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3rd. Single barrelled shot guns. 4th. Double barrelled shot guns.
5th. Revolving and breech-loading small arms of every description.
The powder used is of government strength, and the balls are all spherical and of lead. Barrels for the second and fourth class, and for breech loading arms of the fifth class shall be proved both provisionally and definitively; all other arms shall only be proved definitively.
Barrels for arms of the third class shall not be proved until they are in a fit and proper state for setting up with the permanent breeches in; and all barrels "lumped” for percussioning shall be proved by means of the nipple hole.
In proving the second and fourth classes :
(a) Provisionally. If of plain metal they shall be bored and ground, having plugs attached, with touch-holes drilled in the plugs of a diameter not exceeding 1&th of an inch. If any touch-hole shall be enlarged from any cause whatever to a dimension exceeding in diameter foth of an inch, the barrel shall be disqualified for proof. Notches in the plugs instead of drilled touch-holes shall disqualify for proof. If of twisted metal they shall be fine-bored, and struck up with proving plugs attached, and touch-holes drilled as in the case of plain metal barrels.
(6) Definitively. The barrels, whether of plain or twisted metal, shall be in the finished state, ready for setting up, with the breeches in the percussion state, breaks-off fitted, and locks jointed; the top and bottom ribs shall be rough struck up, pipes, loops, and stoppers on, the proper breeches in, and the thread of the screws shall be sufficiently sound and full for proof.
Barrels for revolving arms of the fifth class shall have the cylinders with the revolving action attached and complete.
Barrels for breech loading arms of the fifth class shall be subject to provisional proof according to the class to which they belong, and to definitive proof when the breech loading action is attached and complete.
The proof marks differ according as they are made at London or Birmingham,
The London mark of provisional proof consists of the letters (6 p) in a cypher, over which is a lion rampant. For the Birmingham provisional proof the mark is a cypher (BP) beneath a crown. See the annexed figure, giving an enlarged view:
The definitive marks remain as before, as shown in the following engraving, about twice the actual size :
The proof marks are impressed on the following parts of the various classes :
On the first and third class the definitive proof mark is impressed at the breech end of the barrel; and if with a patent breech, on that also.
On the second, fourth, and fifth classes the provisional mark is impressed at the breech end of the barrel, the definitive mark upon the barrel above the provisional; and if there is a patent breech, or revolving cylinder or chamber, the former mark is also to be impressed on that.
On all barrels the gauge size shall be struck both at the provisional and definitive proofs.
The provisional proof charge for a No. 12 double barrel shot gun is 350 grains of lead, and 12 drs. of powder; and for the definitive proof, 219 grains of lead and 8 drs. of powder, the charge of each being increased or diminished in proportion to the gauge. Now, the above weight of powder being nearly three times the usual charge, it may be considered that if a gun, when finished, passes this severe ordeal, it is scarcely likely that it will burst with ordinary care when employed for sporting purposes. The proof charges are now the same in London and Birmingham.
The Locks of guns vary a good deal, but the principle in all cases now is to cause ignition by a blow on some detonating substance. This is effected by a spring, which is compressed and held back by some means, and when let go by the pressure of the trigger it drives the striker on to the detonating powder. The various plans adopted will be alluded to under the respective guns; but it may be mentioned that the form of the mainspring is the chief part in which they differ. In the ordinary lock the spring consists of a plate of steel bent to a very acute angle, one arm being fixed to the lock plate, while the other is moveable, and at its free end acts upon the striker. The second form consists of a spiral spring which, when compressed and let loose, drives a striker, having a needle attached, straight forward to the detonating powder.
THE STOCK, INCLUDING THE FALSE BREECH.
The object of the stock being to enable the shooter to adapt the gun to his eye, and having little or nothing to do with the mechanism or performance of the piece, it is of importance that he should be exactly suited in the former respect. If a gun stock is not of proper length, and bent to fit the
arm of the person for whom it is intended, it is in vain to expect that he will be able to shoot well with it. The
gunmaker, therefore, must either know the length of arm and neck from measurement or his own inspection, or he must give his customer a variety to select from, and then stock his gun to the exact pattern of the one which pleases him. The wood of which gun stocks are made is almost always walnut, that being found to keep its shape the best, and also having toughness sufficient, combined with good grain and colour. In selecting it, the direction of the grain at the “ handle" (a) is to be examined, for if here it is across, it will be likely to give way on any slight blow. The fitting of the barrels and locks into it must be very exact, or dirt and damp soon get in and decay the wood. Around the handle it is crossed, or “chequered," to give a firm grasp; and good workmen pride themselves upon doing this very regularly. It requires much practice, being done by hand; and, therefore, as the Birmingham gunmakers have the best chance in this respect, they ought, as they do, to excel all others in it. The usual length is from fourteen to fifteen inches from the fore-trigger to the heel; but the amount of bending cannot be so easily calculated. In front the stock passes forwards beneath the barrels (the “foreend,” bb), and here it is generally hollowed out to receive the ramrod; and, in the percussion gun it is traversed by one or two slides, to connect it with the barrel. Behind the handle is the “comb” (c), a thin projection, which increases the surface applied to the cheek. Here is sometimes a raised smooth
block, called “check piece.” All that part behind the handle is called the “butt” (d), and the lower or back end of this is the “heel” (e), in which is generally let an iron plate—the “heel-plate.” The form of this is somewhat familiar, being intended to adapt it to the muscles of the shoulder, for which purpose it is nicely hollowed out in its long diameter, and slightly rounded in the opposite direction.
In addition to the adaptation in length and bend of the stock, it is also “cast off”—that is to say, it is bent sideways; and it is especially here that good stocks differ from bad ones. If the barrels are heavy forwards, the stock must be loaded at the heel, to make the gun balance; but in the present day this is seldom needed. At the front of the handle the false breech (f) is fixed above, and the trigger and guard (9) below, both of which will presently be described. The false breech is merely a piece of iron, which is securely let in and screwed there, so as to give a firm point of resistance for the true breech, which recoils against it. Many stocks are highly varnished; but as they are liable to scratch, and sometimes, when in the sun, the varnish flashes in a way to alarm the game, it is a better practice to have them only oiled.
THE TRIGGER AND GUARD. The trigger is simply a lever, intended to raise the scear out of the bent or notch in the tumbler, when the gun is at full cock; and also to lift it out while the striker is being lowered from full cock to half cock. There is little difference in its construction among the various guns, even the needle-guns having one nearly similar to that of the old flint and the modern percussion. By a casual observer it might be supposed that what is called a "hair trigger" that is, one which will liberate the cock with the slightest touch of the finger-would show some difference from the ordinary kind; but the fact really is, that this variety depends entirely for its delicacy upon the scear and tumbler, which are made of a correspondingly delicate shape and size in the parts which are concerned—namely, the bent of the. latter and the tooth of the former. In order to guard against the trigger being touched in the handling of the