The Heilongjiang is the oldest hand cannon in the world that was made in the year 1288. This cannon was similar to a handgun that uses the same gunpowder to fire the cannonball and it was discovered in China during the excavation in 1970.
Heilongjiang consists of the metal extension for the handlebar and uses a socket(barrel) to insert gunpowder with a wooden stick in it. We can picture the hand cannon as a smaller version of big cannon which was used in the war in those days.
In that century rock, pebbles were used as ammunition by inserting in the cannon which were shaped like a round ball. The gunpowder played a major role in firing as it pushed the rock/pebble out of the cannon barrel with a brutal force.
Firing this weapon was a two-man job, it is also said as ‘Crew served weapon’, one is to hold the weapon and another person lit the weapon to fire.
In today’s world, we see those weapons in a museum as the day passed by and moved towards modernization, we now see one hand rocket launcher that is called (RPG). Many people have also named that weapon as ‘Bazooka’. It only requires one person to operate that weapon, and for firing, one needs to place it on the shoulder for the support and aiming the target all these are being performed by one person.
If compared it has more firepower and capable of destroying and covering more areas for damage. Modern firearms are more sophisticated as compared to a 12th-century hand cannon.
Here’s a quick video of hand cannon firing demonstration.
This video shows the demonstration of hand cannon is not the same as the 12th-century handgun but it functions a similar way.