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In my fantasy world, the manual repeating rifle (revolver action, falling block action, lever action, pump action, bolt action) is already a common weapon within human society.

If possible, I don't want any semi-automatic gun to be developed. If it is not possible, I want it to be delayed.

At the same time, magic is also prevalent. The details about magic and its relationship with technology will be elaborated on another question.

With regards to my current question, I want to know what the consequences would be of the tech that capable of producing manual repeating rifles to society as a whole.

For example:

  • Would there be automobiles?
  • What would the state of the mining industry be? etc.

The reason I want to have these details fleshed out is because I don't want a reader to say "well, if they have repeating rifles, why don't they have {obvious knock-on technology that would come about as a result}?"

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    $\begingroup$ You already can have fully automatic guns at this point: Gatling. $\endgroup$
    – Trish
    Oct 16, 2020 at 0:48
  • $\begingroup$ @Trish gatling guns are not fully automatic. They are hand-cranked. $\endgroup$
    – Ryan_L
    Oct 16, 2020 at 0:50
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    $\begingroup$ @Ryan_L Nothing about the Gatling gun design precludes a clockwork or other mechanism doing the cranking. $\endgroup$ Oct 16, 2020 at 1:07
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    $\begingroup$ Most of the gun types you list first became available in the mid to late 19th century, so you simply need to look at the history of that era to see what technology was available. Iron/steel, brass, copper were common materials thanks to technologies like the steam driven mining pump and the metalsmithing technology to cast and/or machine those metals was available, making a fair amount of complex machinery available, including the locomotive. There is nothing technological preventing the development of semi- or even full auto weaponry; people would be working feverishly to develop one. $\endgroup$ Oct 16, 2020 at 1:45
  • $\begingroup$ You will need a self-contained cartridge with percussion cap (which means certain level of chemistry and metalworking). However, once you get it, there's nothing that would stand in a way of developing machine guns. Magazine-fed semiautomatics would be actually a step above (but not a huge step above) in terms of technology. $\endgroup$
    – Alexander
    Oct 16, 2020 at 2:24

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Very well, if you insist.

While other people have provided rather complex analyses of industrial and pre-industrial era weaponry, and they're all very good, there is one concept that needs to be adressed. That thing is cost efficiency. Repeating guns, even rifles aren't as modern thing as we might think. First repeaters have appeared as early as first half of 17th century, for example: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kalthoff_repeater

Here is an example of slightly later gun - explained: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UyBPaXbp7Qg

These guns were quite complex, but they had one massive drawback - they were expensive and it wasn't possible to produce them en masse. They were used - if at all, by elite units such as royal guards. To field them as main weapon wasn't really effective though - if you could pick between 20 people with matchlock muskets, or one with a repeater piece, 20 muzzle loaders are just better. Complex mechanism of a repeater is more prone to breaking as well, so you're going to pay much more for maintainance and repairs. Finally, these repeaters are usually somewhat harder to learn with - which wasn't problem if they were used by unit like the royal guard, but could pose problem if used in field by conscripts.

That means, if society allows fielding of repeaters as main weapons, they've already brought manufacture costs down - which means advanced gunsmithing tools, and advanced methods of production. With that you're looking at around 1870's earliest. What does this necessitates?

You can probably expect steam power being widespread. Advanced tools and experience with making gun barrels allows steam engines being invented and spread wide. Expect trains and steam powered ships - though with magic existing, steam powered ships might be experimental/luxury items rather than widespread, as long as your magic allows for magically enhanced sailing. Mining will certainly be assisted by steam engines pulling carts, unless your society practices slavery on large scale.

Another key thing is that production of iron needs to be quite advanced to bring down the costs of firearms. With great experience in iron making, you can expect some steel making processes like https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bessemer_process being discovered, and thus steel will be more acessible than it was in early modern period. Having good steel tools is rather important to achieve cheaper guns. Next important factor is business model. Gunsmiths will have large workshops of small-factory-style, to be able to make repeater guns cheap enough. You can, therefore, expect other businesses to follow similar model of production.

TL;DR: You can expect something similar to 2nd half of the 19th century industrial society.

Edit: However, it is worth mentioning that your fictional country doesn't need to have society mirroring the industrial society, as long as it is rich enough to buy guns and other tools from countries that do, and its rulers are enlightened enough to import these. If so, put some distance between those countries, to make sure the exporting countries don't feel existentially threatened by the country they're selling the weapons to.

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  • $\begingroup$ +1 The wider implications of the weapons technology was the question, and that's exactly what this answer addresses. $\endgroup$
    – user535733
    Oct 16, 2020 at 13:16
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Modern firearms need a lot of technology to be made, even simple bolt actions, lever actions, and pump actions only became possible with the availability of powered mills, drills, and lathes - all these interlocking faces are made on this heavy machinery. let's look at the inside of a John Browning design of 1879:

enter image description here

That breach loading, falling block firearm heavily relies on parts that need a very precise fit. While the final fit will be made with files (hand fitting) the rough work is done on mills. But how far back do we need to go to get out of the need for industrial tooling? Well, let's look at the history of firearms in Japan how far you can get without modern tooling and machinery:

Technological requirements for gun technology

As long as you don't want modern machinery tooling, you limit your firearms availability and design quite a lot to matchlocks and flintlocks, as these do not require low tolerance machining. The moment you allow somewhat crude machining and steam power (or a similar mechanical power source), the output of firearms increases massively as the barrel manufacturing gets much easier and parts can get preconfigured to an almost fit. Even with Flintlocks, the mere existence of good machining does result in advanced guns like the 1819 Hall Rifle where the chamber tilts upwards, allowing much faster loading than having to ram a bullet down the whole barrel - especially in combination with the paper cartridge invented at the same time. Their downside? They were more complex to produce as the parts had to be made all to one standard, it took Mr. Hall about 2 years to assemble the first rifle - because he produced only one set of parts, one after another, all to the same standard. Contemporary attempts at the same ould use jigs to hand-fit all other parts to achieve the same on a piece-by-piece basis. But they were also one o the first 'interchangeable parts' guns that would become the dominating type 100 years later.

To allow percussion caps, the next logical step on the way to fully self-contained cartridges, you will need advanced chemistry and somewhat precise machinery. The next step on the way to the fully self-contained cartridge demands developments in the stamping/pressing of brass to create the shells. The first ones will be rimfire, adding the primer into the bulge of the bottom, and only later centerfire.

The moment you allow precise machining with only some hand-fitting afterwards needed, you also unlock most of the Browning designs. Note that John Browning singlehandedly dished out more than 120 patents on firearms and firearms parts, and in his lifetime guns went from percussion cap tilting breach blocks like the 1843 Side Lever Hall Carabine by Simeon North over his (above shown) early centerfire breach loading falling block, cartridge fed lever guns (his invention) and bolt actions beyond.

Hand-cranked revolving cannons like the 1872 Hotchkiss revolving gun use a similar mechanism to the 1861 mechanism invented for the Gatling gun, automatically extracting and inserting shells. These guns are just a tiny step from fully-automated firing using some clockwork. But the main limiter for gun development to rapid-fire was not the mechanical problems. In the US, the ministry was concerned about the ammunition supply chain and thus did not adopt the Henry/Winchester.

Once machining gets even more precise, you are in the area of about 1850-1890s machining tech, but you also unlock guns with totally interchangeable parts. You get bolt actions, and once you have bolt actions, the step to semiauto guns is not that large: the Ross rifle experimented on semiauto and even full auto, using a bolt action core! The ability to the first fully automated machine guns happened for the most part in the late 1890s and into the world war years (such as the german 08/15, the 1915 revision on the 1908 machine gun), but small caliber self repeater development mostly happened in the interwar period. Adoption of semiautomatic and automatic weapons for the whole army only started in the second world war, when stamping technology had advanced so much to allow almost fully stamped construction and thus mass production.

Volley Guns

A type of gun ignored above is the Volley Gun, where firing the gun does fire a number of barrels in rapid succession. These guns came up very early - reports from 1339 indicate the use of multi-barrel cannons that only needed to be triggered once, there had been 14-barrel flintlocks and in the 1700s the Nock Volley Gun was a typical armament on ships. These "rapid-fire" guns and the similar mitralleuse can't be stopped in their firing cycle, but ultimately are pretty much machine guns/cannons in their own right. Making them is often a thing of casting and, and does not need highly developed machining in the crudest forms but can become quite intricate in smaller calibers. Once the paper cartridge with percussion cap or self-contained cartridge is available, all-barrels-at-once firing is a rather simple task.

The History of Firearms in Japan - an example case of frozen technology

Generally, we need to take in mind that Firearms had three distinct periods in their pre-Worldwar development in Japan: Their initial arrival to the battle of Sekigahara, the Edo period, and then the Meji period onwards.

Note that the guns in the first two eras were manufactured in handiwork without machining. Each one had parts made for this one gun; even if gunsmith workshops might produce repeated parts for one of their models in larger quantities (like the flat springs), there was a lot of individual fitting, making each one unique to some degree.

Arrival and propagation

Firearms were not invented in Japan. First, some kind of grenades came with the Mongol invasions. Next came hand cannons and larger, and quite early wooden artillery from china in the 12 to 1400s by trade. The Japanese would adopt the wooden cannons for sieges - pretty much a treetrunk drilled out and given a hole on the side to light the powder and some bands to secure the gun. Neither the hand cannons nor the wood cannon was easy to use, aim and the latter wore out fast, allowing at best about a dozen shots before the gun is useless. Hand cannons, cast in china, also were hard to manufacture, and as a result, neither of these found widespread adoption.

However, the matchlock type that arrived in Japan was already outdated when it came to there, most likely via Portuguese travelers or shipwrecked people 1543. It's hard to say which design it was - a Chinese copy of a Portuguese design or an Ottoman copy of a Portuguese design that was brought to china first. In any way, it wasn't the state of the art in Europe and about a decade behind the developmental curve there.

The first adoption in larger quantities came around 1549 - about 6 years after their arrival. That Year Oda Nobunaga ordered 500 firearms. An advisor of his reports, that just boring the barrel by hand for a gun would take about a month, so it hints heavily at the number of gunsmiths employed just to outfit those guns within a year or two. Note that this massive adoption does come from the relative ease of training: it takes about a week to train someone to be a decent gunner, but years to be a decent bowman or artillerist with wooden cannons and mortars. But training didn't stop then: The Oda tactic was to have the gunmen rigorously hold rank and fire in volleys, switching out the front line to reload after each volley. The tactics changed vastly.

In 1563, some minor clans clashed and the resulting battle had 33 confirmed woundings with teppo, in a battle that had only 12 other woundings! So by this time, firearms had gotten their way into normal warfare. In 1570, 7 years later, Oda Nobunaga fielded 3000 firearms in the Battle of Anegawa, making up 13% of his total army of 23000 (not counting allies on either count here). These could fire a volley of 1000 per minute continuously. These battles would mark the moment tactics changed dramatically, and the next big one was to cement the changes:

The 1575 battle of Nagashino pitted the Oda and their Tokugawa allies against 12000 of the Takeda cavalry troops. Among the 38000 troops on the oda side, about 1 in 4 was armed with a Tanegashima. While the Takeda had previously won against armies outnumbering them 3 to 1 with their heavy cavalry tactics, the heavy reliance on rigorously trained gunmen that shot in volleys did break the Takeda clan's Warmachine. Cavalry, having become the Takeda trump card in open field battle just some decade or two ago, suddenly was obsoleted. Positioning, simple stockades and logistics had become the trump card in warfare pretty much overnight.

The 1592 Invasion of Korea by Toyotomi Hideyoshi had a contingent of 150000 men with firearms. This accounts for 25% of the whole army and outnumbered the Cavalry! Note that this invasion also introduced relatively modern firearms to Korea, even as the Matchlock gun was outdated when it had arrived in Japan about 50 years before!

Then, the battle of Sekigahara happened in 1600 and by 1604, the Tokugawa shogunate was firmly established, leading to the next phase. First, however, let's look at some domestic solutions.

Domestic solutions

As wooden artillery was unwieldy, the design was adopted and increased even during the Sengoku Jidai, leading to rather massive, cannon diameter guns that had the exact same mechanism as the normal Tanegashima - and they filled the gap of field artillery and door breakers. Short variants - carabines - were introduced in that period too, but again, it was just a simple adaption of the same design with different barrel size.

A big thing that made innovations hard in japan at that time was, that there were only two types of springs known: the leaf spring - a flexible stretch of metal with maybe some bends in it - and the coil spring - a metal band that is wound around an axis. The Helical spring, which the Europeans invented in the 15th century wasn't known and its manufacturing was impossible for the craftsmen.

As new technology wasn't brought in, the domestic recombination of inventions leads to the Japanese developing domestic solutions to problems that Europe never solved for matchlocks. For example, the simple addition of a string in the front and back to stand on for night fighting, lacquered boxes around the mechanism to waterproof and hide the burning match. Designs of sheet metal appeared for sure in the early 16th century, but lacquered paper and wood are thought to have been its predecessor.

By altering the method in which gun barrels were made from boring the barrel to smithing them around some other piece of metal it wouldn't weld with, the time to make guns was reduced in the later times and it gave some of them polygonal barrels that were less susceptible to fouling. Some even had pretty modern barrels.

As a rather ingenious solution, there are records from the 1600s about bamboo tubes containing (from back to front) some flammable plug (paper or linen), the powder charge, wadding, and then the bullet. These were sealed in some way, possibly with lacquer. These cartridges would be put on the barrel and their contents rammed into it, pretty much functioning like the paper cartridge - which only was invented in 1808 - but if sealed correctly also made them waterproof. All that was needed to fire was some powder in the pan and a lit match. This sped up firing volleys compared to the same tech level European troops - according to tests made nowadays and battle accounts, the use of these devices allowed to shoot up to 6 times as fast as without.

Edo Period / Tokugawa Shogunate

During the Tokugawa Shogunate, there was no need for developing better guns. However, one of the early decrees was to confiscate military caliber guns from private people and lock them up for guard use.

So, the gun crafting was perfected instead of developing new solutions: the guns became more elaborate, civilians had made their guns in smaller calibers, and even matchlock pistols were developed. The small caliber rifles were pretty much hunting implements. Some of these short guns got humongous diameters (and deemed ok as they were inaccurate to hell), and some gunsmith actually made some kind of revolver with a horizontal drum. Others made hand cannons really short. They all became more decorated. But there was no pressure to innovate besides the desire for novelty guns as representative objects, no modern tools to make the hardworking easier. In fact, a lot of technology did stagnate in this period.

Meji Era and beyond

We know, that the end of the Edo Period had 200 master gunsmith that created all guns in laborious handiwork, each of them had assistants and trainees, so it's better to assume these are workshops. We can assume that the number of gunsmith workshops was even higher during the Sengoku Jidai, when firearms came to Japan. But now, Admiral Perry arrived in 1854, disturbing 250 years of isolation. What was the immediate response of Samurai? They bought modern firearms and cannons. When in 1877 the last Samurai battle was fought, both the imperial army - outnumbering their enemies 40 to 1 - and the Samurai in Shirojama were armed with modern firearms and cannons, though the encircled defenders did field a hodgepodge of them and old Tanegahima and wood cannon artillery. The last charge of the Samurai into the advancing army on the morning of the 24th September came only after the defenders had shot every single last bullet into the sieging army.

Japanese firearms development in the following modernization was mostly import and reproduction and in the interwar period closely followed the European and American designs, often reverse engineering other countries' guns and then iterating on them. However, you should listen to Ian "Gun Jesus" McCollum about the interwar development, though he might have the occasional pre-WWI gun in his repertoire.

Extrapolation

If we want to keep the methods of the Edo period, we can only introduce so much in machining technology, possibly by introducing water hammer mills for smithing the barrels. But the limit on machining tech also means that we might at best turn matchlock to flintlock, without changing the character of the whole process.

The moment we want the percussion cap or the following self-contained cartridge technology, we demand quite some machining technology as the means to repeatedly and reliably form the caps as well as the ability to make the thin metal sheets needed for the process, which requires roller works, and quite a lot of modern chemical knowledge about initial explosives.

Propagation of roller works also means metal sheets are cheap, thus plate armor is plentiful and cheap, but at the same time obsolete due to the firearms. The chemistry that brought percussion caps also brought other advances, for example in the mining and farming department, increasing output. You don't necessarily need steam power to have bolt action, but just to have the means of making them you need strong tools, advanced alloys, and chemistry, which means you are far out of the medieval world the moment you have percussion caps. To stay in 'medieval' area, you can't go past flintlocks, so at best you have the above-mentioned Hall rifles in their 1819 variation, possibly with side lever.

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  • $\begingroup$ So the core question was: what other technologies (steam engines, trains, boats, etc.) would be almost inevitable if you have the technology to manufacture manual repeat-fire guns? Do you think the Japanese example shows that you could have bolt-action rifles without widespread steam power, or that you couldn't? $\endgroup$
    – FuzzyChef
    Oct 18, 2020 at 19:20
  • $\begingroup$ @FuzzyChef no, it shows how to have widespread pre-machining firearms. If you want bold actions, you need 1850s Machining. $\endgroup$
    – Trish
    Oct 18, 2020 at 19:22
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There is nothing to explain, because this corresponds to real-world history; at least for revolvers. (The major stumbling block for rifles was the great difficulty of loading muzzle-loading rifles before the invention of the Minié ball. But in an alternate history there is nothing preventing their invention in earlier times; after all, they are not at all technologically complicated.)

Handmade matchlock revolvers were available in Europe since the 16th century. Here is a photograph showing the cylinder, chambers and firing "mechanism" of a German matchlock revolver from 1580.

Matchlock revolver

A late 16th century German matchlock revolver (from the Nürnberg German National Museum). Photograph by Andreas Franzkowiak, available on Wikimedia under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike license.

Elisha Collier introduced his flint-lock revolver in 1814; it began to be mass produced in 1819 by John Evans & Son of London, and eventually hundreds of them were made. (Only very few have survived; if you find one, or even better a matched pair, it is valuable.) It was used with great success by the British armed forces in India.

Such revolvers were loaded from the front, like muzzle-loaders. One poured a measured quantity of gunpower in each cylinder, then loaded the balls.

Collier revolver

Collier flintlock revolver, early 19th century. Photograph by the Auckland Museum, available on Wikimedia under the Creative Commons Attribution license.

The Maxim machine-gun was invented in 1884; it the first automatic gun in production. The first semi-automatic rifle was the Austrian Mannlicher M1885. The first semi-automatic pistols were introduced in the early 1890. They were preceded by the manually cranked Gatling gun.

So that in real history there is a 300 (three hundred) years gap between the first hand-made matchlock revolvers and the first semi-automatic or automatic firearms, and a 70 years gap between the first mass-produced flintlock revolvers and the first automatic or semi-automatic firearms.

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  • $\begingroup$ You forget the 1861 Gatling Gun, crank operated "almost automatic" $\endgroup$
    – Trish
    Oct 16, 2020 at 6:40
  • $\begingroup$ @Trish: I don't understand the question as forbidding it. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Oct 16, 2020 at 7:05
  • $\begingroup$ You claimed the Maxim was the first, but Gatling needs to be mentioned together with it in this context. $\endgroup$
    – Trish
    Oct 16, 2020 at 7:06
  • $\begingroup$ @Trish: OK, I will. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Oct 16, 2020 at 7:07
  • $\begingroup$ However, it's also worth mentioning that manual machine guns like Gatling or Gardner are quite heavy and certainly not easily portable without help of carriage. $\endgroup$ Oct 16, 2020 at 7:10
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The most important development which enabled automatic and semi-automatic firearms was the development of the brass cartridge. Before that, paper cartridges required muzzle loading and an external ignition source, whether a match, flint, or percussion cap. The brass cartridge was a single self-contained unit which enabled effective breach-loading weapons by sealing the chamber against the force of the gunpowder. The first practical center- and rimfire cartridges were developed in the 1840s, and the Gatling gun was developed less than twenty years later in 1861.

So if you want paper-cartridge, percussion-cap revolvers like Colt's but don't want any practical sustained-rapid-fire weapons available, aim for the 1840s or early 1850s.

If you want the early breach-loading repeating weapons like lever-actions to be available but not recoil-operated semi- and fully-automatic weapons, then late 1850s to early 1880s. Note that this does leave the gate open for Gatling-style externally-powered rapid-fire weapons, but it's possible that no one's quite figured out how to make it work just yet.

Either way, you'll note that firearms technology went from the flintlocks (which had been used for something like two-hundred years) to fully-automatic belt-fed machine guns in about seventy years. Your world is probably one that's seeing a similar boom in technological development, assuming it has the economic base for it.

The biggest technology jumps are flintlocks to percussion caps (early 1820s), hand-advanced to mechanically-advanced revolver cylinders (Colt's 1836), paper cartridges to brass and thus muzzle-loading to breech-loading (1850s), and then the development of recoil- and gas-operated automatics (1880-90s).

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  • $\begingroup$ There were occasional paper cartridge breech blocks, like the Hall rifle that started out as a flintlock in 1819 and was developed into a percussion cap variant under Simeon North $\endgroup$
    – Trish
    Oct 18, 2020 at 13:50
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While the other answers provide very detailed background on the history of firearm technology, it seems they miss a point from your question.

You specify that your society has lever-, bolt- and pump-action firearms. They all depend there already being an integral brass cartridge. Thus, you need to look at the period from the second half to the end of the 19th century for inspiration.

But the important point I want to make here is this - what made self-loading rifles practical (gas or recoil operated) was not only precise machining, but also chemistry. And more precisely - smokeless gunpowder. Repeating firearms are possible with black powder, with cleaning and maintenance. Self-loading mechanisms, as 1885 Mannlicher rifle demonstrated, are neither reliable, nor practical.

So, to freeze your technical advance on the necessary level, you need some way to explain, why your chemistry is not advancing enough. It is not hard for the setting that has magic in it. Maybe they do not need to develop high explosives for peaceful and military applications precisely because magic is used there instead.

As for the rest of the technology, as I've said, you need to look at the second half of the 19th century. Precise machining definitely exists, steam engine should exist too. It is possible that your world has less available hydrocarbons such as coal and oil, that would hold back the development of internal combustion engine and synthetics.

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Replace Technology with Magic as Needed

What is a firing cap if not a tiny magical potion brewed by an alchemist? What is a firing mechanism except for something crafted by a talented artificer? By explaining repeating firearms as a technology that relies on magic at all of the tricky points in its production, then you can handwave away any need for metal lathes, drills, chemistry, and all the other more modern stuff you need to make a gun. Because of this you can place guns into any time in history and exclude any modern technology you want.

In a world where magic makes things easy, technology will stagnate in a lot of areas. Why invent a complex and expensive mechanism for a job you can pay the local mage to do for you. The reason guns will see so much attention, but maybe textile factories will not is that you are in a fantasy setting. Mages are rare, but ogres, trolls, and dragons are not. Your people NEED to invest their limited supply of magic into making the common folk able to defend themselves, a lot more than they need to invest railroads or what not.

So don't feel like you need to add any related technology to your setting to be able to add repeating guns. That said, one consequence you will need to worry about is what technologies repeating guns will take away. Guns go right through the best of armor. And a repeating gun means you can kill a lot of people as they try to close range with you. That means that adding this technology will almost certainly eliminate most melee weapons and armor from your setting as being technologically obsolete. At most some people will have some side swords as secondary weapons, but you can basically take all of your Barbarian, Fighter, Warrior, type classes and throw them out the window if you introduce this tech to your setting.

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So, first, you don't have to worry about automatic weapons creeping in early because the gap between the revolver and the sub machine gun was 80 years. With a little narrative wiggling, it would be easy to stretch that to 100 or even 150, particularly if guns arrived early.

And guns could arrive early. Firearms were invented in Japan in the 13th century. If they had thrived, instead of largely being ignored by the sword-obsessed upper class, you could imagine the Japanese having manual repeating guns as early as 1500.

So, part of what you consider the minimum reasonable technological base partly depends on how you expect guns to be made. Part of how Japan got good at making guns later, in the 16th century, without having a broad industrial base was their strong class of highly skilled craftsmen.

If you assume that your world follows the same path -- boosted by the availability of magic for crafting -- you can imagine some form of repeating rifle or handgun being available even without factories, large-scale mining, advanced metalurgy, or any of the other industries that would lead to things like locomotives and airplanes. In that case, you could have your revolvers in a world that is otherwise very early 18th century, fully of sailing ships and horse-drawn carriages.

The side effect of this would be that guns would be very expensive, and not at all standardized. For example, your characters would be likely to own a one-of-a-kind handmade gun and load their own shells to use with it because they don't match anything else. Could be a fun narrative device.

However, you'll have to answer a harder question: if useful magic is available, why invent guns at all?

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    $\begingroup$ "Shells"? Initially, revolvers were loaded like muzzleloaders: the gunpowder and the balls went into the chambers of the cylinder from the front, then percussion caps were placed on the nipples at the rear of the chambers. For example. the Colt 1851 Navy. And there were revolvers even before the invention of percussion caps, for example the famous (and mass-produced) Collier revolvers. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Oct 16, 2020 at 5:47
  • $\begingroup$ Your assessment of the firearms history in japan is plain wrong. $\endgroup$
    – Trish
    Oct 16, 2020 at 8:58
  • $\begingroup$ Alex: so that would work even better with one-off, crafted guns, no? $\endgroup$
    – FuzzyChef
    Oct 16, 2020 at 16:29
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks! So you could post a better answer than me based on that history .... $\endgroup$
    – FuzzyChef
    Oct 17, 2020 at 4:52
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    $\begingroup$ @FuzzyChef there you go. $\endgroup$
    – Trish
    Oct 18, 2020 at 13:37

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