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Guns and Ammo




Firearms Glossary





The origin of guns and gunpowder will probably never be known with certainty. Gunpowder (black powder), now a 75:15:10 mixture of saltpeter (potassium nitrate, KNO3), charcoal, and sulfur, may have been developed in China, or possibly Arabia, Germany, or somewhere else entirely. It appears to have been widely known, with various recipes, before guns were invented. Guns were apparently unknown in Europe in the mid-13th century, but had appeared across Europe early in the 14th century (by 1326 at the latest) and almost every conceivable variation was tried during the next century, although the state of metallurgy and machining was generally inadequate. Terminology was developed, stolen, borrowed, and altered freely. Few people were literate, and standard spelling came centuries later. In any case, literate people (mostly priests) did not associate with gunners, who were thought to be in league with the Devil (a belief that seems still to prevail in some quarters).

All guns were originally cannon, fired from some sort of dug-in emplacement, and as a technical term, 'gun' still means a large artillery piece fired from a mount or emplacement. "Handguns" which could be carried (with both hands) and held for firing came somewhat later, as did wheels.

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