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

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A flash in the pan

This expression originates with the misfire of a flintlock or similar gun. The powder in the pan is supposed to ignite the main charge in the barrel. Sometimes only the powder in the pan flashed without firing the main charge.