Gun Systems | Advanced

Contact information

For further information or to request a quotation, please contact the Professional Education Courses Unit on:

Enquiries Phone: 02 5114 5573

Enquiries Email:

In-house delivery

UNSW Canberra Professional Education Courses may be available for in-house delivery at your organisation's premises. In-house courses allow maximum attendance without the additional travel costs. Courses can be developed to suit the specific staff development and training needs of your organisation. Recommended for groups of 10 or more.

This online course provides participants with an in-depth understanding of firepower technologies (i.e., gun systems) in the way they work and an overview of the equipment and systems that are used in, and with guns. The course will begin with an overview of firepower technologies and then introduce participants to the way guns work. The course then covers aspects of recoil, installation and ammunition concepts as well as gun manufacture.

This full course comprises of 10 modules each of which correspond to approximately 3 hours of directed learning activity. Module 10 comprises of an optional online course test. Each module can be purchased individually.

Course Learning Outcomes

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

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

LO2: Present calculations on recoil, gun droop, anticipated projectile velocities, fragment velocities and stress wave propagation and reflection.

LO3: Articulate the physics of gun operation and firing.

LO4: Describe alternative projectile launch possibilities.

LO5: Describe the issues associated with gun manufacture.

LO6: Explain the differences in penetration mechanisms for high-velocity projectiles compared to low-velocity projectiles.



Professor Paul Hazell has 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’ (CRC Press, 2015). 

Course Information

MODULE 1: Overview of guns

Introduction to concepts | How guns work | Types and calibres of guns (large and small) | An introduction to ammunition types used in guns | Introduction to small arms weapon systems,  towed guns, self-propelled howitzers, tank guns (cannons) and naval guns.

MODULE 2: 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 | An introduction to breech concepts

MODULE 3: Manufacturing fundamentals

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 | When barrels break | Barrel stresses | Manufacturing processes | Autofrettage | Proofing approaches | Proof pressures | An introduction to instrumentation

MODULE 4: Ballistics 1: Internal and intermediate

Introductory concepts | Piobert’s law | Effect of specific surface area on burning rates of propellants | Types of propellants: single base, double base, triple base | Barrel life (corrosion, abrasion, erosion) | Propellant-air interactions

MODULE 5: Ballistics 2: Exterior and terminal

Forces on a projectile / fragment in flight | Coefficient of drag | Projectile stabilisation techniques | Coriolis effect | Magnus effect | Penetration mechanics | Introduction to stress wave theory

MODULE 6: Basic gun calculations

Calculation of barrel droop | Thick-wall pressure vessel theory | Pressure calculations | Projectile velocity calculations | The need for a recoil system | The role of the buffer and recuperator | Examples of recoil systems | Basic recoil calculations

MODULE 7: Alternative launch technologies

Cased telescopic ammunition | Segmented penetrators | Rail guns | Coil guns | Electro-thermal technologies | Light-gas guns | More on terminal ballistics with a focus on higher velocities

MODULE 8: Gun-fired projectile concepts

Types of ammunition | Penetrator materials | Fragmenting munition concepts | Mott’s fragmentation theory | Gurney theory | High-Explosive Squash-Head

MODULE 9: Fuzes and explosives

Types of fuze | Operation | Explosive types | The explosive train | Models showing the effect of explosions | Explosives in ammunition

MODULE 10: Assessment

An online test will be available for those wishing to gain post-graduate credit.

Courses will be held subject to sufficient registrations. UNSW Canberra reserves the right to cancel a course up to five working days prior to commencement of the course. If a course is cancelled, you will have the opportunity to transfer your registration or be issued a full refund. If registrant cancels within 10 days of course commencement, a 50% registration fee will apply. UNSW Canberra is a registered ACT provider under ESOS Act 2000-CRICOS provider Code 00098G.