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1000 years to improve on gunpowder

  1. Apr 1, 2007 #1
    Why have guns been essentially the same mechanism since the invention of gunpowder? Has there been any improvement in their physics recently?
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 1, 2007 #2


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    There have been lots of improvements, beginning, I suppose, with the introduction of rifling. Then they progressed through various ignition systems, case designs and powder compositions. There is also a vast array of warheads available for the projectiles themselves.
  4. Apr 1, 2007 #3


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    The latest improvements have been in smart projectiles. The latest firearms can communicate the range to the projectile, facilitating air bursts directly over the hidden target.
  5. Apr 1, 2007 #4
    Any progress with the use of lasers in target shooting or as weapons?
  6. Apr 1, 2007 #5


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    Both, yes. Lasers are often mounted on guns for sighting purposes (as seen in the movies) and are currently being fitted to airplanes for shooting down missiles. There won't be laser rifles anytime soon, though (too big).
  7. Apr 2, 2007 #6


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    Another interesting evolution in weapons is the "metal storm" concept. Fires up to 1,000,000 rounds per minute with electronic ignition of the projectile's powder and multiple barrels.

  8. Apr 5, 2007 #7
    THe only and not so recent physical improvement I can think of for guns (and metalstorm seems to be a vast improvment over this even) was getting rapid fire gatling guns by using an electric spark as a hammer onto the primeror to ignite the powder instead of a physical firing pin. I believe that's how some of the guns on our jets are fired.
  9. Apr 27, 2007 #8
    I heard of these electric guns. If they had them in rifles and hanguns perhaps Id use one for range fun but I would never trust my life to it. I would imagine they keep the same mechanism due to the fact that it works really well and what is at stake if they screw up. I spoke with some engineering folks who figured out creative ways to improve powder performance, they claim the Army wasnt all that interested.
  10. May 16, 2007 #9
    Metalstorm reminds me of the "cone rifles" in Dickson's "Dorsai" stories.
  11. May 16, 2007 #10


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    There was a rather large change in weapons in 1945.
    And another big change in 1954.

    As to if any of this could be considered improvements :uhh:
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