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The bulbous shape of the base gave the earliest Chinese and Western cannons a vase-like or pear-like appearance, which gradually disappeared when advancements in metallurgical technology made the bulbous base obsolete.
The matchlock was the first mechanism invented to facilitate the firing of a hand-held firearm.
As they had limited utility and were more expensive than the long-guns of the era, handguns were carried only by the very few who could afford to purchase them.
However, in 1836, Samuel Colt patented the Colt Paterson, the first practical mass produced revolver.
The two most common handgun sub-types in use today, are the revolvers and semi-automatic pistols.
The smallest were less than 6 inches (15 cm) long and the largest were over 20 inches (51 cm).
Developed in Europe around 1500, it was used alongside the matchlock.
The wheellock works by spinning a spring-loaded steel wheel against a piece of pyrite to generate intense sparks, which ignite gunpowder in a pan, which flashes through a small touchhole to ignite the main charge in the firearm's barrel.
On the other hand, wheellock mechanisms were complex to make, making them relatively costly.
A flintlock is a general term for any firearm that uses a flint striking ignition mechanism.
From around the beginning of the 1700s the larger pistols got shorter, so that by the late 1700s the largest would be more like 16 inches (41 cm) long.