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This article is about the unit in Age of Empires II. For the unit in Age of Empires IV, see Handcannoneer.

Powerful close attack; inaccurate at range.
Age of Empires II description

The Hand Cannoneer is a gunpowder unit in Age of Empires II that can be trained at the Archery Range once the Imperial Age is reached and Chemistry is researched. It has a powerful attack, but low hit points and low accuracy at range.

Unit availability
Available Unavailable

The * indicates that the civilization can fully upgrade their Hand Cannoneers, i.e. gets Ring Archer Armor. Faith and Heresy are not taken into account because they only contribute to their combat strength in a very situational manner.

The ^ indicates that the civilization has at least one civilization or team bonus or a unique technology that benefits the combat strength of the Hand Cannoneer.

Only Burgundians and Franks lack fully upgraded Hand Cannoneers, due to lacking Ring Archer Armor (but it does not weaken Hand Cannoneers very much).


Hand Cannoneers have a powerful attack but have a slow firing rate, and their shots fly off in random directions (within radial proximity to the vector leading to their target), so their accuracy at long range is poor. They do +10 bonus damage against infantry (except the Condottiero) and another +1 against Spearmen, and their accuracy is less of a problem against the larger cavalry, making them deadly at close range. If maneuvered properly, Hand Cannoneers may also take down siege weapons with great efficiency but Onagers can still pose a threat to them due to their range.

Hand Cannoneers are treated to be archers (even though they use firearms) in the damage calculation, so Skirmishers and Huskarls have attack bonuses against them, and Huskarls also have a high defensive bonus against their piercing damage. They are of course also gunpowder units, giving Condottieri an attack bonus against them as well. Being foot units, they are also vulnerable to Mangonels and Scorpions, and they perform poorly against towers and Castles. The food cost of Hand Cannoneers also makes them odd to work with, so special situations or builds are needed in order to use them appropriately, like a Fast Imperial strategy (in closed maps).

Further statistics[]

Unit strengths and weaknesses
Strong vs. Infantry
Weak vs. Skirmishers, Scorpions, Onagers, heavy cavalry, Huskarls, Condottieri
Range Unique-tech-imperial.jpg Shatagni (+1, Indians only)
Accuracy Unique-tech-imperial.jpg Arquebus (hit moving targets, Portuguese only)
Armor PaddedArcherArmorDE.png Padded Archer Armor (+1/+1)
LeatherArcherArmorDE.png Leather Archer Armor (+1/+1)
RingArcherArmorDE.png Ring Archer Armor (+1/+2)
Speed UniqueTechCastle-DE.png Wagenburg Tactics (+15%, Bohemians only)
Conversion defense FaithDE.png Faith
HeresyDE.png Heresy
Creation speed ConscriptionDE.png Conscription (+33%)

Civilization bonuses[]

  • Bohemians: Hand Cannoneers and Chemistry are available in the Castle Age.
  • Burgundians: Hand Cannoneers have +25% attack.[note 1]
  • Italians: Hand Cannoneers are 20% cheaper. Researching Chemistry costs -33%.
  • Koreans: Archer armor upgrades are free.
  • Portuguese: Hand Cannoneers cost -20% gold. All technologies benefitting Hand Cannoneers are researched 30% faster.
  • Spanish: Hand Cannoneers fire 18% faster. Archer armor upgrades cost no gold.
  • Tatars: Hand Cannoneers deal +25% bonus damage from cliffs and elevations.
  • Turks: Hand Cannoneers have +25% HP. Chemistry is free.

Team bonuses[]


The Age of Kings[]

  • Hand Cannon needs to be researched in order to train Hand Cannoneers.
  • Hand Cannoneers have an accuracy of 55%.
  • Hand Cannoneers have an attack bonus of +8 against infantry.
  • Hand Cannoneers have 35 HP and projectile speed of 5.5.
  • Turks: Hand Cannoneers have +50% HP.

The Conquerors[]

  • Hand Cannon was removed from the game, and Hand Cannoneers become available as soon as Chemistry is researched.
  • Hand Cannoneers have an accuracy of 65%.
  • Hand Cannoneers have an attack bonus of +10 against infantry.
  • Hand Cannoneers receive an attack bonus of +1 against Spearmen.
  • Hand Cannoneers receive an attack bonus of +2 against Rams.
  • Heresy introduced.
  • Turks: Hand Cannoneers have +25% HP.

The Forgotten[]

  • Italians: Hand Cannoneers are 15% cheaper.

The African Kingdoms[]

Definitive Edition[]

Lords of the West[]

  • With update 50292, Hand Cannoneers have an accuracy of 75% and an attack dispersion of 0.5 (from 0.75).

Dawn of the Dukes[]

  • With update 51737, Hand Cannoneers have 40 HP and projectile speed of 7.5.


  • Despite the fact that the Chinese were the first civilization to invent the hand cannon, they do not have access to Hand Cannoneers. This is most likely for balance purposes as their unique unit, unique technology, and their access to various long range siege weapons and technologies allows the Chinese to excel at long range sieging.
  • Goths have access to Hand Cannoneers, despite their civilization being on the decline by the 8th century AD and having waned long before gunpowder weapons were invented in China. This is most likely for balance purposes.
    • Alternatively, this is arguably justified by the existence of Crimean Goths, who were only conquered by the Ottoman Empire in the 15th century.
    • Another possible explanation is that the Goths were the ancestors of the Spanish and Portuguese, as most of the Goths eventually settled in the Iberian peninsula after the fall of the Roman empire. Their access to gunpowder units is supposed to reflect the Spanish and Portuguese use of them in later medieval periods to expand their empires.
  • Every civilization (except the Japanese, Khmer, and Tatars) that has access to the Hand Cannoneer also has access to Bombard Cannon.
  • Since patch 4.8 of The African Kingdoms, the Franks are the only civilization to not have fully upgraded Hand Cannoneers, lacking Ring Archer Armor. In The Forgotten, the Indians also missed Ring Archer Armor, although their Hand Cannoneers get +1 range from Shatagni, and before patch 4.8, the Berbers also lacked Ring Archer Armor. With the release of Lords of the West, the Burgundians also lack Ring Archer Armor, but their Hand Cannoneers have better attack due to their civilization bonus.
  • During the beta, Bulgarians had access to Hand Cannoneers. Hand Cannoneers are seen in the Sicilian army in the announcement trailer of the Lords of the West expansion, indicating that they had them at some point before release.
  • The Middle Eastern civilizations (Saracens, Persians, Berbers, and Turks) are the only group of civilizations to have Hand Cannoneers for all civilizations.


Following the development of cannons, small hand-operated gunpowder weapons began appearing in Europe in the fourteenth century. These early firearms were small iron tubes mounted on a wooden stock. They were inaccurate and slow to load. In the early fifteenth century the hand cannon was made smaller, the stock was redesigned so it could be held against the chest, and a mechanism was added for inserting the slow-burning match into the chamber. This weapon was effective only in volleys at close range. In the middle of the fifteenth century the first recognizably modern firearm, the arquebus, was developed. This employed a wheel lock to bring the slow match in contact with a powder pan connected by a tube to the chamber. Lead and cast iron balls fired from the arquebus were lethal. Firearms of the Middle Ages had an inferior range and rate of fire in comparison to the best bows and crossbows. Firearms improved gradually, however, and became more and more popular, despite their high cost. They became status symbols. Important lords engaged in an arms race, attempting to field more firearms of more modern design than their competitors.



  1. Meaning they get +4 pierce attack, as well as an extra +3 attack against infantry and an extra +1 attack against Rams.