Most historical examinations of firearms and their development devote themselves to the detailed and technical examination of innovation in weapon design and manufacture. Sometimes this also extends to questions of weapon use and, for instance, the impact of weapon innovation on military tactics. Such studies generally treat the weapon simply as a piece of machinery. The properties and capacities of firearms are dispassionately examined almost entirely divorced from any reference to the social purposes embodied in a weapon’s design, the uses to which it may be put or, indeed, the consequences of its use. Firearms and ballistics are pure science. Typically, attention is given to the nature and developing efficiency of a weapon’s firing mechanism, the speed, reliability and frequency of reloading and the type and composition of ammunition used. Attention might focus upon the range and accuracy of a weapon, the propellant power of the charge used, the barrel pressure in a weapon when fired, the muzzle velocity of the bullet and the extent of weapon recoil.