearms with a closed off breech with the powder and projectile manually loaded from the muzzle. Instead, the muzzleloader ignition mechanism is referred to as the lock.

Caliber Internal diameter of the barrel of a gun

In guns, particularly firearms, caliber is the specified nominal internal diameter of the gun barrel bore - regardless of how or where the bore is measured and whether the finished bore matches that specification. It is measured in inches or in millimeters. In the United States it is expressed in hundredths of an inch; in Great Britain in thousandths; in Europe and elsewhere in millimeters. For example, a "45 caliber" firearm has a barrel diameter of roughly 0.45 inches (11 mm). Barrel diameters can also be expressed using metric dimensions. For example, a "9 mm pistol" has a barrel diameter of about 9 millimeters. Due to the fact that metric and US customary units do not convert evenly at this scale, metric conversions of caliber measured in decimal inches are typically approximations of the precise specifications in non-metric units, and vice versa.

Caseless ammunition

Caseless ammunition is a type of small arms ammunition that eliminates the cartridge case that typically holds the primer, propellant, and projectile together as a unit.

Gun barrel Firearm component which guides the projectile during acceleration

A gun barrel is a crucial part of gun-type ranged weapons such as small firearms, artillery pieces and air guns. It is the straight shooting tube, usually made of rigid high-strength metal, through which a contained rapid expansion of high-pressure gas(es) is used to propel a projectile out of the front end (muzzle) at a high velocity. The hollow interior of the barrel is called the bore, and the diameter of the bore is called its caliber, usually measured in inches or millimetres.

Automatic firearm firearm that will continue to fire so long as the trigger is pressed and held

An automatic firearm is a firearm that continuously chambers and fires rounds when the trigger mechanism is actuated. The action of an automatic firearm is capable of harvesting the excess energy released from a previous discharge to feed a new ammunition round into the chamber, and then ignite the propellant and discharge the projectile by delivering a hammer/striker impact on the primer.

Internal ballistics, a subfield of ballistics, is the study of the propulsion of a projectile.

Blank (cartridge)

A blank is a firearm cartridge that generates a muzzle flash and an explosive sound like any normal gunshots, and the firearm experiences a recoil capable of cycling its action, but without shooting a projectile. Blanks are often used for shooting simulations that have no need for ballistic results but still demand light and sound effects, such as in historical reenactments, special effects for theatre, movie and television productions, combat training, for signalling, and cowboy mounted shooting. Specialised blank cartridges are also used for their propellant force in fields as varied as construction, shooting sports, and fishing and general recreation.

Smokeless powder Type of propellant used in firearms, artillery, rocketry, explosives, and pyrotechnics that produces negligible smoke when fired

Smokeless powder is a type of propellant used in firearms and artillery that produces lower amounts of smoke when fired, unlike black powder. The term is unique to the United States and is generally not used in other English-speaking countries, which initially used proprietary names such as "Ballistite" and "Cordite" but gradually shifted to "propellant" as the generic term.

Blowback is a system of operation for self-loading firearms that obtains energy from the motion of the cartridge case as it is pushed to the rear by expanding gas created by the ignition of the propellant charge.

Transitional ballistics

Transitional ballistics, also known as intermediate ballistics, is the study of a projectile's behavior from the time it leaves the muzzle until the pressure behind the projectile is equalized, so it lies between internal ballistics and external ballistics.

History of the firearm

Black powder was invented by China during the 9th century; these inventions were later transmitted to the Middle East and Europe. The direct ancestor of the firearm is the fire lance. The prototype of the fire lance was invented in China during the 10th century and is the predecessor of all firearms.

The following are terms related to firearms and ammunition topics.

Title II weapons

Title II weapons, or NFA firearms, are designations of certain weapons under the United States National Firearms Act (NFA).

Recoil operation is an operating mechanism used to implement locked-breech, autoloading firearms. Recoil operated firearms use the energy of recoil to cycle the action.

Repeating firearm

A repeating firearm is any firearm, either a handgun or a long gun, that is capable of repeated firing before needing to manually reload new ammunition into the gun. These firearms are breechloading by nature. Different to the preceding single-shot firearms, a repeating firearm can store multiple cartridges inside a magazine, a cylinder or a belt, and uses a moving action to manipulate each of these cartridges into and out of battery position, allowing the gun to discharge numerous times in relatively quick succession before a manual ammunition reload is needed.

References