« PreviousContinue »
section as well as in perspective. Fig. 48 shows the strong wad with its metal-plate, which remain behind after the explosion, and are pushed forward in front of the next cartridge as it is introduced. These are perforated by a central hole for the ready passage of the needle, as also is the next for the insertion of the cap, which has four flanges to keep it from being thrust forward through the powder, by which it might be prevented from exploding. The metal-plate is for the purpose of preventing the cartridge from entering the barrel beyond its proper chamber. This plate is slightly wider than the chamber, and is stretched across its mouth till the cartridge is exploded, when it is flattened out and offers no resistance to the wad being pushed forward before the next cartridge. It also tends to prevent the
and to a certain extent fulfils that office. The cap itself has its fulminating surface turned towards the needle, but the explosion, aided by the sharp point, breaks it up, and the powder is easily ignited. Upon this base the case is constructed of common cartridge-paper, and when the powder and shot are inserted at the open mouth, with only a wad intervening between them, the paper is tied as represented in fig. 49, which however is incorrect in giving a wad in front of the shot. These cartridges are sold at 30s. per 1000.
The advocates of Mr. Needham's invention (the sale of which in Ireland is committed to Mr. Rigby, who is occupied in certain improvements upon it) maintain that it is superior in the following particulars to the French breechloading gun. They assert that it has all the advantages the latter claims over the muzzle-loader— that is to say, it is more rapidly loaded and more safe both in loading and in use; and in addition, it claims over and above these that the cartridges are half the price, that they are charged with less trouble—that there is no necessity for withdrawing the case after the discharge, the wad left behind being pushed forward by the next cartridge; and lastly, that while reloading one barrel, the other is ready for use. It is also stated that the gun stands wear and tear better than the French gun, but this I cannot see is likely to be the case, because there is the same wearing of the bolt, whether the lock and plug come away sideways, or the barrel is depressed at the muzzle so as to raise the breech. By the addition of the perforated metal-plate and wad behind the cap the escape of gas so much complained of in all the old needle guns is very much obviated, but there is still some slight defect in this respect.
The opponents of this invention assert that in practice the needle is apt to break, that the lock soon corrodes from the escape of gas by the side of the needle into it, that the management requires too much care for ordinary sportsmen, who from being long accustomed to one form, are not easily induced to use another. Of its shooting as compared with other
guns, I shall speak hereafter.
MR. LANCASTER'S NEEDLE GUN. To obviate certain objections in the ordinary needle gun, as well as in the French gun of Lefaucheaux, Mr. Lancaster has patented certain improvements, which have now been before the public for some years. They consist in the adoption of the French crutch, exactly in the form already described, but with a different mode of exploding the cartridge, and with the addition of a very ingenious piece of mechanism for bringing out the cartridge case after its explosion. The brass pin of the cartridge is done away with, and a fulminating powder, between two discs of copper, is exploded by a blow from a central needle, which however does not perforate them; and there is consequently no escape of gas. Moreover, the needle is not contained within the lock, but is driven forward by the blow of the hammer; so that, even if any corrosive gas escaped, it would not derange the mechanism-the needle alone suffering from it. As the barrels travel forward in the act of turning the lever, the false breech is enabled to be undercut, and thus, when closed, there can be no tilting whatever, as is alleged to take place in the French gun of the ordinary make. The cartridge in other respects does not differ from the French one, nor does the chamber in which it is placed; and there can be no difference in the shooting of this gun from that which has been described at p. 255. It remains to be seen whether the details connected with the cartridge are of sufficient importance to justify the outlay of twenty guineas additional, which is about the difference between the price of Mr. Lancaster's guns and those of Lefaucheaux's make, as constructed and sold by our best makers, with one or two exceptions, who are able to get high prices for anything they sell. The external appearance of this gun is shown in the following sketch :
The barrels in no wise differ from the French form, except in the exterior of the breech-end, where they are necessarily slightly stouter, to allow of the cutting away of a small groove for the little catch which delivers the cartridge. This lies between the two barrels, and works backwards and forwards with an easy and smooth action, as will be presently explained. The hinge on which the barrels are lowered varies from that of the Lefaucheaux gun in admitting of a sliding motion by means of a slot, instead of a mere eye, fitting closely upon the bolt. By this arrangement the barrels, as the lever is moved, are drawn away from the false breech, and the latter is enabled to be undercut, so as to secure the breech from being tilted up and opened during the explosion. In other respects there is no difference, as far as I know.
The delivery of the cartridge is effected by means of a sliding piece of metal, which is constructed of the following shape (fig. 51), in which a a represent two views of the
little wedge which lies between the barrels, and is so bevelled off on each side that it is accurately fitted to the copper base of the cartridge case, completing the circumference of the chamber in the breech intended to receive it, and fitted accurately to it. This wedge a a bas two slides bc pro
jecting forwards, and lying in theangles formed between the two barrels above and below. The upper one b is a mere rod; but the lower c has a notch in it, which is acted on by the lever as it is turned, whether to open or shut the breech. The consequence is, that when the cartridge is inserted, it is car
ried into its Gee
place before the breech is lowered, and when this is reopened the wedge is thrust out, and acting on the copper lip of the cartridge, it brings it out of the chamber, when it lies quite uncon
MR. LANCASTER'S SHOT-GUN.
fined, and is easily removed by the fingers. This will be more readily understood after investigating the nature and shape of the lever and chamber.
The lever is similar in principle to that of the French gun, and exactly resembles in outward form one of its patterns (see fig. 34), but differs from the common one in passing backwards over the trigger-guard, instead of forwards. The working part is, however, much more complicated, inasmuch as it has three separate duties to perform. A reference to fig. 52 will show its appearance; but its internal construction is too intricate to be understood without an actual examination. The part marked g indicates the external extremity of the lever, and h the centre upon which it works; but above this, though the section is correct, it is hardly likely to teach the uninitiated the shape of the inclined plaves which, firstly, move the barrel backwards and forwards; secondly, act on the cartridge extractor; and thirdly, close the breech by driving the bolt i i under the false breech. The construction of these parts is admirable, and great ingenuity is displayed in their design and execution; but to open and close Mr. Lancaster's gun is not quite so easy as the corresponding action in that of Lefaucheaux. Still, a very little practice makes the sportsman perfect in its use; and with moderate care it is not at all likely to get out of order. The separation of the barrels from the stock is managed in the same way, but it also demands a little practice; and more than one person, accustomed to handle guns, quite unable to accomplish the task of putting together one of these guns after having taken them apart. The dotted lines show the position of the barrels when tilted prior to reloading. As the breech rises the extractor is protruded from the rear of the barrels by its frame coming in contact with a fixed projecting stud, when seizing the lip of the cartridges, it carries them partially out of the barrels, the fingers being employed to remove them entirely.
The chamber is shown in the above figure at j, and in no wise differs from the ordinary construction.
The false or stationary breech, together with the needles, come next under consideration, and must be taken together