Page images
PDF
EPUB

gun, a guard is attached to the stock, being made longer for double-barrelled guns, in order to allow of the two triggers.

A variety of safety guards have been invented, to prevent the trigger cock from being let down, except at the exact moment of being wanted—that is, when applied to the shoulder. One of these acts by pressure on the heel-plate; but as most people load their guns with this part pressing on the foot or ground, it is useless at the exact moment when it is most required. The best I know acts by the pressure of the right hand on the “grip” of the stock, the fingers being sure to lay hold of this part in raising the gun to the shoulder, in doing which a lever is pressed, which liberates the trigger, previously held firmly by it. (See Fig. 23).

T'ig 23

SAFETY GUARD. (HALF SIZE.) The lower limb of this is shown in fig. 22, beneath the handle; the other parts being let into the stock, and therefore invisible. I am a decided opponent to all complications, and with moderate care and a good lock I believe no gun will explode while being loaded; but certainly I see no objection to this plan on the above score, and for careless shooters it is a most valuable invention. It is generally made in the annexed form, which is a modification of that adopted by Joe Manton; but there is a slight objection to the plan, inasmuch as in passing through a hedge a twig may easily get under the part intended for the hand, and it then becomes impossible to discharge the gun. To remedy this inconvenience it is

a

a

only necessary to make the part which appears outside the stock of solid metal, and let it into a socket cut in the wood.

PERCUSSIONING.

The adaptation of the locks to the stock and to the nipples or other parts used in the firing of the gun is called "percussioning," and this duty is performed by a special workman in all large gun manufactories. It is highly important, because upon the proper strength of the spring and upon the correct striking of the hammer or needle upon the cap or other detonating substance depends the certainty of avoiding a miss-fire.

BROWNING, CASEHARDENING, ETC. The barrels are made up and proved, as well as finally bored, before the last finishing-touch is put to them. This consists in imparting to them an artificial oxidization by means of acid, which forms a coat on the surface that resists the oxygen of the air to a greater extent than the bare metal will do, and the plan is therefore generally adopted, though some sportsmen prefer the plain metal. If the latter case, it must be rubbed occasionally to keep it bright, and in course of time the thickuess will be reduced, though, with moderate care, this ought not to be appreciable during the time in which the internal surface will continue good. The following is the usual recipe for staining twisted barrels : Take of-Tincture of sesquichloride of iron, oz.

Corrosive sublimate, 1 dr.
Sulphate of copper, dr.
Nitric acid, 1 dr. to 1} dr.
Spirit of wine, 6 drs.

Water, 8 oz. Dissolve the corrosive sublimate in the spirit of wine, then add the solution to the other ingredients, and let the whole stand for a month or six weeks, when it will be fit for use. The barrels are first cleaned carefully with lime, and this being removed, the browning mixture is laid on with a sponge five or six times a day, till the colour is dark enough for the fancy. Once or twice a day a scratch-brush is used to remove the rough oxide and allow the acid to get a deeper bite. When it is considered that enough has been done, boiling water is poured over the barrels for several minutes, and while hot, they are rubbed with flannels and finished with a leather and a little beeswax and turpentive. A brighter red colour is produced by the following mixture :

a

Take of—Tincture of sesquichloride of iron, 1 oz.

Spirit of wine, 1 oz.
Corrosive sublimate, oz.
Nitric acid, 4 oz.
Blue vitriol, oz.
Water, 2 pints.

Mix as above, and apply with a piece of flannel twice a day; scratch it (with a proper scratch brush) clean each time; when dark enough, scratch as clean as possible, and pour boiling water over it. Polish with a fine linen cloth, and, if requisite, a touch of beeswax and turpentine. Inferior barrels are made to look well to the eye by several tricky methods, chiefly practised at Birmingham, in this country, and at Liege, abroad. Of these the most simple is the use of corrosive sublimate and spirit of wine, which will soon bring out a strong colour if applied in rapidly succeeding layers upon barrels previously prepared with varnish cut away in a pattern, as has been already described at page 216. The smoke stain is the most permanent, but it requires the best metal and a good deal of practice to bring it well out. It is effected by passing the barrels through the flame of a forge at a time when it is of a clear white, without smoke, until the

' whole is covered with soot; then remove them to a cool and damp cellar for one or two days, by the end of which time they will have become rusty. Treat them with the scratchbrush as before described, and renew the operation with the flame till the colour is thought to be good. Finish with hot water, as before described.

Case-hardening is the process adopted for making the parts of the lock, breech, &c., as hard as possible. It is produced by covering them with animal charcoal, in a box which is then exposed to a certain heat, and after a time, the object is effected; but this requires practical skill, and no description without it will suffice.

CHAPTER II.

THE MUZZLE-LOADING PERCUSSION GUN.

THE BARREL-VARIOUS KINDS OF BREECH - THE LOCK-THE STOCK

RAMROD-OR LOADING-ROD THE ENTIRE PERCUSSION GUN AND ITS PERFORMANCES-LOADING AND CARTRIDGES CLEANING-THE GUN CASE AND ITS CONTENTS-PRICE OF GUNS.

THE BARREL.

of

The barrels of the ordinary percussion-cap gun loading at the muzzle are made, as described in the last book, of any the materials and in either of the modes therein mentioned. As received from the barrel-forger, they consist of a mere cylinder, which receives provisional proof in that form, and has afterwards to be breeched, stocked, percussioned, proved, and regulated.

BREECHING.

The breech formerly was a mere solid plug screwed into the end of the barrel, which was tapped to receive it; and the touch-hole was drilled so close to its internal end as to cut a shallow groove in it. The invention of the patent breech has however quite superseded this clumsy form, which is now never adopted, except for the purposes of provisional proof. For all percussion cap guns the barrel is now tapped for about half an inch, and into this female screw a piece of iron is adapted, with a shoulder bringing up the external part to a level with the outer surface of the barrel. Within this breech, partly opposite the screw, and partly within the shoulder, a cavity is hollowed out, in which the powder is to lie; and this chamber is variously formed,

a

[ocr errors]

Fig. 24 according to the fancy of the

maker. The following is the most
desirable form to be adopted, in
which a a represent the ends of

the barrels; bb, the chambers in
a the breeches; and cc, a plug, which

fills the outer part of a hole bored
across, so as to reach the bottom of
the chamber, closing the inner end.

This is called the “cross-hole,” and
MODERN BREECH. (HALF SIZE.)

is for the purpose of allowing the

end of the nipple tube to explode the powder in the chamber without weakening the breech, which it must do if it is directed straight down upon it, as is sometimes done, and as will presently be described. There is a great difference of opinion as to the form which is most advantageous; and as it is not yet settled whether the ignition should be quick or slow, it can scarcely occasion surprise that such should exist. If the ignition is too rapid, there is no doubt that the powder is not all exploded; while if it is too slow, the rapidity of shooting which is necessary for hitting a moving object is not attained. Hence there is doubtless a happy medium to be aimed at, but what that is seems to be at present unknown. As far as my experience goes, I am quite contented with the simple cone terminating in a cup, which is the form represented above. The breech of Joe Manton's choice, who has so long been celebrated for his guns, is a shallow cup ending in a cylinder, which is very little larger than the cross-hole. (See Fig. 25.) In Wil

[graphic]
[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][graphic][graphic][merged small]
« PreviousContinue »