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The blunderbuss is a muzzle-loading firearm with a short, large-caliber barrel and a flared muzzle. It was basically an early version of the shotgun, popular from the 17th to the 19th century, and like his descendant, was mostly useful at short range, where its power was formidable, but quickly lost accuracy with range. Like all muzzle-loaded weapons, blunderbusses could be used to fire all kinds of scrap material, metal, stone, even wood, which often resulted in damaging the weapon itself. Apart from being a preferred weapon of bandits and pirates, the blunderbuss was generally associated with mounted or naval forces, since it was lightweight, and easy to handle in close quarters or with limited mobility.