I had an idea for a world where tin and copper are both easily accesible and usually found close to each other enough that it is a non-factor. Bronze is pretty much the main alloy for use in anything, since iron is very rare. It exists and people are even pretty competent at handling it and making good quality steel, but it is rare enough that only a select few people can reliably make use out of it. Hence why steel is ony used for things bronze can't reliably or realisticaly substitute for.
My question is this; what would small arms look like in this setting? Bronze is awesome, but it is not steel. It has different properties. So I am wondering what exactly bronze firearms could handle and what sort of limitations I would have to keep in mind.
I know artillery was made from bronze in the past, Austria Hungary used something called 'Steel bronze' in WW1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/8_cm_FK_M._5
That said could you make a handgun, rifle, submachine gun or a machine gun out of bronze? And if yes, what are the limitations? I found somewhere that rifling probably wouldn't work too well due to bronze being softer, but maybe there are ways to bypass that specific issue.
Things to keep into account;
-This is more along the lines of a hellish dimension than a natural world. So sometimes things are the way they are, because higher powers decide they are. I am willing to handwave provided it is within reason.
-The people are in a near constant state of war due to the machinations of these higher beings. Trade happens, but cannot be relied upon.
-People aren't born into this world, they appear with amnesia. They do keep echoes of their memories. This makes it so that concepts such as heavier than air flight are known, but it's simply a matter of "How does it work exactly?"
-The tech level that I envision is around WW1 era, though if certain factions could plausibly make it I am willing to handwave it. (So no needing nuclear power or needing microchips or something like that.)
-Factions range from small clan sized (a couple dozen) to larger 'empires' whoms total manpower (not just soldiers, but craftsmen, farmers, etc as well) can go into the 10-15K range. Anything more is hard to keep together for 'longer' periods of time.
-Feel free to use bronze alloys such as manganese bronze if it helps.
-Iron and steel parts should be kept to an absolute minimum, maybe a bit can be excused, but weapons are competing with other important things for the limited amount of iron/steel available to most factions.
-If propellants such as smokeless powder or blackpowder are entirely impossible, would pneumatic rifles work?