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in order to be understood. They are given in fig. 53, whici is a front view of the face of the breech; Il are the sunkes
parts for the reception of the rear of the cartridges; mm
about it for some months, but at length putting my hand upon it among other similar articles, I cut it open, and lo! it was loaded with two charges of shot and not an atom of powder. The needle and disc had done their duty well enough, as shown by the condition of the adjacent shot. Whether the carelessness was due to Colonel Ashley's or to Mr. Lancaster's man, I cannot pretend to say, but the missfire was certainly not owing to any defect in the cartridge itself.
The stock has no peculiarity whatever.
The lock resembles that of the back-actioned detonator, or of the Lefaucheaux gun, except in the shape of the hammer, which strikes the needle with its shoulder, and not (as in their case) with the head, which is therefore absent.
The cartridge case is the last part to be described, and as its plan is peculiar to Mr. Lancaster, it must receive full attention. It consists of a cylinder of strong paper of the same length as in the French gun, and with an extra thickness at the lower end, as is also seen in it. This extra part is turned in at the base (see fig. 56), and upon this lip is placed a stout disc of brass perforated with four holes (see fig. 55), Fig 55.
SECTION OF LOADED CARTRIDGE. (FULL SIZE.)
through which the flame passes to ignite the powder. On the other side, and in the space between these holes, is the fulminating powder; and then the whole is capped by a copper capsule, which is thin in the middle, where it receives the blow of the needle—but stout at the edge, where it is somewhat wider than the diameter of the cartridge elsewhere. The whole is put together in a workmanlike manner, and it is so strong as rarely to burst during the explosion. It is loaded in the usual way, and the lip turned over by a simple machine sold by Mr. Lancaster; but care must be taken that the base of the cartridge is not placed upon a shot or other similar substance, for if this happened to be in the centre of the capsule while the wads were being pushed down on the powder or shot, or the lip turned over, an explosion might occur which would be by no means pleasant, if not dangerous. Fig. 56 is a section of the cartridge complete, as loaded ready for use; while a perspective view of the same is shown of full size in fig. 57.
CARTRIDGE-CASE. (FULL SIZE.)
Mr. Lancaster claims for his gun the following points of superiority over the ordinary breech loaders :-Firstly, he asserts that the breech is made more secure by the undercutting; secondly, the cartridge is not so likely to explode in the pocket, because there is no projecting pin; thirdly, there is no escape of gas, the capsule not being pierced; fourthly, the cartridge never sticks in the chamber, being brought out by the little contrivance already described. Over the ordinary needle guns the advantage is said to be, that there is no corrosion of the lock by the usual escape of gas; and that the explosion is more effectively made.
In opposition to these assumed advantages of Mr. Lancaster's invention over those of Lefaucheaux, Bastin, and Needham, which may be considered its chief rivals, the only counterbalancing defects that, as far as I know, can be alleged, are: firstly, the greater prime cost of the gun itself; secondly, the constant large outlay for its cartridges, which moreover can only be obtained from the patentee; and thirdly, the complicated nature of the extractor. These pros and cons are, however, again carefully considered at some length in the following pages.
THE CHATEAUVILLIER NEEDLE GUN.
A needle gun somewhat on the same plan as that of Mr. Lancaster has been invented for some years, and patented in the name of the Comte de Chateauvillier. I have been kindly favoured by its owner with the loan of one of these, made by Martigny of Brussels, and from it the following illustrations are drawn. It is necessarily a heavy gun, the specimen forwarded to me weighing above eight pounds; and from the quantity of strong iron-work which is introduced, in order to insure a safe closure of the breech, I do not see how this can be prevented to any great extent. But though the invention has this, in common with several other manifest disadvantages, yet I have thought it desirable to insert a description of it here, because, in my judgment, its principle undoubtedly contains the germ of several plans lately introduced to the notice of the public-namely, those of Bastin's shot-gun, already described, and of the rifles of Restell and Westley Richards, to be found in the next book, among the breech-loaders of the day. Thus, the lever is almost identical with that of Bastin's gun, which is, indeed, comprehended under the same patent, while the plugs closing the breech are very similar to those adopted in the two rifles alluded to above.
The general appearance of this modern invention is indicated by fig. 58, which shows the whole gun when ready for use.
THE CHATEAUVILLIER NEEDLE GUN.
The following cuts show the principle of this gun. Fig. 59 is a halfsize representation of the chambers a a opened to receive the cartridges, by raising the lever b. This acts on the plugs c c in the same way as in the Bastin gun, both being included in the same patent. In referring to the plans of the latter, which are given at pages 2 :4–5 (figs. 37 and 38), it will be at once apparent that there is very little difference in the principle of these two levers. Both are compound, and act nearly in the same way; but in the one now under examination the lever itself is not fixed directly to the gun at all, but has one extremity free (see b), and the other attached to the two plugs c c, which slide backwards and forwards with it, the fulcrum being the two hinged props plainly shown in fig. 59. In raising the lever from its closed position, shown in fig. 58, the sliding plugs c c in some measure become à fulcrum by which the props before alluded to are lifted from their beds, and in closing the breech they are again used in the same way in depressing these props.
Such is the principle of the lever. It is now necessary to describe the nature of the plugs, and of the locks which strike the needles within them. They will be found described and illustrated on the opposite page. Fig.59. THE CHATEAUVILLIER