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A Brief History of the Gatling Gun

In 1861, Doctor Richard Gatling patented the Gatling Gun, a devout pacifist, invented a six-barreled weapon capable of firing a (at the time) phenomenal 200 rounds per minute. When Gatling created his gun during the American Civil War, he sincerely believed that his invention would end war by making it unthinkable to use due to the horrific carnage and loss of life that would be possible.

Unfortunately that never happened, because within a few short years enemies were making their own Gatling Guns. At the least, the Gatling Gun’s power reduced the number of soldiers required to remain on the battlefield - and it increased the need to use cover. (Setting the tone for WWI when trench warfare became a must for maximizing cover.)

The Gatling gun was a hand-driven, crank-operated, multi-barrel, machine gun. The first machine gun with reliable loading, the Gatling gun had the ability to fire sustained multiple bursts.

The 1862 version of the Gatling gun had reloadable steel chambers and used percussion caps to ignite the gunpowder. It was prone to occasional jamming. In 1867, Gatling redesigned the Gatling gun again to use metallic cartridges – this version was bought and used by the United States Army.

Learn more about the history and evolution of firearms at:

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