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Carronades or smashers were short range heavy calibre guns mounted on slides on the top deck which could be fired singly or altogether in broadside. The term 18 pounder refers to the weight of round shot (or cannon ball) fired. An 18 pounder carronade packed a punch but took up less room than a long gun that fired the same size of shot. Guns that took up less space were a definite asset given that Hamilton was only 66 feet long and no more than 19 feet at her broadest point. 18 pounder carronades had a range of about 1,000 yards. These were put to best use during the successful attacks made by United States forces at York and Fort George in April and May of 1813.In those situations Hamilton was positioned close to shore where she effectively bombarded the British defenders while the American Army rowed ashore. When Hamilton was converted from a merchant ship to a warship Commodore Issac Chauncey Commander of the United States Navy on the Great Lakes stated:

I immediately had her [Hamilton] discharged and commenced alteration to mount 10, 18 pounder carronades upon her and hope to have her ready in 36 hours.

When Hamilton was originally armed she carried ten carronades. That number was reduced to eight (four on each side) to make room for a larger gun mounted in the centre of the ship on a pivoting platform.