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THE MUZZLE-LOADING SPORTING RIFLE.
GENERAL REMARKS-PURDEY's TWO-GROOVED RIFLE—THE SINGLE AND
DOUBLE BELTED BALL THE ENFIELD RIFLE AND PRITCHETT BALLLANCASTER'S OVAL SPIRAL-GENERAL JACOB'S FOUR-GROOVED RIFLETHE FOUR AND FIVE-SIDED BORE, WITH ROUNDED ANGLES OF MAJOR NUTHALL AND MR. BOUCHER—WHITWorth's HEXAGONAL RIFLEPOLY-GROOVED BORES -VARIETIES OF BALLS-SINGLE AND DOUBLE RIFLES.
BEFORE proceeding to discuss the merits of the various kinds of rifle, it will be well to examive each in detail, selecting those which can be at all useful to the sportsman; but in doing this it will be necessary to consider with them the balls which they respectively carry. I have already, in the previous chapter, described the principle upon which all rifle barrels are constructed; but it now remains to consider the questions depending upon the best number of grooves, the proper amount of twist, and the shape of the ball which shall be used with each; all of which subjects have been partially explained in the first chapter, but the bearing of one on the other has not been sufficiently taken into consideration. Thus, it is well known that a very long ball requires a greater twist in the barrel to prevent its upsetting, which again necessitates a larger charge of powder. On the other hand, a short ball will fly correctly without so much twist, and with less powder, the friction in its case being proportionately lessened. I shall therefore pass in review the various balls and grooves in common use with the muzzleloader, leaving the description of those applicable to each breech-loader to the division appointed to them.
MR. PURDEY'S TWO-GROOVED RIFLE. Foremost in simplicity and in established fame stand Mr. Purdey's rifles, to possess one of which has been the object of most deerstalkers and rifle shots for many years.
Fig. 68. DOUBLE-BARRELLED PURDEY RIFLE.
annexed engrasing represents an exact imitation of a rifle belong ing to a very celebrated deerstalker, made by Mr. G. Smith, of 40, Davies - st., Berkeley-square who was many years with Pur dey, in the rifle department, and who, I fully believe, will build as good a rifle at fifty-five guineas as can be procured at his late master's for ninety guineas. The original of the sketch was shot at the gun and rifle trial in
1859, and performed the best at 100 yards; but from a mistake in the charge of the first four shots, all of which missed the target, “she” was beaten at 200 yards. These rifles are all made with two grooves, the balls being of a sugar-loafed form, and cast with two wings to fit the grooves. Fig. 68 gives a full-length view of the left barrel and lock, and shows also the usual cheek piece. Fig. 69 is a somewhat larger sketch of the right lock, lower end of the barrel, and sight-flaps, all laid down.
Fig. 70 a a represents a section of the two barrels, of the exact size adopted, the bore being forty, and the grooves being wide and
shallow; they are accurately fitted by the wings on the ball b. On the wing itself there is a very slight shoulder c, three-eighths of an inch from the base, and this giving way beneath the ramrod ensures an exact fitting of the ball to the groove, so as to avoid windage altogether. The turn is one in six feet, and for sporting purposes at sporting ranges — that is, at anything not exceed- SECTION OF PURVEY RIFLE, AND ing 300 yards—this variety is, in my opinion, one of the best, as it gives a sufficient spin without any unnecessary friction, and very little elevation of the sights is required. The weight of the whole rifle is 8.4lbs.; length of barrels, 32in.; bore 40. Weight of ball,
of an ounce; charge of powder, 2 }drs.
VIEW OF BORE.
THE ORDINARY TWO-GROOVED RIFLE. Next in simplicity, but far infe
Fig71 rior in efficiency, is the two-groovell rifle, intended for the old spherical ball, with a single belt fig. 71 a, or with a cross belt, as in fig. 71 b; but these are now almost entirely given up in favour of Purdey's ball, or of some one or other of those which I shall presently describe.
BELTED SPIIERICAL BALIS.
Thirdly comes the Enfield rifle, which has three grooves, cut slightly deeper at the breech than at the muzzle, and making one turn in 6ft. 6in. The barrel being 3ft. 3in., it follows that only half a turn is made in that length. The bore has a diameter of 577; charge of powder, 2drs.; and weight of bullet, 520 grains; the shape being cylindroconical, with a boxwood cup inserted at the base, bnt many are now used with a mere hollow cup in that part, and known as the Pritchett ball. The Enfield rifle is well adapted for sporting purposes, but requires considerable care in adapting the bullet, as it often happens that considerable force is required in ramming it home when the interior is allowed to become choked with powder.
THE OVAL SPIRAL, CLAIMED BY LANCASTER Fourthly may be mentioned, the smooth oval spiral bore, adopted by Lancaster, but which appears clearly to be a reproduction of a plan published by Capt. Beaufoy in 1808, his book “Scloppetaria” containing not only an allusion to the plan, but also describing the mechanical details necessary for carrying it out. The following extract from p. 87 will satisfy any candid mind of the truth of this assertion: “ But while we are thus enlarging on rifles with grooves, let us not pass over a very old invention, though quite obsolete in our time, which is the method of making a plain barrelled gun possess the advantages of a rifle, and yet not be liable to detection unless more minutely examined than cominon inspection usually leads us to expect. Having selected a barrel, of rather thicker metal than those usually made, let it be placed in the rifling bed, only in lieu of having a saw, substitute an elliptical file at the end of the rod. The file instead of being solid should be divided down the middle longitudinally, and attach the pieces one on each side of the rod, &c., &c., &c. These barrels are loaded in the usual way, excepting that the ball used should be sufficiently large to fill up the whole of the indentation; and it is said that such as are accustomed to these pieces will far outstrip anything that can be done with the common smooth-surfaced cylindrical barrel. It would be an improvement, though, instead of using a spherical ball with these pieces, if it were rather of an oblong shape.” It is therefore clear, that whatever credit is due to this plan belongs to Captain Beaufoy, not as the inventor
for he does not claim it as his own—but as the first to lay it before the public. Great promises have been held out by the advocates of this mode of rifling; but in practice I have seen so many balls go whistling away in some unforeseen direction, that though at other times I have known good practice made, I could never place any confidence in the principle. It is also applied to the breech-loader, and will again be alluded to under that head.
GENERAL JACOB'S FOUR-GROOVED RIFLE. Fifthly, we have General Jacob's ball, which resembles Purdey's in its wings, but has four instead of two of them. The twist is four-tifths of a turn in twenty-four inches, or more than double that of Purdey; so that, though an increased range is obtained with it, the charge of powder must be greater in proportion, and the recoil is by no means pleasant. The
gange is 32. This rifle does not seem to have any advantage at sporting ranges; but for military purposes it has been strongly recommended, especially in reference to the explosive shells which are used with it.
In 1856, a report upon General Jacob's rifle was made to the Indian Government, which states, “that at ranges from 300 to 1200 yards the flight of the shell (used with this rifle) was always point foremost, and the elevation at the extreme range inconsiderable. The shells which struck the butt invariably burst with full effect; and practice was made by the many officers who attended, at distances which could not have been attained with any other missile.” The shells alluded to in the report require a short stout barrel, and cannot be used with a long thin one, like the Enfield. For killing large animals, like the elephant or rhinoceros, they are peculiarly qualified; and I should strongly recommend elephant hunters to examine into the merits of this rifle, as made by Mr. Daw, of Threadneedle-street, London, who received his instructions from the late General Jacob.
MAJOR NUTHALL'S AND MR. BOUCHER's. Under the sixth division may be mentioned two rifles very similar in their principle, but one having four sides, with