World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Gun barrel

Article Id: WHEBN0000640755
Reproduction Date:

Title: Gun barrel  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Vetterli rifle, 3-inch Gun M5, PGM Ultima Ratio, SIG Sauer P220, FN FAL
Collection: Artillery Components, Firearm Components
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Gun barrel

A US 240 mm howitzer in use in 1944

A gun barrel is the tube, usually metal, through which a deflagration or rapid expansion of gases are released in order to propel a projectile out of the end at a high velocity. Barrels are part of firearms and artillery pieces.

The first firearms were made at a time where metallurgy was not advanced enough to cast tubes able to withstand the explosive forces of early cannon, so the pipe (often actually built from staves of metal) needed to be braced periodically along its length, producing an appearance somewhat reminiscent of a storage barrel.[1]


A gun barrel must be able to hold in the expanding gas produced by the propellants to ensure that optimum muzzle velocity is attained by the projectile as it is being pushed out by the expanding gas(es). Modern small arms barrels are made of materials known and tested to withstand the pressures involved. Artillery pieces are made by various techniques providing reliably sufficient strength.[2][3]

Early firearms were muzzle-loading, with powder, and then shot loaded from the muzzle, capable of only a low rate of fire. Breech loading provided a higher rate of fire, but early breech-loading guns lacked an effective way of sealing the escaping gases that leaked from the back end of the barrel, reducing the available muzzle velocity.[4] During the 19th century effective mechanical locks were invented that sealed a breech-loading weapon against the escape of propellant gases.[5]

Gun barrels are usually metal. The early Chinese, the inventors of gunpowder, used bamboo, a naturally tubular stalk, as the first barrels in gunpowder projectile weapons.[6] Early European guns were made of wrought iron, usually with several strengthening bands of the metal wrapped around circular wrought iron rings and then welded into a hollow cylinder.[7] The Chinese were the first to master cast-iron cannon barrels. Bronze and brass were favoured by gunsmiths, largely because of their ease of casting and their resistance to the corrosive effects of the combustion of gunpowder or salt water when used on naval vessels.[8]

Early cannon barrels were very thick for their caliber. Manufacturing defects such as air bubbles trapped in the metal were common, and key factors in many gun explosions; the defects made the barrel too weak to withstand the pressures of firing, causing it to fragment explosively.[9]

See also


  1. ^ A History of Warfare - Keegan, John, Vintage 1993
  2. ^ Weir, William (2005). 50 Weapons That Changed Warfare. Career Press. p. 131.  
  3. ^ Payne, Craig M. (2006). Principles of Naval Weapon Systems. Naval Institute Press. p. 263.  
  4. ^ James, Rodney (15 December 2010). The ABCs Of Reloading: The Definitive Guide for Novice to Expert. Iola, Wisconsin: Krause Publications. p. 21.  
  5. ^ Moller, George D. (15 November 2011). American Military Shoulder Arms, Volume III: Flintlock Alterations and Muzzleloading Percussion Shoulder Arms, 1840-1865. UNM Press. pp. 98–99.  
  6. ^ "The History of Weapons". 
  7. ^ Lavery, Brian (1987). "The Shape of Guns". The Arming and Fitting of English Ships of War, 1600-1815. Naval Institute Press. pp. 88–90.  
  8. ^ Goddard, Jolyon (2010). Concise History of Science & Invention: An Illustrated Time Line. National Geographic. p. 92.  
  9. ^ Kinard, Jeff (2007). Artillery: An Illustrated History of Its Impact. ABC-CLIO. p. 77.  
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.