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Gatling Gun Basics
The Gatling gun was invented during the Civil War. The hand-driven machine gun was the first gun to address issues of loading, reliability and sustained firing. It was first used in warfare during the Union Army's siege of Petersburg, Virginia, in 1864. The Gatling gun was also used in the Spanish-American War, but more advanced weaponry ended its utility soon after. It is named for its inventor Richard Gatling, who was a physician by trade. Early versions of his multiple-barreled gun were plagued by unreliability. Gatling, who sold his guns to the Union Army but paradoxically was a member of a group of Confederate sympathizers, improved the design by reducing the caliber (from .58 to .30) and adding four barrels to bring it to 10 total and a firing speed of 400 rounds per minutes. Ammunition from the Gatling gun was held in a drop on top of the cannon-like design. The ammo would automatically load into each barrel, filling the void left after rounds were fired and the cartridges were ejected.
After the way the gun sold well overseas, with orders from the British, French, and Russian armies. Gatling sold his business to Colt in the mid-1880s. Colt modified Gatling's design to create the Maxim gun, further iterations of which were among the most deadly during World War I. The last American version of the Gatling gun was the 1903 Model used by U.S. Army until 1911. The term gat is still used to refer to pistols and revolvers. The slang term gets its name from the legendary Gatling gun.
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