Empire handguns are simple and crude, yet highly effective gunpowder weapons. Dedicated "Handgunner" regiments of state troops are specially trained in their use for the Imperial armies, though they are more common in the wealthier western states than in the poorer east.
The standard handgun is a long-barreled weapon with an ignition mechanism such as a matchlock or flintlock. Bullets, powder, and wadding must be loaded into the muzzle.[2a] It fires heavy round balls of metal at the enemy, piercing armour and shields, and causes great fear owing to their smoke, loud reports, and flashes of light. They are far more effective at dealing damage to heavily armored enemies than lighter crossbows, but take longer to reload and additionally tend to have a shorter range.
Being extremely temperamental pieces of technology, Empire handguns are more effective the first time they are fired,[1a] and require ongoing cleaning and maintenance to keep them effective, but are nonetheless solid and widely-used equipment