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SHARPE'S AMERICAN RIFLE.
About five years ago some thousands of these rifles were ordered for the use of our cavalry, having been examined indoors by the authorities of the day, and considered to be extremely likely to be useful. But in real service it was found that the recoil was so enormous, and that the self-priming principle was so little to be relied on that they are now entirely given up. The principle consists in the adaptation between the open breech and the false breech of a strong plug of iron, which is lowered by a powerful lever. This, after introducing the cartridge, is raised by the same means, and not only closes the breech but cuts off the end of the thin cartridge paper. The priming is effected by a very ingenious action, which throws a little disk of copper between the nipple and hammer during the descent of the latter and after pulling the trigger. This plan acts very well when free from the action of the wind, but if it is at all submitted to this agent, the disk is blown away and the consequence is a miss-fire. Independently of this defect, however, the amount of recoil, and the noise in the ears caused by the escape are so great as to ensure its rejection by the sportsman.
REVOLVING RIFLES AND PISTOLS.
A very old invention, specimens of which have been stored in several collections of implements of war, was, some years ago, revived and remodelled by Colonel Colt in America, and has now become universal in the form of “the revolver.” The patent granted to Colonel Colt covers only the exact mechanism by which the principle is applied by him, and numerous rivals have since appeared in this country, among whom may be mentioned— Tranter, Adams, Harding, Daw, and some others of lesser note. There is very little difference among these, all using a single barrel, with a block of iron revolving behind this, bored with five or six chambers, each of which is successively brought in a continuous line with it. There is also only one lock, but there is a nipple corresponding with each chamber; and thus, as the chambers revolve, they are inserted between the hammer behind and the open barrel in
DEAN'S REVOLVING RIFLE.
front. The half-cocking of the hammer causes the chambers to revolve to such an extent as to place the next chamber in the right place, and there it remains till the hammer is let down and brought up again to halfcock. Some of the plans are carried out so that there must be a cocking with the thumb in every case; others, again, are made to revolve, cocked, and discharged by the action of the finger on the trigger; while a third set may be used in either way at discretion. It is manifest that where great rapidity is required, as in the defence of one man against several, a larger number of shots may be fired in a given time by the second mode than where the thumb has to be used to raise the hammer, but from the stress upon the finger the aim is not so good; and if a revolver is used for sporting purposes it should not, therefore, be made on this plan.
The objections to the revolver as a sporting rifle are, that the recoil and escape are both extremely annoying to the shooter, while the accuracy of aim is not at all to be compared with a muzzle-loader, or with the best kinds of breech-loaders. The cause of this inferiority is to be looked for partly in the great escape which takes place, and which weakens the force of the explosion before the ball reaches the muzzle, and partly in the imperfect adaptation to the barrel of each chamber in succession. The revolving Pistol performs much better in proportion to its length than the Rifle, because in it the force of the explosion lasts long enough (in spite of the escape) to carry the ball to the muzzle. A great objection to the revolver for sporting purposes is also to be found in the necessity for a small bore, a large one being forbidden from a fear of the breech giving way. Fig. 90, shows the chambers and action of Mr. Dean's lock, as used in his revolver, but the rifling of Colts is far superior to any which I have seen, and their performance at the target is I believe proportionately good.
LOCK, CYLINDER, AND TRIGGER OF DEAN'S REVOLVER. (HALF SIZE.)
Of the various principles upon which revolving rifles and pistols are made, I believe there is none equal to the DeanHarding, lately brought out by Mr. Dean, of King Williamstreet, City.
THE ACCESSORIES OF THE RIFLE.
BULLET MOULDS-CASTING BULLETS-SWEDGING MACHINE-PATCHES
CARTRIDGES -- RAMRODS - PLAIN AND TELESCOPE SIGHTS — RIFLE POWDER-FLASK-RESTS.
Bullet moulds are all constructed of steel or brass, in two portions, which open like a pair of pincers, and sometimes with a third, called a “plunger,” which leaves the hollow at the base. The Government bullets are made by compression, but the expense of the machine puts it out of the power of private individuals. Beyond the elementary principle of casting the bullet in this hinged mould, there are several variations—as, for instance, in the position of the “run hole," through which the lead is poured. This may be, 1st, at the point of the bullet; 2nd, in the hollow at the base; 3rd, on the side; 4th, on the edge of the hollow. Again, the form of the cutter varies-being in the old spherical bullet mould placed in the handles, and requiring a second operation; while in many modern moulds it cuts off the neck as the mould is opened. The following remarks by "A Welshman," who is a high practical authority on this subject, are extracted from the Field.
“ It is well known that bullets made by compression, like the service ones, are superior to any that can be produced by casting, on account of their being more uniform in size and weight, smoother on the surface, and free from internal airholes ; but bullets thus made are not at present to be obtained by volunteers (unless the Government should permit them to purchase from their stores); and they must therefore content themselves with such as they can get, or cast for themselves. An uniform bore and size of bullet being universally adopted, it will become a question whether it would not pay some one, as a speculation, to procure self-acting niachines, similar to those at work in Woolwich Arsenal, the invention of Mr. Anderson, chief engineer there, and with them supply the demand which will be general throughout the country, so soon as the volunteer corps have obtained their arms.
However, this is not as yet done, and existing circumstances alone are those that have to be dealt with.
“So long as the spherical form of bullet was used, the moulds for casting them were very simple, the cheeks being made to open, and the run-hole being placed at their join. Solid bullets of any form were equally easy to run, the hole being usually placed at the centre of their base. The moulds used for running solid conical or conoidal bullets, the bases of which were not rounded, were sometimes made solid; but it is difficult to cast a good bullet in a solid mould, on account of there being no escape for the air. When, however, the Minié and other hollow-based bullets were introduced, the moulds became of necessity much more complicated, the addition of a "plunger" to form the hollow in the bullet becoming indispensable.
“ In the moulds first introduced for making the Minié bullet, the metal plunger, which was detached, was usually fitted on to a wooden handle, and placed in the moulds at the open
end or base; and whilst the bullet was being run the handle rested on a board, or table to keep the plunger in its place. It was then withdrawn, and the bullet dropped out of the mould by opening the cheeks. The lead was run from the point, and the neck removed when the bullet was cool, by means of a burr-cutter.
“Several improvements were made on these moulds, one of which united the burr-cutter to the mould, in the form of a traversing steel plate, attached to its upper surface by a pin, and in which a hole was counter-sunk, directly above the apex
of the bullet, and the lead run through it. When the mould was full, this plate was struck and made to traverse, and removed the neck from the bullet, before it left the mould. Another improvement was a mode of attaching the plunger to the lower surface of the mould, in such a manner that it formed part of the latter, and was always adjusted in its place by the same movement that opened and closed the cheeks of the mould. By these modifications the hollow-base bullet is as easily cut as the solid