A firearm is a device which projects single or many projectiles at high speeds through a controlled explosion.
For centuries weapons have fascinated men. Men have ever since tried to develop more advance form of weaponry. The invention of gunpowder was preceded by the development of firearms. The gunpowder dates back to 850 A.D. and was invented by Chinese. The Silk Road helped it transport to the West along with silk and paper. The alchemists discovered the gunpowder by accident while searching for the elixir of life.
Earlier the use of gunpowder was only made in firecrackers and the first military use of the gunpowder was not made until 919 A.D. Gunpowder filled the bombs and catapults by the 11th century in China. Proves are found of the ‘firing canon’ being used by the Song army in 1126 against the Nuchens. The firing canon actually was a bamboo tube filled with gunpowder. When the tube was lit, it would form the projectile of a flaming missile through the air. The bamboo tube made it difficult for the missile to cover a long distance so the fire canons were placed close to the walls of the city from where they would fire it.
The gunpowder was not developed much and soon was abandoned as it had no military use. By 13th century it was adopted in Europe and Japan and then Arabs enhanced the gunpowder for the military use. The Arabs then used the gunpowder against the Spanish and by 1326, cannons and cannon balls had been started manufacturing. The gunpowder soon got popular in Europe and emerged as a powerful weapon by 1350s.
One mole of the mixture of sulfur, potassium nitrite and charcoal when ignited would give off 6 moles of gas. This is the reason of such huge explosions. This instantaneous expansion in closed spaces drives the projectile at high speeds in a particular direction. The latest gunpowder being used is made in such a way as to produce more explosive content and lesser amount of residue. The efficient gunpowder in use today has unique compositions and its residue can be analyzed later on which helps the forensic scientists.
The Chinese hence came up with the gun by 12th century. The gun dated back to 1290 A.D. and was found in Pan-la-ch’eng-tzu village. Hence the advent of the use of firearms for military purposes took place. Gone were the days of swords and arrows. The hand held guns replaced them all and during the sixteenth century the firearms were perfected.
The very first sued gun was the matchlock. Gunpowder in a flash pan was ignited by the burning of a match cord. This then ignited the powder inside a barrel which then fired the ball in the direction of its target. But the mechanism was imperfect because the lighting of the match cord could be easily detected by the enemy at dark. Moreover the presence of powder so close to spark was perilous and caused many accidents too.
After that came the wheel lock which provided a safer and more mature solution to firearm. A serrated spring wheel was placed against iron pyrite. The tightly wound wheel was turned when the trigger was pulled hence creating sparks which in turn lighted the powder inside the lock. But this too had its shortcomings. It came at a huge price and its maintenance was difficult.
Then the soldiers were provided with the cheaper yet more reliable and user friendly firearm known as the flintlock. By the thumb cocking mechanism, hammer was attached with a small piece of flint. The flash pan was filled with a little gunpowder and to protect it a lock was pulled down. The hammer was released with the pulling of the trigger. As it is pulled, the lock is struck by the flint, pushing it out of the way while creating a spark. The spark then lighted the powder. The gun provided a cheap solution yet did not compromise on quality. The gun became largely popular in its era.
The guns could aim better with longer bores. But in 18th century there was a constraint to the size of the weapon a person could carry. Gunsmith of the time suggested that placing spiral grooves in the bore would increase the accuracy of hitting a target because the groove would impart a spin to the ball. But today modern guns don’t have the grooves to reduce the problem of powder remaining unburned.
Instead of the grooves, rifling was used. Rifling was the metal grooves with twist inside the barrel. The rifling gave a spin to the bullet inside it when fired. The spinning of the bullet rendered it stability and made it perfect for distant targets. The accuracy was also hence improved.
For different weapons, different rifling is there. Each type of weapon has its own unique pattern of deformation. These patterns help the forensic scientists for identification of a specific weapon.
Then came the machine guns during the World Wars 1 and 2. The modern weaponry utilizes the principle of the expansion of gases so much that the force is enough to cycle the system to fire bullets repeatedly. The machine gun is capable of firing up to 600 rounds per minute.
The main mechanism of firing involves the use of kinetic energy to force the projectile motion of the bullet. Earlier to increase the kinetic energy of bullets the diameter of the bore was increased. As kinetic energy is proportional to square of the velocity, the second method relies on the increasing of the velocity by increasing the gunpowder. By using the jacket of a metal like copper which helped the bullet glide through the barrel freely, velocity was increased. These bullets are called the ‘full metal jacket’. These bullets are capable of passing through their targets while transferring less energy. These bullets result in damaging tissue less as compared to other non-jacketed bullets. So countries following The Hague Convention in 1899 adopted these for military use.
How to Start a Gun Collection
Gun collection is an interesting hobby for passionate people who are interested in history design and artistry of guns. A gun collection shows the trends of an era and also explains the functions of guns used in a particular war. But if someone is really interested in this hobby then he must have a clear idea of where to start with. The gun must be declared as not among the ‘destructive devices’. The guns which are of the collector’s interest can be bought or sold without the federal license. The gun is only considered as a collector’s item under the National Firearms Act. Follow the steps to get the perfect gun collection.
This is the very initial step that one may take. There is loads of information in books, magazines and over the internet. There are exclusive magazines featuring guns and there are books which give information about guns from past till present age. Go through articles which tell about the guns which can be a part of the collection and where they can be found. Learn as much as you can before you start off with the collection.
There are loads of gun clubs which you can join to gain information about the latest trends in guns collection. You may ask the members to guide you to start your own gun collection. Meet people who have been collecting guns to get guidance.
Internet is one place where you can get any kind of information. If you need to know about the license for curio and relic firearms then you may visit the website of At The Frontline Against Violent Crimes (ATF).
2. Types of guns
There are many different kinds of guns in the world and after you are done with the research you would be able to decide on which guns you would want to include in your collection. Sometimes there are some antique pieces which are not so easily available so it’s better to start off with collecting guns which are not so rare. You must know that gun collection would cost you money and there would be many guns which would be really expensive. So be ready to spend for your hobby.
As you are new to the field, it would be difficult for you to identify a real gun. There will be many people who would try to sell you fake guns. Don’t fall for their traps and for the authentication get help from some expert on guns.
4. The National Firearms Act (NFA) has issued proper guidelines for the registration and transfer procedures for the guns. You must review the act to abide by the procedure.
5. If you have any doubts you must contact the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF) or NFA.
6. The best place to start your collection from is a gun show. The gun shows are open for general public and can give loads of information of the guns.
7. Another great place to find good reliable guns are at some auction. At the auction there are dealers as well as gun owners. You are free to attend any live auction or bid over some online auction.
8. Through BATF you must ask for a curio or relic determination for the guns you have. Describe them physically and present the reasoning for them to be considered as curio or relic. You must also present any historical data associated with the gun.
After you are done with the collection it is very important that the guns are placed in a safe and secure place. Lock the place where these things are placed to avoid any unwanted incidents. Always go through the state laws for guns. These keep varying and must be tracked from time to time.
How to Clean the Gun collection
Cleanliness of guns is very important and must not be ignored. This can be ensured in two ways, first it must be ensured that the guns are in working condition and secondly they must be properly oiled and wiped to avoid any corrosion. Follow these steps to keep your gun collection clean.
1. Buy the best cleaning tools for your guns. For the cleanliness of a gun’s bore, you must buy the cleaning rods and bronze bristle brushes.
2. Buy the tools which are compatible with your guns. Always have spare toothbrushes and gun oil.
3. Lubrication of a gun is very important and you must have lubricants along with guns in your collection. The lubrication protects the gun from salts and other damaging matter.
4. Now you must start cleaning each of your gun separately. Start off with the cleaning of the cylinder of a gun with a bristle brush or rod. Look for any faults or malfunctions.
5. If you have guns which get dissembled then you must clean each part separately. Use a toothbrush or soft cloth to clean smaller parts nad oil the metal components.
6. Now comes the cleaning of the bore. Soak bristle brush in solvent and clean the bore of the gun with it. You may use a cloth attached to the bore if you like. To ensure a well cleaned bore, you must pass the brush many times over the bore.
7. Now use dry cloth for further cleanliness. You may observe rust on the cloth while cleaning the cylinder.
8. Soak a cloth in dun oil and lubricate the cylinder of the gun. The ideal cloth that you may use would be a woolen cloth however a paper towel may also do the job well.
After you are done with the cleaning, place the barrels faced down so that the oil drips away. Do not let the oil go and stay inside the gun. Unloading the gun is very important before you start off cleaning it. It will save you from many unwanted incidents. Always take safety precautions while cleaning a gun. Keep the guns out of the reach of children. Safety of the guns and children alike must be ensured.
Gun collection is a great hobby yet a difficult one too. Men have long been passionate about weapons and armors and so gun collection seems to be the perfect hobby to satiate their love for these things. All a person need is a determined mind and a zealous heart.