The Huǒchòng (simplified Chinese: 火铳; traditional Chinese: 火銃) was a tube-like, projection firearm. It first appeared in China during the Song Dynasty (9601279) and was constructed of bamboo. The bamboo body was replaced with bronze sometime in the late 13th or early 14th century. Although usually described as a cannon, this weapon was more probably a handgun.[1] The oldest metal huochong, which is seen by many as the first known cannon, is a bronze huochong which has an inscription dating back to 1298.[2] This piece has no certain find context, however, and is therefore disputed in authenticity. The first certain bronze huochong is dated to 1332.[3]

By the time of the Ming Dynasty (13681644) two types of huochong were in use. One was a hand held version with a wooden shaft known as a shouchong (手铳) whilst the larger Wankouchong (碗口铳) or Zhankouchong (盏口铳) rested on a supporting frame.[4]


  1. "Chinese Military Technology and Dai Viet: c. 1390-1497" (PDF). September 2003. Retrieved November 18, 2010.
  2. "The World's Earliest Cannon (世界上最早的火炮)" (in Chinese). Retrieved November 18, 2010.
  3. "Artillerymen (砲兵)" (in Chinese). Retrieved November 18, 2010.
  4. History of Ming Army Records Chapter Four

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