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agent, and at the same time to prevent windage by filling up the space
between the ball and the barrel. They are made of a circular form for spherical and short conical balls, and are placed over the mouth of the barrel with the greased side downwards, the ball being pushed down upon them. The common circular patches are not suitable to any bullet having much cylinder to it, as, if the patch is thick enough to give a good fit at the base of the bullet, the gathers formed by the edges round the shoulder render it
very hard, if not impossible, to ram it down; and if allowance for this is made in the thickness of the material, or in windage, the base does not then fit close. For this reason circular patches are only applicable to round or conoidal projectiles. They may, however, be used by altering their form from that of a circle to that of a cross, the centre part of which is exactly the size of the base of the bullet. The readiest mode of getting at this shape is to cut the patches circular first; then lay on them a steel or tin pattern of the cross required, and cut out the angles with a sharp-pointed knife, or a stamp may be made to cut them out at one blow. However used, patches are troublesome, and render the loading slow, being difficult to separate and dirty to handle. Hence many good shots (among whom may be included Mr. Purdey and that high authority Mr. Boucher) dispense with patches altogether, and merely dip the base of the bullet in a composition of beeswax and tallow, as described at page 323, in an extract from one of Mr. Boucher's letters.
A correspondent of the Field (“F. J. J.,” of Derby) has suggested a simple contrivance for keeping patches on the ball ready for use, whereby the act of loading in the field is considerably accelerated. He says: “The inconvenience is. known to all rifle shooters of handling the patches and balls separately in the field, picking the former with difficulty out of the box, and adjusting them with the ball at the mouth of the rifle. To obviate this, I have had made a number of tin cylinders, the length of the ball or bullet (I use the Enfield), and just admitting the patch and bullet.' One end, of the cylinder is slightly trumpet-mouthed to ease the fitting in of the patch and bullet. Its appearance is as in:
fig. 92 a. Preparing for the field Tig92
at home, I load as many of the cylinders as may be desired, by placing the patches on the trumpet-mouth (using cruciforin patches), and then
pushing them down with the bullet PATCH
into the cylinders. The bullets are
pushed down till the flat end comes PATCH CYLINDER (SLIGHTLY within one-eighth of an inch of the REDUCED).
other end of the cylinder, leaving, therefore, one-eighth of an inch of the dome-shaped end of the bullet protruding above the trumpet-mouth; this prevents the patch from being chafed out of place in the pocket, bag, or cartouche pouch. The appearance of the loaded cylinders is shown in section fig. 92 d. Loading is done thus:Placing the cylinder on the mouth of the rifle, press down the dome end of the bullet, just entering the flat end into the barrel, and pluck off the cylinder, and return it empty into the pocket. A slight tap of the hand forces down the bullet and patch into the barrel, and the ramrod is then applied. I find this plan to answer perfectly.
“ F. J. J. (Derby).”
CARTRIDGES. Cartridges for rifle balls are made in various ways, as noticed under the head of each particular kind of rifle. Most sportsmen, in using the muzzle-loader, prefer to load from a powder-flask; but even then it is well to carry the bullet prepared either with a patch in a tin tube, as described by “F. J. J.," or enclosed in paper according to the following directions, which are those of a “ Welshman,” whose great experience has already been alluded to:
"It is not probable that, for ordinary practice, volunteers will go to the trouble of making up regular cartridges, but will generally prefer to load from a flask, and carry the bullets separate in a pouch. A good mode of preparing the bullet to be used in this way is to roll it in paper in the following manner:
“ The paper is first cut into trapezium-shaped pieces, the depth of each piece exceeding the length of the cylinder on
the bullet by about half an inch, or rather less. The length of the long side should be just sufficient to fold twice round the bullet at its base, with half an inch to spare, and the angle which the inclined side makes with the long side about forty-five degrees. Supposing such a piece of paper to be lying before the person making up the bullet, with its square end towards him and its long side to his right, the bullet would be laid on the end nearest to him, with its point to the left and its shoulder exactly over the left edge, and rolled from him in the paper till the latter formed a closefitting tube round its cylindrical part, and projecting about half an inch beyond its base. This hollow part is then
choked' with a piece of strong string or catgut, till a neck is formed sitting close against the base of the bullet, when it is secured by two half-hitches and a thumb-hitch of thread or fine twine, and any edges of paper that are left trimmed off with a pair of scissors, so as not to project beyond the sides of the bullet. It is then dipped in grease, and ready for use. The bullet, thus prepared, is precisely as though it had been removed from a Government cartridge by cutting away the part above the shoulder of the projectile.
“ Unless it is likely to be carried far in a pouch, the trouble of tying the neck may be avoided by merely twisting it after choking,' and pressing the end into the hollow base of the bullet with a round-headed former. It is rather difficult to obtain a paper of uniform texture—thin, and yet sufficiently tough to bear the choking' without tearing
“The bullet thus prepared would, like the naked bullet, be used with a powder-flask. One of a pattern made by Messrs. Dixon, of Sheffield, in which the charger is detached from the body of the flask, is the best, because it gives the charge of powder more regularly than the ordinary pattern, and the safest, because, if the charge of powder should ignite in passing down the barrel, as in loading rifles does occasionally (but very rarely) happen, the explosion cannot ignite the remainder of the powder contained in the flask, and thus cause a serious accident.
RAMRODS. Breech-loaders, as a matter of course, do not require a ramrod, but every kind of muzzle-loader must have one. In order to avoid bruising the point of the bullet in ramming it down, the head of the ramrod should be made hollow, and this should fit the bullet exactly, for if it is too shallow it will bruise the point of the ball, and if too deep the edge will cut some part of the cone, and thereby impede the flight. The rod itself should be either of metal or of very strong wood. An excellent plan is to make it of iron, and hollow, so that, however foul the barrel may be, the powder may be poured down through the ramrod, the head of which, while it fits the conical point of the ball, acts as a trumpet mouth for the powder. When thus made hollow, the metal ramrod is searcely heavier than when made of wood.
PLAIN AND TELESCOPE SIGHTS.
Every rifle is, or ought to be, carefully sighted, and this can only be done after repeated trials. It is necessary to fix two sights: one near the muzzle, which does not rise or fall, and which may be either a simple pointed wedge, or what is called the "bead sight," but both should be arranged so that they may be moved towards either side by a slight blow. By this plan, any inclination of the trajectory to either side is allowed for, this front sight being moved in the same direction. The back sight is a more complicated affair, inasmuch as it must vary with the distance, for however well it acts at 100 yards, it will be useless at 200, and so on. Hence it is usual either to have a succession of flaps which turn down over each other, or to have one small frame to turn up and fall down on the barrel, and on this is a slide containing the sight, so fixed that it can be raised to the several elevations necessary for all the distances within the compass of the frame. A V-shaped sight is that best suited to sporting purposes, and the succession of flaps as shown in the two-grooved rifle at page 316 the most convenient for rapidly changing them according to the distance required. It takes some little time
and care to raise a slide exactly to the required height, but a flap is lifted in half a second.
The telescope sight is much used in America and Switzerland, but in this country it is not considered of any service in deer-stalking, a shot being seldom taken at more than 300 yards. It consists of a small tube fixed along the upper surface of the barrel in such a manner that it may be raised or depressed according to the distance, and containing lenses similar in construction to those of an ordinary telescope. For target practice, especially with short-sighted people, the plan is greatly to be recommended.
RIFLE-POWDER AND POWDER-FLASK.
The powder suited for shot-guns is not so well adapted for rifles, which require a kind that shall leave as little residuum as possible, and which will not burn too quickly. Hence rifle-powder can hardly be too coarse, provided it will pass into the base of the nipple, and as the caps for rifles are stronger than for the shot-gun, there is no necessity for its entering the nipple-tube itself. Curtis and Harvey have the reputation of making the best rifle-powder, their No. 6 being that generally adopted. The powder of the Kames Company in Scotland is also extremely free from residuum, and between it and the above there is little choice.
Powder-flasks for rifle shooting should be made with the charger of small diameter, especially if the tubular ramrod is adopted. The object of the small size is to admit of its passing into the muzzle, by which some little adhesion of the powder to its sides is prevented. In other respects there is no difference from the usual form. (See also p. 355.)
For target practice a wooden rest is generally adopted, but this is quite useless for sporting purposes. In deer-stalking, also, there are almost always rocks or similar projections, which serve as rests, but in shooting over a plain, there is sometimes nothing of the kind, and then a rest such as that introduced by Captain Conolly will be found of great service.