16 November 2014

Unique weapon of the Ming Dynasty — Xun Lei Chong (迅雷銃)

Ming Chinese Five Barrel Matchlock Shield Gun
Drawing of a soldier firing Xun Lei Chong, from 'Shen Qi Pu (《神器譜》)'.
One of the craziest weapons developed by Ming Dynasty firearm inventor Zhao Shi Zhen (趙士楨), Xun Lei Chong (迅雷銃, lit. 'Quick thunder gun') is a five barrel matchlock gun that also incorporates a cotton-padded leather gun shield, an axe that doubles as musket rest, and a spear that doubles as flare gun.

Ming Dynsaty gatling-musket
Top: Xun Lei Chong being dissembled and used in close combat. Bottom: A soldier shooting Xun Lei Chong while his fellow soldier stand watch. From 'Shen Qi Pu (《神器譜》)'.
This weapon allows its shooter to discharge five shots in quick succession by rotating the barrels manually, then quickly dissemble the weapon and use the axe and spear for close combat. Additionally, its slow reload time can be mitigated by directly swapping out spent barrels with pre-loaded spares. Due to its heavy weight, it is usually handled by a two-man team.

Unfortunately, the complex design of Xun Lei Chong also renders it cost prohibitive to mass produce, limiting its practicality.


  1. I take it from your comments that this weapon never saw actual use?

  2. Okay, so I've been pouring through your archives looking at posts tagged "handgonne" and "fire lance." I've come to two conclusions about weapons designers of the Ming dynasty.

    1. They were the most blood-chillingly creative bastards ever to take up the pen.

    2. They were, to a man, f***ing ape$#!%.

    1. Well, I was thinking the same thing when I wrote about all those weird guns...until I chanced upon this gem.


      So I found out I totally underestimated how crazy-creative they were.

  3. I remember a manchu emperor in the ching dynasty was presented with a Puckle gun and he said that China already has such contraptions.

    1. There is a Guangxu-era (1874-1908) Chinese-manufactured Puckle gun sitting somewhere in the Military Museum of the Chinese People's Revolution, so that gun definitely made its way to China and caught some interest. However, by that time China already adopted the more practical Gatling Gun so Puckle gun probably remained as some kind of curiosity item.

  4. I remember in the ching dynasty, a manchu emperor was presented with a Puckle gun and he told the person who brought it that china had already such contraptions.

  5. In Europe, handgonne did operate along with shield and it worked pretty well.

    But as with everything, being used together doesn't mean it is practical to combine them together into one weapon, then add more stuffs unto it.

    1. The weapon works okay from a usability standpoint, but scaling up mass production would be a big headache.


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