As long as man has used tools, weapons have been among those of the foremost importance. They have been used to provide food and protection since the formation of the earliest social units.

For centuries, and continuing through today, men and women have used firearms as the most effective weapons individuals can wield.  Guns have been used to implement both the highest and the best goals of humanity – to put food on the table, to provide personal protection, to enforce or defy the law, and to defend or acquire territories and treasures.

When were the first guns made? Who made them?

The firearm was originally invented in China, during the 13th century AD. After the Chinese invented gunpowder during the 9th century AD. These inventions were later transmitted to the Middle East, Africa, and Europe. The world’s first firearm in history was the fire lance, the prototype of the gun. The fire lance was invented in China during the 10th century and it is the predecessor of all firearms.

The direct ancestor of the firearm is the fire lance, a black-powder–filled tube attached to the end of a spear and used as a flamethrower. Shrapnel was sometimes placed in the barrel so that it would fly out together with the flames. The earliest depiction of a gunpowder weapon is the illustration of a fire-lance on a mid-12th century silk banner from Dunhuang. The Dean Shoucheng Lu, an account of the siege of Dean, in 1132, records that song forces used fire-lances against the Jurchens.

Fire-lance barrels were originally made of paper and bamboo, which came to be replaced by metal to withstand that explosive power better, and high-nitrate gunpowder was also used.

The earliest depiction of a gun is a sculpture from a cave in Sichuan, dating back to the 12th century of a figure carrying a vase-shaped bombard with flames and a cannonball coming out of it. The oldest surviving gun, made of bronze, has been dated back to 1288 because it was discovered at a site in modern-day Acheng District,  where the Yuan Shi records the battles that were fought at that time; Li Ting, a military commander of Jurchen descent, led foot-soldiers armed with guns—including a Korean brigade—in the battle to suppress the rebellion of the Christian Mongol prince: Nayan.

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