A breech-loading weapon is a firearm (a rifle, a gun etc.) in which the bullet or shell is inserted or loaded at the rear
of the barrel, or breech; the opposite of muzzle-loading.
Modern mass production firearms are breech-loading (though mortars are generally all muzzle-loaded). Early firearms were
almost entirely muzzle-loading. The main advantage of breech-loading is a reduction in reloading time; it is much quicker
to load the projectile and charge into the breech than to force them down a long tube, especially when the tube has spiral
ridges from rifling. In field artillery, breech loading allows the crew to reload the muzzle without exposing themselves to
enemy fire, and it allows turrets and emplacements to be smaller. Although breech-loading weapons were developed as far back
as the 1500's in England and China, breech-loading became more successful with improvements in precision engineering and machining
in the 19th century.