A firearm is a firearm in which a projectile is propelled through or out of a barrel or barrel by means of rapidly expanding hot gases generated by the combustion of a suitable pyrotechnic propellant ( black powder , gunpowder , explosives, etc.). The range of firearms ranging from handguns to the guns of the heavy artillery . According to the definitions of physics, they belong to the thermal power piston machines from the group of fluid energy machines . From a weapons point of view, they are mainly considered in three groups: gun, grenade weapon and handgun . They serve as tools in hunting , as weapons of war , means of defense and sports equipment (handguns). In addition, like other weapons , some of them have a cultural meaning.
Firearms are u. a. Defined by the German Weapons Act as follows and the acquisition and / or possession is controlled or regulated in all EU countries and most countries in the world due to the potential danger posed by firearms:
"2.1 Firearms; these are firearms according to number 1.1, in which a projectile is driven through or out of a barrel by means of hot gases. "
The first uncertain references to the use of guns in Europe date back to the 13th century. Secured firearms were used in Europe shortly after the development of black powder from 1324 with the pot de fer in Metz. As early as 1326, Walter de Milemete mentioned the use of black powder in vase guns of the English King Edward II. The first demonstrable use of firearms in Germany took place during the Eltz feud from 1331 to 1336 with arrow rifles. Initially, however, firearms were mainly used in static situations, mainly when defending fixed positions or during sieges. The main reason for this was that the transport of field guns was very complex in the Middle Ages due to their sheer size and weight . Especially for the smaller rulers, the specialists and the necessary infrastructure for the new weapon technology were hardly affordable. Soon, however, the weapons became lighter ( hand tube ) or more mobile by mounting them on mounts and led to a completely new type of warfare. Before the introduction of firearms, face-to-face combat was decisive, but the long-range action of these weapons made completely new tactics possible .
In the further technical development of firearms, the smooth barrel was largely replaced by the rifled barrel , which led to increased accuracy. The muzzle-loader was replaced by the breech-loader , which resulted in a faster rate of fire and offered the option of loading the weapon while lying down. As early as the middle of the 19th century, the invention of the single cartridge and the needle gun , still using black powder, led to an even faster rate of fire. The development of low-smoke powders based on cellulose nitrates enabled the construction of firearms for the use of cartridge ammunition and thus a wider range of calibers due to higher and controllable pressures and less smoke development compared to black powder .
- Peter H. Kunz: Technical development of firearms from 1200 to 1900 . Editions à la carte, Zurich 2008, ISBN 978-3-905708-18-9 .
- European Parliament - press release of November 30, 2007 "A uniform gun law for the EU"
- Wilfried Tittmann, The gun representations of Walter de Milemète from 1326/7, in: Waffen- und Costumekunde “35 (1993), pp. 145–147 and Klaus Leibnitz: Die Manuskripte des Walter de Milemete, in: Waffen- und Costumekunde 34 (1992), pp. 117-131. The still valid edition and facsimile of the font Walters is Montague Rhodes James , The Treatise of Walter de Milemete “De Nobilitatibus, Sapientiis, et Prudentiis Regum”, Oxford 1913.