A gun is a normally tubular weapon or other device designed to discharge projectiles or other material. The projectile may be solid, liquid, gas or energy and may be free, as with bullets and artillery shells, or captive as with Taser probes and whaling harpoons. The means of projection varies according to design but is usually effected by the action of gas pressure, either produced through the rapid combustion of a propellant or compressed and stored by mechanical means, operating on the projectile inside an open-ended tube in the fashion of a piston. The confined gas accelerates the movable projectile down the length of the tube, imparting sufficient velocity to sustain the projectile's travel once the action of the gas ceases at the end of the tube or muzzle. Alternatively, acceleration via electromagnetic field generation may be employed in which case the tube may be dispensed with and a guide rail substituted.
The first devices identified as guns appeared in China around CE 1000. By the 12th century the technology was spreading through the rest of Asia, and into Europe by the 13th century.
Most guns use compressed gas confined by the barrel to propel the bullet up to high speed, though devices operating in other ways are sometimes called guns. In firearms the high-pressure gas is generated by combustion, usually of gunpowder. This principle is similar to that of internal combustion engines, except that the bullet leaves the barrel, while the piston transfers its motion to other parts and returns down the cylinder. As in an internal combustion engine, the combustion propagates by deflagration rather than by detonation, and the optimal gunpowder, like the optimal motor fuel, is resistant to detonation. This is because much of the energy generated in detonation is in the form of a shock wave, which can propagate from the gas to the solid structure and heat or damage the structure, rather than staying as heat to propel the piston or bullet. The shock wave at such high temperature and pressure is much faster than that of any bullet, and would leave the gun as sound either through the barrel or the bullet itself rather than contributing to the bullet's velocity.
Source: Gun from Wikipedia
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