Gun Systems | Introduction

Course Group: 
Lethality and Survivability

A two-day course

This two-day course provides participants with an introduction to firepower technologies (i.e., gun systems) and an overview of the equipment and systems that are used in, and with guns. The course begins with an overview of firepower technologies and then introduces participants to the way guns work. The course then covers aspects platform integration, of material science relevant to gun construction, gun proofing, gun recoil as well as aspects of breech and barrel design. This course will consist of a mixture of lectures and tutorials.

Attendees will receive a comprehensive set of notes covering the lecture content.

Who Should Attend

Course Outline

Presenter Background

Dates & Registration

Duration: 2 days

Delivery mode: Classroom

Location: 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)  Gun Design | Overview (1 Day)


This two-day course is a moderately technical course (but not extensively mathematical) and is aimed at anyone requiring an overview of firepower technologies including (and not limited to): business managers; purchasing managers; project managers; design engineers; material scientists; systems engineers; serving officers; and end-users.


Day 1

Introduction and build up of a gun

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

An introduction to gun types

Small arms weapon systems | Towed guns | Self-propelled Howitzers | Tank guns (cannons) | Naval guns | Recoilless rifles

Platform integration

Gun location in a turret |Recoil constraints and balance | Autoloaders | An introduction to recoil | Muzzle brakes | Fume extractors | An introduction to potential gun problems

Day 2

An Introduction to materials science, steels and other materials used in gun construction

Basic concepts in materials science | The structure of materials | Elasticity and strength | Mechanical testing | Thermal expansion | Processing of steels | Effect of cooling rates on heated steels | Polymers | Composites

Breeches and Barrels

Breech concepts | Barrel concepts | When barrels break | Barrel stresses | Manufacturing | Autofrettage

Gun proofing

Proofing approaches | Proof pressures | An introduction to instrumentation

An introduction to Recoil

The need for a recoil system | The role of the buffer and recuperator | Examples of recoil systems


Sessions will be provided throughout the course so that the student can work through some of the issues raised under the guidance of the course presenter.

Course Learning Outcomes

At the end of this course, the student will be able to:

LO1: Explain the principles of gun design and operation with respect to the materials used in construction.

LO2: Explain gun proofing approaches.

LO3: Describe the different peripheral systems that are frequently used on gun systems.

LO4: Describe the basic workings of a typical recoil system.


Paul has over 20 years of experience studying the impact behaviour of materials. In 2012 he 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’ (2015, CRC Press).


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6 August 2019 - 7 August 2019