Gun Design | Introduction

Course Group: 
Lethality and Survivability


This two-day course provides participants with an introduction to firepower technologies (i.e., gun systems) and an overview of the science behind the materials, systems and strategies that are used in gun design. The course will begin with an overview of firepower technologies and then examine system design, gun recoil and installation, internal and exterior ballistics. This course will consist of a mixture of lectures and a tutorial.

Who Should Attend

Course Outline

Presenter Background

Dates & Registration

Duration: 2 days

Delivery mode: Classroom


Advertised: Canberra

In-house: All states and neighbouring countries, contact the  for more information. Recommended for groups of 10 or more.

What you will receive:

  • Compresehensive set of course notes
  • UNSW Canberra certificate of attendance
  • Morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea

Affiliated course: Gun Design | Advanced (4 days)




Anyone requiring an understanding of firepower technologies including (and not limited to):

Design Engineers Material Scientists
Systems Engineers Project Managers
Serving Officers End-users
Business Managers  




Day 1

Introduction and build up of a gun

Introduction of concepts | Types and calibres of guns (large and small) | An introduction to ammunition types used in guns

Improving gun performance

Effect of propellant mass ratios | Effect of propellant form | Effect of propellant volumes | Effect of barrel length | Ways of calculating performance | Pressure-time diagrams

Internal and intermediate ballistics

Introductory concepts | Piobert’s law | Effect of specific surface area on burning rates of propellants | Types of propellants: single base, double base, triple base | Barrel life (corrosion, abrasion, erosion) | Different barrel approaches | Propellant-air interactions  

Gun design

Breech design | Barrel design | When barrels break | Barrel stresses | Autofrettage

Gun installation

Gun location in a turret |Recoil constraints and balance | Autoloaders |Basic gun recoil theory

Day 2

Gun proofing

Proofing approaches | Proof pressures | An introduction to instrumentation

Introduction to materials

Basic concepts in materials science | The structure of materials | Processing of steels | Effect of cooling rates on heated steels | An introduction to different classes of materials

External ballistics

Forces on a projectile / fragment in flight |Coefficient of drag |Projectile stabilisation techniques | Coriolis effect |Magnus effect


Recoil calculations | The role of the buffer and recuperator |Gun stability calculations | Muzzle brake index | Momentum index | Creating a free-body diagram of a system 


A Session will be provided so that the student can work through some of the issues raised in this course under the guidance of the course presenter.




Paul has over 20 years of experience studying the impact behaviour of materials. He has recently moved to Canberra, Australia from the UK to take up the post of Professor of Impact Dynamics at UNSW Canberra. Before taking this position he was Head of the Centre for Ordnance Science and Technology at Cranfield University’s Shrivenham campus (at the UK Defence Academy). He has published extensively, appeared in several documentaries and presented his research work at numerous symposia. He has published two books on protection technologies with the most recent called ‘ARMOUR: Materials, Theory, and Design’ (CRC Press). 


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