shooters corner

Introduction to Breech-loading weapons

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.