2 August 2015

Fei Meng Pao (飛礞砲)

Ming Chinese Hand Mortar
Drawing of a Fei Meng Pao, from 'Wu Bei Zhi (《武備志》)'.
The Fei Meng Pao (飛礞砲, lit. 'Flying lapis stone cannon') is a type of handgonne that shoots a small iron grenade instead of the usual stone or lead ball. It can be considered a primitive predecessor to hand mortar and grenade launcher.

The grenade of Fei Meng Pao is designed to release poisonous smoke and iron shrapnels upon explosion. Its fuse is connected to the touch hole of the weapon, so that it doesn't need to be lit separately before firing.

A Korean copy of Fei Meng Pao, called Bimongpo (비몽포 or 飛礞砲). Korean Army Museum.


  1. Would fire lances be discarded once discharged? Or are they used as clubs? I'm particularly talking about the famous three-barreled one.

    And is it common for the Chinese and Koreans to use them en masse? Or they are embedded in mixed units (melee protection).

  2. If you mean fire lance (the spit out fire-and-smoke kind), most of those are usually attached to some sort of spear/polearms, so that it can be used as melee weapon after discharge. For those that aren't attached to melee weapon, they are discarded after use.

    The handgonne type (that shoot bullets) will be reloaded after shooting whenever possible. There's a common saying that "Three-barreled gun" is designed to be used as improvised mace after shooting, but I have yet to find any primary source that support this. Instead, turning the gun around and use the wooden part to hit someone seems to be more "standard practice".

    (I will write something about the famous three-barreled gun shortly.)

    AFAIK, three barreled gun was always more common in Northern China than the South, and employed primarily as cavalry (or dragoon) firearm. Until the Imjin War period, they are less common than single or double-barreled version, but became the most common firearm in the North during late Ming Dynasty.

  3. So during late ming, it is more common to see the handgonne type than fire lance before wide adoption of the arquebus / matchlock?

  4. Adoption of matchlock occurred around 1520+, which I consider "mid Ming Dynasty". However throughout the entire Ming Dynasty, matchlock never replaced the obsolete handgonne and fire lance entirely. All were used alongside each other.

    Generally matchlock was more common in South China, while handgonne (including three-barreled one) in the North.

  5. I see. Thanks for the info as always.


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