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A hand cannon or gonne (also spelled handgonne to distinguish the device from modern handguns) (Chinese: 手銃; Arabic: مدفع; Russian: пищаль) is one of the early forms of firearm. It is possibly the oldest type of small arms, as well as the simplest type of early firearm, as most examples require direct manual external ignition through a touch hole without any form of firing mechanism. It may also be considered a forerunner of the handgun. The hand cannon was widely used in East Asia and later throughout Europe until at least the 1520s, when it was supplanted by matchlock firearms. The oldest surviving hand cannon is the Heilongjiang hand cannon, which was manufactured no later than 1288.
In modern usage, the term hand cannon may also be used colloquially to refer to a pistol or revolver chambered for a powerful cartridge, such as the .454 Casull or .500 S&W Magnum. This term is also sometimes used to refer to a novelty toy gun known as "pocket artillery", a small cannon firing steel balls by means of a smokeless powder or a firecracker.
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