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out, remains to be proved; and I shall endeavour to enable my readers to judge for themselves. The annexed illustration shows the gun open, in effecting which the barrels slide forwards on depressing the compound lever (fig. 37 a). This, acting on the branch c fixed to the fore end of the stock, while the lever is attached to the barrels, causes the latter to slide forward exactly in proportion to the depression of the lever till they assume the position indicated in fig. 37. Here the cartridges are represented at e, as if the gun had just been discharged, for after one is exploded the hammer is left down, and there being a hole in its striking face, when the barrels are drawn forward, the pin of the cartridge enters this hole, and so it is expected that the cartridge will be left behind, as shown in fig. 37 e.
In order to show more clearly the nature of the slide, a view of it from below is appended (see fig. 38), in which d represents the barrels, c the branch of the lever fixed to the stock, a the lever, and b the catch in
its extremity, which keeps it in its place when ready for use. On referring to the small cut of this gun (fig. 36), this spring will be seen within the hook by which the lever is laid hold of; and it is so arranged that the finger, before it can depress the hook, must release the spring-catch.
Such is the construction of this gun, and doubtless in theory it is very beautiful; and in practice the mechanism acts particularly neatly, unless the cartridge sticks, when the dead pull of the lever, in conjunction with the hold on the pin being at its extreme point, very frequently tears away the capsule from the case, which is left behind. This occurred seven times out of a dozen shots which I fired from this gun; and I believe would generally happen, because the action is radically faulty. In order to remove a sticking cartridge without injury two things are necessary; firstly, the pin must be laid hold of close to the barrel, and pulled in the direct line of the axis of the latter; and secondly, this must be done with a smart blow or quick jerk, and not with a steady powerful pull, as is done with the lever of the Bastin gun. It is possible, however, that the contrivance may be improved, and that this objection will be overcome; but I should also be afraid that the slide would be liable to become rusty from damp, and then the lever would be unable to move forward the barrels. This last, however, is only a theoretical objection, while the other is founded upon what has actually occurred in practice.
The cartridge case employed is of the ordinary Lefaucheanx kind; and indeed in all other respects but the mechanism adopted in opening it, this new invention is similar to the French crutch gun.
In addition to the objections which I have alluded to, consisting in the inefficient delivery of the cartridge cases, and the tendency of the slide to stick from rust, the following may be urged as of some considerable importance:—firstly, the opening for the admission of the cartridges is only made of exactly the same length as they are themselves, and hence there is some little difficulty in introducing them; and secondly, there is no means of readily taking the barrels from the stock, so that a full length gun-case is necessitated.
Several plans have been invented, in which a cartridge is exploded by means of a blow from a needle given to a cap in the line of the axis of the barrel, and not at right angles to it. The celebrated Prussian needle rifle is an example; but the arrangement is defective, from allowing a considerable escape of gas through the aperture for the needle into the works of the lock. In this country two plans on this principle have obtained considerable support-one patented by Mr. Needham, and the other by Mr. Lancaster. There is, however, a considerable difference in the two modes of carrying out the details, and each must be separately described.
MR. NEEDHAM'S NEEDLE GUN. The advantages of this gun are stated to consist in the greater simplicity of the gun itself, in the more perfect closure of the breech, in the cheaper cartridge which is used with it, and in the absence of the necessity for loss of time in extracting the case, the residuum left after the discharge being pushed forward by the next cartridge as it is introduced. But in order to make a comparison in these respects between this and the Lefaucheaux gun, it will be necessary to examine that of our English maker as carefully as we have investigated the construction of the French invention.
In external appearance Mr. Needham's gun differs greatly from any of those which have already been described. Owing to the nature of the lock, there is no hammer rising up on each side, so that there is a nakedness to the eye long
accustomed to this prominent feature in the flint and percussion guns. There is also a necessity for an increase of total length to give room for the lock, which lies between what may be called the false breech and the barrels, and not outside both, as in the ordinary forms. This increase is, however, not to be reckoned at the total length of the lock, but only at about half of that measure
e-namely, two inches —the difference being accounted for by the fact, that the false breech is placed farther back than usual. There is also a projection on each side in front of the trigger-guard, which is the lever employed to open the breech. Above and behind this, on each side, is a recess in what appears to be the barrel, but which is only a continuance of that tube; and
BREECH PLUG AND LOCK, SCREWED UP. (HALF SIZE.) in this lies a strong cylinder of iron, which is at once the lock and the breech plug. (See fig. 40.) By turning upwards the lever this part is shortened, the object being accomplished by making it in two parts, and the front being screwed on to the back, it is so arranged that while the latter is fixed, the former is screwed backwards or forwards as the lever is turned up or down. (See fig. 41). When, there
BREECH PLUG AND LOCK-CYLINDER. (HALF SIZE.)
fore, it is desired to open the breech end of the barrel, it is
THE LEFT OPENED FOR INSERTION
Fig. 42. UNDER SURFACE OF BARRELS.
OF CARTRIDGE; THE RIGHT CLOSED. (HALF SIZE.) and shortened, and containing a needle which is projected forward from the front of the plug into the breech end of the barrel, where the cartridge is placed, with an explosive cap in its base. The details of these various parts it will now be necessary to describe.
The barrels are forged in the same way as usual, but they must be selected of greater than the ordinary length by about four inches, and as this extent of the breech end is occupied by the chamber for the lock, the strength must be as great