Gun barrel
Overview
 

A gun barrel is the tube, usually metal
Metal
A metal , is an element, compound, or alloy that is a good conductor of both electricity and heat. Metals are usually malleable and shiny, that is they reflect most of incident light...

, through which a controlled explosion
Explosion
An explosion is a rapid increase in volume and release of energy in an extreme manner, usually with the generation of high temperatures and the release of gases. An explosion creates a shock wave. If the shock wave is a supersonic detonation, then the source of the blast is called a "high explosive"...

 or rapid expansion of gases are released in order to propel a projectile
Projectile
A projectile is any object projected into space by the exertion of a force. Although a thrown baseball is technically a projectile too, the term more commonly refers to a weapon....

 out of the end at a high velocity.

The first guns were made in a time where metallurgy
Metallurgy
Metallurgy is a domain of materials science that studies the physical and chemical behavior of metallic elements, their intermetallic compounds, and their mixtures, which are called alloys. It is also the technology of metals: the way in which science is applied to their practical use...

 was not advanced enough to cast tubes able to withstand the explosive forces of early cannon
Cannon
A cannon is any piece of artillery that uses gunpowder or other usually explosive-based propellents to launch a projectile. Cannon vary in caliber, range, mobility, rate of fire, angle of fire, and firepower; different forms of cannon combine and balance these attributes in varying degrees,...

, 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.

Another explanation, tied to etymology
Etymology
Etymology is the study of the history of words, their origins, and how their form and meaning have changed over time.For languages with a long written history, etymologists make use of texts in these languages and texts about the languages to gather knowledge about how words were used during...

, states that many very first firearms barrels were in fact realized, during the 12th and 13th centuries, using small storage barrels with their usual metal rings reinforced by leather, hence the barrel name.
Encyclopedia

A gun barrel is the tube, usually metal
Metal
A metal , is an element, compound, or alloy that is a good conductor of both electricity and heat. Metals are usually malleable and shiny, that is they reflect most of incident light...

, through which a controlled explosion
Explosion
An explosion is a rapid increase in volume and release of energy in an extreme manner, usually with the generation of high temperatures and the release of gases. An explosion creates a shock wave. If the shock wave is a supersonic detonation, then the source of the blast is called a "high explosive"...

 or rapid expansion of gases are released in order to propel a projectile
Projectile
A projectile is any object projected into space by the exertion of a force. Although a thrown baseball is technically a projectile too, the term more commonly refers to a weapon....

 out of the end at a high velocity.

The first guns were made in a time where metallurgy
Metallurgy
Metallurgy is a domain of materials science that studies the physical and chemical behavior of metallic elements, their intermetallic compounds, and their mixtures, which are called alloys. It is also the technology of metals: the way in which science is applied to their practical use...

 was not advanced enough to cast tubes able to withstand the explosive forces of early cannon
Cannon
A cannon is any piece of artillery that uses gunpowder or other usually explosive-based propellents to launch a projectile. Cannon vary in caliber, range, mobility, rate of fire, angle of fire, and firepower; different forms of cannon combine and balance these attributes in varying degrees,...

, 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.

Another explanation, tied to etymology
Etymology
Etymology is the study of the history of words, their origins, and how their form and meaning have changed over time.For languages with a long written history, etymologists make use of texts in these languages and texts about the languages to gather knowledge about how words were used during...

, states that many very first firearms barrels were in fact realized, during the 12th and 13th centuries, using small storage barrels with their usual metal rings reinforced by leather, hence the barrel name. In fact a set of old French words, some of them staying in modern French, were used as root words for various English terms related to firearms (and storage barrels). The old French gonne
Gonne
A hand cannon is an early form of firearm. It is possibly the oldest type of portable firearm, as well as the simplest type of early firearm, as most examples require direct manual external ignition through a touch hole without any form of firing mechanism. It may also be considered a forerunner...

was a small barrel used on merchant and military ships. Likewise a baril was, as early as 1323 (used in Du Chevalier au barisel), and remains now, a big barrel. Moreover the big Tun
Tun
- Science and technology :* TUN/TAP, a computer network device driver* TUN , a Danish product standard for building materials* Tun , a part of the Mayan long count calendar system* A unit of time in the Mayan Long Count calendar...

 English barrel is, as stated in Ton
Ton
The ton is a unit of measure. It has a long history and has acquired a number of meanings and uses over the years. It is used principally as a unit of weight, and as a unit of volume. It can also be used as a measure of energy, for truck classification, or as a colloquial term.It is derived from...

, the French old and contemporary tonne barrel.

Construction

Modern day gun barrels are sophisticated in their construction and makeup. A gun barrel must be able to hold in the expanding gas produced by the propellants to ensure that optimum muzzle velocity
Muzzle velocity
Muzzle velocity is the speed a projectile has at the moment it leaves the muzzle of the gun. Muzzle velocities range from approximately to in black powder muskets , to more than in modern rifles with high-performance cartridges such as the .220 Swift and .204 Ruger, all the way to for tank guns...

 is attained by the bullet
Bullet
A bullet is a projectile propelled by a firearm, sling, or air gun. Bullets do not normally contain explosives, but damage the intended target by impact and penetration...

 or shell as it is being pushed out by the expanding gas(es). Early firearms were mostly muzzle loading (loaded from the mouth rather than the breech), which tends to be a slow and complicated procedure, resulting in a low rate of fire. Breech loading
Breech-loading weapon
A breech-loading weapon is a firearm in which the cartridge or shell is inserted or loaded into a chamber integral to the rear portion of a barrel....

 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; resulting in a lower muzzle velocity. During the 19th century, effective mechanical locks were invented that allowed loading from the breech while effectively sealing the breech from escaping propellant gases.

Gun barrels are mostly of metal construction. The early Chinese, the inventors of gunpowder
Gunpowder
Gunpowder, also known since in the late 19th century as black powder, was the first chemical explosive and the only one known until the mid 1800s. It is a mixture of sulfur, charcoal, and potassium nitrate - with the sulfur and charcoal acting as fuels, while the saltpeter works as an oxidizer...

, used bamboo
Bamboo
Bamboo is a group of perennial evergreens in the true grass family Poaceae, subfamily Bambusoideae, tribe Bambuseae. Giant bamboos are the largest members of the grass family....

, a naturally tubular wood, as the first barrels in gunpowder projectile weapons. Early European guns were made of wrought iron
Wrought iron
thumb|The [[Eiffel tower]] is constructed from [[puddle iron]], a form of wrought ironWrought iron is an iron alloy with a very low carbon...

, usually several bands of the metal arranged around circular wrought iron rings and then welded into a hollow cylinder. The Chinese were the first to master cheap cast-iron cannon barrels. Bronze
Bronze
Bronze is a metal alloy consisting primarily of copper, usually with tin as the main additive. It is hard and brittle, and it was particularly significant in antiquity, so much so that the Bronze Age was named after the metal...

 and brass
Brass
Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc; the proportions of zinc and copper can be varied to create a range of brasses with varying properties.In comparison, bronze is principally an alloy of copper and tin...

 were favoured by gunsmith
Gunsmith
A gunsmith is a person who repairs, modifies, designs, or builds firearms. This occupation is different from an armorer. The armorer primarily maintains weapons and limited repairs involving parts replacement and possibly work involving accurization...

s, due to their ease of casting and their ability to resist the corrosion created by the combustion of gunpowder.
Early cannons were hugely thick for the caliber that they fired. Early manufacturing defects (such as air bubbles trapped in the metal) were key factors in many gun explosions, when the expanding gases became too much for the weak barrel, causing it to rupture and explode in deadly fragments.

Smallbore

Generally the term "smallbore" refers firearms whose bore diameter is 0.299" or less. These are generally used for target shooting and hunting small game.

See also

  • Rifling
    Rifling
    Rifling is the process of making helical grooves in the barrel of a gun or firearm, which imparts a spin to a projectile around its long axis...

  • Polygonal rifling
    Polygonal rifling
    Polygonal rifling is a type of gun barrel rifling where the traditional lands and grooves are replaced by "hills and valleys" in a rounded polygonal pattern, usually a hexagon or octagon....

  • Smoothbore
    Smoothbore
    A smoothbore weapon is one which has a barrel without rifling. Smoothbores range from handheld firearms to powerful tank guns and large artillery mortars.-History of firearms and rifling:...

  • Slug barrel
    Slug barrel
    A slug barrel is a barrel for a shotgun that is designed primarily to fire slugs.-Origins:When slugs are fired in a standard, choked barrel, the slug is deformed by the choke as it exits. The degree of deformation is most acute with fuller chokes, which were among the most widely used in stock...

  • Cannon
    Cannon
    A cannon is any piece of artillery that uses gunpowder or other usually explosive-based propellents to launch a projectile. Cannon vary in caliber, range, mobility, rate of fire, angle of fire, and firepower; different forms of cannon combine and balance these attributes in varying degrees,...

  • Bore evacuator
    Bore evacuator
    A bore evacuator is a device on the gun barrel of an armoured fighting vehicle which helps prevent poisonous propellant gases from venting back into the vehicle's fighting compartment when the gun breech is opened to load another round. Bore evacuators are most often used on large-calibre tank...

  • Muzzle (firearm)
    Muzzle (firearm)
    The muzzle of a firearm is the end of the barrel from which the projectile will exit.Precise machining of the muzzle is crucial to accuracy, because it is the last point of contact between the barrel and the projectile...

  • Bore snake
    Bore snake
    A bore snake is a tool used to clean the inside of the barrel of a gun. It resembles a short section of rope with a smaller, weighted cord attached to one end to help feed the bore snake through the barrel. A bore snake often has one or more integrated brushes to help clean the barrel, and may...


External links

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