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Historical timeline of the development of modern weapons starting at with the first recorded use of a firearm and ending in with the introduction of automatic handguns. Before the matchlock, guns were fired by holding a burning wick to a "touch hole" in the barrel igniting the powder inside. A shooter uses one hand for firing, and a prop to steady the gun. The first device, or "lock," for mechanically firing a gun is the matchlock.
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Guncotton is highly flammable and chemically unstable, so early efforts to utilize it as a gunpowder ingredient or explosive caused some serious disasters. He called his invention poudre blanche , or white powder, to distinguish it from traditional black gunpowder. A number of attempts to create a self-loading automatic weapon were made prior to the invention of smokeless powder, including a gas-operated revolver made by Orbea Hermanos of Eibar, Spain as early as None of these efforts were ultimately viable because of the heavy residues left by black powder, which inhibits mechanical functioning very quickly. But immediately after the invention of smokeless powder, a number of people began serious work on designs for self-loading guns.