Kuai Qiang (快鎗)

Ming Chinese handgun
Drawing of a Kuai Qiang, from 'Lian Bing Shi Ji (《練兵實紀》)'.

Kuai Qiang (快鎗, lit. 'Fast gun' or 'Fast spear'), also known as Qiang Bang (鎗棒, lit.'Gun staff') is a type of single shot iron handgonne. Kuai Qiang has an unusually long (five chi) wooden pole so that it can double as quarterstaff. It is one of the most widely used handheld firearm in the Ming army, especially by northern troops, surpassing both San Yan Chong (三眼銃) and arquebus in numbers (San Yan Chong only became really prominent during late Ming Dynasty).

Qi Ji Guang's Improvements
Ming general Qi Ji Guang (戚继光) was unimpressed by the poor performance of Kuai Qiang (and handgonne in general). However, he lacked the resource to replace handgonne with arquebus entirely, so he proposed several improvements to Kuai Qiang as stopgap measure. Specifically, he standardised the bore size of Kuai Qiang, and replaced the short and unwieldy cast iron barrel of the Kuai Qiang with a two chi long, wrought iron barrel that is much lighter. Despite the improvements, he still considered Kuai Qiang to be inferior to arquebus.


  1. Would it be correct to think this weapon is still around by the Imjin war? But outnumbered by the San Yang Chong and arquebus? Also what's you opinion on the use of these handguns by cavalry?

    Thanks in advance.

  2. Yes, this weapon is still around during the Imjin War (probably more common than Three-eyed gun and arquebus too, but I am not too sure about that), it was used until the end of Ming.

    Most cavalry just dismount and shoot (a.l.a dragoons), IMHO. Otherwise Zhao Shi Zhen would not need to specifically design horseback-compatible version of arquebus and handgonne.

  3. How were these fired? By fuse or kindling sticks?