Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Bavaria, Germany - the center of 15th and 16th century gunmaking
Yes, it is seems hard to believe that the ball should have been virtually placed near the muzzle but period black powder recipes as well as real pieces found loaded seem to prove that that was true for at least the early 14th to the mid-15th century. It seems like the best that they could do was to achieve an actual barrel (!) length (Flug), which means minus the smaller breech, of ca. three balls at best.
There also many existing stone guns (Steinbüchsen) with barrels so short that the ball literally had to be placed at the muzzle; actually they had exactly a length of ball diameter. The attached samples are preserved in the fortress of Hohensalzburg and the Musée de l'Armée Paris. I think this fact should be acknowledged.
I am glad that you mentioned the term vase because is was such everday devices that the earliest gunmakers adopted the shapes of their guns from. For exaxmple, I attach an image of two late 13th century vase-shaped mugs from the Museum of London; ignoring their handles, they exactly look like the Loshult Gun (attached at bottom), which is very close to the pot-au-feu (fire pot) illustrated by Walter de Milimete.