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to the sportsman. It is extremely simple in its action, and can be loaded with the utmost ease ; but it is open to the objection of escape at the breech, and on that account is rather to be avoided by the sportsman, excepting for special purposes such as buffalo hunting, where easy loading on horseback is a great object. With regard to any credit which may accrue to the inventor, his rifle appears to me to be clearly a modification of Restell's (see fig. 84), and of the Comte de Chateauvillier's gun (see figs. 58 and 59).
This rifle is constructed as follows: Fig. 86 represents the rifle with the breech open, ready for loading; all that is necessary for this purpose being to raise the lever a b, when the chamber f is exposed, and after pushing the cartridge forward through this into the barrel, the lever is depressed, the sliding plug d is driven forward by the shoulder e striking against f, and the breech is closed. When this is done, the parts occupy the position shown in fig. 87. It
will be seen, that by the form of the back of the chamber at f the plug cannot easily rise by the force of the explosion, being confined down partly by a spring at b, and partly by the undercutting of the plug at f. The bore of the carbine is small, being about fifty-two, and therefore
the force of the explosion is not very great; so that I have no doubt that the method adopted is sufficient to close the breech; but though I have never seen it shot, I should have little doubt that there is a considerable escape. As to the rifling, the bore is octagonal (see fig. 86 g), but each side of the octagon is slightly convex, and hence there is no sharp angle or groove cut in the ball, but eight concave grooves are impressed on its surface. Beneath the socket for the lever is a lock bolt, which is depressed by the latter when closed, the object being to prevent the possibility of a discharge while the breech is open. This is a recent addition, made, I believe, to meet the objection offered by the “Small Arms Committee,” that the rifle might easily be exploded by a careless man with the lever only partially depressed.
The cartridge used is of the ordinary kind.
LANCASTER'S BREECH-LOADING RIFLES.
Mr. Lancaster, with his usual ingenuity, has produced two breech-loading rifles. One of these is a purely military carbine, having the cock below the barrel and in front of the trigger, so that it will be unnecessary to allude to it here. The other is a double sporting rifle, exactly similar in its breech and locks to the shot-gun described at page 276, but rifled on the oval spiral method partially alluded to among the muzzle-loaders at page 318. As, however, this kind of sporting rifle has obtained a considerable reputation, it will be necessary to describe it here more minutely. I have before remarked, that the locks and the method of opening and closing the breech are exactly as given at page 276, the cartridges also being made in the same way. The barrels are of course rifled, and this is done on the oval spiral method adopted by Mr. Lancaster in all cases. The twist is one in 32 inches, which is the length of the barrels, and the bore ·498. The variation of the bore from a perfect circle is only .01 in half an inch, being scarcely to be detected by the eye without the aid of some mechanical appliance—such as a gauge. This method of rifling has been compared to a rifle with two grooves cut very shallow, and with the angles ground down. It is alleged by the advocates of the principle that friction is greatly diminished—to such an extent, they say, as to be scarcely greater than in an ordinary smooth bore, while the opponents declare that, instead of this, it is increased, the ball being jammed in the barrel as it is converted from the circular form which it has before firing to the oral section of the barrel. My own belief is that the friction is very slight, and that when sufficient rotation is given this rifling answers remarkably well, but that in a certain proportion of shots the ball “strips" and goes nearly straight through the barrel, and not having sufficient spin is immediately upset. The bullet now adopted by Lancaster is the solid Pritchett, with the cylindrical portion covered with thin greased paper. The length of the ball is 2! diameters, and the windage one five-thousandth.
In loading the cartridge, as the ball is circular in its diameter, it may be inserted without regard to the borethat is to say, in any position. If the fit is carefully adjusted, I believe that the ball will rarely “strip;" but without extreme circumspection the accident is almost sure to arise. Each ball must be passed through a gauge called a ** swedge,” and with this precaution the rifle will be found to be extremely useful; but from the high price charged by Mr. Lancaster (60 to 80 guineas) it is not within the reach of every sportsman.
NEEDHAM'S RIFLE. This rifle is capable of being made either with two barrels or one, the original principle, with a slight alteration, being adopted throughout the Prussian army. In either case the lock, stock, and breech are exactly similar to the shot gun described at page 267. The barrel, of course, varies in being rifled, and the cartridge has a ring instead of a perfect wad to support the cap, so as not to interfere with the progress of the bullet as it lies before it. The barrels are usually 2 ft. 9 in. in length, with three-quarters of a turn in three feet; bore, 30. The rifling consists of five shallow grooves without sharp angles, and very similar to Mr. Boucher's plan, described at page 320. In smaller bores the grooves are only three or four, according to the diameter. Mr. Needham's opinion is that the nature of the grooving is not of much
importance in breech-loaders so long as the ball is made of the same size as the barrel at the bottom of the grooves. I have never seen these rifles tried, so I cannot give any opinion as to their merits; but, excepting in the perforated wad or ring before the ball, there is little to alter their shooting from that of any ordinary breech-loader.
THE LEFAUCHEAUX RIFLE.
Almost any form of rifling may be adapted to a pair of barrels constructed with Lefaucheaux's breech, but those which I have seen tried have been of the Enfield bore and grooves, made by Reilly, and they have performed well at 100 and 200 yards. The cartridge is similar in principle, but usually of smaller diameter, as there are few who would now use a rifle with a 12 or 16 bore—the former, on the usual allowance of 21 diameters, carrying a 3 oz. ball, and the latter one weighing 2, ounces. The weight of these rifles with Enfield barrels is about 9 lbs.
Cartridges to suit the Enfield bore, numbered 24, are made by the French cartridge-makers, and may be obtained of any gunmaker by special order.
As this rifle differs from Lefaucheaux's only in the mode of closing the breech, as described at page 264, it is unnecessary to allude to it further here. Although there is no hinge, and the barrels slide, I believe the joint is not so strong when the breech is closed as that of the Lefaucheaux pattern.
GILBERT SMITH'S AMERICAN RIFLE.
This new rifle has recently been brought over to this country for trial before the Small Arms Committee, and is patented both here and in France, as well as in America. It is so constructed that the joint is broken in the middle of the chamber for the cartridge, and it is hoped by the inventor that this will prevent all escape ; while by simply perforating the centre of the wad, which closes the base of the cartridge, and carrying the tube leading from the nipple down to the corresponding part in the back of the chamber, an ordi nary cap is sufficient. Fig. 88 shows a section of the chamber
with the cartridge inserted and the breech closed by the catch b, which is raised by the lever a moving the rod marked in dotted lines; d'is a strong hinge between the stock and barrel, and on pressing the lever c, the catch b is lifted from the square block e when the barrel falls, as represented in dotted lines, leaving, after the discharge, the empty cartridge-case with its base adhering slightly to the posterior half of the chamber. It is asserted by the promoters that these cases can be used a dozen times, or more, but never having seen either them or the rifle tried, I can give no opinion upon them. It appears to me that for sporting purposes it possesses no advautage over the Lefaucheaux pattern ; but for military use, the ordinary cap is a sine qua non.
The cartridge is made of a simple cylinder of indian-rubber, with a base of cardboard; and as the former material readily bends, it allows the edge of the posterior half to give way on bringing up the barrel after inserting the other moiety in the chamber.