A small ship's handgun of the 15th and 16th centuries. It had a calibre of 3.8 centimetres (1.5 in.) and fired a 156 gram (5.5 oz) shot with a charge of the same weight of ‘cannon corn’ powder. The maximum, or random, range was 1,300 paces. When the powder used was ‘fine corn’, the same quality as used in muskets, the charge was reduced by one-quarter. Serpentines were upper-deck or ‘castle’ guns, i.e. fired into the waist of an enemy ship from a ship's forecastle or after castle, and were used purely in an anti-personnel role. See also robinet.
Subjects: Maritime History.