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base of the ball at b. This kind of rifle is also used by Mr. Whitworth with the ordinary Pritchett ball.
Lastly, we must include all the polygrooved plans which have been tried from time to time, and which have varied from seven to such a number as to be almost beyond enumeration, and looking as fine as horsehair to the eye. These are, however, rarely used in the present day, Mr. Westley Richards' new rifle being an exception to the general rule. See figs. 86 and 87.
VARIETIES OF BALLS.
But besides these varieties in the rifling, there are also several different kinds of ball applicable to most of them. Originally all bullets were spherical, next to which came the sphere with a band, and afterwards two bands upon it. It then became egg-shaped, after Robins's suggestions, in order to obtain the centre of gravity well forward. Then came the variously-shaped cannelures or indentations round the base of the ball, which were first introduced with the object of retarding the flight of the hindmost part; but this being better attained by accelerating the speed of the foremost end, they were abandoned for that purpose, and are only now used as receptacles for grease. In 1836, Mr. Greener invented a ball and plug, which he then described as follows:—“ An oval ball, with a flat end and a perforation extending nearly through it, is cast, a taper
Fig76. plug with a head like a round-topped button is also cast, of a composition of lead, tin, and zinc, as shown in fig. 76 a and b. The end of the plug being slightly inserted into the perfora
GREENER'S BULLLT. tion, the ball is put into the rifle or musket with either end foremost. When the explosion takes place, the plug is driven home into the
lead, expanding the outer surface, and thus either filling the grooves of the rifle, or destroying the windage of the musket, as the case may be. The result of this experiment was beyond my calculation; and for musketry, where the stupid regulations of the service require three sizes of ball difference for windage, it is most excellent, as remedying this considerable drawback upon the usefulness of the arm—as the facility of loading is as great, if not greater, than by the present. regards its application to rifles, there can be no question of its advantage if there exists any requirement for the ball to be acted upon by the grooves at all, which I do not think is advantageous-in fact, there exists no question." This ball was rejected by the then existing Government as “a compound,” and lay dormant until Captain Minié invented a plan of expanding a ball on somewhat the same principle by means of a metal cup, which is sunk into a chamber twice as deep,
but so arranged that the cup Fig77.
does not project from the base of the bullet. (See fig. 77 a and b.) The former is the French bullet, having three cannelures, the latter being the English pattern without them. For a time this invention was thought to be of great value, and, being adopted in the English service, Mr. Greener laid
claim to a compensation, and obtained it to the extent of 10001., although it is quite clear that his bullet in its original form, as tried by the Government officer, differed in many essentials from the pattern afterwards adopted, and particularly in not having the centre of gravity always in front, because he expressly says that it might be fired either end forward; and, moreover, the plug being only slightly inserted in the socket, it was liable to be driven home by the ramrod in forcing the bullet down the barrel as soon as this had become foul. Hence, although it certainly contained the germ of the invention to a still greater degree than Captain Norton's hollow shell previously invented, it was in a perfectly useless state when discarded by the Government; and, moreover, it was
CREXULATED AND PLAIN CYLINDRO-COXOIDAL BALLS.
expressly declared by Mr. Greener in 1841 that he did not think the expansion into the grooves was advantageous to the rifle, in the paragraph inserted above, in which the italics are my own. Lancaster and Wilkinson then tried the cannelured bullets, in slightly varying forms, and made good shooting, increasing at the same time the sharpness of the spiral and the
Fig78. charge of powder to counteract the retardation caused by them in the flight of the ball. Then came Pritchett with his conical balls (fig. 78 a and b), having a depression in the base, which, allowing the powder to expand it, rifles the surface in contact with the spirals.
Lastly, we have the Whitworth ball, which has been already described as hexagonal, and slightly twisted on itself to fit the rapid spiral used with it. (See fig. 75.)
SINGLE AND DOUBLE BARRELS. Such are the variations in principle of the muzzle-loading rifle and the bullets used with it, but there are also some practical modifications of the former which require to be considered. In the first place, there is the choice to be made between the double and single barrel, and if the latter is adopted, it may be a solid bar of steel bored, or of twisted iron, like the shot-gun described in the last Book. The doublebarrelled rifle is never made out of solid steel, on account of the weight and bulk which would attach to so large a mass of metal. In any case, however, the metal must be hard, and steel in some form is almost always adopted. It is obvious that where two barrels are put together, both cannot be directed with the same sight at the same spot and at all distances, for though it may be possible so to arrange two barrels that at any given distance they shall both throw a ball into the centre of the bull's-eye, yet at any other the two balls will be wide of it. Still, General Jacob was of opinion that for all distances his double rifle was superior to his single barrel; but I have never met with any one who took the same view. Whether with one barrel or two, any of the bullets described above may be used, and any bore and method of rifling may be adopted.
Mr. Vock some years ago invented a new mode of adapting the hammers of single rifles so as to keep them out of the line of sight. This is effected by making them in the form and in the situation of the trigger-guard, the nipple being beneath the barrel. The plan, however, never became general.
BREECH-LOADING RIFLES AND REVOLVERS APPLICABLE
TO SPORTING PURPOSES.
GENERAL REMARKS-PRINCE'S RIFLE—TERRY AND CALISHER'S—RESTELL'S -LEITCH'S -- WESTLEY RICHARDS'—THE LANCASTER-NEEDHAM'S
GILBERT SMITH's (AMERICAN) – SHARPE's-REVOLVING RIFLES AND PISTOLS.
The same advantages which attend upon the breech-loading shot-gun may also be claimed by the corresponding method, when adopted for the rifle—that is to say, the breech-loader is more quickly loaded, more safe, and more easily cleaned. There is, however, in some plans a considerable escape at the breech, which will condemn them for sporting purposes, while others have such an amount of recoil as to make them most unpleasant to the shooter. I shall therefore omit those which are guilty of these faults altogether.
In correctness of shooting at sporting ranges I am quite satisfied that the breech-loader will compete with the muzzleloader, or if there is any advantage in favour of the latter, it is so trifling as to be practically of no value. If it is desired to hit a turkey's head at 100 or 200 yards, it is quite possible that the old tool is the best, but if at either of those distances the sportsman is satisfied with putting his balls into a three or four-inch bull's-eye, the new one is capable of doing it, and has done it in my presence on several occasions. The following are all the varieties which are at all likely to be useful to the sportsman.
PRINCE'S RIFLE. Of all the various breech-loaders, where one barrel only is required, this is, in my judgment, the best, for after admitting the charge at the breech, the barrel is screwed on again almost as firmly as in the patent breech, the only difference being that there is one thread instead of five or six. In practice this one thread is all-sufficient, and it is found that when well made and case-hardened no ordinary amount of wear and tear will produce the slightest effect upon the metal. But as the principle is incapable of application to a doublebarrelled rifle, there is some objection to it for the purposes to which I am now alluding, and the weapon must be taken subject to this fault.
80 at a.
The principle may readily be understood by the explanation, that in the case of this rifle the breech and barrel are screwed together by means of a single coarse thread in the latter, and two studs fixed upon the cone, as shown in fig.
But instead of screwing the breech into the barrel, as is done in the usual way, the latter is moveable, and slides forward after it is unscrewed by the lever b working in the slot c d. In doing this the barrel, though allowed to make a quarter revolution, and afterwards to slide forward, is still securely fixed to the stock by the clip fig. 79 e in front, and by the shoulder of the lever behind, while
after re-screwing it to the breech it is just as secure, and as incapable of being injured by any force which can be applied as the strongest muzzle-loader. The lock, hammer, and nipple are all like those