Detail of a Gatling gun

19th Century

Mass production

The early years of the 19th century heralded an industrial age the like of which had never before been witnessed and an extraordinarily rapid advance in weapons technology, which continues to this day.

Formerly a labour-intensive and expensive industry, by the late 1850s the mass production of military firearms had become mechanised, using technology perfected in the United States by a number gunmakers including Whitney, North, Colt and Robbins & Lawrence and others and which was first adopted in Britain by the Royal Small Arms Manufactory at Enfield.



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Did you know?

Is newer better?

The last cast-iron British smoothbore cannon, the 68 pounder, was 8 inches (203 mm), the same calibre as the heaviest guns of King Henry VIII three hundred years earlier. Their performance was probably not very different either!