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The plug dis shown in fig. 60, where e represents the point of the needle which strikes the cap on the cartridge. Beneath this is the lock, in which f represents striker just discharged, theotherbeing still cocked. The cock
h is drawn forward on the centre 9, in order to half-cock or full-cock the gun, but unfortunately it is so arranged that the two locks are not independent, and both must be cocked together, though there are separate triggers. As, however, the loading is effected at the breech the danger is not so great as it would be in a muzzle-loader. Still the plan is very objectionable.
The cartridge used with this gun
is similar to that of Mr. Needham, excepting that it contains a cap placed with the cup towards the powder.
CHOICE OF BREECH-LOADERS.
Among the various kinds of breech-loading shot-guns which have been described, that of Lefaucheaux is, in my opinion, on the whole, the best. Mr. Needham's gun has no doubt many advantages, but I see none sufficient to counterbalance the objection that it cannot be so readily cocked and uncocked as the French gun. It is quite true that when a person has become accustomed to its use, the bolt may readily be used, and for any one beginning to shoot, it will be just as easy to acquire its use as that of the ordinary hammer. But when a habit is acquired, it is not so easily broken through, and a sportsman who has long shot with the old percussion gun will much more readily take to that of Lefaucheaux than to Mr. Needham's. This, however, is quite a matter for individual fancy, and in other respects I believe the two principles to be pretty equally balanced. Mr. Needham has the advantage in weight, his gun of No. 13 bore being only 6lbs. 10oz., while its rival is never less than 71b. As now made, the joint or bolt of the French gun very rarely gives way with any ordinary amount of wear, and it is probable that it will last as long as the bolt of Mr. Needham's plug-lock. In the gun of the latter there is no cartridge to extract, and one barrel may be discharged when the other is opened without danger, which at times is a considerable advantage. If, therefore, the lock is kept oiled and thereby preserved from the effects of the gas escaping by the side of the needle, we see no reason why Mr. Needham's gun should be passed by. At the same time we repeat that it requires care in its use, and especially in the management of the lock. The needle also may be broken by gross carelessness, but without this it is safe enough. Bastin's patent, I am afraid, will be liable to get out of order from the slide becoming rusty. Otherwise it is a most ingenious invention. Mr. Lancaster's gun is exceedingly clever, and will no doubt be patronized by those who can afford to give long prices. The means for delivering the cartridge is one of the most beautiful contrivances I have ever seen, but to obtain this, there is a complicated slide connected with the bolt which is very apt to be deranged by a careless sportsman. In the
shooting of his gun there ought to be no difference from that of Lefaucheaux, and it must stand or fall by the merits of its breech and cartridge. Those who use it must do so with the full knowledge that they cannot renew their stock of cartridges without resorting to Mr. Lancaster, whereas the French cases may now be obtained in all our principal towns. Lastly, the needle gun of Count Chateauvillier has several objections to which I have alluded, and which will always militate against its general adoption.
In addition to those guns which I have minutely described, there is one put forth by Messrs. Terry and Calisher, on the same principle as their rifle, to be hereafter described. The fact, however, that it requires the strong rifle percussion cap to perforate its cartridge is quite sufficient to condemn it. Moreover, its performance at the target is very inferior, and I have not thought it worth any further notice.
THE LOADING OF CARTRIDGE-CASES.
The various cartridge-cases are loaded according to the particular plan adopted with each, and it is therefore necessary to allude to them seriatim, beginning with
The ordinary French cartridge for Lefaucheaux's gun, which requires only the powder and shot to be put into it and wads exactly similar to those used with muzzleloaders. These are rammed down precisely as described for the old-fashioned gun at page 244, but with a short tool of the same diameter as the case, made expressly for the purpose. When this is done, it is usual to turn over the case with a stamp, so as to prevent the wad from becoming loose in the pocket. Most people cut their cases to the length which will just hold the charge and allow for turning over, but my own decided opinion is that the proper mode is to have them cut so as to be of exactly the length of the chamber of the gun, within an eighth of an inch. That is to say, there should be a small interval between the edge of the case and the commencement of the shoulder of the chamber. Then use such a thickness of wad between the powder and shot as shall bring the latter up to the proper level, and all difficulty is avoided. When thus loaded, the turn-over tool, which in
its most simple form is merely a stamp with a circular groove in it, is placed upon the top of the case, and twisted two or three times backwards and forwards, which causes the edge of the case to be rounded off, and the wad securely fixed. Some people take the still further precaution of gumming the edge of the wad, but this is quite unnecessary if the case is properly turned over. Others again use a little lid of thin pasteboard, which is put into the end of the case, and by a slight tap pushed down over the wad, when the whole is complete without turning over. Messrs. Trulock and Harris, of Dublin, have invented a little machine which does away with all the objections that can be urged, for it confines the wad in its place, whatever may be the charge and length of case. All that is necessary is to have the cases cut to the proper length of the chamber, then load in the usual way, and inserting the cartridge into a circular slit (fig. 61 ab),
in which is a plug c, push it down till the wad touches the plug, when pressing the lever d against the cartridge, this
is turned round until a dent is made in it above the wad, as shown at ee. By this plan, the shot has no interval to pass over between the end of the case and the shoulder of the chamber, this space being filled up by the cartridge-case. No plan I have yet seen is so good as this, in my opinion, and I find that in practice it acts remarkably well. Mr. Blanch, of Gracechurch-street, has also registered an ingenious little machine for turning over these cases, but I confess that I see no advantage in it over the hand-tool, and the choice, in my opinion, lies between the latter and that of Messrs. Trulock and Harris, above described.
In a large proportion of cases cartridges are spoilt by the first discharge, but if they are made very well, they sometimes serve again, requiring only re-capping. Several ingenious contrivances are sold with this object in view, and Messrs. Trulock and Harris have also invented a very ingenious little machine for effecting this operation, which though extremely simple, is difficult to describe; and it will be far better for those who require its assistance to obtain one from the inventors or from their agents, Messrs. Eley, of London.
A small instrument called an extractor is sold for the purpose of removing those cartridges wbich do not readily come out of the chamber. It has a hole at one end for the pin, and a sharp hook at the other for the inside of the cartridge, if the pin should leave the case behind. No one should use a Lefaucheaux or Bastin gun without this assistant about him.
Mr. Needham's cartridge is loaded in the usual way with powder over which a felt wad is placed, then the shot, and finally, instead of a shot-wad, the mouth of the case is tied with twine. Each cartridge as it explodes leaves a wad behind it, which is pushed forward and lies in front of the next cartridge used, serving to keep the shot in their place. See p. 274.
p Bastin's cartridge is loaded as for the Lefaucheaux gun in all particulars.
Mr. Lancaster's is also to be managed in the same way, but he uses a block of wood in which a cylindrical chamber is cut to receive the cartridge while the turn-over tool is being used. This is done also in Blanch's and one or two other