Monday, October 18, 2010

The Origin of Firearms

Ever wondered who invented the first gun? There has always been much speculation over this, but the exact date and place have never been completely confirmed. It is believed though that the Chinese of the Song dynasty around 500 A.D. were the first to discover this monumental invention. Although these firearms were very primitive and ineffective in their early stages, the Song put them to military use nonetheless. They originally consisted of just a projectile launched by the use of gunpowder. The Fire-lance was one such weapon, being “a combination of two components[:] a spear coated with gunpowder used as a flamethrower and a gun.”

Early cannons became used more broadly in the 12th century, and also began to emerge in Europe. The original cannons were small and fragile, as they were not yet made of metal. These cannons (which rested on stands) were operated by one soldier and were ignited by a torch. These cannons could be very risky to use due to the explosive nature of gunpowder, and the lack of effective range allowed the enemy to get too close. This was largely due to the barrel being made of bamboo and firing ammunition made of shrapnel and pellets. The Chinese put these cannons to use against the Mongol invaders. The primitive bamboo cannons were eventually replaced by metal, and in a few centuries became what is now in use today.

Brandon Y. Period 7


Dennis said...

This is very interesting, I always believed that the first firearms were flint lock rifles that originated in Europe. It is facinating that the Chinese could have developed such weapons as early as 400 A.D.

Nathan Wentz said...

This post was interesting to read. I enjoyed reading about the early stages of the firearm, and I think you did a good job in explaining and going into detail about them. To think about the modern day firearms we have now and how advanced they are, compared to how they were back then and how inaccurate they were, is really surprising. It just goes to show how greatly things change, not only the firearm, but most of what we know today as well.

D.J. Agelakopoulos said...

What a great blog, I've always wanted to find the roots of the fireman, it's amazing how advanced the Chinese were back in the early 100's compared to the world then.