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Title: Gunnery in 1858 - Being a Treatise on Rifles, Cannon, and Sporting Arms
Author: Greener, William
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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[Illustration: _PLATE. 1._



  GUNNERY IN 1858:




  (_The Right of Translation is reserved._)


The urgent need for practical information on the important subject of
Gunnery is evinced by the numerous patents taken out during the last few
years, most of which have fallen still-born, through deficient practical
science on the part of the inventors. My aim in producing this book has
been to point out the errors into which many ingenious inventors have
fallen, and to show how similar failures may be avoided in future, by
indicating the only right road to improvement in Gunnery,--the strict
observance of scientific principles in every old process and in all new
inventions: for it is to the ignorance or neglect of the principles of
the science that failures in Gunnery are due.

The necessity for progress in the science of Gunnery is now rendered
more than ever imperative on our Government by the prodigious energy and
activity of foreign Governments in providing armaments for land and sea
service, the efficiency of which is ensured by adopting all the newest
improvements in fire-arms. But the obstinate reluctance which all our
previous Governments have shown to enter upon the, to them unwelcome,
duty of investigating and experimenting on warlike inventions,
necessitates strong “pressure from without;” for it may be truly said
that all great improvements in Gunnery in England have been forced upon
the authorities by absolute necessity, and it is still a question
whether we shall profit by our recent experiences, or, as before, allow
war to find us unprepared. We have, doubtless, armaments of gigantic
proportions, and mammoth vessels of war, capable of discharging an
ordinary ship’s cargo of shot and shell at a broadside; yet while
millions have been thus expended, the _improvement of the Gun_, without
which they would be mere masses of wood, and targets for more skilful
opponents, has been neglected.

The GUN and its PROJECTILE will decide the victory in future fights.
Indeed, we are even now waging war with our neighbours,--not on the
battle-field or the ocean wave, but in the foundry; engineers being our
generals, and founders our admirals. The present able ruler of France is
actively at work, while we are but looking on: he is casting cannon the
like of which have never been seen, while we are spending thousands in
experimenting on cast-iron and foundries; and by the time our officials
have discovered the best cast-iron for heavy guns, the French batteries
on sea and land will be bristling with RIFLED STEEL CANNON of tremendous
range and endless endurance.

Woe betide this country if at the commencement of a war we should find
ourselves just where we are.

The Emperor Napoleon, as is well known, is well versed, theoretically
and practically, in everything relating to Gunnery. Keenly alive to the
minutest points of progress he receives, investigates, and immediately
adopts all inventions of value; having the ability to perceive, the
sagacity to appreciate, and the liberality to reward merit wherever it
is shown.

Compare his system with ours, where men are placed in official
positions, and entrusted with power, not because of their ability to
fulfil the duties of their office, but for very inferior and often
unworthy reasons; where talent and fitness are not considered, and
consequently a long routine of forms is made to serve as “a buffer” to
resist the troublesome pertinacity of inventors, who are apt to disturb
the serenity of reluctant or indifferent officials. And when at last a
trial is granted, the invention is either rejected or approved by
incompetent or prejudiced judges. While this practice prevails, England
must ever be behindhand in Gunnery; for improvements in cannon and
projectiles cannot be carried out by private enterprise.

In thus strongly expressing my opinion of the way in which progress is
balked, I am not merely echoing a cry, but speaking from my own
knowledge and experience. I am actuated by no feeling of disappointment,
for my invention of “the expansive bullet” has been at last adopted
here, after it had been copied in France. My object is to induce public
investigation and inquiry, and to ventilate this important subject; and
I trust that my antecedents, and the fulfilment of my predictions in
matters of Gunnery, will give weight to this deliberate and
disinterested expression of opinion.

The great favour shown by lovers of shooting to my former efforts to
disseminate a better understanding of the principles of Gunnery, has
been an additional stimulus to the production of the present work; and I
have taken especial care that my observations should tend to the
improvement of sporting arms, and the increased safety of the sportsman.

Nor has the ingenious mechanic been overlooked, for perfection of
gun-manufacture must ever go hand in hand with scientific principle; and
the desire to promote their combination has prompted my endeavours to
elucidate the subject.

Leaving to the reader to determine how far I have succeeded in my
efforts, I merely wish to add that I make no pretension to literary
style, but have aimed to produce a practical work for practical men. I
have drawn upon my previous works for such portions of information as
were needful to give completeness to this view of the science of
Gunnery, its present state, and probable future.


  _Aston New Town,
  September 3rd, 1858._



  Plate 1.--Laminated Steel Barrels--_To face Title_.
    „   2.--Damascus and Fancy Steel Barrels          _To face Page 228_
    „   3.--Stub Twist and Stub Damascus Barrels             „     _234_
    „   4.--Charcoal Iron and “Threepenny” Iron Barrels      „     _241_
    „   5.--“Twopenny” Iron and “Sham Damn” Iron Barrels     „     _240_


  Cannon of 1390                                     6
  Iron ship gun of 1540                             10
  Paixhan gun and traversing bed                    64
  Carronade                                         67
  New plan of casting a hollow axle                 95
  Mallet’s monster mortar                          100
  Russian 56-pounder                               114
  Eight-inch British gun                           114
  Sixty-eight pound carronade                      116
  Monck’s 56-pounder                               117
  Ten-inch or 86-pounder                           117
  Thirteen-inch sea service mortar                 119
  Thirteen-inch land service mortar                119
  Welding steel                                    155
  Wire twist and Damascus iron                     160
  Steel and iron twist                             173
  Spirals of Damascus, &c.                         187
  Spirals of charcoal and skelp                    188
  Spirals of Wednesbury and “sham damn” iron       189
  Barrel welding                                   191
  Method of plating barrels                        195
  Boring barrels                                   198
  Sections of conical breeches, double barrel      209
  London and Birmingham proof marks                251
  Mode of proving guns                             254
  Sections of nipples                              283
  Expansive plug bullet                            343
  Enfield barrel and bullet                        377
  Whitworth barrel and bullet                      377
  Swiss bullet                                     391
  Greener’s model carbine                          401
  Poly-groove rifle                                403
  Tranter’s double trigger revolver                421
  Tranter’s double action revolver                 424
  Webley’s revolver                                425
  Harpoon gun                                      432
  Shot tower                                       435




  The bow--The sling--Crossbow--Field artillery of the Normans--
  Artillery of the ancients--Range of the crossbow and longbow--The ram
  of Vespasian--Guns first employed in 1327--Guns at the battle of
  Cressy--Cannon of 1390--Skill of English archers--Defensive armour--
  Portable firearms invented in 1430--Primitive hand-gun--Iron cannon
  recovered from the _Mary Rose_, wrecked in 1545--“Chambers”--Match-
  lock and wheel-lock--Fire-lock--Damascus gun-barrels--Birmingham
  guns--Spanish pistol with magazine--Percussion lock--The revolving
  pistol not a new invention--Colt’s revolver--Breech-loading guns     1


  Origin of its invention--Roger Bacon’s recipe--Accidental discovery
  by a German monk--Gunpowder introduced by the Saracens--Its explosive
  and propellant properties--Composition of gunpowder--Nitre its
  essence--Properties of sulphur as an ingredient--Proportions and
  constituents of French gunpowder--Sulphur not always indispensable--
  Chemical principles of its composition--Component parts of different
  gunpowders--Source of its explosive force--Explosion at Gateshead--
  Variations in strength and quickness of fire--Granulation of sporting
  gunpowder and of artillery gunpowder--Importance of suitable
  granulation for different firearms--Large grain powder the more
  effectual expellant--Fine powder dangerous--Principle of granulation--
  Gun-cotton--Imperfect instrument for testing gunpowder--Charcoal--
  Operation of making gunpowder described--“Glazing” detrimental--
  Utility of granulation--Fine grain powder--Dr. Ure on the projectile
  force of gunpowder--Dr. Hutton’s calculations and experiments--Mode
  of controlling the destructive force of gunpowder--Experiments to test
  the velocity of explosive force of different granulations--The grain
  should be proportioned to the length and bore of the gun--Chlorate of
  potassa used by the French in making gunpowder--Similar powder
  proposed by Mr. Parr, and condemned by Sir William Congreve--Velocity
  in projectile force must be gradual--Curious experiment--Operation of
  blasting stone, &c., with gunpowder--English sporting gunpowder--
  Military and naval gunpowder--Fame of English gunpowder makers      18


  Definition of the term--Modern field gun--English artillery behind
  the march of science--Official obstacles to improvement--Various kinds
  of British artillery--Table of measurements, and range of iron
  ordnance--Brass guns--Their peculiar property--Firing of brass and
  iron guns compared--Range of brass ordnance--Paixhan guns--Traversing
  beds for ship guns--Ranges of Paixhan guns and howitzers--Mortars--
  Their uses and varieties--Monster mortar at siege of Antwerp--Table of
  English mortar practice--Carronades--Table of weights of guns and shot
  --Causes of Recoil--Guns of our ancestors--Metal required in rear of
  the breech--Results of Hutton’s experiments--Weight in fore-part of
  gun injurious--Firm base for a gun essential--Leaden bed for mortars
  suggested--New materials desirable for projectiles--Mr. Monk’s gun
  unequalled--Principle of its construction--Wilkinson’s opinion--Waste
  of explosive force in ordnance--The propellant force should be
  accelerative--This attainable by a proper granulation of powder--
  Government powder--Gunnery only in its infancy--Compound shot--Lead
  better than iron for cannon shot--Expenditure of shot at sieges of
  Ciudad Rodrigo and Badajos--Hutton’s experiments--The shrapnell
  shell--Improvements in gunnery--The Greenerian rifle--Dangerous
  inefficiency of English artillery--Best metal for cannon--Increased
  range destroys guns--Cause of mortars bursting--The Lancaster gun--
  English cast-iron inferior--Mallet’s monster mortar--Wrought-iron
  unsuited to large guns--Reason why--Shaft of the _Leviathan_--New
  method of welding iron shafts--Railway carriage axles--Nasmyth’s
  monster cannon--Light gun-barrels stronger than heavy ones--Brass guns
  inferior to cast-iron--Defect of hoop and stave gun--Form and
  dimensions of Mallet’s monster mortar (with engraving)--Cause of
  deterioration of English cast-iron--Russian cast-iron more durable,
  and why--Krupp’s steel gun--Laminated steel gun-barrels--Captain
  Dalgren’s improvements in American ordnance--Russian guns--Reinforce
  rings and trunnions objectionable, and why--Rifled cannon essential--
  Range of steel rifled cannon--Best form of gun--Professor Barlow on
  the strength of iron--Our artillery not constructed on scientific
  principles--Russian 56-pounder, English 8-inch gun, English carronade,
  Monck’s 56-pounder, and 10-inch gun (with cuts)--Land and sea service
  mortars (with cuts)--Joseph Manton’s rifle cannon--Projectiles for
  rifled cannon--Rifle rockets--Mr. Whitworth’s improvements in rifled
  guns--His polygonal projectile--Experiments with Mr. Armstrong’s
  field-piece--Increased range and accuracy of rifled cannon with
  elongated projectiles--Table of comparative range of smooth-bored and
  rifled cannon--Shells for rifled cannon--Spiral motion of projectiles
  from smooth-bored guns--Breech-loading cannon useless and unsafe    58


  Improvement in gun barrels depends on the iron--Continental
  manufacturers advance while English stand still--Cheap and inferior
  guns of “Park-paling”--Scarcity of horse-nail stubs--Importance of
  iron manufacture--Great value of steel in ancient times--Iron
  originally made with wood charcoal--Coal coke unfit for making best
  iron--British iron ore inferior--Mr. Mushet on steel-iron--English
  workmen employed abroad--English gun-makers’ names forged in Belgium--
  Indian Iron and Steel Company--Indian process of making steel--Hammer-
  hardening recommended--Difference of “Silver steel” and “Twist steel”
  --Method of making laminated steel--It is spoilt by over-twisting--
  Watering of Damascus barrels--Proportions of carbon in steel and iron
  --Damascus barrels often plated--Modern method of making Damascus iron
  (with cuts)--Objection to wire-twist iron--Figured barrels--Damascus
  barrels made in Belgium--Damascus iron inferior in strength--Use of
  old horse-shoe nails for gun-barrels--Stub iron alone insufficient--
  Prejudices of provincial gun-makers--Mixture of steel and stub iron--
  Importance of welding on an air furnace--Proportions of steel and stub
  iron--Efficacy of hammer-hardening and reworking iron--Improvements in
  superior iron owing to gun-makers--Explosions of steam-boilers owing
  to neglect or bad construction--Boiler iron improveable--Steel-
  Damascus barrel iron--Manufacture of “charcoal iron”--Imitation of
  “smoke brown”--Gains from using inferior iron--Frauds in barrel making
  --Advice of Edward Davies in 1619--“Threepenny skelp iron”--
  “Wednesbury skelp”--Test of a safe gun--“Sham damn skelp”--Base guns
  made to sell--Their injurious effect on the gun-making trade--“Swaff-
  iron forging.”                                                     146


  Barrel welding--Birmingham welders--Different twists of metal
  (illustrated with cuts)--Process of welding--Hammer-hardening--Belgium
  welders--Mode of plating barrels--Belgium method (with cut)--Profits
  of fraud--Qualifications of a good gun-barrel maker--Processes of
  boring and grinding--Proper inclination of double barrels--Elevation
  of barrels should be proportionate to charge and distance--Brazing of
  barrels detrimental--Mr. Wilkinson’s opinion--Solid ribs requisite--
  Advantage of the patent breech--Best shape of breech (with cut)--Gun
  locks--Their scientific construction--The Barside lock--Messrs.
  Braziers’ locks--The stock, fittings, &c.--Recipe for staining steel
  barrels--Birmingham method of browning--Belgian method--Varieties of
  iron for best barrels--Laminated steel barrels never known to burst--
  Base imitations of laminated steel--Cost of laminated steel barrels--
  Author’s method of laminating--Stub Damascus passed off for steel--
  Birmingham guns--Practice of forging names of eminent makers--Author’s
  offer--Improved metal for axles--Author’s imitation Damascus (with
  plate)--Joseph Manton’s merits--Prize medals awarded to author--
  Advantages of Birmingham for gun making--“London-made guns”--Foreign
  imitations of English guns--Periodical exhibition of guns recommended
  --Steel-twist and stub Damascus (with plate)--Barrels of charcoal
  iron--Inferior guns--Cost of skelp-iron guns--Cost of “sham damn iron”
  guns--Sham guns (with plate)--Cost of “park-paling” guns           185


  Proof-house of Gun-maker’s Company--Proof Acts of 1813 and 1815--
  Provisions of Gun Barrel Proof Act of 1855--Penal clauses--Schedule B
  --Proof marks--Scale of charges for Proof--Mode of proving (with cut)
  --Number of barrels proved in 1857                                 243


  New principle--Improved rifles--Useless inventions--Scientific
  principles of gunnery: 1. The explosive power and its velocity. 2. The
  retarding agents. 3. Construction of the tube. 4. Form of projectile--
  Robins’s theory--Hutton’s experiments--Suitable velocity the germ of
  the science--Author’s experiments and their results--Penetrating power
  of bullets--Resistance of the atmosphere--Friction detrimental--
  Construction of the tube--The Cylindro-conoidal form best suited for
  projectiles--Jacob’s and Whitworth’s bullets--Lengthened projectiles
  tend to burst the barrel--Amount of heat needful to explode gunpowder
  --Advantage of unglazed powder--Percussion powder--Best form of nipple
  (with cuts)--Propellant velocity the grand desideratum--Why short guns
  shoot better than long ones--True science of gunnery--Cause of guns
  bursting--Mr. Blaine’s difference of opinion with the author on
  explosive force--Shooting powers of different gun barrels--Tables of
  strength and pressure--Colonel Hawker’s axiom--Mr. Daniel’s remarks on
  shot--Duck and swivel guns--The wire cartridge--Bell-muzzle guns--Mr.
  Blaine on long barrels--The just medium--Belgium guns will not stand
  English proof--Cause of their inferiority--French gun-makers behind
  the age--Author’s notes on the “Specimens by French Gun-makers at the
  Paris Exhibition”--On recoil in shooting--Causes and experiments--Mode
  of determining the size of shot suited to the bore of gun--Mr.
  Prince’s double gun                                                257


  Breech-loading fire-arms unsafe and inferior--Objections specified--
  Trial of breech-loading against muzzle-loading guns--Danger from using
  breech-loaders--Excessive recoil                                   329


  Robins’s prediction verified--Barrels first rifled at Vienna in 1498--
  Earliest elongated bullets--Captain Delvigne’s bullet--The author’s
  expansive bullet--His memorial to the Board of Ordnance--Report of its
  trial by the 60th Rifles in 1836--Decision of the Board of Ordnance--
  Progress of the author’s invention--Captain Delvigne’s patent of 1842
  --Captain Minié’s bullet of 1847--Unsuccessful attempts of author to
  have his claim to the invention of the expansive bullet recognised by
  Government--Secret report of Select Committee on his invention--His
  priority admitted by the Emperor Napoleon--The British Government
  award the author 1,000_l._ for his invention--Principle of the
  expansive rifle bullet--Projectiles may be lengthened with increase of
  range--Action of the expansive bullet--Defects of the Minié bullet--
  Colonel Hay’s improvement--Author’s experiments, and their result--
  Spiral curve of the rifle barrel--Failure of the “Pritchett bullet”--
  Captain Tamissier’s theory--Minié and Greenerian bullet contrasted
  (with cuts)--Author’s improvement of 1852 (with cut)--General Jacob’s
  bullet (with cuts)--Remarks of Lieutenant Symons--The Whitworth rifle
  --Its defects--Report of trial of the Whitworth and Enfield rifles--
  Author’s comments thereon (with cuts)--Importance of safety from
  accident--The expansive bullet can be made superior to the Whitworth--
  Fallacy of experiments--Comparative cost of ammunition for the
  Whitworth and Enfield rifles--Defective cartridges--Hints to obviate
  defects--Vital principle of elongated projectiles--A hollow bullet
  proposed, its defects--The Swiss bullet--Doubtful utility of the
  deepening groove--Government rifle, with sword bayonet--Double rifles
  --Hints on rifle shooting--Author’s expanding screw bands--Mr.
  Prince’s breech-loading carbine--Revolving rifles--French school of
  rifle practice--English school of rifle shooting at Hythe--Double
  rifled carbines recommended--Revolvers costly and fragile--Lieutenant
  Kerr’s opinion of the Enfield or Greener’s carbine--Government pistol
  and carbine--Efficient arms of the Irregular Cavalry of India--First
  use of greased cartridges in India--The three-grooved and poly-grooved
  rifle (with cut)--Spherical bullets indispensable to smooth bored
  muskets--Length and bore of military rifle--Elliptical bored rifle--
  Mr. Lancaster’s bullet superseded by the Greenerian bullet--Report of
  committee on Lancaster’s rifle--The oval bore not a new invention--
  Inferiority of the two-grooved or Brunswick rifle--The Prussian needle
  gun--Enfield rifles made for France, Russia, and other states of
  Europe--Trials of Whitworth and Enfield rifles--Unsatisfactory results
  of the Whitworth rifle                                             338


  Immense demand for them--Their value--Best manufacturers--Colonel
  Colt’s repeating pistol described--Its double action discussed--
  Machine-made pistols not equal to hand-made--Dean and Adams’s revolver
  described--Its improvements on Colt’s--Tranter’s double trigger
  revolver--His lubricating bullet and other improvements--Webley’s
  revolver--Comparison of self-acting and cocking-lock pistols--
  Tendency of revolvers to foul--Lieut. Symons’s opinion--Other defects
  to be overcome--Author’s preference for double-barrelled fire-arms in
  warfare                                                            413


  The name explained, and weapon described--Its origin--Author’s share
  in its construction--American machinery for gun-making--Extent and
  products of the Enfield manufactory                                429


  CHAPTER XIII.--SHOT, CAPS, AND WADDING.               435




From the earliest ages of the world, the jealousies and bickerings of
mankind have been fruitful causes of war. Sometimes, perhaps, justified
by political reasons; at others, it may be, arising solely from a
desire, on the part of ambitious chiefs, to extend their territories by
multiplying their conquests; while, in too many cases, the struggle for
religious ascendancy has led to the most sanguinary and cruel battles.

War has been considered as a science from the most remote ages, and the
ingenuity of the talented has successively been taxed to render it as
perfect as possible. It is true--

    “Man’s earliest arms were fingers, teeth, and nails,
    And stones and fragments from the branching woods;”

but these soon gave place to others, more calculated to decide unequal,
and often protracted, conflicts.

Arms, in a general sense, include all kinds of weapons, both offensive
and defensive; and amongst the earliest may be classed the bow and
arrow, as it gave facilities to man to capture the wild animals for
food, probably before their use was required for the purposes of war.
The bow and the sling were the first means invented, and next only to
the human arm for projecting bodies with an offensive aim: the great
principle which, to the present day, reigns unrivalled, developing the
ruling passion of man to injure, while remaining himself in comparative
safety,--“self-preservation” being “the first law of nature.”

To the bow and sling were soon added spears, swords, axes, and javelins,
all of which appear to have been used by the Jews. David destroyed
Goliath with a stone from the brook. The invention of the sling is
attributed, by ancient writers, to the Phœnicians, or the inhabitants of
the Balearic Islands. The great fame that these islanders obtained arose
from their assiduity in its use; their children were not allowed to eat
until they struck their food from the top of a pole with a stone from a
sling. From the accounts left us (probably fabulous), it appears that
the immense force with which a stone could be projected, can only be
exceeded by modern gunnery. Even at that early age, leaden balls were in
use as projectiles; though we cannot put much faith in Seneca’s account
of the velocity being so great as frequently to melt the lead. The use
of the sling continued over a long period of time, even as late as the
Huguenot war in 1572.

The bow is of equal, if not greater, antiquity. The first account we
find of it is in Genesis, 21st chapter and 20th verse, where the
Lawgiver, speaking of Ishmael, says, “And God was with the lad, and he
grew and dwelt in the wilderness, and became an archer.” The arms of the
ancient Greeks and Persians were such as we have described, with the
addition of chariots armed with scythes, in which the chiefs sometimes
fought; though their main dependence was upon their heavy-armed
infantry. Elephants were afterwards used as adjuncts in their military
operations, but their use does not appear to have been very great or
very permanent.

The Romans were armed much in the same manner as the Greeks, with a
slight difference in the form of their weapons; and the arms of the
early Saxons were similar; those of the Normans were only altered in
their construction, except that to them appears to be awarded the
invention of the _cross-bow_, an instrument which afterwards became of
great repute in England and elsewhere. It has also been asserted, that
the Normans were the first to introduce a species of field artillery,
from which stones and darts were thrown, and arrows, headed with
combustible matter, for firing towns and shipping.

The artillery-proper of the ancients, as the engines for projecting
masses of stone and such like materials may be termed, reached to
wonderful perfection; and the velocity with which missiles of every
description could be thrown from them, attest the skill and ingenuity
exercised in their construction: indeed it is quite evident they are
only excelled by the _more portable_, and simply constructed, artillery
of our own day.

The great artillerist of the Sicilians, Archimedes, seems to have made
some of the most powerful engines; but he, considering any attention to
mechanics as beneath the philosopher, has not left us an account of any
one of them.

It is said of the cross-bow that a _quarrel_ could be projected from
them 200 yards, so that we may imagine the force with which one of these
lumps of iron would strike even the strongest armour,--as the velocity,
to range that distance, would not be far short of 900 or 1,000 feet per
second; nearly equal to the effect of a ball from one of our old
imperfectly constructed muskets.

We are told incredible stories of the abilities of some of our bygone
archers. Should it be true, as stated, that an arrow could be shot
nearly 700 yards, we can easily conceive the immense velocity with which
it must have left the bow; this range being quite equal, if not
superior, to that of the late unimproved rifles. Though we must bear in
mind, that the peculiar shape of the arrow fits it to cut the atmosphere
with less resistance then the half sphere of a bullet; and hence one
reason of its obtaining an extensive range. There is a story told of the
famous Robin Hood, and Little John, “who could shoot an arrow a measured
mile.” We suppose the mile was the reverse of an Irish one, or they had
the advantage of a precious stiff gale of wind. Historians sometimes
“draw the long-bow” as well as archers. Many statements have descended
to us of the power of the battering rams of old; but we have a much more
ready method of blowing open gates by a single bag of gunpowder; and a
68 lb. shot has all the force that could be given even to that famous
ram of Vespasian, “the length whereof was only fifty cubits, which came
not up to the size of many of the Grecian rams, had a head as thick as
ten men, and twenty-five horns, each of which was as thick as one man,
and placed a cubit distance from the rest; the weight, as was customary,
rested on the hinder part, and was no less than 1,500 talents; when it
was removed, without being taken to pieces, 150 yoke of oxen, or 300
pairs of horses and mules, laboured in drawing it, and 1,500 men
employed their utmost strength in forcing it against the walls.”

With these remarks we shall proceed to introduce the invention of

Barbour, in his life of Bruce, informs us that guns were first employed
by the English at the battle of Werewater, which was fought in 1327,
about forty years after the death of Friar Bacon; and there is no doubt
that four guns were used at the battle of Cressy, fought in 1346, when
they were supposed to have been quite unknown to the French, and tended
to obtain for British arms the victory. Froissart gives an excellent
representation of a cannon and cannoneers, in 1390, a cut of which we
give in the following page.

The use of guns in warfare is, therefore, comparatively of modern date,
and the early specimens which are still extant, of which we have
drawings and descriptions, must have been of very little service
compared with those of the present day. The English musqueteer was
formerly a most encumbered soldier. “He had, besides the unwieldy weapon
itself, his coarse powder for loading in a flask, his fine powder for
priming in a touch-box, his bullets in a leathern bag, with strings to
draw to get at them, whilst in his hand were his musket-rest and his
burning match; and when he had discharged his piece, he had to draw his
sword in order to defend himself. Hence it became a question, and was so
for a long time, whether the bow did not deserve a preference over the

  [1] Grose’s “Military Antiquities.”

[Illustration: Froisart’s Gun. 1390.]

The mention of the _long-bow_ is frequent in English history, and its
use contributed, in no mean degree, to many important victories. Perhaps
it might be that our forefathers were more skilful in the use of their
weapons than their adversaries.

In our wars in France, in the reign of Edward III., thousands suffered
by the English archery; and the brilliant success which attended them
was, at that time, attributed to their “superior skill, combined with
the valour of the Black Prince.” So highly was this practice esteemed,
that many statutes were enacted in successive reigns to encourage or
enforce it.

Archery furnished matter for oratorical display, both in the senate and
the pulpit; the palace and the cottage alike bore testimony to the great
importance which was attached to the art; and it was at once the study
and pastime of the whole nation. Thus, long after the introduction of
fire-arms, the long-bow was held in great esteem; and it is no wonder
that this favourite instrument should have been reluctantly
relinquished, after obtaining such universal popularity, and becoming so
intimately connected with many national and important events. It is now
superseded by the gun, a more potent and destructive engine. The bow, so
much valued, has vanished from our ranks by slow gradations, to make way
for the musket; and the quivers of cloth-yard shafts have been
supplanted by bristling bayonets. These things are now practically
unknown as military weapons, though they contended for superiority with
fire-arms during two centuries.

At this period, and for a long time previously, more attention was paid
to the fabrication of defensive armour, than to the invention of weapons
of an offensive character; hence the perfection that was attained in
the manufacture of mail, of every variety, during the fourteenth and
fifteenth centuries. The splendid manner in which some of the chivalrous
knights of that age chose to have their armour constructed and
ornamented sometimes proved fatal to themselves. Froissart relates that
Raymond, nephew to Pope Clement, was taken prisoner, and put to death by
his captors, in order that they might become possessed of his
magnificent armour. Those gorgeous and costly fabrications were likewise
doomed to give place to the advancing knowledge and skill of succeeding
generations; being now only known as matters of history, and regarded as
valuable curiosities. So late, however, as the latter part of the
sixteenth century, armour formed part of the military equipment; and the
French cavalry, called _carabins_, are described as having the cuirass
sloped off the right shoulder, that they might the more readily couch
their cheeks to take aim, while their bridle arms were protected by an
elbow gauntlet.

The invention of portable fire-arms is awarded to the Italians by Sir
Samuel Meyrick, and, in a memoir in the Archæologia of the Society of
Antiquarians, he has named the year 1430 as the precise period of their

We have already stated that cannon, or heavy ordnance, was in use in the
English army in 1327, more than a century before that time. It is not
improbable, however, that the Italians were the originators of small
fire-arms, for they had for many years been celebrated as skilful in
the art of making armour--Milanese armour being considered the most
valuable, and it is natural that their attention should be directed to
the construction of offensive weapons of a different description.

The invention of the portable fire-arm, in its primitive state, was one
of extreme simplicity; the gun consisting merely of a tube fixed to a
straight stock of wood, about three feet in length, furnished with
trunnions, cascable, and touch-hole: the latter was, in the first
instance, at the top, like a large cannon, but was afterwards altered to
the side where a small pan was placed to hold the priming, and lessen
the liability of its being blown away by the wind. This contrivance was
the first step to the gun-lock.

Before the adoption of the match-lock by the English, cannon, as I have
before shown, had been in use, though they were of a clumsy description.


To the indefatigable exertions of Mr. Dean, we are indebted for the
recovery of several brass and iron guns, belonging to the “Mary
Rose,”--a vessel of war, wrecked in the reign of Henry VIII. of England,
and Francis I. of France, in 1545: “while standing along the coast,
during a distant firing from the French fleet, under Admiral Annebout,
she was overpowered by the weight of her ordnance, and sunk, together
with her commander and crew of 600 men.” One of these iron guns is in an
excellent state of preservation, considering it to have been immersed
above 300 years. The cut on next page will convey, together with the
following description, a faint idea of its unwieldy and inefficient
construction. It is composed of a tube of iron, whose joint or overlap
is as its length; upon this is a succession of iron hoops, composed of
iron three inches square, being in fact immense rings; these appear to
have been driven on while red hot, and thus, by their contraction,
forming a much stronger gun, when combined with the interior tube, than
the generality of accounts given of ancient guns would lead us to
expect. It will be perceived, that to describe it as “composed of iron
bars hooped together,” is not correct. We may also mention, that if
parties describing guns of this primitive manufacture will observe
accurately, they will find that this is the general method by which they
have been fabricated. They all appear to have been loaded by removing a
breech part, or chamber, inserting the charge, replacing the chamber,
and securing it by wedging it behind; as will be seen on a close
inspection. No means of raising or depressing the muzzle appear
available; the barrel or gun being sunk in a large block of timber, and
secured there by bolts, as a musket barrel is secured in its stock;
while a large piece of iron, or wood, was inserted perpendicularly into
the deck to prevent the recoil. The advantage of “chambers” was
perfectly understood even at this early period; they were apparently
slightly conical, with a spherical bottom. It is no mean evidence of
ancient skill, and knowledge of gunnery and mechanics combined, to
state, that only a few years ago, a gunmaker of some celebrity,
constructed a number of rifles and pistols to load at the breech, on the
very same principle adopted in this gun 312 years ago. Strange, evidence
from “the vasty deep” to show “there is nothing new under the sun.”

During the sixteenth century, fire-arms of every description then in use
underwent a variety of alterations and improvements; each change
bringing with it a change of name, which would neither be profitable or
interesting to enumerate here; our object being to trace out the
advances which have been made in the manufacture of fire-arms since
their general adoption as weapons of war, or auxiliaries to the sports
of the field.

When first introduced into England, the hand-gun, as it was termed, had
already received a slight improvement, in having a covering for the pan
which contained the priming, and a sight on the breech, to assist in
giving greater certainty to the aim; it remained thus until the trigger
of the cross-bow suggested a contrivance to convey, with equal
certainty and greater rapidity, the burning match to the pan.

The difficulty of using an instrument thus objectionably constructed,
was in some degree obviated by the Germans; who, together with the
Italians, were no doubt at this early period the principal
manufacturers; they effected this, to a certain degree, by giving the
stocks a crooked form, so that the breech could, with more ease, be
brought to the level of the eye; this was, however, only an alteration
of form, without involving any principle or leading feature of
mechanical invention. Succeeding the match-lock, in the progress of
improvement, came the “pyrites wheel-lock,” an invention then looked
upon as exceedingly curious and ingenious; this also is ascribed to the
Italians, and one of the first occasions of its being used, is said to
have been when Pope Leo X. and the Emperor Charles V. confederated
against France. Whether the Italians are fairly entitled to the merit of
this invention is, however, a matter of doubt, as it is well known that
wheel-locks were for a long period manufactured in Germany.

The “_snaphaunce_” or fire-lock, is distinctly stated by Grose to be of
Dutch origin,--hence the name. It was introduced into England in the
reign of Charles II., though its general adoption is stated not to have
taken place until the reign of William III., about 1692. Since that
period, until the present, their use has been general in all the armies
of Europe. How strange it seems that the Chinese and other Asiatics
should have only the match-lock to the present day, while there can be
no question that they used gunpowder some centuries before its
introduction into our portion of the habitable globe!

The Syrians were formerly celebrated for their skill in the working of
iron. Damascus gun-barrels were not to be obtained, at certain periods,
at a price less than their weight in silver. The elaborate mixtures in
their barrels, swords, and other weapons, entitle them justly to the
honour of being the best of iron workers, as we shall hereafter have
occasion to show; and the splendour displayed in their inlaying attests
their taste and ability: but as mechanicians, formers of complex
machinery, they never reached mediocrity. Turkey and Greece, as well as
other countries which were renowned as having been, in days of yore,
nurseries of the arts, but which have, in later times, degenerated into
a condition little better than semi-barbarous, were remarkable for the
great labour and pains which they bestowed upon the exterior ornaments
of their firearms; but they never succeeded in improving the machinery
of the lock in the slightest degree.

Although it was not until the latter part of the seventeenth, or the
beginning of the eighteenth century, that gun manufactories were
established in this kingdom, yet we have attained to a degree of
perfection and excellence unequalled by any other nation in the world.
Birmingham is the emporium of the world for guns, from the most
inferior--the “_park paling_,” so called, of the slave-trade, with which
ships might yet be freighted at the cost of eight shillings and sixpence
each--up to the elaborately-finished gun of the peer. Most of the
alterations which have been made in gun-locks in England, have been with
a view to simplify the machinery, and obtain the greatest quickness in
firing: much complication has been discarded; a thorough conviction
having seated itself in the minds of Englishmen, that to attain
perfection, simplicity must be combined.

Many splendid emanations of genius are left to us, consisting of complex
mechanism for gunnery. The most perfect we have ever seen, is a pistol
made in Spain about the end of the seventeenth century. By moving a
lever towards the butt-end, while the muzzle is depressed, the lock is
primed, half-cocked, and the hammer shut down; return the lever, the
powder is in the breech, and the ball before it. We have seen it fire
twenty-six shots without a failure, and with one supply of ammunition.
The magazine was in two tubes in the stock. The chance of blowing up was
thought remote; but it eventually blew up. In short, it would be
strictly advantageous to inventors in gunnery, to be sure that there has
been no previous invention combining their principle as well as their

The mine of complex inventions was exhausted during the last century;
and the greatest benefactor to the science of gunnery will be he, who,
blowing away the cobwebs of mystery, renders its principles as clear as
the silvered glass. Nothing now remains of the beautiful machinery of
the flint lock; the fancy cock and hammers have given place to a
“simple” hammer, striking on a copper thimble, covering a steel pivot.
What would the old lock-filers say to this, if they could return and
see their handiwork consigned to the scrap-box as old iron?

To those curious in the progress of invention as it relates to gunnery,
it would be highly interesting to visit the “Musée d’Artillerie” of
Paris, and there to study the classified selections in the possession of
the French Government. Among other specimens equally interesting, he
will find revolving pistols, revolving rifles, and swords and revolving
pistols combined in one; and these produced in the early part of the
seventeenth century. The revolving pistol did not therefore originate
with the present generation; and however universally we may use the
“Colt,” “Adams,” or “Tranter,” neither can lay the slightest claim to
originality. In that museum will be found four, five, and six charge
chambers; and though in all there is certainly an absence of movement in
the chamber, produced by the cocking of the lock, yet several present
the appearance of having formerly had some mechanical adjunct for
revolving the chamber: this, though well adapted to the present
percussion system, must certainly have been troublesome to manage in the
old flint lock; for when the first barrel was discharged, the priming of
the other barrels would be lost during the revolution of the chamber.

A great improvement was, however, soon introduced; a hammer and pan were
attached to each division of the chamber, and each being already primed,
presented itself in rotation in the face of the flint. The gun or pistol
was by these protuberances rendered clumsy and cumbersome, and thus
fell, no doubt, into disuse; but every real mechanic must see on
investigating the subject, that the principle was as perfect as that
which is now in use. Mr. Colt had considerable difficulty in securing a
patent for his revolver. The right of patent hinged on this simple
question: did he, or did he not, first introduce a crank or lever for
revolving the chambers during the cocking of the lock? After an
expensive trial it was decided that he _did_ introduce it; though doubts
are still entertained whether there is not now extant a pistol having
the same crank movement as that found in the “Colt” and other revolvers.
At all events the invention of revolving pistols originated with our
progenitors, more than 200 years ago, though their re-introduction is
unquestionably due to Mr. Colt; and the “old broth warmed up” has no
doubt proved more nutritious than the original concoction. In the Paris
museum, a number of breech-loading guns are to be seen; I think more
than sixty varieties. Many of them are highly ingenious, displaying
great mechanical knowledge and working skill, and the whole, kept in
splendid order, cannot fail to command attention.

Well had it been if the many hundred inventors in England and elsewhere
had studied, and made themselves intimately acquainted with the
productions there to be seen in such abundance. Monuments they are of
mis-spent skill and labour; samples of the almost hopeless task of
fabricating complicated machinery which shall resist the action of
explosive gases at high pressure. An experiment extending over two
hundred years, but unattended with success, notwithstanding all the
skill and ingenuity brought to bear upon it, is, we think, sufficient
to prove that breech-loading guns cannot be made sufficiently durable to
yield any reasonable return for the extra expense and trouble attending
their fabrication. Nevertheless, our “would-be mechanics hope against
hope;” and to such we would, in conclusion, tender a word of advice.
Before spending your money, make acquaintance (and an intimate one is
necessary) with all that has been done before, and if in your own
production you find principles which have been untouched by any previous
invention, and untainted by any of the previous causes of failure, then
patent your invention, and make a fortune--if you can.

Great mechanical skill, and even scientific principles, are to be found
in some of the earliest productions after the invention of fire-arms;
and thus is established the important fact, that want of experience was
the chief drawback under which they laboured: one elaborate machine
being unequal to their requirements was succeeded by another; and yet,
with all these examples patent to us, we still fruitlessly fall back on
exhausted principles.

A more intimate knowledge of what our predecessors have accomplished
would be a great boon to our race. Foreign nations, but especially
France, have provided for this by their museums; and we want here a
museum of progression, an epitome of the mind of the present age, and
which, continued to future generations, would leave to no man the
fruitless toil of hauling in an endless rope.



Gunpowder being the base on which the superstructure of this treatise is
to be raised, the history, the use, and the nature of this explosive
compound, are here placed in the foreground; as it is essential to the
correct conception of the various matters hereafter to be explained,
that the reader be first acquainted with the one grand principle in
fire-arms, the propellant power of explosion.

Gunpowder, whether considered relatively to engines of war, or to those
arms used with so much success in the sporting field, has, since its
first _introduction_, been a source of much and frequent discussion. In
regard to its origin, we shall not much enlarge, nor repeat the many
suppositions and conjectures promulgated by the searchers after
antiquarian evidence.

The inhabitants of India were unquestionably acquainted with its
composition at an early date. Alexander is supposed to have avoided
attacking the Oxydracea, a people dwelling between the Hyphasis and
Ganges, from a report of their being possessed of supernatural means of
defence: “For,” it is said, “they come not out to fight those who attack
them, but those holy men, beloved by the gods, overthrow their enemies
with tempests and thunderbolts shot from their walls;” and, when the
Egyptian Hercules and Bacchus overran India, they attacked these people,
“but were repulsed with storms of thunderbolts and lightning hurled from
above.” This is, no doubt, evidence of the use of gunpowder; but as it
is unprofitable to investigate this subject further, we shall merely
confine ourselves to the European authorities.

Many ascribe the discovery of gunpowder to Roger Bacon, the monk, who
was born at Ilchester, in Somersetshire, in the year 1214, and is said
to have died in 1285. No doubt he was by far the most illustrious, the
best informed, and the most philosophical of all the alchemists. In the
6th chapter of his Epistles of the Secrets of Arts, the following
passage occurs--“For sounds like thunder, and flashes like lightning,
may be made in the air, and they may be rendered even more horrible than
those of nature herself. A small quantity of matter, properly
manufactured, and not larger than the human thumb, may be made to
produce a horrible noise; and this may be done many ways, by which a
_city_ or an _army_ may be destroyed, as was the case when Gideon and
his men broke their _pitchers_ and exhibited their lamps, fire issuing
out of them with great force and noise, destroying an infinite number of
the army of the _Midianites_.” And in the 11th chapter of the same
epistle occurs the following passage:--“Mix together saltpetre with
_luru mone cap ubre_, and sulphur, and you will make thunder and
lightning, if you know the method of mixing them.” Here all the
ingredients of gunpowder are mentioned, except charcoal; which is,
doubtless, concealed under the barbarous terms used; indeed, the
_anagram_ is easily converted into _carbonum pulvere_, with a little

This discovery has also been attributed to Schwartz, a German monk, and
the date of 1320 annexed to it; a date posterior to that which may be
justly claimed for Friar Bacon; and as accident is stated to have been
the means by which he discovered it, we have taken that incident as the
subject of an illustration.


Mr. Hallam, referring to the authority of an Arabic author, infers that
there is no question that the knowledge of gunpowder was introduced into
Europe through the means of the Saracens, before the middle of the 13th
century; and no doubt its use then was more for fireworks, than as an
artillerist projectile force. There is good evidence, too, that the use
of gunpowder was introduced into Spain by the Moors, at least as early
as the year 1343. Now, as Roger Bacon is known to have been an Arabic
scholar, it is not at all unlikely that he might have become acquainted
with the mode of making the composition, and also with its most
remarkable properties, by perusing some Arabian writer with whom we are
at present unacquainted.

This invention, by which the personal barbarity of war has certainly
been diminished, is, when considered as a means of human destruction, by
far the most powerful that skill has ever devised, or accident
presented; acquiring, as experience shows us, a more sanguinary dominion
in every succeeding age, and subserving all the progressive resources of
science and civilization for the extermination of mankind: which, says
Mr. Hallam, “appals us at the future prospects of the species, and makes
us feel, perhaps, more than in any other instance, a difficulty in
reconciling the mysterious dispensation with the benevolent order of

The composition of gunpowder, as regards the proportions of the
ingredients, has not undergone any material alteration; the chemical
proportions of the ancients being nearly those of the present day.

Gunpowder is an explosive propellant compound, consisting of saltpetre
or nitre, charcoal, and sulphur. The terms, _explosive_ and
_propellant_, are not here used as synonymous--they are not convertible;
for a chemical mixture may possess the _explosive_ power in a much
higher degree than the _propellant_: fulminating gold, silver, and
mercury, are dreadfully explosive; but they have not the same
projectile force, nor can they be used as a substitute for it. Several
experiments have been made with compounds of this nature, but the result
is the reverse of what might be expected. Nothing can resist the
exceeding intensity of the action of fulminating powder; a shot, when
fired in this way, is not projected as by gunpowder, but is split into
fragments by the velocity of its explosion, as we shall hereafter have
occasion to show.

Nitre, or saltpetre, is strictly the essence of gunpowder. It is a
triple compound of oxygen, nitrogen, and potassium. The chemical action
of those elements on each other, and the play of affinities between them
at a high temperature, occasion the immense effect produced by gunpowder
on the application of fire or heat. By universal consent, sulphur is
included in the mixture, but it is not absolutely necessary for the
“propellant power;” for nitre and charcoal only will generate effects
similar to the compound with sulphur. Gunpowder made without sulphur
has, however, several bad qualities; it is not, on the whole, so
powerful, nor so regular in its action; it is also porous and friable,
possessing neither firmness nor solidity. It cannot bear the friction of
carriage, and in transport crumbles into dust. The use of sulphur,
therefore, appears to be not only to complete the mechanical combination
of the other ingredients, but being a perfectly combustible substance,
it increases the general effect, augments the propellant power, and is
thought to render the powder less susceptible of injury from atmospheric

“There is one good reason,” says the Edinburgh Encyclopædia, “for the
use of sulphur, although it does not contribute to the production of any
elastic fluid. The carbonic acid which is generated would doubtless
combine with the potash, if it were not for the presence of the sulphur,
and thus so much elastic fluid would be lost. That this is the case we
know to be true, from the fact that carbonate of potash is always formed
when nitre is decomposed by charcoal alone, which I shall almost
immediately show.” This certainly would be the case, to a certain
extent, with gunpowder without sulphur--some carbonate of potash would
be formed.

The sulphur, we have no doubt, from experiments we have made on this
subject, is, in part, engaged during the explosion of gunpowder in
expelling the sixth proportion of oxygen from the potash, so as to
combine with the potassium, to form a true sulphuret of that metal. This
fact is easily ascertained, from the circumstance that no sulphuretted
hydrogen can be detected, by the most delicate tests, coming from the
residuum left after firing gunpowder, until moisture has gained access
to it. The bad smell which arises sometime after the burning of
gunpowder, is occasioned by the decomposition of the moisture which the
sulphuret of potassium attracts from the atmosphere; giving rise, by
this decomposition and liberation, to the fœtid foul gas, called
sulphuretted hydrogen, and the production of potassa, or the oxide of

A commission of French chemists and artillerists was appointed by the
Government, in the year 1794, to experiment upon the best proportions
and constituents of gunpowder for the use of the French service. The
following were the proportions of five different kinds prepared at the
Essonne works:--

  No.|Nitre.|Charcoal.|Sulphur.|         ----
  1  |76·00 | 14·00   | 10·00  |Powder of Bâe.
  2  |76·00 | 12·00   | 12·00  |    „     Grenelle.
  3  |76·00 | 15·00   |  9·00  |    „     M. Morveau.
  4  |77·32 | 13·44   |  9·24  |    „        Ditto.
  5  |77·50 | 15·00   |  7·50  |    „     M. Keffault.

The first and third, after 200 discharges with the proof mortar, were
declared the strongest, and the third proportions were adopted at the
recommendation of the commissioners. Some few years elapsed, and the
first, owing to its better keeping quality, was substituted, as it
contained less charcoal, and a little more sulphur. The French
Government having always been extremely impressed with the value of
durability in gunpowder, they have since returned to their ancient
proportions: 75 nitre, 12-1/2 charcoal, 12-1/2 sulphur. The charcoal,
the absorbent of moisture, being further reduced, and the sulphur, the
preserving ingredient, being increased in the same ratio.

“Mr. Napier tried a small quantity made of nitre and charcoal only, and
was much surprised to find it project a shot as far as the best powder
made in the usual manner. It is found that, in small charges, sulphur is
advantageous; but, in charges of several ounces, the projecting force is
as great without as with it. Therefore, under certain circumstances,
sulphur may be dispensed with; but to make a good gunpowder, nitre and
charcoal are indispensable.”

Amongst the brilliant discoveries of modern chemistry may be classed the
development of the fact, that a chemical combination, to constitute the
same compound, always takes place in definite and unalterable ratios. To
select one example out of a multitude: one atom of carbon combining with
two atoms of oxygen produces the gas; because more would answer no
useful end. So, with reference to the sulphur, if it enter into
combination only with the potassium--the base of the nitre--the sulphur
should be in that proportion to form the sulphuret of that metal; and in
this case there would be no superfluity, for that would only add to the
weight of the charge of powder, and diminish its absolute and effective
energy. The view of the case which we have taken supposes only two
combinations, viz. carbon with oxygen, and sulphur with potassium.
Should there be a more diversified play of affinities, and the several
elements of the powder enter into more complicated action, accurate
analysis would conduct us through all difficulties, and point out what
the proportions of the ingredients ought to be in order to sustain that
action, and to produce a perfect ultimate result.

We thus perceive how analysis bears upon the case. We can see by such
reasoning on the subject, that, theoretically, there can be but _one set
of proportions calculated to produce the best and strongest gunpowder_,
and that those proportions must depend upon the established and unerring
laws of nature. The proportions, then, for gunpowder, by these
considerations, will be those in which the carbon will just consume the
oxygen of the nitre, and combine with the sulphur as much as will
exactly saturate the potassium. This will be effected by an atom each of
nitre and sulphur, and three atoms of carbon; or nitre 75·5, charcoal
18·8, and of sulphur 11·8.

In the present improved state of chemical science, when the nature of
the bodies comprising gunpowder is so well known, as well as the
compounds resulting from their action on each other, the proportions we
have named may be taken as the best for practice.

The charcoal should, in particular, not be less than the nitre, as the
smallest portion less than the whole atom would be the same as to leave
out the whole atom, in which case there would be no carbonic oxide
formed. If, for example, instead of the proportions of nitre 75·5,
charcoal 16·2, sulphur 15, the carbon were 16, then there would be 4·2
of carbon left in the residuum, and no carbonic oxide would be formed,
since bodies cannot unite but in definite proportions.

From these considerations we can perceive the reason why a small
proportion of carbonic oxide is always formed during the decomposition
of nitre by charcoal; for it will be evident, that as the nitric acid
contains five atoms of oxygen, four of these must combine with two atoms
of carbon to form two atoms of carbonic acid, while the _odd atom of
oxygen_ is compelled to take another atom to form carbonic oxide. But
this is not the case in the combustion of gunpowder, as carbonic acid
and nitrogen are the principal gases generated.

These proportions differ from any other formula yet prescribed; and,
though different in a great degree from the proportions laid down by
various writers on the subject, the reasons which are here given, as has
been seen, are such as carry with them a conviction of their truth: for
there cannot possibly be any benefit arising from a greater quantity of
any of these materials than is absolutely necessary to form the
composition in question; and if the smallest quantity be above what is
requisite to consume the whole, that, however small it may be, is highly
detrimental to the effective energy of the mass. What we may here call
clean gunpowder, such as may be used with confidence for repeated
discharges of fire-arms of any description, is of the greatest
importance; therefore, it does not appear to us, that any given
proportions are so likely to accomplish that object as those before


              Mills.               |Nitre.|Charcoal.|Sulphur.
  Royal Waltham Abbey              |75·00 |  15·00  | 10·00
  France, National Mills           |75·00 |  12·50  | 12·50
  French Sporting                  |78·00 |  12·00  | 10·00
  French Mining                    |65·00 |  15·00  | 20·00
  U. S. of America                 |75·00 |  12·50  | 12·50
  Prussia                          |75·00 |  13·50  | 11·50
  Russia                           |73·78 |  13·59  | 12·63
  Austria (Musket)                 |72·00 |  17·00  | 16·00
  Spain                            |76·47 |  10·78  | 12·75
  Sweden                           |76·00 |  15·00  |  9·00
  Switzerland (Round Powder)       |76·00 |  14·00  | 10·00
  Chinese                          |75·00 |  14·40  |  9·90
  Theoretical proportions as above |75·00 |  13·23  | 11·77

Gunpowder consists of a very intricate mixture of sulphur, carbon
(charcoal), and nitrate of potash (nitre).

The proportions in which they exist are one equivalent of nitre, one of
sulphur, and three of carbon. The great explosive power of gunpowder is
due to the sudden development from its solid constituents of a large
quantity of gases; these gases are nitrogen and carbonic acid.

At the ordinary temperature of the atmosphere these gases would occupy a
space three hundred times greater than the bulk of the gunpowder used;
but owing to the intense heat developed at the moment of explosion, the
gases occupy at least 1,500 times the bulk of the original gunpowder.
The mixture, consisting of one equivalent of nitre, one of sulphur, and
three of carbon, would yield three equivalents of carbonic acid, one of
nitrogen, and one of sulphuret of potassium. The change may be
represented thus,--

  S + C₃ + KONO₅ = 3 CO₂ + N + KS.

The only solid residue, therefore, is the sulphuret of potassium, and
this is the compound which produces the sulphurous odour on washing out
a gun barrel; water is decomposed, sulphuretted hydrogen and potash
being the result of the decomposition.

Now supposing the elements of gunpowder to exist in these proportions,
it is essential, in order to secure their perfect combination, and thus
to produce the largest possible volume of gas, that the elements should
be in the most minute state of subdivision. Chemical action is a force
exerted at insensible distances only, and chemical substances having the
greatest affinity for each other will not combine, unless their elements
are brought into immediate contact: thus oxygen and hydrogen may be
mixed together in the exact proportions to form water; but no chemical
combination will occur, simply because the ultimate particles of the two
gases are not sufficiently near to each other for their chemical
affinities to be brought into play; if, however, these gases are
subjected to very strong pressure, so as to bring their particles into
immediate contact, combination occurs, and the production of water is
the result.

In order to insure the perfect combination of the elements of gunpowder
the same conditions are necessary; that is to say, the ultimate
particles of the nitre, charcoal, and sulphur, must be brought into the
most direct contact, or the explosive power of the gunpowder will be
comparatively trifling. If, for instance, the nitre, charcoal, and
sulphur be pounded in a mortar, no explosion but a slow combustion will
occur when the mixture is ignited; so that unless this intimate mixture
of the elements is carefully attended to in the manufacture of
gunpowder, it is easy to see that the article produced will be of
comparatively little value.

It is evident then that if tons of the elements of gunpowder were stored
in a warehouse which accidentally caught fire, no explosion would occur
from the formation of gunpowder; though its ingredients would greatly
increase the rapidity of combustion.

This remark is elicited by the recollection of a fearful explosion which
took place at Gateshead in 1854.

It may be remembered that a warehouse caught fire from an adjoining
mill, and the explosion was supposed to have been produced by the
ignition of the elements of gunpowder stored in the warehouse in a crude
state. The upper story of the building contained a large quantity of
crude sulphur, and the basement story about the same quantity of nitre,
whilst chemicals of various kinds were stored in other parts of the
building; but according to the accounts published there was no large
quantity of carbon in the warehouse; nevertheless, a terrific explosion
took place, and after a lengthened investigation, the conclusion arrived
at was this: the sulphur melting, mixed with the nitre, gunpowder was
thus formed, and igniting, exploded, producing the terrible effects.

But gunpowder may be made without sulphur, whereas gunpowder without
carbon is an impossibility; and though the elements of gunpowder had all
been present, no explosion could have occurred, unless they had become
mixed in the intimate manner already described.

It is true some of the chemical substances in the warehouse might have
produced a fearful explosion: but a more plausible explanation is to be
found in the fact, that gunpowder was at that time much more valuable
abroad than at home; and it is quite possible that some kegs of
gunpowder might have been stored away in this warehouse, until a
convenient opportunity presented itself for their removal.

The foregoing remarks will serve to explain how it is that powder varies
so much in strength and quickness of fire. If the elements are
imperfectly incorporated, the powder can never be equal to that which is
properly made; and the manufacturer, having ascertained the best
proportions in which to mix the elements, had better improve his
machinery for incorporating them, rather than his knowledge of the
chemistry of gunpowder. These observations will also serve to explain
the apparent anomaly, that the French, and some of our other continental
brethren, are held to produce a much inferior sporting gunpowder to that
which is manufactured in old England.

Gunpowder is now made by all the sporting gunpowder manufacturers from
No. 1 to No. 5 grain; and it appears certain that a further increase in
the size of the grain would be advantageous; for many years of patient
and laborious experiment clearly show, that the old notion of gunpowder
being blown out of an ordinary sized gun in an unburnt state, is one of
the “purest of vulgar errors:” such a thing indeed cannot possibly
happen unless the powder be bad, or the gun _imperfectly made_, or
injudiciously charged.

I am satisfied that I am under rather than over estimate, when I assert
that six drams of ordinary sporting gunpowder may be beneficially and
completely exploded in a barrel of 14 bore, 2 feet 6 inches long, with a
resisting projectile one ounce in weight above it. This, however, being
more than a double charge for such a gun, cannot be pleasantly
practised; and it is only asserted by way of argument.

Assuming, then, for argument’s sake, that six drams of gunpowder are
exactly consumed in passing from the breech to the muzzle of a gun 2
feet 6 inches long, and that the shot, therefore, acquires its greatest
velocity as it leaves the muzzle, it follows that the ordinary charge of
2-1/2 drams will be wholly consumed before it has traversed half the
length of the barrel, and consequently the charge of shot must here
acquire its greatest velocity. It is certain, then, that the shot must
travel the latter half of the barrel at a diminished velocity, and its
velocity must continue to diminish as it passes up the barrel; for two
obvious reasons--1st, The column of air in front of the charge is more
condensed, and thus offers a greater resistance to the exit of the
charge; 2nd, The velocity is continually diminished by the increased
friction of the charge against the barrel.

The perfection of projectile science is to make the projectile acquire
its greatest velocity at the instant of leaving the muzzle; and if, by
increasing the size of the grain of gunpowder, we can diminish the
rapidity of its explosion--thus causing it to burn and generate fresh
gas up to the muzzle of the gun--the projectile will then acquire its
greatest velocity, and leave the gun to the best advantage: this is the
important point which has hitherto been overlooked, not only in
fowling-pieces, but in the expansive principle of rifles.

For artillery practice of every kind, whatever the weight of the
projectile, gunpowder of a granulation suited to the weight of that
projectile is essential, if we would produce the greatest possible
effect by the least expenditure of means.

In artillery, at this most important time in war’s history, no attention
whatever is paid to this essential principle. A long 10-inch gun, a
68-pounder, and a short 6-pounder are all charged with powder of the
same granulation; whilst by a more judicious use of gunpowder of
suitable granulation, the range might be extended, just as it is in
sporting arms, to nearly 20 per cent.

Artillerists seek to effect great range by doubling the weight of the
gun, and projectile monsters meet us at all points, to become in every
case “monster failures.”

I fear that the most important points have been entirely lost sight of.
Instead of ascertaining whether we have suited the projectile power to
the 8-inch or 56-pounder, so as to get work from it which is now done by
the 10-inch, we have, in our anxiety to get range, looked only to the
form or material of the gun; vital principles being totally excluded.
The construction of the gun being perfect, the question is, can the
expellant force be brought to an equal state of perfection?

In order to obtain the best results from a gun, the gun itself must be
perfect in construction, and the expellant force must be brought to bear
in the best possible manner upon the projectile; and this is to be done
by attending to the granulation of the powder, which must be suited to
the length of the gun, to its bore, and to the weight of the projectile.

Common-sense, engineering skill, will demonstrate, that according to the
weight of matter to be projected must be the nature of the expellant;
_accumulative_--until it has overcome the inertia of that matter,
_accelerative_--until it has communicated to it the highest state of
velocity its power is capable of effecting. If, on the other hand, it is
inferior to this, science has not extracted from it the full
_horse-power_ it contains; and we are uselessly expending force and
destroying our engines by undue pressure being exerted on one part, and
inferior pressure on another; whilst by a proper distribution of that
force, durability of the cannon is insured, and from twenty-five to
thirty per cent. more work may be obtained from an equal quantity of
powder, provided its granulation be judiciously selected according to
the area of the gun.

There is abundant proof that on this engineering question we have
hitherto worked by the “rule of thumb;” prejudice having been a
stumbling-block, which nothing but stern necessity will remove. The
authorities have but just discovered this, although their attention was
directed to it several years ago. In the year 1852, I produced before
the Small Arms Committee, at Enfield, a portion of gunpowder suited to
the expansive rifle; it was tried to a limited extent, and dismissed
with the remark, “We don’t think there is much in it.” Experience,
however, has demonstrated the truth of my observations, for, in all
extreme range shooting with the expansive or “Greenerian”-principled
rifles, not only is considerably greater _accuracy_ obtained with it,
but an _increase_ of range equivalent to fifteen or twenty per cent.

Another advantage of using gunpowder of a suitable granulation is the
absence of sharp recoil; and thus greater accuracy of range is
obtained--accuracy of range and steadiness of weapon being inseparable.

Large-grain gunpowder is not only a more effectual expellant than the
fine grain, but is much more safe to use, for by using it the risk of
bursting the barrel is much lessened; as a very simple illustration will
show. If we estimate the force generated by the usual charge of 2-1/2
drachms (I confine the question to the 14-bore gun, for uniformity) to
be 5,000 lbs., whether the powder be fine or coarse grain, it follows
that the fine powder, igniting so rapidly, will exert all its force on
the breech end of the gun; whereas the coarse powder, igniting less
rapidly, distributes this force over the whole length of the barrel:
hence the greater risk of a gun bursting with fine powder than with
coarse. If we suppose the fine powder to be entirely ignited when it
reaches half way up the barrel, then the force of 5,000 lbs. is exerted
on the lower half of the barrel; but if the coarser grain is not
entirely ignited until it reaches the muzzle, then the force of 5,000
lbs. will be distributed over the whole length of the gun.

But this is not all. The fine powder, igniting almost instantaneously,
exerts its force in all directions at once, and the barrel may burst at
the side before the charge has time to move; whereas the coarse powder,
igniting as it does more slowly, first lifts the charge, and then the
volume of gas behind it increasing as the powder becomes more thoroughly
ignited, sweeps the charge out of the barrel with a velocity increasing
towards the muzzle.

If time is not given for the charge to receive the full advantage of the
expansive force of the generated air, the force is exerted, not upon the
charge, but upon the barrel of the gun itself; and that time is
necessary for the full development of this force, is proved by the fact
that miners mix their gunpowder with sawdust, in order to diminish the
rapidity of its explosion and thus get the advantage of its force in the
distance: from the miners, then, let us learn how to obtain the greatest
benefit from this force, and waste it not.

There can be no doubt of the importance of this principle; little
progress has, however, been effected from want of scientific
illustration; let it be defined like that of steam power, and its
adoption will follow as a natural consequence.

For several years I have had gunpowder manufactured of various sizes, at
the sight of which most sportsmen would express their astonishment.

One objection held by sportsmen to the large grained gunpowder is that
it does not come up the nipple of the gun; now although I do not
consider this at all important, still if the specific gravity of the
gunpowder were increased by compressing 1-1/2, 2, or 3 grains of
gunpowder into the space of 1 grain, by means of hydraulic pressure,
this objection would at once be obviated; whilst at the same time, the
powder would be less liable to absorb moisture, or to become friable
with age: either of which conditions is incompatible with good shooting.

The granulating of gunpowder, to be of the greatest benefit, should be
on a uniform principle; the manipulation should be alike in all
particulars, but especially in that part of the process which determines
the specific gravity. The hydraulic pressure on the cake should be alike
in all cases: in fact, the various sizes of grain might be produced from
the same cake, and the desired object be thus obtained. But so long as
the practice is followed of producing large grain from less condensed
cake, the article produced will give unsatisfactory results; and the
advantages which might be attained, as my experience denotes, and which
would be of the greatest service, alike in sporting, rifle, and
artillery powder, will be nullified.

Great improvements are yet to be made, especially in the powder used for
artillery; whilst range, accuracy, and lessened recoils are points which
may be determined with almost mathematical precision.

Great fame is in prospect for any one who can grasp and handle well this
granulation principle; especially if he can define the sizes to be used
for different varieties of guns. Artillerists who contend that a medium
size grain, to suit all sizes of gun, is advantageous, might as well
contend that cannon of a medium size would be preferable to so many
different sizes, because, though we lose in range, accuracy, and recoil,
it would be more convenient to have but one sized gun.

In making large grained gunpowder, the manufacturers defeat one of the
main objects to be gained by granulation, from not subjecting it to the
same amount of pressure which is necessary for the granulation of the
very fine grain. In granulating very fine powder, it is necessary to
subject the cake to such an amount of hydraulic pressure as shall give
the mass a marble-like structure, or during the process of granulation,
the whole of it crumbles into dust; but the coarser gunpowder may be
granulated without subjecting it to this high degree of pressure, hence
each grain is more porous and of lesser specific gravity: a difference
which it is most important to avoid. It is clear, therefore, that
according to the present mode of manufacturing gunpowder, the large and
the fine grain are of very different kinds; the main difference being in
their specific gravities. Gunpowder of less density burns with greater
rapidity, because it is more open and porous; and if uniform density was
observed, the diversity in the size of the grain need not be so great;
whilst, at the same time, this anomaly might be avoided--that the same
measure of fine and large-grained gunpowder contains a difference of the
expansive element amounting to fifteen or twenty per cent. As gunpowder
is now manufactured, it is highly necessary in all comparative trials to
_weigh_, and not to _measure_ the charge, or the results will be
deceptive and worthless. The granulation question struggles with
undeserved difficulty. Gunmakers, either not understanding the question,
or constructing the chambers of their guns improperly, and not using
suitable nipples, decry the adoption of large-grained gunpowder; but
they forget the increased range obtained in the killing from their guns,
and the _éclât_ a long shot produces. In trials of guns at thirty or
forty yards, the difference in the shooting with fine and large-grained
gunpowder is not so apparent, and the maker exclaims, “Oh! the fine
powder shoots stronger, and as close as the coarse.” I admit this to be
the case, at short distances; but the great advantage of using the large
grain is sufficiently evident when shooting at forty-five, fifty, and
sixty yards, for then the fine grain entirely fails: simply from the
oft-repeated fact, that the fine powder is more of a propulsive, while
the large grain is an expellant force; so that according to the law of
resistance in aëriform fluids, the one is sooner reduced to medium
velocity than the other, which exerts its action more evenly. Powder of
larger grain is thus more suitable for the larger sizes of shot, and
would give an increased range in usual shooting, for the shot is kept
better together, and is projected to greater distances. A common way of
testing the quality of gunpowder is, to rub it between the hands, and
observe the darkness of the stain; the darker the stain the more
inferior the gunpowder is held to be. This test is, however, decidedly
fallacious, because the gunpowder may be of low specific gravity, or it
may have become friable from age and other causes.

Whales are shot with gunpowder proportioned to the weight of the harpoon
required to kill them. Duck guns of the largest calibre are
comparatively useless unless the gunpowder used is granulated according
to the weight of the projectile; and the same law holds in regard to the
most “mammoth” engine yet to be devised by the mind of man.

Gun-cotton has been before the world for some years, but, except as a
curiosity, it has attracted little public attention; neither has it
gained any reputation as a projectile force. It may be prepared by
steeping cotton wool for a few minutes in a mixture of nitric and
sulphuric acids, thoroughly washing, and then drying at a very gentle
heat. It consists chemically of the essential elements of gunpowder:
viz. carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen; but, in addition, it contains another
highly elastic gas, hydrogen. The carbon in the fibres of the wool
presents to the action of flame a most extended surface in a small
space, and the result is an explosion approaching as nearly as possible
to the instantaneous: in consequence of its rapid ignition it produces a
violent kick; sufficient time is not given to put heavy bodies in
motion, hence it cannot be usefully employed as a projectile agent. No
one who values his limbs should trifle with it, for fearful accidents
have resulted from its exposure to the heat of the sun, and other very
simple causes.

There is an instrument used by some sportsmen, and strongly recommended
by many gunmakers, for testing the strength of different kinds of
gunpowder. It consists of a chamber closed by a spring, and fired like
an ordinary pistol. When the powder explodes the spring is forced
forward, and moves an index round a graduated circle; the more quickly
the powder explodes the farther does it lift the spring; hence this is a
measure of quickness of fire, but not of expellant force; and from the
observations which have been made on gunpowder, it must be evident to
any one who has paid the least attention to the subject, that this
instrument is utterly useless.

An instrument to test the comparative strength of different kinds of
gunpowder is yet a desideratum in projectile science; and we cannot
doubt that such an instrument will be produced, when the importance of
the granulation of gunpowder is more generally known and appreciated.

The charcoal formerly used was made in the common way, by pits, which
must have been seen by almost every one. The method is now to _distil_
the wood in cast-iron cylinders, extracting the pyroligneous acid, &c.,
by heating them red hot, and allowing all other volatile matter to
evaporate, the charcoal only being retained in the cylinder or retorts;
hence arises the name _cylinder gunpowder_. The best charcoal for
sporting powders is the black dog wood; Government use willow and alder.
Any charcoal does for common powders. Charcoal is ground in the same way
as the nitre. Sulphur is purified simply by fusing, and when in that
state, skimming off the impurities: it is cooled and pulverised in the
same way as the other two ingredients. The three ingredients, after
being carefully weighed in their due proportions, are sifted into a
large trough, and well mixed together by the hands. They are then
conveyed to the powder mill. This is a large circular trough, having a
smooth iron bed, in which two millstones, secured to a horizontal axis,
revolve, traversing each other, and making nine or ten revolutions in a
minute. The powder is mixed with a small quantity of water put on the
bed of the mill, and there kept subject to the pressure of the stones;
and if we calculate the weight of the two millstones at six tons, it
follows that in four or five hours’ incorporation on this bed, it
subjects the ingredients to the action of full 10,000 tons. It is this
long-continued grinding, compounding, and blending together of the
mixture, that alone renders it useful and good. After this intimate
mixing, it is conveyed away in the shape of mill-cake, and firmly
pressed between plates of copper. Bramah’s press has been introduced of
late years--we should say with a good deal of improvement to the powder,
as will be shown hereafter--and by its means the mass is more compressed
and in thinner cakes. It is then broken into small pieces with wooden
mallets, and taken to the corning-house, where it is granulated, “by
putting it into sieves, the bottoms of which are made of bullocks’
hides, prepared like parchment, and perforated with holes about
two-tenths of an inch in diameter; from twenty to thirty of these
sieves are secured to a large frame, moving on an _eccentric_ axis, or
crank, of six inches throw; two pieces of lignum vitæ, six inches in
diameter, and two inches or more in thickness, are placed on the broken
_press-cakes_ in each sieve. The machinery being then put in rapid
motion, the discs of lignum vitæ (called balls) pressing upon the
powder, and striking against the sides of the sieves, force it through
the apertures, in grains of various sizes, on to the floor, from whence
it is removed, and again sifted through finer sieves of wire, to
separate the dust and classify the grain. One man works two sieves at a
time, by turning a handle and eccentric crank; the sieves being fixed to
a frame, which is suspended over a bin by four ropes from the ceiling.”

The grains afterwards undergo a process of _glazing_, by friction
against each other, in barrels containing nearly 200 lbs., making forty
revolutions in a minute, and lasting several hours, according to the
fancy of the purchaser. This part of the business we entirely disagree
with, as injurious to the quick and _certain ignition_. Gunpowder is
finally dried by an artificial temperature of 140° Fahrenheit, which is
suffered gradually to decline. The last process is sifting it clear of
dust, and then packing it in canisters or otherwise.

The utility of the process of granulation results from the impossibility
of firing mealed powder sufficiently simultaneously to effect an
explosion; and also from the fact that gunpowder, in a mass, does not
explode. Fire a solid piece of mill-cake, and it does not flash off like
unto granulated powder, but burns gradually, though with an extreme
fury, until the whole is consumed. This arises from its density, the
compression in the press; it also teaches us one fact, that to be of the
greatest service, the time each grain should occupy in burning should be
proportioned to the size of the gun for which it is required; since it
is clear that the explosion of a heap of gunpowder is but the rapid
combustion of all its parts. This action, as is well known, is so rapid,
even in a large quantity of powder, that it appears to be a sudden and
simultaneous burst of flame; though philosophically and actually it is
not so.

Fine grain, when unconfined, explodes quicker than large, or is sooner
burnt out, and consequently generates more force in the same period of
time; but when it comes to large quantities, its very quickness is
detrimental to its force, by condensing the air around the exterior of
the mass of fluid which thus constrains its bound. In small quantities,
the proportion of condensation is not so apparent, and hence the reason
why greater velocities can be obtained with small arms than with cannon.

There exists a diversity of opinion in regard to the strength or
projectile force of gunpowder. Dr. Ure remarks--“If we inquire how the
maximum gaseous volume is to be produced from the chemical reaction of
the elements of nitre on charcoal and sulphur, we shall find it to be by
the generation of carbonic oxide and sulphurous acid, with the
disengagement of nitrogen. This will lead us to the following
proportions of these constituents:

                                   Hydrogen 1.     Per Cent.
  1 prime equivalent of nitre          102           75·00
  1   „        „        sulphur         16           11·77
  3   „        „        charcoal        18           13·23
                                       ---          ------
                                       136          100·00

“The nitre contains five primes of oxygen, of which three combining with
the three of charcoal, will furnish three of carbonic oxide gas, while
the remaining two will convert the one prime of sulphur into sulphurous
acid gas. The single prime of nitrogen is therefore, in this view,
disengaged alone.

“The gaseous volume, in this supposition, evolved from 136 grains of
gunpowder, equivalent in bulk to 75-1/2 grains of water, or to
three-tenths of a cubic inch, will be, at the atmospheric temperature,
as follows:--

                         Grains.   Cubic Inches.
  Carbonic oxide           42          141·6
  Sulphurous acid          32           47·2
  Nitrogen                 14           47·4

being an expansion of one volume into 787·3. But as the temperature of
the gases, at the instant of their combustive formation, must be
incandescent, this volume may be safely estimated at three times the
above amount, or considerably upwards of 2,000 times the bulk of the
explosive solid.

“It is obvious that the more sulphur, the more sulphurous acid will be
generated, and the less forcibly explosive will be the gunpowder. This
was confirmed by the experiments at Essonne, where the gunpowder that
contained twelve of sulphur, twelve of charcoal, in 100 parts, did not
throw the proof shell so far as that which contained only nine of
sulphur and fifteen of charcoal. The conservative property is, however,
of so much importance for humid climates and our remote colonies, that
it justifies a slight sacrifice of strength.

“When in a state of explosion, the volume,” Dr. Hutton calculates, “is
at least increased eight times, and hence its immense power. The
pressure exerted, if in a state of confinement, will depend on the
dimensions of the vessel containing it; so that it would be no difficult
undertaking to obtain any pressure above that of the atmosphere, up, we
may fearlessly say, to the enormous amount of 4,000 lbs. per square

The same quantity of gunpowder subjected to a variety of experimental
tests, differs materially in its results; at the same time it is only by
such a method that we can arrive at the relative strength or power which
it possesses. Dr. Hutton, whose authority in all mathematical
calculations is very high, and whose opinions and judgment in matters of
this nature ought not to be unthinkingly controverted, states 2,000 feet
per second (with cannon) as the highest velocity which any projectile
had attained, at the time of his writing, which had gunpowder for its
propellant power. A much greater velocity is now given in all guns
fired at high elevations. “Monks’” gun attained a velocity of 2,400 feet
in the first second of its flight, and this is now exceeded by rifled

This advantage does not arise, in our opinion, so much from the superior
quality of the gunpowder, as from the improvements which have taken
place in the manner of applying it. For instance, where experiments are
conducted, as was the case with Dr. Hutton, with moving _eprouvettes_, a
certain loss is sustained, in the same degree as the instrument is made
to recoil from its original position; therefore, by restraining the
recoil, an increase of momentum is given to the projectile, to the same
extent as had been exerted upon the _eprouvette_, or cannon, in driving
it several feet backward; and instead of dividing the force thus
acquired between the shot and the gun, by having the latter firmly fixed
and the recoil destroyed, the whole power is exerted upon the former,
and its velocity accelerated in the same proportion.

Gunpowder, though astonishing in its effect, and tremendous in power,
may nevertheless be controlled within a limited sphere, and bounds put
upon its destructive energy. The following curious experiment, first
tried at Woolwich on a small scale, has since been carried out to a
great extent. Screw into each end of the breech part of a gun-barrel a
well-fitted plug; drill a communication, and put in a nipple; having
filled the barrel with powder, screw in the breech, and fire a cap on
it, and the explosive fluid will escape by the small orifice like steam
from a pipe. If the barrel be good, it may safely be held in the hand,
merely using a towel to protect the hand from the heat the barrel
absorbs. We have done it repeatedly with no inconvenience, and even
carried this experiment much further; firing two ounces of the best
powder in a barrel of good quality (though not in the hand) yet the
barrel did not receive any violent motion by which it could be inferred
that it might not be done with safety.

We have before observed, that, with very short guns, fine gunpowder
produces the greatest result, inasmuch as there is no greater column of
air in the barrel than the explosive fluid is equal to _displace_; or,
in other words, the charge leaving the muzzle of the gun at the very
moment when the explosive force is strongest, all the power is thus
obtained of which it is capable; but if used in a longer barrel, and the
fluid has obtained its greatest power when the charge has twelve inches
of the barrel still to travel, the column of compressed air yet
remaining in the muzzle of the barrel, exerts a resisting influence, in
proportion to its density, upon the charge, and creates a dangerous and
unpleasant recoil.

If a cartridge be placed in the centre of an open barrel eight feet in
length, having a bullet abutting at each end large enough to fill the
barrel, and a touch-hole is drilled as near the centre of the cartridge
as possible, when it is fired, the balls will certainly be discharged
from the barrel, but with a very small degree of force: in fact, merely
driven out. With the same instrument, vary the experiment: place in it a
cartridge charged with one ball, three feet from the muzzle, leaving a
column of air five feet in length to act against the explosive force of
the gunpowder, and the ball will be driven one hundred yards with
considerable force. Again, let a third cartridge be introduced similar
to the last, two feet from the muzzle, increasing the column of air to
six feet; and the result, in distance and velocity, will nearly double
what has been obtained by the last experiment; tending to prove that air
thus forced back upon itself obtains a density, and consequent resisting
influence, nearly equal to a well-screwed breech. In order to test this
principle further, I put into the same tube a double charge of
gunpowder, merely backed by a wadding, two feet from the muzzle, and
then rammed down four balls as tight as possible into the short portion;
in discharging it, the tube was burst immediately in rear of the charge.

In another experiment, I took a common musket barrel, having a plug of
iron firmly fixed into the muzzle; the breech being unscrewed, and a
ball introduced one-tenth of an inch less in diameter than the bore of
the barrel, together with one drachm of gunpowder, I then fired the
gunpowder, and the explosive matter escaped by the touch-hole. On
examination, it was found that the ball was flattened to the extent of
one-third of its sphere. The charge for the next experiment was
increased to two drachms; when the ball in the discharge struck the
muzzle very slightly, altering its shape in the least conceivable
degree. The charge was next increased to three drachms, and the ball
was extracted without any perceptible defect. In the fourth trial,
another drachm was added, with which the effect was greater than the
tube was able to resist; it was in consequence burst, about three inches
from the muzzle.

From this I infer that, in the first trial, the velocity of the ball was
not so great, but that the air escaped past it, by what is technically
called the windage, allowing it to strike the plug at the end of the
barrel with sufficient force to alter the shape of the lead in the
manner described. The second trial gave an increased velocity; the
opposing forces being so nearly balanced that the ball scarcely reached
the end of the barrel, and was very little injured. In the third trial
the velocity became so great, and the air was condensed to such an
extent, that the ball struck upon a cushion-like surface so highly
elastic that it was extracted without the least injury to its shape. The
last charge was too powerful, inasmuch as the lateral pressure of
compressed air rent the tube asunder.

The one great cause of this and other barrels bursting, arises from the
velocity becoming too great, and thus driving back the air upon itself,
until the mutual repulsion of the particles forms an almost impenetrable
barrier, exerting a lateral pressure on the barrel, and resisting the
passage of the elastic fluid. To make the explanation plain; supposing
that the charge had condensed the air for the distance of three or four
inches immediately preceding it, and then come to rest, the waves of
vibration, travelling at the rate of 1,300 feet per second, would
communicate to the remainder of the column the same pressure, and an
equilibrium would take place. But this not being the case, and the air
becoming still more highly compressed by the velocity not decreasing but
increasing, the lateral pressure becomes greater than the fibres of the
iron are able to withstand, and consequently the barrel is burst. Many
accidents arise from this cause solely, and without any blame being
attached to either the maker or user of the gun. While on this subject,
we may remark that this is the more likely, inasmuch as the powder with
which barrels are proved is not the strongest, and is also of a large
grain; so that it is quite within the range of probability that a barrel
may, and it does often, stand proof, and yet burst when it comes to be
used with extremely fine-grained strong powder; as it is quite clear
that a high velocity must create danger.

To pursue the subject still further: in order to procure conclusive
evidence in support of this argument, I had a tube of iron manufactured,
sufficiently good in quality to bear an enormous pressure; it was three
feet in length, with a bore large enough to admit an ounce ball, and the
sides of the arch were full a quarter of an inch in thickness. A piece
of steel, one inch in length, was then turned of a size to fit the bore
well, but not so tight as to prevent its free action: this I called a
piston. From the centre of the tube to the muzzle, were drilled, on all
sides, a number of small holes, a quarter of an inch distant from each
other, in all amounting to sixty-eight; these were fitted with small
pieces of steel needles, hardened, projecting into the interior of the
tube a quarter of an inch, so that the piston, in its upward movement,
should strike these pins, and thus enable me to judge how far it was
driven by each experiment. Each end of the tube was then fitted with a
breech, firmly screwed in; the upper one having a flat internal surface,
the lower one, where ignition was to be communicated, being a conical or
patent breech. This machine I termed an explosion metre; and it answered
its purpose. With two drachms of the best canister gunpowder, the piston
was propelled nineteen inches along the tube; breaking eight pins. The
same quantity of the fine diamond grain reached only eighteen inches, or
four pins. No. 3 grain, of both Laurence’s and Pigou and Wilks’
manufacture, reached twenty-four inches, or twenty-eight pins. A very
superior powder, containing in one grain five of diamond, four of
canister, and two of the above makers’ No. 2, reached twenty-seven
inches, and broke forty pins. In each of these experiments the greatest
accuracy was observed, in preparing the metre as well as in weighing the

These facts go far to prove that, in all uses of gunpowder, the grain
should be of a size proportioned to the length and bore of the gun; for
if we have not an accelerating force to overcome the increasing
resistance of the compressed column of air in the barrel, there is great
danger that the gun may be burst, and probably be productive of great
mischief; whilst a judicious application of the extraordinary power thus
placed at our disposal, may be alike conducive to our safety and our
pleasure. A musket ball can be driven through an half-inch boiler plate;
but this can only be accomplished by using as much powder as will
generate a gradually, though rapidly, increasing power, until the ball
has passed the limits of the tube.

Nitre is not the only salt which has been employed in the manufacture of
gunpowder. Its quantity or proportion in the mixture has been lessened,
and the deficiency supplied by another elementary combination; namely,
by the chlorate of potassa.

The French succeeded in making powder of which potassa forms one of the
component parts, and they say it ranges the projectile double the
distance; but this is doubtful. The proportions of the mixture are
nitrate of potash twenty-five parts, chlorate of potassa forty-five,
sulphur fifteen, charcoal seven and a half, and lycopodium seven and a
half parts. In the year 1809, a similar kind of powder was proposed to
the English Government, by a person of the name of Parr; but its
introduction was very properly opposed by Sir William Congreve, on
account of the danger attending its use, and also from the fact that
there was no piece of ordnance in the service able to withstand its
effects. The proportions were, chlorate of potassa six parts, fine
charcoal one part, sulphur one part. These ingredients to be _carefully_
mixed together and granulated. The above mixture was laid aside, not
only from the want of power to restrain its effects, but because it was
useless, from the very extreme rapidity of its explosion: it forms the
atmospheric air into a wall of adamant, by the condensation confining it
to a comparatively small space; it becomes lightning--an electric fluid,
which, from its very intensity, cannot displace any great mass of air.

Neither can any advantage arise from any greater velocity in projectile
force, except we can obtain that by a graduated scale; for masses
cannot, from a state of rest, be put in extreme motion instantaneously:
philosophy teaches us, and experience makes it evident, that a portion
of time must be occupied, however short that may be. All motion is
gradual, and cannot be obtained otherwise; and hence the fact, that
lightning conveyed into a tube filled with projectiles would not drive
them out: it would not project them, but the blow would break them in
pieces. So is it with this mixture; it is useless from its very rapidity
of ignition. We have shown that even fine grain gunpowder is too quick,
and that its quickness destroys its power; how much more so is the
other: and what would it avail us, with these disadvantages.

A writer mentions what he conceives to be a curious fact: he says, “If a
train of gunpowder be crossed at right angles by a train of fulminating
mercury, laid on a sheet of paper on a table, and the gunpowder lighted
by a red hot wire, the flame will run on until it meets the cross train
of fulminating mercury, when the inflammation of the latter will be so
instantaneous as to cut off the connection with the continuous train of
gunpowder, leaving one half of the train unignited:” and again, “If the
fulminating powder be lighted first, it will go straight on, and pass
through the train of gunpowder so rapidly as not to inflame it at all.”
True; and the cause is quite apparent: the rapidity of combustion
condenses the air so quickly, as to remove the grains of gunpowder
liable to come in contact with the flame, and to form the condensed air
into a line of demarcation: for heat cannot be taken up by the air
quicker than the atmosphere will convey sound; and before the heat can
evaporate the explosion is over, and is consequently noiseless.

In all mining operations: in the quarrying of stone, the destruction of
sunken rocks, or in any other operations where it is desirable to detach
large masses, the use of gunpowder is indispensable; not only because it
decreases manual exertion but also because it can be used under
circumstances and in situations unapproachable by other means. It
becomes, therefore, a consideration for the miner what kind is best
suited for the purpose; the finest grained powder is useless as is well
known: it is also more expensive; but its principal defect arises from
its quickness of combustion. Masses cannot be detached without first
putting the whole in motion; and as this cannot be done in a very short
time, it is necessary to prolong the explosion, so that the wave of
vibration may have time to travel throughout the whole of the mass acted
upon; and a repetition of these waves is necessary before any mass can
move. Now, to obtain this, it is necessary that matter be so
incorporated with the powder as to prolong that explosion; bituminous
substances might be applied with effect, for their slow burning would
keep the heat necessary to hold the permanent gases at their utmost
stretch of expansion.

It is obvious, from the extremely high character English sporting
gunpowder has obtained all over the world, that considerable improvement
must have been effected by the private manufacturers, either in the
purification or manipulation of ingredients; indeed the unwearied care
bestowed on this point by several of our best makers is beyond all
praise. To explain the various methods, or otherwise enlarge upon this
point, would be injurious to individual skill and enterprise, and be the
means of imparting knowledge to those who have not ability to invent,
but who gather from the brains of others. The French set great value on
the “Poudre de Chasse” of England. It is rather singular that we should
excel those who pride themselves so much on their chemical knowledge;
but, as before remarked, it is certain that the intimate incorporation
of the ingredients is of more importance than the chemical proportions.

All military and naval gunpowder is not manufactured of the greatest
strength that can be acquired “_at the Government mills_;” a sample is
furnished to each contractor with each contract, and to this strength he
is limited.

The fame of our English gunpowder makers is patent to all the world,
and, where skill is equal, to name one rather than another would be
invidious; though we must not lose sight of the facts herein
established. “Granulation,” properly understood, is an equivalent point
to either chemical or mechanical knowledge and manipulation in gunpowder
manufacture. Great anxiety to meet the wishes of the sporting world on
this point, and to advance with the age, has been aroused; and specimens
have been kindly furnished to me, not by one, but by all the following
celebrated makers: Messrs. Pigou and Wilks, Curtis and Harvey, Lawrence
and Son, John Hall and Son; and I have received also a very excellent
specimen from the Scotch mills.

Gunpowder of five sizes of granulation, on the basis before alluded to:
namely, No. 2, containing two quantities of No. 1, and No. 3, three, and
so on in progression; but it is imperative that all the various sizes be
produced from the same mill cake, or be otherwise of the same
condensation or specific gravity, and in all experiments of comparison,
equal weights are a “sine quâ non,” otherwise the comparison will be
futile; as measure is, for these very obvious reasons, inapplicable in
comparative tests. When these points are carefully attained, increased
power of killing, “decreased recoil,” and much greater safety, will be
the important benefits which the gunpowder manufacturers will confer on
every one using a gun.



Arcualia, from “arcus, a bow,” appears to have been the original name,
and included all sorts of “missiles,” as well as the engines by which
they were propelled. The sling, still in common use by the Arabs on the
banks of the upper Euphrates, being most probably the first kind of
artillery, and the bow and arrow a succeeding stage of improvement.

Artillery, now in the general acceptance of the term, includes all and
every description of gun, of greater power and dimensions than muskets
and other shoulder guns.

Modern civilization, with its giant strides of improvement, has rejected
the cumbrous and unsightly complication of springs, levers and wheels;
and given to us, in their stead, the light and handsome six-pounder
cannon; which is so easy of transit that it can accomplish the most
complex and difficult movements, while the horses are at their fullest
gallop. A single minute now suffices to stop when at the greatest speed,
unlimber, load, fire a couple of rounds, and remount; the gun is
speedily at a distance--while the eye can scarcely follow, or the mind
imagine, the destruction that must follow when the “deep-tongued gun”
is fired in attack.

I shall now proceed to notice the comparative effects of guns of various
calibre and power, and attempt to convey to the reader a distinct idea
of their respective defects and advantages. The artillery of England
comprises an immense variety of weapons of war, suited for various
purposes and situations, as experience has dictated, or necessity
required. The present state of our artillery requires _an advance to the
front_, to be in a line with the march of science, as regards the
knowledge of gunpowder and projectiles; I may, therefore, be permitted
to animadvert on what appears to me to need improvement.

The profession may think it presumptuous in me to offer a suggestion or
give an opinion; for it too frequently happens that individuals, who
have employed their whole time and study on one especial subject, think
they alone can understand it, and consider any opposition to their
opinions, or any doubt of the soundness of their conclusions, little
short of a positive offence.

Having given considerable attention to the subject, I would now beg to
offer some remarks on the Government arrangements of gunnery, which are
not yet so perfect as they might be.

The authorities of the Ordnance Department are, I am sorry to state, too
remiss in considering, and too unwilling to avail themselves of valuable
improvements and discoveries; clinging too much to prejudice in favour
of whatever has been heretofore in use. To such an extent is this habit
carried, that many improvements become familiar to half the kingdom,
aye, and are adopted by other countries, before our guides take
advantage of them: for truly talent and ingenuity are but scantily
patronized by them. My wish is to aid in sweeping away the cobwebs which
still hang on the science of great gunnery; and to push the spur of
conviction deep, that instead of Britain following, she may, in a time
of peace, lead the way in improvements; so that whenever war returns,
she may not be unprepared to wage it on equal terms.

I have in this chapter endeavoured to divest the subject of all
extraneous matter, and impart as much information as will enable the
reader to form an opinion for himself, and understand something of a
science hitherto considered abstract, and which is, no doubt, abstruse.
This I have sought to effect in plain language, avoiding, wherever it
was possible, all technicalities.

The guns of the British nation may be divided into four classes--Park,
or Field artillery, Siege guns, or battering train, garrison guns, and
marine artillery. The numbers of different descriptions of rates, or
weight of guns, vary in all the different classes of the service. There
are light, medium, and heavy six-pounders; long and short twenty-four
pounders; and two or more weights in all the varieties, even up to the
ten-inch gun and thirteen-inch mortar. We have iron ordnance and brass,
for long and short ranges, for small or great velocity. The rate,
weight, length, charges, point blank, extreme range, &c., of iron guns,
will be found in the annexed table, by which will be seen, at a glance,
the various matters referred to.


   Nature  |       |       |   Charge   |Point |Extreme|
     of    |Weight.|Length.|     of     |Blank |at     | Windage
    Gun.   |       |       |   Powder.  |Range.|5 deg. |decreased.
  Pounders.| cwts. |ft. in.|lbs.  ozs.  |yards.| yards.|
     32    |  63   | 9   7 | 10   10-1/2|  380 |  1950 |    --
     32    |  56   | 9   6 | 10   10-1/2|  380 |  1950 |    --
     32    |  48   | 8   0 |  8    0    |  330 |  1740 |    --
     32    |  40   | 7   6 |  6    0    |  340 |  1700 |   ·06
     32    |  32   | 6   6 |  5    0    |  330 |  1640 |   ·11
     32    |  25   | 6   0 |  4    0    |  225 |  1500 |   ·11
     32    |  25   | 5   4 |  4    0    |  225 |  1500 |   ·11
     24    |  50   | 9   6 |  8    0    |  360 |  1850 |    --
     24    |  48   | 9   0 |  8    0    |  360 |  1850 |    --
     24    |  40   | 7   6 |  8    0    |  340 |  1800 |    --
     24    |  33   | 6   6 |  6    0    |  260 |  1560 |    --
     18    |  42   | 9   0 |  6    0    |  360 |  1780 |    --
     18    |  38   | 8   0 |  6    0    |  340 |  1730 |    --
     12    |  34   | 9   0 |  4    0    |  360 |  1700 |    --
     12    |  29   | 7   6 |  4    0    |  340 |  1650 |    --
      9    |  26   | 7   6 |  3    0    |  330 |  1600 |    --
      6    |  17   | 6   0 |  2    0    |  320 |  1520 |    --
  Carronades.      |       |            |      |       |
     68    |  36   | 5   4 |  5   10-1/2|  270 |  1420 |    --
     42    |  22   | 4   6 |  3    8    |  240 |  1350 |    --
     32    |  17   | 4   0 |  2   10-1/2|  235 |  1260 |    --
     24    |  13   | 3   9 |  2    0    |  225 |  1150 |    --
     18    |  10   | 3   4 |  1    8    |  220 |  1100 |    --
     12    |   6   | 2   8 |  1    0    |  205 |  1000 |    --

Brass guns are invariably lighter, and considered less likely to burst.
Gun metal, technically so called, is a compound of copper and tin, in
the proportion of five, eight, and ten pounds of the latter to 100
pounds of the former. The peculiar property of the tin is to give
hardness and solidity to the mass. The greater proportions are used
principally for mortars, as they require a greater degree of hardness
than other guns. A peculiar property attaches to the using of brass
guns. If a considerable number of rounds be fired in rapid succession,
the bore of the gun becomes to a certain extent elliptical. This
peculiarity arises entirely from the extreme windage allowed by the
present established rules of British gunnery; and is produced by the
tendency of the shot, when propelled by the explosive force, to strike
upwards from the breech, and then rebound downwards, and so on till it
reaches the muzzle. Iron guns are not liable to this (although the same
cause exists) from the unductile nature of the cast iron.

Brass guns are, after certain use, recast: this is done solid, with the
cascable of the gun downwards, to give a greater density to the metal at
the breech. The boring and turning are performed simultaneously by a
very simple arrangement. At the siege of Badajos, the firing continued
for 104 hours, and the number of rounds that each gun fired averaged
1,249; and at the siege of Sebastian, the quantity fired by each gun was
about 350 rounds, in 15-1/2 hours. These guns being of iron, none of
them were rendered unserviceable; though three times the number of brass
guns would not have been equal to such long and rapid firing. All brass
guns are bouched with a bolt of copper at the vent, on the same
principle as flint guns for sporting were formerly with gold or platina;
copper withstanding the rapid escape of the flame better than the
gun-metal. The charges, ranges, &c., are as follows:--


                   |Charge.|Point |Extreme|Eleva-|
        ----       |       |Blank | Range.| tion.|        ----
                   |       |Range.|       |      |
                   |lb. oz.|yards.| yards.| deg. |
  Medium 12-pounder| 4   0 |  300 | 1,200 |   3  |}
  Light 12-pounder | 4   0 |  200 | 1,000 |   3  |}
  9-pounder        | 3   0 |  300 | 1,200 |   3  |}With round solid
  Long 6-pounder   | 2   0 |  300 | 1,200 |   3  |}Shot.
  Light 6-pounder  | 2   0 |  200 | 1,000 |   3  |}
  Heavy 3-pounder  | 1   0 |  200 | 1,000 |   3  |}
  24-pounder       |       |      |       |      | }
  howitzer         | 2   8 |  250 |   950 | 3-1/2| }
  12-pounder       |       |      |       |      | }With common Shells.
  howitzer         | 1   4 |  200 |   950 | 3-3/4| }When Shot is fired,
  Heavy 5-1/2-inch |       |      |       |      | }they increase the
  howitzer         | 2   0 |  250 | 1,750 |  12  | }elevation 1/2 a deg.
  Light 5-1/2-inch |       |      |       |      | }
  howitzer         | 2   0 |  100 | 1,350 |   2  | }

The twelve, ten, and eight-inch guns, almost form a class of themselves,
known as the “Paixhan Gun.” They are intended for throwing both hollow
and solid shot. The larger are the description of ordnance with which we
at present arm our steam frigates.

These are unquestionably part of the many doubtful descriptions of
artillery which have been adopted of late years, with a view to
_fracture_ more than to secure a range of projectile. They are enormous
machines, as will be seen on reference to their weights, as given in the
following table; and their splintering powers are certainly very
extensive indeed. But their range is contemptibly small, if we take into
consideration their great weight. The effect of the explosion of the
charge of one of these guns must be sensibly felt even by the strongest
built steamer in the world. They are used with traversing beds. The gun
carriage, when recoiling, in a backward direction, being driven up an
inclined railway, with from 3° to 4° of elevation, from the cascable of
the gun. This greatly tends to lessen the distance which the gun would
be driven back, and facilitates the running out of the piece to the
point of discharge. The woodcut gives a representation of the traversing
beds; and the following table displays the ranges, &c., of this class of
heavy artillery.



                     |         |        | Charge  |Point |Extreme|Eleva-
  Nature of Ordnance.| Length. | Weight.| Powder. |Blank | Range.|tion.
                     |         |        |         |Range.|       |
                     |ft. in.  |cwt. qr.|lbs. ozs.|yards.|yards. |deg.
  12-inch gun, with }|         |        |         |      |       |
  hollow shot,      }| 8  4    | 90   3 | 12   0  | 240  | 1,550 | 6
  weight 112 lbs.   }|         |        |         |      |       |
  10-inch, with    } |         |        |         |      |       |
  ditto, weight 86 } | 7  6    | 57   3 |  7   0  | 210  | 1,500 | 6
  lbs.             } |         |        |         |      |       |
  Ditto              | 8  4    | 62   1 |  8   0  | 250  | 1,400 | 5
  Ditto              | 9  4    | 84   0 | 12   0  | 325  | 1,700 | 5
  8-inch gun, with  }|         |        |         |      |       |
  hollow shot, 48   }| 6  8-1/2| 50   0 |  7   0  | 210  | 1,300 | 5
  lbs.              }|         |        |         |      |       |
  8-inch ditto,    } |         |        |         |      |       |
  solid shot, 68   } | 8  6    | 60   0 |  9   7  | 340  | 1,500 | 5
  lbs.             } |         |        |         |      |       |
  Ditto              | 9  0    | 65   0 | 10   0  | 300  | 3,250 |15
  Ditto, hollow shot | 9  0    | 65   0 | 12   0  | 370  | 2,920 |15
  10-inch iron       |         |        |         |      |       |
  howitzers          | 5  0    | 40   0 |  7   0  |2 deg.| 2,078 |12
                     |         |        |         | 600  |       |
  8-inch ditto       | 4  0    | 21   0 |  4   0  |3 deg.| 1,725 |12
                     |         |        |         | 730  |       |

  [2] Length of time occupied in flight, 14 seconds, and 15-1/4

Mortars are intended for three purposes; firstly, to bombard a town, or
injure the defenders’ artillery; secondly, to fire or overthrow the
works, and to spread havoc and slaughter among the troops; thirdly, to
break through the vaulted roofs of barracks and magazines which are not
bomb-proof, or, in other terms, are not strong enough to resist the

They consist, as will be seen, of five descriptions, but the 10-inch is
considered, on the score of economy, as equal to all useful purposes.
The French have, at various times, constructed mortars of enormously
large dimensions, but certainly with no useful result. The monster
mortar, used at the siege of Antwerp, fired only ten or twelve shots,
and with comparatively little effect. It burst some time after, while
under a course of experiment, with a considerably less charge than it
had formerly withstood; thus affording one very conclusive and
illustrative fact in the theory of vibrations in metals: for there can
be no question but that the shell, from the smallness of the charge, was
too long detained in the mortar; the waves of vibration caused by the
explosive force moving so rapidly through the mass that the metal at
last lost its cohesive nature from their very rapid succession.

It will be perceived, on reference to the adjoining tables, that ranges
are obtained by the modifications of charges.


  [3] Artillerist’s Manual.

           13-INCH IRON.          ||       10-INCH IRON.            |
          Weight, 16 cwts.        ||      16 cwts. 2 qrs.           |
     Shell filled, 200 lbs.[4]    ||          92 lbs.               |
   Bursting powder, 6 lbs. 2 ozs. ||       2 lbs. 10 ozs.           |
       Blowing powder, 2 ozs.     ||         1-1/2 ozs.             |
   Ele-  |  Charge.  |Fuse.|Range.|| Ele-  |  Charge.  |Fuse.|Range.|
  vation.|           |     |      ||vation.|           |     |      |
   deg.  |lbs.  ozs. |inch.|yards.|| deg.  |lbs.  ozs. |inch.|yards.|
    45   | 2    1-1/2| 1·90|   450||  45   | 1    0-1/2| 1·90|   450|
         | 2    3    | 2·00|   500||       | 1    2    | 2·00|   500|
         | 2    4-3/4| 2·10|   550||       | 1    3-1/4| 2·10|   550|
         | 2    6    | 2·20|   600||       | 1    4-3/4| 2·20|   600|
         | 2    7-3/4| 2·30|   650||       | 1    6    | 2·30|   650|
         | 2    9-1/2| 2·40|   700||       | 1    7-1/2| 2·40|   700|
         | 2   11-3/4| 2·45|   750||       | 1    9    | 2·45|   750|
         | 2   14    | 2·50|   800||       | 1   10    | 2·50|   800|
         | 3    0-1/2| 2·55|   850||       | 1   11    | 2·55|   850|
         | 3    3    | 2·60|   900||       | 1   12    | 2·60|   900|
         | 3    5-1/2| 2·65|   950||       | 1   13    | 2·65|   950|
         | 3    8    | 2·70| 1,000||       | 1   14    | 2·70| 1,000|
         | 3   10    | 2·75| 1,050||       | 1   15-1/4| 2·75| 1,050|
         | 3   12    | 2·80| 1,100||       | 2    0-1/2| 2·80| 1,100|
         | 3   14    | 2·85| 1,150||       | 2    1-3/4| 2·85| 1,150|
         | 4    0    | 2·90| 1,200||       | 2    3    | 2·90| 1,200|

  |            8-INCH IRON.            |
  |            8 cwts. 1 qr.           |
  |               46 lbs.              |
  |            1 lb. 14 ozs.           |
  |                1 oz.               |
  |Elevation.|  Charge.   |Fuse.|Range.|
  |   deg.   |lbs. ozs.   |inch.|yards.|
  |    15    | 0    14    | 0·80|   500|
  |          | 1     0    | 1·00|   550|
  |          | 1     2    | 1·10|   600|
  |    45    | 0     9-1/2| 1·90|   450|
  |          | 0    10-3/4| 2·00|   500|
  |          | 0    12-1/2| 2·10|   550|
  |          | 0    13-3/4| 2·20|   600|
  |          | 0    14-1/2| 2·30|   650|
  |          | 0    15-1/2| 2·40|   700|
  |          | 1     0    | 2·45|   750|
  |          | 1     0-1/2| 2·50|   800|
  |          | 1     1-1/4| 2·55|   850|
  |          | 1     2    | 2·60|   900|
  |          | 1     2-3/4| 2·65|   950|
  |          | 1     3-1/2| 2·70| 1,000|
  |          | 1     4    | 2·75| 1,050|
  |          | 1     4-3/4| 2·80| 1,100|
  |          | 1     5-1/4| 2·85| 1,150|
  |          | 1     6    | 2·90| 1,200|

  |       5-1/2-INCH BRASS.        ||       4 2-5th-INCH BRASS.
  |  Weight, 1 cwt. 1 qr. 10 lbs.  ||         3 qrs. 19 lbs.
  |    Shell filled, 16 lbs.[5]    ||             8 lbs.
  |    Bursting powder, 10 ozs.    ||             5 ozs.
  |     Blowing powder, 1/2 oz.    ||             1/2 oz.
  |Elevation.|Charge. |Fuse.|Range.||Elevation.| Charge.|Fuse.|Range.
  |   deg.   |ozs. dr.|inch.|yards.||   deg.   |ozs. dr.|inch.|yards.
  |    15    | 6    0 | 0·73| 350  ||    15    | 4    8 | 0·80| 450
  |          | 7    0 | 0·75| 400  ||          | 4   12 | 0·85| 500
  |          | 7    8 | 0·80| 450  ||    25    | 4    0 | 1·10| 540
  |          | 8    0 | 0·85| 500  ||          |        |     |
  |    25    | 5    8 | 1·10| 480  ||          |        |     |
  |    45    | 4    8 |     | 300  ||    45    | 2    6 | 1·65| 300
  |          | 4   12 |     | 350  ||          | 2    9 | 1·70| 350
  |          | 5    0 | 1·75| 400  ||          | 2   12 | 1·75| 400
  |          | 5    4 | 1·80| 450  ||          | 3    0 | 1·80| 450
  |          | 5    8 | 1·85| 500  ||          | 3    4 | 1·85| 500
  |          | 5   12 | 1·90| 550  ||          | 3    8 | 1·90| 550
  |          | 6    0 | 1·95| 600  ||          | 3   12 | 1·95| 600

  [4] Shells filled with sand, which will account for the weight.

  [5] Shells filled with sand, which will account for the weight.

        13-INCH LAND SERVICE.         10-INCH DITTO.    8-INCH DITTO.
  Greatest charge, 8 pounds powder.    4-1/2 pounds.      1 pound.
    Greatest range, 2,706 yards.       2,536 yards.     1,720 yards.


  Inches.                          cwts. qrs. lbs.          Inches.
  13     Land service,    Weight,    36   2     0   Length,  36·563
  10          do.            „       16   2     0      „     28·125
   8          do.            „        8   2    14      „     22·500
   5-1/2      do.  brass,    „        1   1    15      „     15·104
   4-2/3      do.    do.     „        0   3    20      „     12·713
  13     Sea service,        „      100   1    14      „     52·810
  10         do.             „       52   0     0      „     45·620


Carronades are a short description of ordnance without trunnions, but
fastened by a loop under the reinforce. Their construction is materially
different from that of guns. They have a chamber like a mortar, a part
scooped out inside the muzzle, forming a cup, and they have also a patch
on the reinforce. The name arises from the Carron Foundry in Scotland,
the first of them having been cast there in 1779. The construction is
considerably lighter than that of guns of similar calibre. Their
principal use is on board ship; but they are sometimes used in
casemates, or retired flanks of fortresses.

The proportions of all guns to shot, will be found below; and in looking
at this table, it will scarce be conceivable how such light guns can
project such heavy shot.


                     |Weight |Comparative
         ----        |  of   |  Weight.
                     | Guns. |
                     | cwts. |
  12-inch Gun        | 90    | 1 to 112
  10  do.            | 84    | 1  „  82
   8  do.            | 65    | 1  „ 107
   8  do.            | 60    | 1  „  96
   8  do.            | 50    | 1  „  82
  32-pounder         | 64    | 1  „ 224
      Do.            | 56    | 1  „ 196
      Do.            | 48    | 1  „ 168
      Do.            | 40    | 1  „ 140
      Do.            | 32    | 1  „ 112
      Do.            | 25    | 1  „  84
  24-pounder         | 50    | 1  „ 233
      Do.            | 48    | 1  „ 219
      Do.            | 42    | 1  „ 186
  18-pounder         | 42    | 1  „ 261
      Do.            | 37-1/2| 1  „ 233
  12-pounder         | 34    | 1  „ 318
      Do.            | 29    | 1  „ 270
      Do.            | 21    | 1  „ 196
   9-pounder         | 31    | 1  „ 285
      Do.            | 26    | 1  „ 323
      Do.            | 17    | 1  „ 211
   6-pounder         | 23    | 1  „ 429
      Do.            | 17    | 1  „ 327
  68-pound Carronades| 30    | 1  „  59
  42  do.            | 22-1/4| 1  „  58
  32  do.            | 17    | 1  „  62
  32  do.            | 25    | 1  „  96
  24  do.            | 13    | 1  „  55
  18  do.            | 10    | 1  „  56
  12  do.            |  6    | 1  „  56

The recoil, which in all the before-mentioned guns is very great, arises
from the blow communicated to the iron in immediate contact with the
explosive fluid. The granulatory system of the metal transmits to those
grains, or crystals, immediately behind them, the blow or concussion
they are subjected to, and these again to others, and so on, until the
vibration has passed through the metal, from the interior of the breech
to the exterior of the gun.

I am satisfied that in all small guns, from their slight substance,
recoil is communicated a great deal quicker than in larger ones; hence
arises the well-known fact that in shooting you receive a knock nearly
simultaneous with the explosion. The greater and heavier the gun (even
carry it up to General Miller’s gun of 84 cwt.) if the proportion which
the shot bears to it be not too great, the less will be the velocity of
recoil. But in carronades, as will be seen, the proportions are as high
as 1 to 55, while in long guns, it is 1 to 429; a very considerable
degree of difference.

Our ancestors had but a limited knowledge of the laws of projecting
bodies by gunpowder. Their explosive power was not good; for there is
clear proof, even since the time of Robins, that the purification of the
ingredients has nearly doubled the explosive force. The mechanical
construction and outer mould of their guns, were calculated to resist
and limit the effects of recoil to a great extent.

Accumulation of metal in the rear of the breech-end of a gun is true
science, and of so easy an attainment, that wonder arises in the mind
why it has not been effected. The extent to which this principle is
worked upon in our gunnery is very trifling; though recoil can by this
simple arrangement be nearly destroyed, or so lessened as to add
considerable percentage of range to the projectile. Add no considerable
weight to the gun, but add it judiciously, behind the end of the chamber
and vent, and immediately surrounding the breech. I have tried this to a
great extent, on a small scale, “with fowling-piece barrels,” and find
that the greatest advantage arises from an additional inch of metal to
the extreme end of the barrel, as the recoil is thereby lessened; while,
on the contrary, by reducing the exterior end of the breech, until it
becomes of less thickness than the sides of the barrel, the recoil is
doubled. Guns will some day be constructed as mortars are, with the
axles, or trunnions, in rear of the tube and of the vent; for by this
arrangement recoil would act less on the mass of metal forming the gun,
and more on the base from which it is fired. We are quite aware that an
arrangement of this nature could only be applied to certain descriptions
of ordnance, and in certain situations; but on forts, or batteries
commanding rivers and bays, and even in the bows of steam vessels, they
may be placed with great advantage. But this objection may be started:
“You could not use guns fitted in this manner horizontally, or nearly
so.” Why not? The muzzle could be as easily raised or depressed as the
breech, by mechanical means. I should much like to see the principle
tried, and I hope to do so.

The following results of experiments prove, that if a true basis is not
laid down, all the fabric raised upon it is but one of sand, which will
crumble away from under us. Hutton says,--“Varying the weight of the
gun, produced no change in the velocity of the ball. The guns were
suspended in the same manner as the pendulous blocks, and additional
weights were attached to the pieces, so as to restrain the recoil; but
although the arcs of the recoil were thus shortened, yet the velocity of
the ball was not altered by it. The recoil was then entirely prevented,
but the initial velocity of the ball remained the same.” No doubt this
was the result of his experiments by the pendulous suspension of the
gun: but here he erred; for had he suspended a thousand tons to it,
without incorporating it in the gun, the result would still have been
the same. All the improvements effected, or yet to be accomplished, will
be obtained by a concentration of metal.

An excess of weight in the fore part of a gun is very injurious, by
inducing and lengthening the tremulous vibration created by the
explosion. The only necessity for strength forward in a cannon, arises
from the necessity of resisting the lateral pressure from the
condensation of the column of air in the tube. The pressure of the
explosive gases is, by the velocity obtained before reaching the fore
part, of very little amount, from the short period it is exerted on the
interior. Therefore weight, in the fore part of a gun, be it ever so
great, will not prevent recoil if there is not a proportionate quantity
behind. It will retard or lessen the distance to which the recoil will
drive the gun and carriage, but the evil is then over.

If the slightest movement occurs in the gun, the shot is projected from
an unsound base or foundation. It is precisely similar to a man who, in
the act of throwing a stone, slips his foot backwards: the effect is at
once apparent on the stone. If the trunnion of a gun breaks in the
discharge, or a quoin flies out, the shot is materially affected; never
ranging, under such circumstances, the accustomed distance, nor with its
usual accuracy. Practice with mortars proves beyond dispute the
necessity of a firm base for the gun, for with a much less charge they
project a greater mass farther. A mortar discharged on land, exceeds in
range the same description of gun on board of ship, or on the
best-constructed platform. In truth, this is but another illustration of
a law of nature: if you have not a solid fulcrum, it matters little what
the power of your lever may be. Gunpowder is a powerful lever if
exploded on a solid base; if not, its effects become limited in
proportion. Unquestionably, much may yet be gained by an economical
arrangement of our projectile force. Great and rapid as have been the
acquisitions of knowledge in everything relating to gunnery in modern
times, there still remains, I have no doubt, an unexplored mine of
valuable treasure to be added to the science.

It would effect a great improvement in the mortars used by the navy,
destroying the tremendous vibration and shake given to the ship,
increasing their efficiency and aiding the projecting power, to place
them on beds of the softest lead, not less than twelve inches in
thickness. Though this suggestion is only theoretical, experience would
soon determine the least degree of substance available. Advantage would
arise, in the first place, from the non-conducting tendency of the lead;
in the second, from its density, and, of course, incompressibility. The
one protecting the ship, the other being the most solid bed for the
mortar that can by possibility be obtained.

The weight of a hollow 13-inch shell is 190 lbs.; the bursting powder 6
lbs. 8 oz.; the weight, if cast solid, would be 290 lbs.: thus the
action of so large a body on the atmosphere must be immense of itself.
There seems to be much difficulty in projecting masses of great
diameter, from this cause; and this should lead us to seek, as indeed it
points to, another material for fabricating projectiles. As weight is
less in substance, and, of course, less in space, much less resistance,
in proportion, will exist in a bore of six inches than in one of twelve;
and a greater projectile force will be generated with fewer
countervailing disadvantages.

The first step in the vast improvements about to be effected in gunnery,
has been successfully taken by Mr. Monk, of Woolwich arsenal, who has
induced the authorities to allow a gun to be made from drawings and
calculations of his own. The dimensions of the gun are as follows:
length from cascable to muzzle, 11 feet; weight, 97 cwt. 3 qrs.; bore,
7-7/10 inches; weight of solid shot, 55 lbs.; shell, 42 lbs.; windage,
0·175; charge, 16 lbs. of powder; giving a range, at 32° of elevation,
of 5,327 yards. _A compound shot_, (a shell filled with lead), was
projected 5,720 yards, or _three miles and a quarter_, at a velocity,
during the first second of time, of 2,400 feet per second, and occupying
during the whole flight only 29-1/2 seconds. The comparative weight of
gun and shot is 1 to 220.

A course of experiments, extending over seventeen years, has firmly
established this gun as the best ever yet constructed. Many attempts
have been made to excel it, but all have failed. Guns have been made on
drawings varying not more than three-tenths of an inch in their
dimensions from those of his gun, and, with extreme _modesty_, the
individuals have claimed a right to compete with Mr. Monk; and have
even obtained competing trials, without any claim whatever to the
discovery of the principle of it; coming into competition by no just
claim or merit, but solely from the tendency to supersede any
improvement emanating from a _civilian_. Eighteen, twenty-four, and
thirty-two pounders are now, however, constructed on this model;--indeed
the improvement is so great and so apparent, as to overcome every
obstacle as yet thrown in its way.

With no wish to detract from the merit of Mr. Monk’s invention (upon
which I congratulate him and the country) but, in justice to myself, I
may remind some of my readers, that in “The Gun,” published early in
1835, I clearly laid down the principle in _projectile force_, on which
this gun is constructed; and as he has since so successfully
accomplished this great improvement, he must permit me to say, that the
principle is the same which I have striven for, for many years.

Wilkinson says, “Guns cast on this principle, although several
hundredweight lighter altogether, recoil less than those on the old
plan, with equal charges of powder and ball, in consequence of the
weight being _properly_ distributed.” He adds, “One remarkable fact
attended these experiments, namely, that by increasing the windage a
little, the range was increased also, contrary to the received opinion;
but this may be explained by the circumstance, that with very great
velocities, and long guns, the column of air to be displaced before the
ball quits the gun is considerable, and is condensed so rapidly, that
it offers immense resistance to the passage of the bullet, if it fit the
bore closely; but, by reducing the size of the ball, and thus increasing
the windage, the air has more space to rush round it, and the ball
escapes with greater facility.”

If the condensed air prevented the velocity being greater, it argues
most clearly, that there was an insufficiency of explosive matter to
keep up the velocity until the ball of less windage left the muzzle; and
the result with the ball of greater windage establishes this assumption.
For if the condensed air was allowed to pass the ball by the windage
into the tube, it proves beyond doubt that there was a deficiency of
matter there, or that the pressure without was greater than that within.
How otherwise could such a result occur? It is a clearly established
fact, that with the generality of ordnance, a full waste of one-fourth
of explosive force, if not more, occurs by the _elastic fluid_ escaping
past the ball by the windage, instead of the reverse. Neither could the
condensed air rush into the gun by the windage if there are any
_permanent gases_ generated; which Mr. Wilkinson himself says there are,
to the extent of “250 times the bulk of the powder in grain.” These
would offer a sufficient resistance to prevent the condensed air rushing
in. I have found, by an experiment before described, that a ball driven
against a column of air which has no escape, if the velocity be
trifling, say 800 feet per second, the air will escape by the windage;
but double this even, and it is so condensed as to form a cushion for
the ball to strike against. Then how much less will the chance be of its
escaping, if the velocity become two thousand four hundred feet per
second. No, the cause is remote from that of Mr. Wilkinson’s
supposition. There is a want of force--an accelerative propellant
force--which should continue to the end of the tube, be that length ever
so great; and on this point, for one, turns the whole future improvement
of gunnery.

The result wished for can be obtained by a systematical arrangement of
the granulation of powder. That a much greater velocity than is obtained
in this gun--at present the greatest in any piece of ordnance in use,
and possessing a longer range than has been obtained by any power in
Europe--may and will be attained, I fearlessly assert. I have obtained a
velocity with an ounce ball nearly doubling this; and though, as it will
be argued, this may be too limited an experiment, yet let us not forget
that great results most frequently spring from little causes. Large
rivers owe their origin to small springs, and if the same principle by
which we can penetrate a plate of iron half an inch thick with an ounce
of lead, be fearlessly and judiciously carried through, we may (and no
doubt we shall) live to see projectiles thrown 5-1/4 miles. That this
will be difficult to accomplish I deny: no difficulty attends it,
provided the principles before explained are duly carried out.

The great principle in a propellant force is so to arrange it that you
do not obtain too great a velocity at the first move of the projectile;
as no mass can be forced from a state of rest to a rapid state of
motion, without communicating to the gun a corresponding motion, which
will create a recoil: and the greater the motion, the greater the
recoil. If the explosive matter merely expands for a brief period, and
is burnt out before the shot has reached midway the length of the gun,
the velocity there acquired will be reduced, by the condensed column of
air in the other half of the barrel, to the velocity it possessed when
only one fourth the length of the whole from the breech; consequently it
would be advantageous to cut the gun in two at the middle, as a greater
force would be then generated advantageously, than by the whole. But if
you so arrange the granulation of your powder that it shall proceed into
motion more gradually, a rapidly increasing force of elastic fluid will
continue to be generated, until it reaches its greatest maximum of
velocity (which it should do just as the ball leaves the muzzle) then
you obtain with your means the greatest result possible.

We believe that the generality of gunpowder used by our Government is
vastly inferior in strength to some made by private makers; yet it is
not advisable to jump from one extreme to another. What is wanted is the
proper blending of the qualities; an addition of a quantity of Harvey’s
quick powder to a charge, when it has driven the ball up three-fourths
of the tube of a gun, and probably had acquired a velocity of 2,000 feet
per second, might so aid it, that it would leave the muzzle with a
velocity of 3,000.

You cannot put a locomotive train in motion at once: if it were
attempted, you would break all the carriages; but if you gradually add
your force, you gain in time the greatest possible velocity. I have
drawn a parallel case: it is the same with gunpowder; only the
velocities are widely different. Therefore, I may be pardoned, if I say
gunnery is like steam, but in its infancy. Let us but clearly see and
understand aright the principle--knowing that the greater momentum the
less the action of the atmosphere--and if 3-1/4 miles can be obtained
with a ball 60 lbs. weight, 5-1/4 may be easily accomplished by a ball
of 120 lbs. Powder is made, and can be had, that will do this.

The use of compound-shot has of late years become quite common in
experiments: why lead, with its alloys, has not been more extensively
used as a projectile for large guns, has always appeared to me
extraordinary. Its weight and density peculiarly fit it for this
purpose, and its non-conducting principle is its greatest
recommendation. How is it? In no instance, except as compound-shot, do
we find any record of the use of leaden bullets on a large scale, save
in Sir Howard Douglas’s “Naval Gunnery,” where, in a note, he says, “A
very distinguished naval commander mentioned to me, that he knew a
person who had served in an American privateer, which, being out of
shot, and unable to procure a supply of iron balls, used leaden shot as
substitutes. This person always mentioned with great surprise the
superior effect of leaden balls.” Well he might; for the reader need not
be told that its greater specific gravity would add to its momentum, and
a longer medium velocity be retained during its flight. But it
possesses another recommendation, superior to all these, in warfare:
that of communicating all its force, all its velocity, be they ever so
great, to the body struck. Iron does not possess this quality; except to
a certain extent, and that at low velocities. Hence the cause of its
being found in naval warfare, that balls at low velocities damage and
destroy ships’ sides more than at higher velocities, even when passing
quite through. Lead, in the act of striking hard substances, iron or
stone for instance, is partially flattened, until the flat surface is
nearly equal to the diameter of the sphere of the ball; thus parting
with all the force it struck the object with, and in most instances
falling motionless at the base of the object struck; while in the stone,
the surrounding crystals or grains are, by their abrasion on each other,
pounded into dust, in proportion to the size and force of the body of
lead striking them: in many instances to many times the shot’s bulk, and
only flattening the lead, less or more, in proportion to the capability
of the stone to resist. Iron striking stone retains its shape: the
grains are driven back upon each other, and each offering its proportion
of elasticity, the ball is enabled to rebound back; which it does in
many instances to a considerable percentage of the whole distance it had
been projected. The greater the velocity with which an iron ball is
projected the greater the rebound back from a hard substance such as
stone. Reversely, the greater the velocity of lead, the greater its
effect on the object struck. Walls or fortifications struck by leaden
balls at the same velocities (waiving the advantage to lead by its
greater specific gravity) would be pounded into sand by less than
two-thirds the same number of lead as of iron shot. Any unprejudiced
person may soon satisfy himself of this, by trying it with a musket or
fowling piece. A leaden ball will pound itself a hole many times its own
bulk, while an iron ball will not make a hole half its size.

I have tried many experiments to ascertain the penetrating powers of
iron and lead relatively, by striking various objects, from a boiler
plate of half an inch thickness down to fir deals. The same size of lead
will, under certain circumstances, punch a perfect hole in a plate of
half-inch thickness, as I shall have occasion to show; while, under
precisely the same arrangement, the iron ball would rebound back with
very little diminution of force; and if the plate of iron be at a
perfect right angle, the iron ball would nearly return into the muzzle,
of the gun. In truth, I had a narrow escape seventeen years ago, from a
bullet actually cutting the rim of my hat: so that it will be well, when
experimenting in this way, to be sure that the person is well esconced,
for fear of unpleasant results.

Lead, therefore, for destroying ships, as well as stone walls, is
unquestionably highly advantageous; even if projected with the same
velocities as at present adopted for iron. The additional weight would
not decrease the destructive effects; it would augment them. I perfectly
agree with the American _privateer_, that the wonderfully destructive
power of leaden cannon balls will create surprise, whenever they shall
come generally into use. Imagine the effect from a gun of the
dimensions of a 10-inch bore. It is dreadful to contemplate.

The effect of lead will be easily understood when explained in the
following way. If a 36 lb. shot have a velocity of 2,000 feet per
second, the force is equal to the velocity multiplied by the weight, or
72,000 lbs. The whole of this force would strike a wall, and be left
there, if communicated by soft lead; if by iron, at the same velocity,
it would be minus the amount of force required to make it rebound to the
great distance to which iron invariably returns. Though created by the
elasticity of the iron itself, this must be deducted from the effect
produced, and hence arises the great advantage the lead possesses. We
are aware that iron driven with a slight velocity rebounds less; true,
and less is its real effect; for under the very same circumstances would
the great advantages of the lead predominate. It may be objected, that
lead is too easily misshaped; “pure it is, but with alloys not so.” At
low velocities it might, but the greater velocities diminish that
chance, as it is a well known fact that all dense incompressible bodies
are least affected by an extremely sharp motion. All our arrangements in
warlike preparations, at present, involve great weight of projectile for
fracturing, not perforating. During the siege of Ciudad Rodrigo, 2,159
rounds, of twenty-four and eighteen pounders, were requisite to form the
small breach of thirty feet wide, and 6,478 rounds for the larger of 100
feet. At Badajos there was expended, to form three breaches of 40, 90,
and 150 feet respectively, the enormous amount of 31,861 rounds of the
same sized iron shot. We may be pardoned if we presume to say, one-half
the number of lead shot would have done more, and done it better.

If we bear in mind, that the whole round of experiments from which
Hutton drew his deductions, were conducted with iron projectiles, the
inconsistency of taking his data as the standard will be apparent. The
dissimilitude of specific gravities being great, namely, 7,425 and
11,327--or one-third difference--it clearly shows, without any effort of
the imagination, that the range must be in the same proportion, with the
addition of greater momentum. For it will scarcely be denied, that a
ball of gold or platina, from the same cause, will maintain a velocity
longer, and consequently range further, than even lead. Hutton’s theory
only establishes the principle, that the lighter the body projected, the
sooner it is acted upon by atmospheric resistance, and a medium velocity
induced. We cannot attribute his preferring iron to arise from an
opinion of its penetrating to greater depths; for a man of his extensive
knowledge and research could scarcely be guilty of such an error. But
even in our enlightened times we are told that elephants cannot be
killed with any projectile but steel: leaden balls cannot do it. I
should like to try, and receive the _tusks_ in return.

The shrapnell shell (invented by General Shrapnell), or spherical case
shot, introduced into the British service of late years, is probably the
most destructive of any missile in use. It was intended to
supersede--which it has done--canister and grape shot; effecting the
same results at treble the range. The construction and principle are
very simple, being merely a shell of an unusually light description; in
fact, little more than a light cast-iron hollow ball, with a fuse hole.
A certain quantity of leaden, or iron bullets is put into it, and the
interstices around the ball shaken full of powder; a fuse of the length
required is inserted, and explodes the shell during its flight: the
peculiarity being, that the body of small balls retain their medium
velocity and travel on, merely diverging, latterly, like an immense
charge of bird shot. They are usually fired from howitzers, carronades,
and other wide bored-guns, at or near horizontal ranges. A considerable
delay occurred before they were successfully perfected. It was found
that when the small balls did not pack perfectly tight, or were packed
overtight, the case frequently exploded in the gun: occasioned, no
doubt, by the friction creating a spark at the moment of the howitzer
being fired, and thus exploding the shell before its time; but we
believe such an occurrence rarely happens now, from other improvements
since adopted.

The preceding pages appeared in my last work published in 1846. They are
still so much in keeping with the state of gunnery at the present day,
and so prophetic of what has, and is about to occur, that they will be
regarded, I trust, as bearing the stamp of authority.

Progress, in its rapid advance, has made many English guns objects for
the furnace or the museum; and many guns, which formerly ranked high as
useful and important weapons, have become things of the past.

Monsters are now all the rage, with a range of three miles, and
artillerists contemplate extending the range to double that distance;
whilst the projectiles used are not “pounders,” but approximating to
tons. So much for improvement. In political economy we are told that
improvement to be good must be gradual; but only effect some slight
improvement in gunnery, make but one step in advance, and the desire for
further improvement then ranges at will, and impossibilities are craved
for and sought to be attained.

Twelve years ago the success of Mr. Monck (certainly the first modern
improver of ordnance,) led to the unlimited production of undigested
plans for changes in gunnery; but, unfortunately for the science, no
progress was made on the one great improvement of Mr. Monck.

War found us ill prepared in the field, and out-weighted “afloat,” so
that almost as many men were killed by the bursting of mortars, and
other ill-constructed guns, as by the fire of the enemy: so critical was
our situation, indeed, that but for the general adoption in England’s
army of my great invention, the rifle on the expansive or “Greenerian”
principle, and its skilful use by our brave soldiers, the war had gone
against us. Our rifles were equal in range to our artillery, and this
saved us; whilst the enemy, astonished at the effects produced by our
bullets, and conscious of their inferiority both in the construction
and use of small arms, abandoned the contest: but no doubt with a firm
determination to profit by their dear-bought experience.

It is generally admitted that our artillery was never so effective as
that of the enemy, and that more is due to the patient and enduring
bravery of the British soldier than to our field-pieces and heavy
ordnance. That England’s artillery was at this time most disgracefully
inefficient, it would be folly to deny. The larger guns were destroyed
in an inconceivably short space of time. After five, ten, or fifteen
rounds were fired the guns burst, killing the gunners in great numbers.

The readers of my works are already familiar with my opinions on this
subject, and their value will now be enhanced by the fact that they have
been proved to be the opinions of a “practical man.” Success in the
improvement of small arms is a sure encouragement to those anxious for
the advancement of projectile science, and it is a coat of mail in which
to fight against the prejudices and incompetency of official management.

Who, on reading my work of 1841, believed the prediction I therein made,
that small arms would be produced which would render field guns useless?
The fact is, however, firmly established, that the best rifles on my
principle will out-range by several hundred yards the best “six-pounder”
in her Majesty’s service; and that, too, with a repetition of fire
wonderfully quick and effective: as the Russians in the Crimea can
testify, on more than one occasion.

To endeavour to point out that an improvement may be effected in
artillery equal to that which has been effected in small arms, is the
object of the following pages.

The author asks a dispassionate perusal and careful study of his work,
in justice to himself and to the importance of the subject. Judging of
future probabilities by what has already been accomplished, the reader
will be prepared for what follows. That great and important changes must
take place in artillery cannot be doubted, and should England refuse to
avail herself of the improvements to be effected, other nations, and
amongst them our late opponent, will be the first to seize and adopt
them. In former works I have asked the indulgence of my military readers
on account of my scanty military knowledge; but professional men appear
to be equally in the dark with the uninitiated: indeed, the lamentable
shortcomings of the English artillerists have placed them in the rank of
mere “waiters upon providence” for the next step towards improvement.
The present time is decidedly propitious; let improvements now be made,
and we may surely hope that they will be appreciated by the public, if
not by the Government authorities.

What is the best metal for cannon? is a question which has often been
asked, and the answers have been very conflicting. Some have advocated
mixtures of copper and tin; others have advocated cast iron, and more
recently wrought iron; still more recently steel, and, lastly, cast
steel, have had their advocates. Arguments as plentiful as summer
flowers have been advanced in favour of each, and the argument has been
carried on with a vast amount of prejudice and warmth, according to the
degree of acquaintance with or attachment to the favourite metal of each
individual. It is rare to meet with a mind free from bias, equally well
acquainted with the merits of the several metals, and their application
to the purposes intended. Still more rare is it to meet with a mind
possessing all this metallurgic knowledge, and combining with it an
intimate acquaintance with the principles of projectiles, as well as a
scientific knowledge of the construction of the engine (the perfection
of which consists in its having no points which are weak or
unnecessarily strong); and yet it is by such a combination of knowledge
and the application of these principles that we must be guided, if we
would be successful in the accumulation of projectile power. In the
present age we are really alive to the advantage of “playing at long
bowls;” and the question now to be determined is, what is the greatest
weight of shot and shell we can throw, and how many miles can we project
it. The Americans were undoubtedly the first to discover the great
advantage of this question with their lesser frigates; the late war has
developed it still more; and it now remains to be ascertained how much
further can we go. For on this important point the superior efficacy of
artillery depends.

At St. Sebastian, in 1813, cast-iron guns threw tons of shot at a range
of 1,500 yards; some particular guns firing as many as 3,000 rounds, and
yet it is more than probable that had the same guns been used in the
Crimea, they would have burst with one-fourth the number of rounds.
Experience proves that it is not the great number of rounds fired which
strains and destroys the gun, but the high elevation at which these guns
are placed, in order to get range; this it is which shakes and
disintegrates the crystalline structure of the metal, and thus extreme
range is obtained at extreme cost. A gun which at 6° of elevation could
stand without a strain 200 rounds, would be likely at an elevation of
30° to burst before 50 rounds were fired. The explanation of this is
sufficiently simple. A gun fired at 6° recoils as the projectile is
projected forward, in proportion to its relative weight and friction;
but when brought up to an elevation above 30° the gun is entirely out of
the horizontal, and cannot recoil as it does at an elevation of 6°: the
force is now exerted downward, and the gun impinges on its support--_i.
e._, either upon its bed on the deck of the ship, or on the solid earth
of the battery, which is comparatively immovable; thus the force which
displaced the gun in the first instance is now exerted on the sides of
the gun, and the projectile receiving additional force is projected
further. But this increased range is obtained at the expense of the gun,
which is rapidly destroyed: 50 rounds being sufficient to render it
unfit for service. To obviate this rapid destruction of cannon, the
metal has been changed from the molecular to the fibrous; that is from
cast iron to wrought iron. One object of this chapter is to point out
the difficulties which arise in determining what the best metal for
cannon really is, and to show the advantages to be gained by attending
to the proper construction of projectile engines, without attaching
undue importance to the _material_ of which they are made.

Before rejecting cast iron as useless for the construction of large
guns, it would be well to assure ourselves that no better quality of
metal can be produced than that which is at present manufactured. We
must also satisfy ourselves that we have clearly understood the proper
shape and form of cannon to resist concussions. These concussions, be it
remembered, were more violent in the late than in any previous war; and
it is an undoubted fact that we had many more fractures then than on any
previous occasion: first, on account of the strain produced by the great
elevation required to get increased range; and, secondly, on account of
the imperfect shape of the gun. The average number of rounds fired from
the 13-inch mortars which burst at the bombardment of Sweaborg was 120,
and the fracture in all was peculiarly alike; being at right angles to
the supports. Now, that this is due to the form of the gun cannot be
doubted; and it will be shown more fully in a subsequent page.

But there is another cause to which I wish now to direct attention,
viz., the jamming of the Lancaster shell, which takes place in the
increasing spiral of the oval gun at the very point where the projectile
acquires a proportional increase of velocity. The effect of this may be
illustrated by running a locomotive at its maximum of speed over an
increasing curve in the railroad, with the certainty of landing it in an
adjoining ditch. The principle which determines the result is quite
immutable: viz., that matter in rapid motion cannot be materially
affected by any force inferior to the primary force: the tendency of the
body being to go straight forward; whereas a slow train goes round a
curve with the greatest ease. Two motions can easily be given to matter
in a lower velocity; but not so easily when the velocity is much
increased. Hence I fear that the inventor of the Lancaster gun must have
had a misconception of the true laws of motion; for by increasing the
degree of spiral at the muzzle, instead of at the breech of the gun, he
has rendered nearly useless what would otherwise have proved a most
formidable engine of war.

From these observations it may, I think, fairly be doubted whether the
bursting of cannon is owing entirely to the inferior quality of the cast
iron used in their formation; though there can, I think, be no doubt
that English cast iron is not only much inferior to what it formerly
was, but that it is also inferior to that which is now manufactured in
Russia. Why it is so will be subsequently explained.

These defects in cast iron have naturally led to many attempts to
substitute for it a more durable metal; and in most cases the metal
selected has been wrought iron. Wrought iron has been used, not only in
solid cannon, but in the original “hoop and stave:” “staves outside,”
and “staves inside,” as in Mr. Mallet’s monster mortar. Forms of gun as
numerous as can be conceived have been constructed, only to prove
themselves in every case most complete failures. Our friends at the
Mersey Works, Liverpool, will, no doubt, demur to this assertion; as
“all creations of the mind appear most perfect to the father of the

Great credit is, however, due to the enterprise and energy displayed by
the inventors, forgers, and finishers of this great gun; which has been
the wonder of many minds in this age of wonders: and it is a highly
important invention, as showing what we, as a people, are capable of
producing by our mechanical and engineering skill. But here, in my
estimation, the wonder ceases; for so sure as there is any truth in the
Scotch proverb, “A silk purse cannot be made out of a sow’s lug,” so
surely is it true that no man, however great his genius and working
powers, can make a good cannon of wrought iron. When the hardness and
ductility of silver can be imparted to and held by lead, then will it be
possible to make wrought iron accomplish all the purposes required of a
good cannon.

In vain may Mr. Horsfall urge that his gun has never been burst. Why?
Simply because it has not yet been subjected to the same amount of
pressure on the square inch; neither has it been tested at the same
elevation as some other 10-inch guns, which, in proportion to their size
have stood a more severe test. It is a fact, which may be clearly
demonstrated, that if a 10-inch gun of 95 cwt. be fired at an elevation
of 40° with 17 lbs. of gunpowder, then a gun of more than six times that
weight would not be overloaded if its due proportion of powder were
about 100 lbs. Has this gun been fired with one half of this? Until it
has been satisfactorily proved to this extent, we feel sure that the
authorities are justified in not considering Mr. Horsfall’s a successful

Whatever may be Mr. Horsfall’s impression with regard to the advantages
of wrought iron for making cannon, I am satisfied, after a long and
careful study of the results of all its varieties, from the
most ordinary to the most perfect combination that has been
manufactured--either for tenacity, tenuity, or resistance of lateral
pressures--that it cannot answer in large guns.

This I think any one will admit, after considering the two following
facts; which apply equally to all varieties and mixtures of wrought

1. The strength of iron is at its maximum in the smallest mechanical

2. The quality of the metal is improved as it is subjected to greater
pressure and condensation.

The extent to which this improvement may be carried has never yet been
ascertained; every fresh manipulation improves its quality. The tenacity
of wrought iron is best displayed in a wire, drawn out until it is not
thicker than a human hair. Large masses of wrought iron are weak and
spongy in geometrical progression with the mass, and the crystalline or
molecular form increases with the mass. If large forgings are carefully
examined, crystals will be found whose facets would produce inches of
surface; as was clearly demonstrated by the bursting of a 10-inch gun at
Woolwich: made, if we mistake not, by Mr. Nasmyth.

Another very important cause which renders large masses of wrought iron
unsound (and which was fatal in Mr. Nasmyth’s gun) is the impossibility
of condensing tons of wrought iron equally all through the mass. No one
has yet been able to overcome this difficulty.

When the force of a blow, however great, is exerted on the surface of a
mass of metal, its effect is neutralized within a few inches of the
surface; condensation takes place in inverse ratio from the point of
impact, and thus the effect is limited. The force which produces this
condensation tends also to elongate the fibres of the metal. This
elongation is greatest in the immediate vicinity of the force; the
fibres in the interior of the mass are less elongated therefore than on
the exterior; and the fibres in the interior of the mass being less
ductile (from the cause already explained) than those on the exterior,
the interior of the mass elongates, by disintegration of its fibres or
crystals, and a porous open mass is thus produced, surrounded by a
fibrous case. Instances of this are to be seen in broken engine-shafts
and anchors; and, indeed, in all large masses of wrought iron, whether
fractured by design or accident.

Another cause of this defect in large masses of wrought iron, is the
long continued heat to which it is necessary to expose such large
forgings. The iron expands as it is heated, but it does not expand
equally all through the mass; and the result of this is that the
interior becomes porous and spongy: an appearance which must have been
observed by every one who has operated upon large masses.

The shaft of the _Leviathan_ weighs 26 tons; but, instead of resisting
twenty-six times the pressure of a shaft one ton in weight, it will,
from the causes already mentioned, be found unequal to half that amount.

We have watched with much interest the forging of these immense shafts;
and the difficulties attending the forging of this structure prove the
accuracy of our reasoning on the strength of large masses of wrought
iron. The weight of the shaft when finished is 26 tons, and the waste
during the process of welding amounts to 74 or 75 tons.

The present shaft is the third which has been manufactured; the two
first having proved notorious failures: thus 200 tons of iron have been
wasted; which we think is sufficient proof either of the unfitness of
the material, or of imperfection in the method of construction.
Moreover, I fear that when the vessel encounters a rolling sea, the
sudden check and strain produced by the total immersion of one
paddle-wheel and the freedom of the other, will subject the present
shaft to a strain which will affect its duration; and a vessel costing
nearly a million of money may thus be left to reach her port with
crippled powers of propulsion.

Where, it may be asked, is the skill in devising engines more powerful
than the ingenuity of man can beneficially work out? This has indeed
been done in the case of the _Leviathan_; a monster vessel has been
built, but all the engineering skill expended upon it has as yet been
insufficient to bring it to perfection.

The skill hitherto displayed in welding large forgings of wrought iron
into shafts, or other large masses, has been of a very low order; much
more may be done than has yet been accomplished, if men will only set
about it in a scientific manner. The present mode of proceeding is to
build a structure of iron much as a builder would raise a structure of
bricks; large and small pieces being mixed together until the requisite
mass is obtained.

Now, a much simpler method, and one which we have tried on several
occasions, is first to construct several segments of iron of the
requisite length, and of dimensions equivalent to the intended object;
each segment being fitted to fill its place amongst a given number of
other segments (whether twenty, forty, or fifty segments be required,)
so as to form a complete cylinder; as the wood-cut will fully


In welding this structure, the heat is equally diffused all through the
mass; and thus the great evil of unequal expansion and contraction is
avoided. When the steam hammer is brought into play, its face is a
“swage” of circular form, calculated to clasp a large portion of the
upper part, whilst a corresponding space is formed in the anvil; and by
gradually turning the shaft, the whole is forged into a perfect round.
The peculiar advantage gained by this mode of proceeding, is not only
the facility with which heat is diffused through the mass, but that each
segment is made to act like a wedge on its neighbour; thus producing the
most solid forging that has yet been attained. This is rendered still
more perfect, both as regards strength and durability, from the fact
that a hollow axle has been produced; the great advantages of which it
would be out of place to dilate upon in this work.

We trust that these anticipated misfortunes may be avoided by the
construction of a more perfect shaft; and that, not only for the sake of
the shareholders, but for the credit of the engineer who devised this
great vessel--deservedly one of the wonders of the world. A spare shaft
would be profitable ballast, if of no more value to the _Leviathan_.

Rolled railway-carriage axles were constructed for me with perfect
success on this principle nearly twenty years ago, at the Walker Iron
Works, near Newcastle-on-Tyne. The idea has, however, been in a measure
“shelved;” but necessity will bring it into use again.

The only engineer who has, by practical experience, satisfied himself
that large masses of wrought iron are totally useless for making heavy
ordnance is Mr. Nasmyth; whose monster cannon, which was to astonish the
whole world, proved, when heated, to have so little cohesion that it
would scarcely hold together whilst being lifted from the furnace to the
anvil. And, to his credit be it said, Mr. Nasmyth, seeing that wrought
iron would not answer the purpose, manfully gave up his hopeless task.
Similar experience would probably make some of our present engineers
wiser men.

My experience in manufacturing the largest wrought iron guns which it is
prudent to construct, sufficiently proves the truth of these assertions.

Harpoon gun-barrels, one inch and a half in the bore, having the metal
at the breech end an inch and a quarter thick, will stand a proof which
invariably bursts a thicker barrel; in fact, all experience tends to
show that light wrought iron or steel barrels are stronger than
unusually heavy ones. As all depends on the principle of condensing the
fibres of the iron, _ceteris paribus_, the greater the condensation the
greater the strength, and the less the condensation the greater the

That this argument applies principally to solid forged guns I am ready
to admit; and that guns forged of hoops, rings, and bars, in smaller
sections, are free from this objection, I am also ready to admit. These
guns are, however, liable to objections equally fatal, both as regards
their enduring and projective powers, as I shall presently show.
Experience proves that brass guns are inferior, both in sharpness of
shooting and in range, to cast-iron guns: this is undoubtedly
attributable to the greater softness of brass than of cast iron; and for
the same reason a wrought-iron gun, though made as sound as one of cast
iron, would be inferior in these two important points. But when a
wrought-iron gun is composed of many particles imperfectly secured (and
no mechanical force is sufficient to secure perfect cohesion in large
masses), the wrought becomes doubly inferior to the cast gun: a shot
projected from such a gun starts from an unsound base; a large portion
of the explosive force is absorbed by the variety of sections composing
the gun, to the injury both of the accuracy and length of range of the
projectile. The softer metals cannot be beneficially used in the
construction of large guns, because they destroy the force of the
expellant without making any equivalent return; and the softer the metal
and the greater its substance, the more clearly is this important fact
demonstrated. Thus, in experiments made with large cannon for increasing
the weight of the gun beyond a certain proportion to that of the
projectile, a gun of ten tons weight and ten inch bore would not exceed
in range a gun of five tons, if the charge of powder were the same; on
account of the indisputable fact that much more force of the expellant
is destroyed, whilst more than double the force is absorbed for the
recoil of the ten ton than of the five ton gun; and the loss from these
two causes must materially affect the flight of the projectile, though
fired at exactly the same elevation.

The great defect which experiment shows to exist in the hoop-and-stave
wrought iron gun, and which renders the gun self-destroying, is
separation at points between the trunnions and cascable of the gun. The
force acting first upon the breech, it yields, and the force is then
brought to bear upon the longitudinal portion of the gun behind the
trunnions; the staves have thus to bear the first strain, and, after a
few shots, become elongated. An opening of the hoops at their junction
with each other (most frequently between the breech and trunnions)
begins, after a very few shots, to be distinctly visible, and increases
at every discharge, until further proceeding amounts to madness, or
recklessness of human life.

That enormous engine, Mallet’s monster mortar, of which I give an
engraving on page 100, clearly proves this to be the case. It will be
observed to be constructed with a solid cast iron breech end, the
dimensions of which will be seen by referring to the engraving. Abutting
upon this are a succession of wrought iron hoops, ingeniously inserted
into each other, and more firmly secured by six outside staves of great
dimensions, which, at the muzzle ring, pass through openings in the
muzzle ring, with heads like enormous rivets. The binding power is given
by “quoin-like” wedges, driven through the opposite end of the stave,
beneath the projection of the cast breech, giving power to tighten the
longitudinal binders by a blow when required.

[Illustration: Mallet’s Mortar.]


                                                    Tons. cwt. qrs. lbs.
  Cast iron base with wrought iron breech shrunk
  into bore                                          21    19    0    2
  Wood carriage complete, with wrought iron screw
  and spanner for elevating mortar                    8     8    0   14
  Bottom part of mortar to fit on top of the breech   7     5    3   23
  Part of mortar (a ring) to fit on the top of the
  above                                               5     8    3   23
  Do.  do.  do.                                       3     0    2   13
  Muzzle ring                                         1     2    3   12
  Wood ring                                           0     0    1    0
  Wrought iron ring                                   0     4    3    4
  Wrought iron conical ring to fix on top of muzzle
  ring                                                0     3    3   25
  T-headed bolts, with gibs and keys for fixing
  mortar to base: may be called outer staves          1    16    2    0
  Wood-wedges, &c., for elevating                     0    13    3   22
  Outer pin, with cross for turning mortar round      0     8    3   14
                                    Total weight     50    13    2   21

      Weight of shell unfilled, 26 cwt. 2 qrs.; diameter, 36 inches.

This is notorious as a monster failure, even with a charge of powder
amounting to only one half what the projector fondly hoped would be
perfectly harmless in its effects. This Brobdignagian toy has proved to
be fearfully expensive, the cost having been estimated at eight thousand
pounds. It has, I believe, been the largest and most expensive
experiment indulged in by the noble “projector,”[6] and I sincerely hope
it will be the last.

  [6] Lord Palmerston.

The preceding pages will have done much to remove from an unbiassed mind
any favourable impression of the advantages expected to result from the
use of wrought-iron cannon. The knowledge of this subject, even among
talented and scientific men, appears to be at a very low ebb, as is
evinced by the multitude of failures that have taken place; not one
success of any moment has as yet been attained, and not a discovery has
been made worthy of being chronicled.

       *       *       *       *       *

Having enlarged thus much on the qualities of a metal which it is
certain can never supersede the use of cast-iron, even though it be
freed from the defects found practically to exist in our present
constructed iron artillery; and having also alluded to the fact that the
_form_ has much influence on the durability of cast-iron guns, I now
proceed to the more important point of the qualities of cast-iron

Little doubt exists that guns cast a hundred years ago were more durable
than those of more recent formation; it is evident, therefore, that
apart from mere form, some material depreciation must have taken place
in the quality of the metal. The use of hot blast-furnaces, better
fluxes, and improved chemical knowledge in the reduction of metallic
ores, though highly profitable in a commercial point of view, doubling
the products of our mines, and enriching their proprietors, has,
unfortunately rendered English cast-iron perfectly unfit for the
formation of cannon, if increased range and greater strain by high
elevation are to be the order of the day.

The durability of Russian cast-iron is unquestionably greater than that
manufactured in England. Some cause must exist for this; and the
question arises, is the ore superior to ours, or does the superiority of
Russian iron depend on their method of smelting? The latter is, we
believe, the cause of the superiority of Russian iron; for experiments
show that Russian ore, smelted in an English furnace, yields the same
kind of cast-iron as is produced from the ore found in England. The
inference, therefore, is plain, that the difference in the process of
smelting makes all the difference in the quality of the iron.

Two thousand years ago the Romans, or their dependents, smelted iron in
the county of Durham: vast accumulations of slag exist there at the
present time; and thousands of tons have been beneficially re-smelted by
two adjoining iron-works, and a percentage of iron obtained sufficient
to prove that the Romans were little indebted to fluxes or hot blasts
for the quality of iron they obtained. The Russians cannot boast of
these adjuncts any more than the Romans: the old agents, wood and
energy, are alone employed in the smelting of their ores; and in the
absence of scientific aids, though they obtain a much smaller aggregate
quantity of metal, yet it is undoubtedly of a much superior quality.
With the Romans, also, the yield was meagre, but the quality was good;
now, however, circumstances are reversed, quantity, not quality, being
the order of the day.

The use of coals instead of wood in the process of smelting has
introduced a mixture which is very prejudicial. Most of the coal, even
from our very best mines, contains a large quantity of pyrites, or
bisulphuret of iron, which, combining with the cast-iron, injures it to
an incalculable extent.

These facts fully explain why our cast-iron guns are not so good now as
formerly. Select the most suitable mine in the kingdom, erect a furnace
on the most improved principles, employ wood fuel only, avoid fluxes and
hot and cold blasts, and be content with the small amount of metal
produced, and beyond all doubt the quality will be all that the most
sanguine founder or artillerist could wish.

Thus the inferiority of our cast-iron guns has been accounted for, and a
method suggested, which, if efficiently carried out, would effect the
desired improvement.

       *       *       *       *       *

We are indebted to Krupp for the first suggestion of, as well as the
first attempt to introduce, a cast steel gun of greater durability and
power than the best cast-iron gun which has yet been manufactured.
Steel, possessing, as it does, hardness to any desired extent, ductility
in an equal degree, tenacity unrivalled, and all the other requisites,
is destined to take the place of all other metals in the construction of
artillery. This metal waits only to be tested; and the greater the
extent to which the trial is carried, the more confident we are that it
will answer every purpose.

Krupp, like many other men with valuable ideas, has been peculiarly
unfortunate in his attempts to carry them out. With a vast amount of
knowledge of the science of metallurgy, he wants more knowledge in the
not inferior science of projectiles; the most important point being to
ascertain the form of gun calculated to be suitable for new metal, of
the use of which, for cannon, the world possesses no antecedent

The only failures Mr. Krupp has made (if they can, strictly speaking,
be so called), have arisen from mal-construction, imperfect form, and
unscientific combinations; defects which might be expected from a mere
novice, though not from experienced artillerists or founders of
artillery. The trial of the only steel gun sent by Mr. Krupp to this
country, was conducted in the most absurd manner, and on wholly
unscientific principles. I will endeavour to convey some idea of this
most extraordinary of experiments. Whether Mr. Krupp was unacquainted
with the durability of his metal, or was persuaded, against his will, to
conduct the experiment as he did, I know not, but the following is what
took place:--

In 1851 Mr. Krupp brought to Woolwich a specimen steel gun of ten-inch
bore, weighing about four tons. He was induced (but why, I am at a loss
to conceive,) to construct a cast-iron jacket, or outer gun, into which
his steel gun was inserted up to the trunnions. The steel gun was
separated from its cast-iron jacket by a space of half an inch in its
whole length, except at each end, where the jacket was fitted to the gun
with a moderate degree of tightness; thus the gun and jacket consisted
of two tubes, one within the other, fastened only at their extremities,
and that by a very slight force. The result, as might have been
expected, was the bursting both of the gun and its case; but that the
steel gun or its jacket would have stood the test, if subjected to it
singly, cannot be doubted. The difference of expansion between the steel
gun and its jacket would be quite enough to account for its bursting.
Had the contact of the two been perfect throughout the whole length,
but allowing half an inch all around for the expansion of the steel gun
in that part which was subjected to the greatest pressure, the very act
of restraining it in other parts so as to prevent equal expansion, would
be perfectly certain to produce a fracture. Mr. Krupp’s friends have
complained loudly of unfair treatment, whether justly or not, no opinion
need now be given; but it is much to be regretted that his experiment
was not carried out on scientific principles. The introduction of cast
steel guns will be the most essential improvement in artillery: and an
extensive series of experiments, extending over many years, during which
time I have manufactured gun-barrels of steel alone, ought to give my
opinion some weight on this subject.

Laminated steel gun-barrels were well known in 1851; but the English
bugbear, prejudice, raised a clamour against them, which was echoed by
interest and ignorance, and thus their general adoption was for a long
time prevented. However, in the short space of seven years, they have
become universally adopted, with the most beneficial results; better
shooting, less annoyance from recoil, less weight to carry, and greater
safety to the sportsman, being the principal. And so it will be with
steel cannon; as a short time will suffice to enable scientific
investigation to remove all prejudices against them.

The external form of cannon is a question of vital importance, but one
which is little understood by artillerists of the present day. Whilst it
is a demonstrable fact that all excessive bulk of cast-iron causes
weakness in proportion to the excess, no effectual steps have as yet
been taken by the Government to ascertain what is the due proportion of
metal which ought to exist in different parts of the gun. The American
authority on naval gunnery, Captain Dhalgren, has paid considerable
attention to this subject; and if the reports on the durability of
American heavy ordnance can be relied on (and there is no reason why
they should not) his investigations have been attended with much

Captain Dhalgren has extended the principle acted upon many years ago by
Mr. Monck; his great improvement consisting in lessening the weight of
iron in front of the trunnions, and adding to that of the breech. In
cannon, as in fowling-pieces, weight in the fore part is useless;
conducing neither to the safety of the gun, nor to the smartness of its
shooting. For endurance, it is necessary that the expansion should be
equal in every part of the gun; rigidity in one part increasing the
strain on the immediately adjacent parts, which, if much reduced, are
thus rendered liable to fracture. The breech has to endure the
lengthened explosion produced by the burning of the gunpowder; and, as
this continues until it has overcome the inertia of the projectile, it
is necessary in all cases that the maximum of strength should be in the
breech of the gun. When the projectile is once in motion the strength of
the tube may be rapidly decreased; the only strain it has to bear is
exerted whilst the projectile is passing over it; and this strain, in
properly constructed guns, becomes of shorter and shorter duration as
the projectile attains its highest velocity at the muzzle of the gun.
The greatest strain a gun has to bear near the muzzle is that produced
by the condensation of the column of air in front of the charge; and in
almost every form of English ordnance the weight of metal here is
greater than is necessary.

The Russian guns which have been brought to this country present the
same superabundance of metal at the muzzle, whilst at the breech there
appears to be a deficiency; and when we take into consideration the
extraordinary reports of their endurance, we must ascribe it to some
other cause than the proper distribution of metal. Their endurance is no
doubt owing in part to the goodness of the metal, in part also to the
form of the breech, to the uniformity of thickness in the sides of the
arch, and, lastly, to the absence of those protuberances called
“reinforce rings.” These rings might with propriety be termed “rings of
destruction;” for wherever irregularities exist in the substance of the
metal, there the waves of vibration are interrupted, and the weak point
then becomes fractured. The science of spring-making in all its
varieties demonstrates the truth of this statement. Leave on a
coach-spring an abutment of metal like a “reinforce ring,” and a few
motions will be sufficient to break it, however well the spring may be
constructed in every other part. The rigidity of this protuberance, by
interrupting the waves of vibration, causes additional vibration in the
adjacent and more yielding part, and thus produces fracture. The same
thing occurs in all ill-constructed artillery: where the vibrations are
checked, there is always a danger of some weaker part giving way. But
the laws which regulate the distribution of vibrations in metal
substances are not yet understood by artillerists, or cannon would be
differently constructed. Those unscientific protuberances called
“trunnions,” which are to be seen in almost every description of gun,
prove the accuracy of my assertions. These protuberances, if
scientifically considered, would soon be discarded, since they tend not
only to the rapid destruction of the cannon, but also exert a most
injurious influence on the direction of the projectile. The most
wonderful shooting ever heard of (and which has been before alluded to)
is partly to be attributed to the absence of trunnions. Trunnions act as
the fulcrum of a scale-beam; they allow the breech and muzzle of the gun
to oscillate, but in an opposite direction to a scale beam. Rifled
cannon can never be correctly constructed whilst any weight impinges on
the gun in front of the first starting point of the projectile; they
must have the fulcrum behind the point of discharge, and the more nearly
in a direct line the better.

Rifled cannon will in some few years be perfectly constructed of cast
steel; the projectile being made of gun metal, _i. e._, ninety-five
parts of copper to five parts of tin, or of lead and its alloys, and at
a probable cost of ten times that of a cast-iron projectile of equal

Rifled cannon must be elevated by raising the muzzle; no depression of
the breech must occur as by the usual elevating screw; and the recoil
must be received and borne by fastenings and axle in rear of the breech
only. Trunnions and all impinging influences are incompatible with
correctness of fire. The muzzle must be raised in a similar manner to
the raising of a hand rifle, the recoil being thrown backwards, in as
direct a line as possible with that of the shot.

It is only on account of the difficulty of experimenting with rifled
cannon that they are at all behind rifled muskets in point of
perfection. The ardent lover of science is appalled when an experiment
costs hundreds of pounds. We have not a General Jacob everywhere who can
afford to spend a thousand or two in experiments; but, nevertheless, the
lover of science, could he experiment, might attain such extraordinary
accuracy of range, as to blow up a smaller magazine than that of
Kurrachee at four times the distance; and that, too, with a more certain
effect, though with a projectile heavier than several of Jacob’s rifles
tied together. Correct direction is certain in proportion to the
increase of weight; deflection being in the minimum with the heavier
weight, from the well known law of momentum. That astute and energetic
sovereign, the Emperor Napoleon, is pursuing experiments with rifled
cannon; with what result there can be little doubt.

It must be by the use of rifled cannon that our artillery will regain
the place it has lost. A short time will suffice to make the disparity
between our artillery and small arms as great as when we were content
with the six-pounder field gun and old “Brown Bess.” Ranges will only be
ruled by sight, and objects will be hit eventually with as much ease at
5,000 yards as they now are at 1,000. Steel, rifled cannon, and
projectiles of gun-metal will assuredly bring about as complete a
revolution in artillery as the Greenerian rifle and bullet have effected
in small arms.

The form of gun best suited for all purposes has yet to be determined;
and we have pointed out these defects in our artillery with the hope
that some of the great practical philosophers of the present age may
devote themselves to the study of this question. It is nearly allied to
the science of bell-making, and a few more fractures of Big Ben will
extend our knowledge of the subject, and produce a remedy which lies not
very deep below the surface. The laws which should guide us in the
construction of cast steel guns, so as to insure their durability, are
very analogous to those which determine the durability of bells; for the
laws which regulate disintegration of crystalline structures are very
similar. Hitherto the rule of thumb has, unfortunately, been the only
rule observed in measuring out the quantity of metal which shall
surround that portion of a cannon which has to sustain the most violent

Professor Barlow many years ago proved, to the satisfaction of the
Institution of Civil Engineers, that the metal in any cylinder decreases
in utility in proportion to the square of its distance from the centre:
that the outside of a gun of the form now used, in fact, is only
one-ninth as useful as the inside; being three times as far from the
centre. If we double the thickness, the outside, being five times as far
from the centre as the inside, will be but one-twenty-fifth as useful;
or in plain English, nearly useless. The reason of this is simple, and I
will endeavour to explain it.

“A bar of cast iron one inch thick each way and 40 inches long will
stretch about one-twentieth of an inch, if a weight of about four tons
be suspended by it. When the weight is removed, the cast iron nearly
recovers its previous form, and is uninjured; but if it be stretched
more, by a greater weight, it is permanently injured.

“A bar of the same thickness, but three times as long--120 inches--will
stretch three times as much, or three-twentieths of an inch, with the
same weight; or if only one-third the weight--one ton and a third--be
suspended, it will stretch one-twentieth of an inch, the same as the
shorter bar.

“If we suspend 16 tons by four bars, one inch thick and 40 inches long,
they will each stretch one-twentieth of an inch only, and remain
uninjured; but if we attempt to do so with two bars 40 inches long and
two 120 inches long, then, when the whole have lengthened one-twentieth
of an inch, the short ones are exerting a force of eight tons, but the
long ones that of only two and two-thirds tons. The weight, therefore,
will still further lengthen the bars, and permanently injure the short
ones; perhaps break them first, and then the long ones.

“This is the way a gun is burst. The inside is a series of bars of iron,
say 40 inches long, in the form of a ring; the outside a series of
rings, representing the bars three times as long.”

Warfare, since the first introduction of gunnery into Europe, has been
like one continued series of experiments for testing the efficacy of our
guns. No description of gun we now possess can lay any claim to
existence fifty years ago: the great majority of our guns now in use are
of a much more recent date.

With one or two exceptions, no artillery has been constructed on any
scientific theory; some alteration has been made, and if a gun of a
certain form and dimensions gave a certain result, then an extension or
emulation of that gun was tried; and if it succeeded a loud cry of
exultation was raised, and the discovery was announced to the world as a
great improvement.

[Illustration: Russian 56-pounder gun.]

[Illustration: 8-inch British gun.]

Colonel Prejudice has invented a vastly improved description of gun;
another guess is made, and so different forms of guns are multiplied.
Can there be a more striking illustration of this than the one which
took place during the late Crimean war? It was boasted that the whole
human race might be exterminated by the new invention; but the
“Lancaster gun” turned out to be most unscientific in its construction,
and most eccentric in its action. Had such a thing as scientific
knowledge in gunnery existed among the artillerists of the day, such a
monstrosity would have been buried soon after its birth; instead of
being allowed to squander large sums of money at every discharge, and
then at last to become a “Whistling Jemmy” for our bluejackets to laugh

The form of cannon no doubt exercises a vital influence over their
durability; bad form and imperfection of material combined, tended to
produce the rapid destruction of our guns during the late important

The gun which has been experimented with to the greatest extent, and
which has withstood all trials successfully, is a Russian
fifty-six-pounder; taken, I believe, at Bomarsund. In this gun there are
two great peculiarities; the shape, as will be seen in the diagram,
differs from all our own guns: it is a “chambered gun,” and the metal is
taken away from the outside precisely as the contraction increases on
the inside thus giving an equal thickness of metal in every part, of the
arc (see page 114).

In contrast with this, we give a cut of our 8-inch gun, which most
nearly resembles it as a chambered gun (see page 114).

The reader’s attention is especially directed to the dissimilarity in
the distribution of the metal in the two guns. The want of uniform
thickness of metal in our 8-inch gun must be sufficient to convince any
one that, if the Russian gun be properly constructed, the principle of
ours must be radically wrong. That such is the case, indeed, I cannot
doubt, the Russian gun having undergone such a test as would have
destroyed six of ours. The gun has since been made two inches larger in
the bore, and even oval-bored, for firing shells, which should alone be
enough to destroy it; and yet with all this the gun remains perfect.

The gun which most nearly resembles this is our English carronade; and
that these guns have some important principle in their shape is proved
by their great durability under all trials; and I believe that the tests
to which the carronade has been subjected have been more severe than
that of any other piece in the British service.

There have been many shrewd conjectures as to the cause of this
durability; one of these was very pungent, viz., “the invention was not
by one of the cloth.” An examination of the drawing of the 68-pounder
carronade will enable the reader to perceive the great similarity
between this and the Russian gun before spoken of (see page 114).

[Illustration: 68-pound carronade.]

The manufacture of these guns was originally in the hands of the
inventors, and it is quite evident that they must have taken great pains
with the form of the gun, and also have taken special care that the
material of which it was constructed was of the very best quality.

There is too much reason to doubt the proficiency of military men in
the science of metallurgy; and the British system of depending solely on
their knowledge for the last half century, has no doubt proved an
obstacle to advancement in the science of gunnery.

[Illustration: Monck’s 56-pounder gun.]

The gun which ranks next is Monck’s 56-pounder. Although not a chambered
gun, it will be seen, from the diagram (see p. 117), to be an attempt
(if not a perfectly successful one) to obtain uniformity of thickness in
every part of the arc. The durability of these guns ranks as we have
placed them.

The next in rotation is the 8-inch or 68-pounder (see p. 114); which,
although not the original sized gun that was rifled for the Lancaster
shell, yet it was the one eventually used for that projectile up to the
end of its very brief career.

[Illustration: 10-inch or 86-pounder gun.]

The 10-inch gun of 95 cwt., delineated at page 117, will be seen to be
defective in its outlines when tested by the principles before laid
down, and the fact of more 10-inch guns bursting at Sebastopol than any
others (mortars only excepted), may be taken as exclusive evidence of
its imperfection.

The bursting of mortars is quite notorious, especially the 13-inch
mortars used for sea-service in the attack on Sweaborg. A slight
examination of the engraving of one will be sufficient to convince any
person that, if what has already been advanced on the form of guns can
lay claim to being scientific, then this is of all guns the most
unscientific that was ever manufactured. Its durability, too, like its
shape, is of a very low order.

[Illustration: 13-inch sea-service mortar.]

The 13-inch land mortar depicted below is a much more serviceable
production, because it contains much less metal.

[Illustration: 13-inch land-service mortar.]

Mortars will retain their place in spite of all improvements. Rifling is
inapplicable to them. Their principal utility consists in obtaining a
vertical fire; the shell being pitched to a great height, so as to fall
into places that cannot be assailed by a horizontal fire.

The late Joseph Manton has the merit of being the first modern inventor
of rifled cannon. His idea was, that if a motion on an axis parallel to
the horizon could be given to cannon balls, they would range farther and
with greater accuracy. As there exists great difficulty in causing the
rifling in a gun to act upon an iron ball, he constructed a cup of wood,
into which the ball was fitted, projections being made upon the wood to
fit into the groves of the rifle; the spinning motion thus being
communicated to the ball by its wooden adjunct. The result was twofold;
for the expansions of the wood during the explosion, filled the tube of
the gun tight, and effectually destroyed the windage. The government of
the day did offer him a premium of one farthing each; but “Joe”
over-reached himself, asking the sum of £30,000 down; this was refused,
and the patent was allowed to expire without the Government taking any
advantage of it, and experiments ceased to be made in this direction.

Rifled cannon have now, however, become a certainty. Mechanically
speaking, they are as easily to be produced as hand rifles. The general
application has, however, vast difficulties, which must be overcome
before their use can become general. Small arm projectiles suitable for
rifles must of necessity be made of ductile metal, and all the attempts
previously made, whether with brass or iron guns, are alike useless. The
mass in motion, even when of equal hardness with the gun (as in the case
of cast iron guns and cast iron shot), invariably destroys that in a
comparative state of rest; and the rifling is obliterated after a very
few discharges. In a brass gun the destruction is certainly not so
rapid, on account of the different nature of the metal; yet the
destruction of the gun for all useful purposes is equally effectual. It
is evident, then, that success cannot be obtained by using the present
materials in rifled cannon; and the question inevitably arises, what
better material can we use? Wrought iron shells have already been
thoroughly tried in the Lancaster oval gun, with a well-known result.

Great hopes were at one time entertained, that something suitable would
result from Mr. Bessemer’s discovery of the combustion of carbon, and
that an iron of sufficient ductility, yet without the usual hardness,
would be produced; but this, it appears, is still a myth.

Extent of range and accuracy of fire in gunnery will in future be of so
much importance in war, that it is not extravagant to assert, that in
contests between well-matched belligerents, the precious metals (if they
gave any advantage to the user) would be unhesitatingly used in
projectiles. But on the score of economy, science need not be impeded.
Gun-metal projectiles and cast steel cannon would work as effectually
together as lead and iron in small arms.

Some other mixtures less expensive might be produced (lead and copper in
certain proportions are very ductile), and at the same time sufficiently
strong to resist all tendency to squash; as the softer metals would
inevitably do. The more ductile metals are limited in their utility, by
the same law which limits the use of pure lead: that is, to given
weight, height of column, or velocity. Great doubt exists whether a
bullet made of gun metal, and of the same proportionate dimensions and
form as an Enfield bullet, but fitted for a ten-inch gun, would not, if
fired with the proportionate charge of powder (namely, seventeen
pounds), be as completely squashed, or driven in upon itself, as the
Enfield bullet if fired with the old Brown Bess charge of four drachms
and a half.

Considerable time and experience will be required to ascertain the
proportions of metallic mixture necessary to meet all contingencies;
this, however, is a matter of detail, and must extend over so large an
area, that it can be handled only by the government officials, with the
necessary “sinews” of experiment. Nevertheless it must be undertaken;
and the sooner it is done the better, for the prestige of that nation
which would lead the van of improvement in gunnery, and increase its
power of attack and defence beyond those of its rivals.

Rifled cannon is a generic term of endless application, presenting to
the mind modifications of projectiles in endless variety, ranging from
the “_light firebrand_” to the twice deadly rocket: not rockets of that
eccentric and erratic character by which Congreve made an undying name;
but real _bonâ fide_ rifle rockets, which shall hit the dead-lights in
the quarter-gallery of a frigate, carry away the halyards of your
enemies’ ensign (making him drop his colours at the first shot) or dash
the glass from the hand of the pilot. All such imaginary feats will yet
be accomplished; though the reader may smile at the idea. My experience
with rockets goes to justify me in asserting that rockets discharged
from a gun, under certain circumstances, can be as effectually
controlled, and kept to a direct course, as a bullet fired from a rifle.
The rocket, however, may be fired a much greater distance than we have
ever been able to project a bullet; because, in addition to the force
which projects it from the gun, its flight is maintained by the self
sustaining agency in the body of the rocket. Rockets require a much
smaller charge of powder to project them than that which is used for a
bullet; a rocket started by its own force, expends, in acquiring even an
approximation to its highest velocity, at least one-third of the force
with which it is charged; but when projected by a small charge of
gunpowder this force is saved, and the flight of the rocket is
afterwards sustained by the force with which it is charged.

Firing rockets from cannon can only be practised under certain
circumstances. The observations already made on the granulation of
gunpowder will have prepared the reader for this announcement. When
fired from a cannon under the old régime, the rocket was projected at
high velocity, and the case of the rocket was destroyed by the very
force which set it in motion. A rocket suitable for artillery should be
cast of gun metal, with a frame of considerable strength. In form it
should nearly approximate to an expansive bullet; but, instead of the
limited length of one and three quarters diameter; it should approach to
four diameters; two of which, at least, should be appropriated to the
cylinder behind the head.

The head is charged with composition more densely driven than is
customary in the ordinary rocket; the tubes in the cylinder are also
charged with a composition equally dense. The outer frame of the rocket
is cast with suitable projections to fit the grooves of the gun: the
spiral of these grooves is considerable, being one turn in every three
feet, in order to impart to the rocket an effectual spinning motion when
in a low state of velocity. The rocket properly constructed is then
placed in the rocket-gun, and fired in the usual way; but it is
essential that the gunpowder used should be of a suitable quality: its
combustion must be as slow as possible, a starting velocity of from 500
to 800 feet per second being sufficient to ensure the flight of the
self-sustaining projectile to the end of its range. This principle may
be extended from a light firebrand, as already stated, to that of a
rocket charged in the head with the most deadly and destructive

It may appear absurd to speak of fulminates being projected; since all
experiments show that fulminates, even when adulterated, will not stand
the concussion of a discharge, but invariably ignite in the gun, however
carefully placed or packed in the shell which contains them: for this
reason fulminates have never been successfully used. But if the
fulminate is placed in the head of a rocket, this objection may be
obviated. The gradual manner in which velocity is given to a rocket does
not subject it to violent displacement during its flight; neither need
the concussion in the gun be severe, owing to the nature of the
gunpowder used, which in its gradual expansion is analogous to steam:
thus the field for the application of fulminates is opened to an
unlimited extent.

My own experience on this subject has been limited to its application
for the saving of life from shipwreck, where the application of a line
to the rocket limits its range and velocity; but sufficient is left in a
rocket of an inch and a half diameter effectually to carry out a line of
a quarter of an inch diameter to a distance of 600 or 800 yards: that
is, more than double the distance obtained by either Manby’s apparatus
or the rockets now in use; which, lamentable to state, are quite
inadequate to the purposes for which they are intended.

Though the improvements in rifled cannon are at present only in their
infancy, they have nevertheless attained to an extraordinary degree of
perfection, verifying all our predictions to the letter.

A writer in the _Times_ makes the following statements in favour of Mr.
Whitworth’s improvements:--

“While some men of really inventive talent, and a great many charlatans,
have been permitted to waste the public money in trying vainly to
improve our artillery, it seems passing strange that it should not long
ago have been discovered how impossible it was to hope for successful
results in the direction in which they were working. It was clear that
while increased range and precision of firing were wanted, it was nearly
as important to bring the charges of ammunition and the weight of metal
in guns into more manageable proportions to each other, and to the
facilities for transit on active service. No sensible man can have
witnessed the frightful damage done to the efficiency of our army in the
Crimea by the exigencies of the siege-train during the winter of 1854-5
without being impressed with this conviction. The principle of the rifle
offered an obvious suggestion for the proper means of working out the
foregoing problem; but then for artillery, rifling by grooves would not
do without the use of a pliant metal in the projectile, and the cost of
lead rendered its application to that purpose impracticable. It was
necessary, therefore, to alter the existing mode of rifling, and to
modify the bore of the cannon, so that an iron projectile could be
discharged from it, rotating on its own axis in the line of flight. This
result once secured, it is obvious that a field-piece or gun of position
would become a rifle on a large scale, and that the same immense
increase of range and of penetration which had been realised by the
smaller weapon as compared with Brown Bess, would be placed at the
command of the artillery service. It is consolatory, after a series of
failures worthy even of Brunel in launching the _Leviathan_, that the
country has at last the well-grounded hope of an improvement by which
our ordnance may be placed on a proper footing. In pursuing those
careful experiments which he undertook for the Government, principally
to improve the rifle, Mr. Whitworth, the eminent machinist, adopted a
polygonal spiral bore of a uniform pitch, but more rapid than could be
attained by grooves. This bore has enabled him to surpass immensely the
range and penetration of the Enfield rifle; but even these advantages,
important as they are, scarcely surpass those which it places within the
reach of our artillery service. The strain of the projectile being
distributed evenly over every side of the polygon, iron can be
substituted for lead in the projectile, and this simple but beautiful
mechanical appliance at once becomes available for cannon.”

The powerful aid of the _Times_ is “almost success;” though in this
instance it has signally failed, the boasted accuracy there spoken of
not having been yet obtained. This has no doubt arisen in part from the
fact that Mr. Whitworth’s great mechanical knowledge would not suffice
to make him _au fait_ at the compound science of gunnery. His “polygonal
spiral bore of uniform pitch, more rapid than could be obtained by
grooves,” is after all only an experimental gun, not sufficiently
developed as yet for practical utility. Still, the writer already
alluded to has favoured us with the following remarks in the _Times_:

“Moreover, Mr. Whitworth has discovered in the course of his
experiments, that according to the quickness of the turn in the polygon
is the length of the projectile that may be fired; so that 24 lb. and
48 lb. shot have been sent to extraordinary ranges with half the usual
charge of powder, from an ordinary 12-pounder howitzer. Here, then, is
at once the solution of the whole question which has troubled the brains
of so many inventors, real or pretended, for years. The artilleryman at
one stride resumes the relative position to the soldier of the line
which the Enfield rifle had so perilously deprived him of, and this
mechanical country, after finding herself on the level of France,
Russia, and other European States, is once more, as during the
Peninsular campaigns, enabled to assert her natural superiority in the
manufacture of cannon. We trust that no petty jealousies on the part of
narrow-minded officials will be allowed to interfere with the course of
Mr. Whitworth’s experiments, and that the encouragement which he is now
receiving from the Minister at War and the Commander-in-Chief will
enable him, at no remote date, to realise for the benefit of the army
and the nation that revolution in gunnery which the results already
obtained by him promise.”

Report says that 25,000_l._ is the amount of encouragement Mr. Whitworth
has received from the Minister of War and the Commander-in-Chief; an
adequate sum with which to conduct such an experiment, but not
sufficient to insure success.

Of the success of Mr. Whitworth’s polygonal projectile, on a large
scale, none need speculate, for the principle is self-destructive.

Lancaster’s oval shell, oscillated in its flight, took a flight so
extraordinary, on account of the resistance of the atmosphere on the
protuberances of the oval, that the principle may be regarded as fully
established that enlarged projectiles must be smooth and free from
projections that “saw the air,” otherwise range and accuracy of fire
will be sacrificed. The principle of Mr. Whitworth’s polygonal bore is
fully discussed in its proper place, and will here receive only a
passing notice.

To Mr. W. G. Armstrong, of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, much more credit is due
than can be claimed for Mr. Whitworth. Long before the paid efforts of
Mr. Whitworth, Mr. Armstrong had made the subject of rifled cannon a
special study, and the success of his investigations has been such as to
couple his name with those of the earliest inventors of effectual rifled
cannon. Mr. Armstrong may also lay claim to being an originator of
wrought steel cannon; though here his name stands second as an inventor,
for to Mr. Krupp is due the honour of first introducing cast steel
cannon to the notice of our Government.

Mr. Armstrong tells his own tale so well in the columns of the _Times_
that we cannot do better than quote it:--

“In the latter part of 1854, I submitted to the Duke of Newcastle, then
Minister at War, a proposal for a gun which I anticipated would possess
great superiority over the common forms of light artillery, and I
undertook, with his Grace’s authority, to construct a field-piece in
conformity with the plan I had suggested. The gun was accordingly soon
afterwards made, and has since, during a period of nearly two years,
been the subject of numerous experiments, partly upon the ordnance
firing-ground at Shoeburyness; but principally under my own direction in
this neighbourhood.

“I have hitherto avoided publicity in reference to these experiments,
but, as matured results of much interest and importance have now been
arrived at, and as other names are already before the public in
connection with gun experiments made during the same period, I feel that
I may now, without impropriety, give some information on the subject.

“With a view to strength and durability, the gun is composed internally
of steel and externally of wrought iron, applied in a twisted or spiral
form, as in a musket or fowling-piece. The bore is nearly two inches in
diameter, and is rifled. The projectile is a pointed cylinder 6-1/2
inches long, and its weight is 5 lb. It is made of cast iron, coated
with lead, and is fired from the gun with a charge of 10 ounces of
powder; it contains a small cavity in the centre, and may be used either
as a shot or a shell. When applied as a shell, the cavity is filled with
powder, and a detonating fuse is inserted in front, so as to fire the
powder in the centre on striking an object. When used as a shot, the
powder is omitted, and an iron point, which favours penetration, is
substituted for the fuse. The gun is constructed to load at the breech,
the object being not only to obviate the disadvantages of sponging and
loading from the front, but also to allow the projectile to be larger in
diameter than would enter at the muzzle, and thus to insure its taking
the impress of the grooves and completely filling the bore. The piece
weighs 5 cwt., and is mounted upon a carriage which bears a general
resemblance to that of an ordinary 6-pounder field gun, but which
embraces a pivot frame and recoil slide. A screw is also applied, not
only for elevating and depressing the gun, but also for moving it
horizontally, by which means great delicacy of aim is effected. The
recoil slide has an upward inclination, which enables the gun, after
running back, to recover its position by gravity; and its use is to
relieve the pivot-frame and adjusting screws from injurious concussion.

“I shall now give some particulars of the experiments recently made with
this gun on the coast of Northumberland, near the village of Whitley,
under the official inspection of Colonel Wilmot.

“Fourteen shots were in the first instance fired from a distance of
1,500 yards at a timber butt, 5 ft. wide 7-1/2 ft. high. Six of these
were expended in finding the elevation proper for the distance, but
after that was determined every succeeding shot hit the object without
previous graze. The final elevation of the gun was 4 deg. 26 min., and
the mean lateral distance of the shot-marks from a vertical line through
the centre of the butt was only 11-1/2 in.

“Persons who are conversant with artillery practice will be able to
appreciate the accuracy of this firing; but, for the information of
those who are unacquainted with the subject, I may state that the
ordinary 6-pounder field-piece, which in point of weight forms the
nearest approach to the present gun, is perfectly useless at a distance
of 1,500 yards, and is very uncertain even at 1,000 yards. It is only,
therefore, with heavy artillery that a comparison can be drawn; and it
will be sufficient to state that in tabulating the practice made with
such ordnance the deflections are invariably recorded in yards, whereas
with this rifled gun they can only be properly given in inches.

“With respect to penetration, the following particulars will be regarded
as equally remarkable, considering the small weight of the shot and the
length of the range. The butt was 3 ft. thick, and was composed of six
layers of rock elm bolted together, so as to form a solid block. One
shot passed entirely through; another struck near the edge and glanced;
and the remaining six penetrated within a few inches of the opposite

“Shell firing was next tried at a distance of 1,500 yards; the gun being
fired at the same elevation and with the same charge as in the previous
practice at the butt.

“In this case two targets were erected, one behind the other, so as to
appear as one object when viewed from the gun, and a space of 30 feet
was left between them. The front target was intended to exhibit the
perforations of the shell before bursting, and the back one to show the
effect of the fragments resulting from explosion.

“After some preliminary experiments twenty-two shells were fired at the
front target, and of these only one missed the object of aim. The
following are the particulars:--Seventeen hit the first target direct,
and burst behind it, the fragments penetrating the second one; three
grazed and burst immediately in front of the first target, and
perforated both with the pieces; one hit the bottom of the first target
and exploded in the ground, and the remaining one missed entirely and
burst on some rocks nearly on line beyond. A strong side wind was
blowing at the time, and accounted for the deviation of this single

“Four shells and three shots were then fired at an elevation of 6
degrees, from a distance of 2,000, or, more accurately, 1,964 yards. All
these struck within the breadth of the target; but the elevation being
scarcely sufficient, they all fell a little short, except one shell,
which, ranging somewhat further than the others, hit the target and
burst as usual.

“The results of this shell-firing were as follows:--The front target
contained 51 holes, and the back one 164, while the ground between and
adjacent to the targets exhibited about 70 perforations by fragments of
shells, the greater portion of which were afterwards recovered by

“With respect to ranges exceeding 2,000 yards, I may state that on
previous occasions the gun had been tried up to 3,000 yards--a distance
which was reached with an elevation of 11 deg., and the usual charge of
10 ounces of powder, or 1-8th the weight of the projectile. By
augmenting the charge the range is increased, but the accuracy is
impaired; and I therefore adhere to the 10-ounce charge, which gives
ample penetration, as the experiments at the butt will testify. I may
also observe that the ranges obtained with this charge bear a favourable
comparison with those of the heaviest round-shot guns fired with a much
larger proportion of powder.

“It is a curious fact, and one which greatly increases the efficiency of
the shells, that owing to the bursting charge requiring a minute space
of time to mature its ignition after the firing of the fuse by impact,
the shell is enabled to travel four or five feet after striking an
object before disruption takes place. Hence, therefore, it acts as a
shot before it bursts as a shell. When it perforates a target the
explosion may be seen to take place at a few feet beyond, and when it
grazes it has time to rise, and may be observed to burst after clearing
the ground. If, therefore, it were fired against a ship, it would first
penetrate the side in its entirety, and then, bursting, traverse the
deck in fragments; or if directed against troops, it would pierce the
front line as a bullet, and operate like grape-shot beyond. The shells
explode with equal certainty whether the first substance struck be hard
or soft; and, in fact, they even burst on the surface of water, provided
the elevation of the gun be not too great. The bursting charge is very
small, but it suffices to break the shell into about 30 pieces, which
pursue their forward course without too much dispersion.

“It is impossible to contemplate the results obtained with this gun
without being impressed with the important part it is calculated to
perform in warfare. Opposed to any ordinary field-piece, it would be
like the Greener rifle against the old musket; and no gun could be
worked at an embrasure if a fire of shells were directed against it by
one of these rifled pieces placed within the distance of a mile. In
naval operations, also, guns of this description, but of larger size,
might apparently be applied with great effect--more especially as a
system of breech loading, combined with a self-recovering recoil action,
would be peculiarly advantageous in firing from portholes. Even light
5-pounders, sending their shells from great distances through the sides
of a ship and sweeping the decks with fragments of lead and iron, would
produce very destructive effects; and a small swift steamer carrying a
few such guns might prove a very troublesome opponent to a large ship of
war. But if the dimensions of the gun were increased so as to adapt it
for shells of 20 lb. or 30 lb., still more terrible injury could be
inflicted at greater distances; and the ponderous artillery now used at
sea would be of little service when opposed to the accurate and
long-range firing of such rifled shell-guns.”

Since the publication of these remarks, rifled artillery of Mr.
Armstrong’s production has, we believe, been extensively tried. The
results of these trials have been most extraordinary; and the principle
is, we believe, identical with the expansive principle bearing my
cognomen: an extension of the principle of the Greener and Enfield
rifle, hereafter to be described. I have had the honour of being
consulted both by English and foreign authorities, and I have assisted
in constructing rifled artillery for several years; and the experience
thus obtained justifies me in making known to the world some of my
observations on this subject.

Rifled cannon with elongated projectiles, similar in shape and principle
to the Greenerian bullet, give, with charges inferior to those of the
old régime and calibre, more than double the range, with ten times
greater accuracy.

Now, either of these points, if gained, would be most important
improvements, and when combined would produce the most extraordinary
results. But this is not all: a great diminution in the weight of the
gun might also be effected; and these advantages may be still further
extended when we have had time to increase our knowledge of the valuable
materials with which we are only just now becoming acquainted.

The following table will show the advantages to be gained both in length
and accuracy of range.

Before reverting to the table, it may be necessary to remind the reader
that the great reduction in the weight of guns arises from the adoption
of the elongated projectile. For example: the diameter of the
_elongated_ projectile for an “18-pounder” is much less than the
diameter of the gun for the _spherical_ 18-pounder; thus allowing the
thickness of metal to be equal in both guns. The gun for the elongated
projectile may be greatly reduced in weight without at all diminishing
its strength, simply on account of the great diminution in the diameter
of the arc.

There is another important fact, which Mr. Whitworth, with all his
boasting, has carefully concealed: viz., that a much greater pressure is
exerted upon the square inch in the lesser than in the larger diameter
of bore; and to conceal this fact, whilst claiming merit for a bullet of
50-gauge exceeding in range one of 25-gauge, the charge of gunpowder
being alike in both cases, appears very like deception. Any engineer
will tell us that the pressure in the lesser is twice as great as in the
larger bore; and this explains why greater velocity is given to the

With these explanations the reader will be better prepared to weigh
carefully my observations. My task would, doubtless, have been rendered
more easy, if a clear elucidation of the principles of the expansive
bullet could have been given thus early in the work; but it is thought
better to do this in its proper place. I will only add here, that
although two bullets, one elongated, the other spherical, and of equal
diameter, meet with the same amount of atmospheric resistance, yet the
one containing twice as much matter as the other retains its medium
velocity nearly double the distance. With these explanatory remarks I
give the following table:--

                    |Present Range|Present|Reduced Weight|Range when
                    |of Guns.     |Weight.|when Rifled.  |Rifled.
  6-pndr.           |  1,500 yds. |   17  |  12 cwts.    |3,000 yds.
  9-pndr.           |  1,600  „   |   26  |  18  „       |4,000  „
  12-pndr.          |  1,700  „   |   34  |  22  „       |4,500  „
  18-pndr.          |  1,780  „   |   42  |  29  „       |5,000  „
  24-pndr.          |  1,850  „   |   50  |  34  „       |5,500  „
  32-pndr.          |  2,000  „   |   63  |  42  „       |6,000  „
  48-pndr.          |  2,500  „   |   70  |  45  „       |6,500  „
  56-pndr.          |  5,000  „   |   85  |  60  „       |8,000  „
  68-pndr. or 8-in. |  4,500  „   |   85  |  60  „       |8,000  „
  86-pndr. or 10-in.|  4,700  „   |   95  |  65  „       |9,000  „

The reader must understand that all the guns given in this table were
not rifled, and that they have not all been subjected to trial. The 6,
12, 18, 24, and 48-pounders have been tried, with the results given
above; but the heavier guns have not as yet been tested: the ranges and
weights given in the table have, however, been derived from the results
yielded in the trial of the lesser guns, and may be safely relied on as
scientific data; being, in truth, rather under than over the mark.

All experiments clearly establish one very important principle, long
known to those acquainted with the science of projectiles, viz., “That
the heavier the projectile, the less the deflection.” Thus it is quite
possible that the longest ranges may ultimately be obtained without any
perceptible deflection. And when we observe that the deflection of an
ordinary 32-shot in a range of 2,000 yards, is 50 feet, and in 2,500
yards, 80 feet, whilst the elongated shot, at a much greater distance,
is not deflected half as many inches, I think we may fairly say that our
knowledge of gunnery is yet in its infancy. Fulminating powder may be
used as an auxiliary in shells for various important purposes; such, for
instance, as destroying an entire fleet; and it is clearly within the
range of possibility that by its agency the largest ship may be
destroyed by a single shot. The accuracy of rifled cannon renders it an
easy task to strike a plank only one inch above the water line, and the
penetration of an elongated gun-metal or lead-alloyed shell would enable
us to reach the innermost parts of the magazine: for it is scarcely
possible to produce even an iron casing which shall resist the power of
such projectiles. It is possible, therefore, that we may see the noblest
fleet destroyed in a few minutes by the agency of such projectiles.

I will endeavour to give an outline of the method by which this may be
effected. A long rifled cannon, constructed for an elongated gun-metal
shell; of from fifty-six to eighty-six pounds, and with an extreme range
of from 6,000 to 7,000 yards, may be considered to be a suitable
instrument. This shell should be charged in the head with a given
quantity of the fulminate, such as would be most calculated to prevent
the tendency to explode from the concussion produced by the discharge of
the gun. It will be necessary to place the fulminate in thin layers
between sheets of prepared caoutchouc, or some other preparation of
India-rubber; having thus arranged the fulminate in the head of the
shell and secured it there, the usual method of filling the remainder is
resorted to, and the aperture is securely screwed up: fuses not being
necessary in this arrangement.

The difficulty in using this shell is to prevent its explosion when the
gun is discharged; and to obviate this all our engineering skill is
required. Time and experience will show that, by a modification of the
propelling agent, the shell may be started from a rifled cannon at a
very low velocity; the velocity being increased like that of the rocket.
This is to be done by modifying the arrangement of the gunpowder so as
to ensure the shell acquiring its greatest velocity as it leaves the
muzzle of the cannon. The result of this has been already shown. On the
shell striking any object, such as the ship’s side, the metal of the
shell is driven in upon itself, and an explosion of the fulminate
follows as a natural consequence. Experiment has proved that shells
exploding as they strike the ship’s sides, produce very little damage
beyond making a hole in the ship the size of the shell. This, no doubt,
arises from the short space of time occupied by the shell in passing
through the side of the ship; all its force being exerted in the
interior instead of on the sides of the vessel. All shells of the nature
alluded to would, at certain distances, take such a line of flight as to
ensure them dipping towards the centre of gravity, and thus exploding
the magazines, however deep below the water-line; and when we consider
the destructive effects of fulminates, we think it quite within the
range of probability that they might produce all the effects we have
spoken of.

There are many agents equally powerful to be introduced into destructive
warfare; and with the advantages to be derived from improvements in
rifled shells, which the ingenuity of the present race will certainly
effect, he would be a rash man who would set any limits to the
advancement of projectile science. The great difficulty in the use of
fulminates will be surmounted if these suggestions can be carried out;
and experiment is all that will then be necessary to establish the line
of proceeding. To effect this is the province of the Government of the
country; to wait for it to be perfected by individual skill and
enterprise would be unjust to science, and injurious to the best
interests of the nation. The needful expenditure can only be borne by
the nation, and should be entered upon, in order to effect improvement
in projectiles, with the view of maintaining our land and marine
artillery at the highest point of efficiency.

There is one question of great importance to inventors, and to which I
have paid much attention, namely, the obtaining a spiral motion in a
projectile which has been fired from a smooth bored gun. All we have
witnessed goes far to prove that the attainment of this is impossible,
in consequence of a principle not hitherto investigated by inventors. If
the course of a projectile is changed from the straight to the spiral,
it can only be done at the expense of range; and that for the following
reasons: first, the force which is necessary to induce this spiral
movement must be exerted at the expense of the force which propels it
forward; secondly, when this spiral movement is acquired, it is so much
in excess of the direct movement, that after advancing a certain
distance it falls to the ground. A very simple experiment will prove
this. Take an ordinary tin tube, cut a bullet of an elongated
form--cylindro-conical if wished--having grooves from the point
backwards, with the degree of spiral necessary to effect the object in
view. Let the bullet be made of cork or light wood, such as can be
projected by a blast from the mouth, and the result will be that the
projectile will go one-half the distance before the friction of the
atmosphere produces a motion on its axis parallel to its line of
flight; from this point it gradually loses its velocity in a forward
direction, it spins until its force is expended, and then falls
vertically to the ground. To find the sequel, try the same experiment
without grooving, and the range, with the same force, will be found to
be double. Some years ago I witnessed such a trial with a 32-pounder;
and, to the astonishment of all present, the bullet rose above the
horizontal line, and then fell to the ground, like the cork bullet of
which we have already spoken.

The endeavour to produce breech-loading cannon is an effort to obtain
uncalled-for and superfluous facility in gunnery; and if a perfect
breech-loading cannon could possibly be produced, what would it avail?
What superior property could it possess over the solid gun? It could not
be safety; for when we consider the very limited number of explosions by
which the very best guns are destroyed, it can scarcely be possible for
a gun composed of many parts to endure the intense vibrations to which
large cannon are subjected. The regular distribution of vibrations in
the metal of the gun is the great point to be attended to in the
construction of artillery; so that vibrations may not be incorrectly
induced by malformation, or by an excess or deficiency of metal at any
particular point; for where the waves of vibration are checked by an
unequal distribution of metal, or other causes, there the weak point in
a gun is always found, as all fractured guns clearly demonstrate. An
intimate acquaintance with the metallurgy of cannon, enables me to give
an almost unerring opinion as to the causes leading to the fracture.
Most undoubtedly, vibration, if judiciously distributed, is the soul of
endurance; but if injudiciously distributed is certain to result in the
destruction of the cannon. In structures composed necessarily of many
joints, obstruction to the waves of vibration must occur; the different
parts do not expand and vibrate equally; a kind of revulsion is induced;
part repels part, and destruction ensues as a natural consequence. Under
no circumstances, therefore, can a breech-loader be as safe as a solid

The facility with which breech-loaders can be charged is generally
trumpeted forth to the world as an advantage of vital importance; but
let us carefully examine this point and see if it has not been
exaggerated--whether, in fact, a solid gun cannot be charged and
discharged as rapidly as a breech-loader.

In the first place, all guns recoil; this necessitates the relaying of
the gun after every discharge, in order to obtain accuracy of aim; and
if facility of loading is to be obtained at the expense of aim, it can
scarcely be called an advantage. Aim consumes more time than loading. A
six-pounder may be loaded and fired six times in the first minute; but
it would be impossible to do this and re-lay the gun after each shot.
Where then is the advantage of firing six shots per minute if you cannot
hit six objects? And if breech-loaders could be fired _sixty_ times per
minute, what would they avail if aim was wanting? The raising or
depressing of the breech of a gun by means of the elevating screw;
slewing to the right or left, spunging the gun, and ramming home the
powder and shot, all consume time; hence we think that quickness of
loading is worthless.

Breech-loading cannon cannot be constructed for bullets of larger
diameter than that of the rifle bore, without a ductile bullet be used;
for, as is usual in breech-loading small-arms, the bullet rifles itself
as it is forced up the grooves. The projectiles for rifled cannon have
hitherto been cast with corresponding grooves and lands to fit the
internal form of the cannon. A compound shot, composed of iron, and
covered externally with ductile metal, has been tried in a few
instances; but, unfortunately, the difficulty of combining two metals so
dissimilar as iron and lead has been found so great as invariably to end
in a failure; therefore no prospect exists of bringing into play this,
the best point existing in breech-loading arms.

Lastly, the tendency of all guns to absorb the heat, developed during
explosion, puts a limit to all extreme rapidity of fire; even if this
was not already limited by the more essential point of taking aim. At
Sweaborg it was found necessary to allow an interval of five minutes
between each discharge of a mortar, and yet the whole of them burst
after an average of 120 shots. Time and ingenuity spent in planning and
constructing breech-loading cannon will always end in disappointment and
failure. Many are the plans extant, evincing great skill, perseverance,
and everything needful in point of mechanical experience, but betraying
a total ignorance of the metallurgic science and of practical results
from the use of the engine. The study of these points will save money,
time, and what is of more value, brain-work, which might be better
employed. Striving to produce perfect breech-loading cannon is like
striving to square the circle.



A considerable progress in improvement has taken place in manufacturing
the higher quality of iron since my last publication. Not that I
arrogate to myself any credit on that score, but it is evident that good
frequently comes of flagellations, whether on the body or the mind. One
part of human nature will ever fear the exposure of bad qualities, while
another is emboldened to advance in improvement if the slightest chance
exist of success or encouragement. Thus we often see men striving to
produce one invention on the back of another, with wonderful
perseverance, finding many blanks and rarely a prize; for truly in this
competing age, the mind must be strong that can fight long. Bitter is
the disappointment of the truly ingenious mind, to see the produce of
his brains thrown as lumber into the _herring barrel_,--as the printer
terms the receptacle for what he sets no value upon; while the valueless
contrivances of the mean and sordid are preferred and rewarded, because
they enable the manufacturer to produce cheaper, by foisting on the
public a deceptive or a spurious article. All inventions for purposes
of deception, are readily, aye, eagerly, patronised; for they return
gold to the coffers sooner.

The improvement in the manufacture of gun-barrels depends on the quality
of the iron entirely; for it would be a useless waste of time to
endeavour to make a good barrel of inferior metal. Science and
experience have worked a wonderful change in the mixture of the superior
qualities of iron: we have had announcements of silver-steel barrels at
_ten guineas a pair_ in the rough, of Brescian steel barrels, carbonised
iron, and I know not how many more descriptions or compounds of metals,
to form the best material for high-priced barrels. We have now metal
which, in the rod, cannot be sold for less than one shilling and
twopence per pound: the iron for a pair of barrels thus costing sixteen
shillings and fourpence. This is good; nay, more than good--’tis
excellent. But there is a dark side of the picture, over which I would
fain draw a veil: but I must not. Belgium, France, Holland, and Germany,
are improving, are marching onward, and we, alas! are standing still.
Competition and cheapness combined, are driving our gun trade into a
labyrinth, out of which it will be long ere it finds the clue of exit.
Our manufacture of inferior gunnery has certainly reached a depth of
inferiority which never any other manufacture in the world reached, and
I hope never will.

During the existence of the slave-trade, many thousand guns per year
were made of what is, by the trade, technically termed “_park paling_,”
a material only fit for such purposes; and the cost of it was only
_seven shillings and sixpence_ each _spike_; but now we can furnish
slave traders with ship-loads, if they choose, at only _six shillings
and sixpence_ each, and it is still supposed that one of these
_imitation_ guns is the blood-money for a fellow-creature. It would be a
just and equitable law, if our legislature would pass it, “That every
man should fire the guns he manufactures:” nothing would more surely
tend to improve the quality of guns of a low grade.

A considerable increasing difficulty attends the obtaining of horse-nail
stubs from the continent. In various continental markets from whence we
draw our supply, the skill and ability of the gun-barrel makers have
increased; and the preference for superior fire-arms which is gaining
ground with many continental sportsmen, has taught foreigners the value
of their old horse-nails; and hence their increased scarcity. The
inferior iron of which we make horse-nails prevents entirely the use of
our own; consequently it requires no foresight to predict that our
manufacturers will soon resolve themselves into two descriptions--the
very best and the very worst. The latter are already actively employed,
and the others are advancing; as no doubt an increasing desire to obtain
the most perfect gun pervades the thinking and affluent portion of the
sporting world.

The manufacture of iron is a science truly worth the consideration of
the philosopher, for it is fraught with the most important consequences,
considered either as a material of commerce, or the means to an end. In
advancing manufactures and the progress of improvement, it has had an
effect on civilization unequalled by any known product, gold not
excepted; for no substitute exists for iron, or ever did. No doubt the
ancients had their bronze, of which they could form edge tools, even
razors; but that was a very limited use of cutting tools: enough,
perhaps, for war or subsistence, but not for the progress of the arts.

Of the first discovery and use of iron we have no record; though its
value may be presumed from the fact, that Quintus Curtius mentions that
“Alexander of Macedon, received a present from Porus, an Indian chief,
of about 30 lbs. weight of steel.” If this were a present fit for the
conqueror of the world, its value, even at that early date, must have
been great indeed.

For many centuries, up to the sixteenth, all iron was produced by the
aid of wood charcoal; and with such contracted and limited means, it was
found that not more than 50 per cent, of the metal contained in the ore
was extracted; consequently at this day all the ancient deposits of
_slag_ are sought for and re-smelted, yielding a handsome return to the
manufacturer. The adoption of coal coke was a matter of necessity, but
it has been productive of extensive benefit in all manufactures of iron
of medium quality. The opinions of many men of science lead to the
belief that it has benefited the higher quality also; but I am quite
satisfied of the reverse. The quantity formerly obtained in the yield
was, as shown, only 50 per cent. of the quantity existing in the ore;
but yet it was the purest metal: for it is unquestionable that the best
is soonest fused.

The iron ore of Great Britain is, beyond a doubt, inferior to that of
many parts of the world; as all attempts to produce good steel from it
have been attended ultimately with disappointment. Mr. Mushet, in his
excellent work on iron, says, “The successful exertions of individuals
have increased the manufacture of cast and malleable iron beyond all
precedent in this country; nor have we been without some enlightened
individuals, who have laudably endeavoured to form a superior quality
along with the extension of their manufactures. Success has so far
crowned their praiseworthy exertions, aided by the operation of
knowledge, in removing the prejudices of the artisan, that bar iron of
our own manufacturing has been substituted, to a great extent, in place
of that formerly used of the Swedish and Russian marks; but hitherto all
attempts have failed to make bars of proper quality to form steel, in
any degree comparable to that we daily manufacture in great quantities
from foreign iron.

“Here we remain at an immense distance behind; and while our manufacture
of iron goods exceeds the collective exertions of all Europe, we humbly
feel our dependence upon two foreign markets for the supply of that
steel-iron, without which the beauty, the utility, and extent of our
hardware manufactures would be essentially injured and abridged.

“The policy of the foreign holders of this article communicates many
undue advantages to the favoured few to whom the steel-iron is consigned
in this country. The rapid progressive rise in value of this iron, for
many years past, has already nearly doubled the price of steel to the
workman, and given the trade in general a melancholy foretaste of the
evils of dependence and _monopoly_.”

So it is with the scrap, requisite to form good iron for gun-barrels. I
have had several pairs of barrels sent from Berlin and Vienna, to be
fitted up in the English style, with a certain knowledge that they were
wanted for patterns; and in justice let it be said, the material and
figure in the barrel were most beautiful: being a variety of Damascus,
or fancy pattern in the metal, _superior_ to anything seen of this
country’s manufacture. True, this is not an essential requisite, being
more for appearance than utility; but the fact clearly shows the
industry and will of the artisan. The iron, too, in clearness and
density, we can scarcely surpass; therefore, if I regret that we are not
advancing with our competitors, it proceeds from a clear conviction of
the truth that we are slumbering upon our fancied superiority. A friend
who had lately visited Liege, informed me that in one gun-maker’s shop
alone, were employed fourteen of our best workmen; in fact, he brought
with him a gun which attests the great improvement the Belgians have
made of late years. I have had possession of three guns, bearing on the
lock and barrels, “Joseph Manton, London;” “Joseph Egg, London;” and
“John Manton and Son, London;” all of which were manufactured in
Belgium; and so well is the imitation executed, that it would puzzle
most amateurs to discover the fraud.

Recently a company, entitled “The Indian Iron and Steel Company,” has
commenced importing and and manufacturing iron and steel from Hindostan
ore, and native-made bar iron.[7] If they succeed in competing with
Sweden and Russia, this iron will be a valuable acquisition to the
British empire. They have already issued a quantity 35 per cent. cheaper
then the latter, but quality is the end they should strive for. However,
the business is in able hands, and I have no doubt but that this object
will be kept prominently in view.

  [7] The fine quality of the Indian steel is generally acknowledged.
  The iron is first obtained by smelting, in small quantities, the
  wootz-ore, or the magnetic oxide of iron, which it found combined with
  about 42 per cent. of quartz; the yield being, out of 100 parts of
  ore, only 15 parts of metal: but this is of the finest character.

  The process by which the iron is converted into steel is as follows,
  and fully accounts for that peculiar quality for which the Indian
  steel is valued.

  The iron is cut into pieces and packed closely in a crucible of clay,
  containing about 1 lb. only of the iron, mixed with a tenth part of
  dried wood cut small, the whole covered over with green leaves. The
  crucible is then stopped, by covering the mouth with tempered clay, so
  as to effectually exclude the air. After a time that is, as soon as
  the clay-plugs are sufficiently hard, from twenty to thirty of the
  crucibles are built up in an arched form placed in a small blast
  furnace, and kept covered with charcoal; thus being subjected to the
  heat of the furnace for two or three hours. The process is then

  As soon as the crucibles are cool, they are broken open and the cakes
  of steel are found rounded at the bottom.

  The top of the cakes should be found covered with striæ, radiating
  from a centre, and be free from holes or rough projections. If the
  cakes are honeycombed, the process has been imperfect and incomplete.
  When re-melted and tilted into rods, a very superior article has been
  the result.

  The natives prepare the cakes for being drawn into bars, by annealing
  them for several hours in a small charcoal furnace, excited by
  bellows; the current of air being made to play upon the cakes while
  turned over before it, whereby a portion of the combined carbon is
  dissipated and the steel probably softened: without which operation
  the cakes would break in drawing them. They are drawn by a hammer of
  only a very few pounds weight, but the repeated hammering greatly
  tends to the production of a highly condensed and perfect article.

Foreseeing the difficulty that would eventually beset us in obtaining a
sufficient supply of old horse nails from Germany and elsewhere, I
directed my experiments to steel entirely, having formerly perceived
that where the greatest quantity of steel existed in the mixture
necessary to form material for their best gun barrels, there also
existed the greatest tenuous strength. I had at that time a decided
objection to all steel, as the following quotation from “The Gun” will

“We recommend hammer-hardening in all mixtures containing iron. If you
throw the iron aside, and confine your manufacture wholly to steel, it
would be an evil, from this simple cause:--steel is of itself close
enough in the grain; hammering it, therefore, in a cold state, only
tends to make it more brittle. But the reverse is the case with iron:
the more it is beaten the greater becomes its tenacity; and when mixed
with steel in the way the stubs-composition is, it prevents the
particles of steel from becoming too hard.”

Mr. Adams, of Wednesbury, and the successors of Mr. Clive, of
Birmingham, manufacture a considerable quantity both of silver steel and
common twist steel for the trade; I make my own laminated steel: the
difference in silver steel and common twist steel merely consists in the
variety of tortuous twisting the former undergoes, while the latter is
rolled out into rods of 6-16ths broad, with the fibres running perfectly
longitudinal. The method of making or welding the pieces into a bloom,
is in the following way. Having collected a sufficiency of mild steel
scraps, such as cuttings of saws, waste from steel pen making, old coach
springs, and the immense variety of pieces arising from the various
manufactures of tools, they are cut into pieces of equal dimensions,
polished in a revolving drum by their friction on each other, until
quite bright, and then placed for fusion on the bed of an air furnace.
The parts first fused are gathered on the end of a similarly fabricated
rod, in a welding state, and these gather together by their adhesion,
the remainder as they become sufficiently heated, until the bloom is
complete. The steel is then removed from the furnace, and undergoes the
effect of a three-ton forge hammer and the tilt, until it forms a large
square bar; it is then re-heated, and thence conveyed to the rolling
mill, where eventually it is reduced to the size of rod required. I
generally have the metal required cut into short pieces of six inches
long. A certain number are bundled together and welded, and then drawn
down again in the rolling mill. This can be repeated any number of
times--elongating the fibres and multiplying their number to an
indefinite extent as may be required.


The great advantage derived in this instance from air-furnace welding is
a chemical one; for while the small pieces of steel are fusing on the
bed of the air furnace, the oxygen is extracting the carbon, and leaves
the resulting metal mild steel, or iron of the densest description;
while the succeeding hammering and rolling and re-welding, produce the
mechanical arrangement of making the whole of an extremely fibrous
description. The polishing secures a clean metal; indeed, so free from
specks are the generality of barrels thus made, that it is scarcely
possible to imagine clearer metal. When contrasted with the best of
ordinary iron, by a powerful microscope, the closeness and density of
grain are strongly apparent.

To such an extent has this been carried, that I can produce specimens of
a considerably increased specific gravity. The barrels made of this
metal, in general, beat all tried against them; with this great
advantage, that the finer the polish in the interior the better they
shoot, and continue longer free from lead. The only difficulty is in the
working; as the boring, filing, &c., are more difficult. Moreover,
greater care is required to see that they are not annealed,[8] when in
the hands of the borer or filer; for in such case they would be
considerably injured, though not to the same extent as barrels of a
softer nature. I tested a great variety of bars by drawing them asunder
longitudinally by the testing machine, and the average strength of a rod
of 6-16ths broad by 5-16ths thick and 12 inches long, containing 1·40625
solid inches of iron, was equal to a tension of 11,200 lbs. This
furnished a barrel having a thickness of metal in all parts of the arch
equal, or 3-16ths of an inch thick, capable of bearing an internal
pressure of 6,022 lbs. to the inch of the tube.

  [8] Dr. Ure falls into an error in describing the process of barrel
  boring: he says “the barrel is first properly annealed, and allowed to
  cool gradually,” &c. The barrel-maker that would take such a
  proceeding with a barrel of ours should never do so to another. The
  Doctor ought to have pointed out the evil tendency of this. We never
  saw it done, and we doubt much whether he did, though we have heard of
  the practice, which induces us to notice it, but the Doctor describes
  it as a _necessary_ proceeding.

The generality of barrel makers spoil this metal by an attempt to obtain
figure; for all extreme twistings in the rod depreciate the metal, by
separating the fibres: to borrow a simile, they obtain only an
over-twisted rope. This is not only disadvantageous but useless; for
the extreme density of the metal renders the figure difficult to be
shown distinctly, as acid acts upon it but slightly, and never so well
as on metal fabricated from two differently constructed carbonised

Many conjectures have been advanced, and an endless discussion created,
to account for the watering or “_jowher_” in oriental sword-blades, and
genuine Damascus gun-barrels. Anything approaching the truth is seldom
met with; though I think the explanation is very simple. It must be well
known that there is an immense variety of different qualities in both
iron and steel: no uniformity of quality is found in two productions out
of a hundred. The very ore, the coal, the presence of oxygen, the excess
of it, all vary the quality of the material. An excess of carbon is more
detrimental than a scarcity; for where carbon has once been, it leaves
an indelible mark, and though extracted to as great an extent as
practicable, it leaves a residue that possesses an affinity to absorb
carbon again equal to the original quantity: thus, steel once made will
never, by any process yet known, be reconverted back to iron of the same
nature it was originally.

Mr. Mushet has given us the proportions of carbon _held in solution_ by
the various qualities of steel and iron, and the reader will find them
in the note below.[9] It inevitably follows, as a principle, that the
quantity of carbon contained in the metal--avoiding cast iron--will
increase or decrease, and thus regulate the degree of hardness of the
metals in question. A quantity of metals dissimilar in this particular,
mixed together, and run into a vessel in a state of fusion, then, when
cold, filed and polished, will show a variety according to the place
they hold in the crystallised mass. Work and twist this material in all
the tortuous ways and shapes it is capable of, and you only twist the
fibres of the different bodies in the same way; and when they come to be
acted upon by acid or oxidisation, they still retain their relative
positions, forming the watering or figure, as was the intention of the
tortuous twisting. All the beautiful arrangements in Damascus figures
are obtained in this way. Metals containing more or less carbon will
always produce this watering. To obtain a satisfactory proof, any person
may case-harden a few pounds weight of stubs, and afterwards melt them
in a crucible, and run them into a receiver; when these are worked down
into the bar (or not, as he pleases), dress and apply a little sulphuric
acid, and the peculiar situation the various stubs had taken in the
fluid state, will be clearly discernible.

  Iron, semi-steelified, is made with charcoal        1-150th part.
  Soft cast steel, capable of welding with ditto      1-120th  do.
  Cast steel, for common purposes, with ditto         1-120th  do.
  Cast steel, requiring more hardness, with charcoal   1-90th  do.
  Steel, capable of standing a few blows, but quite
  unfit for drawing with ditto                        1-150th  do.
  First approach to a steely granulated fracture is
  from 1-50th to                                       1-40th  do.
  White cast iron, with charcoal                       1-25th  do.
  Mottled cast iron, with ditto                        1-20th  do.
  Carbonated cast iron                                 1-15th  do.
  And supercarbonated crude iron                       1-12th  do.

The original barrel-welders, the real Damascus iron-workers, were, like
some of ours of the present day, not the most _conscientious_
individuals, nor the most honourable. For, strange to say--but it is not
more strange than true--on examination of most real Damascus barrels to
be met with, we find the iron must have been so valuable as to induce
the workmen _to plate_ or _veneer_ the superior mixture over a body of
the commonest iron: all large barrels are thus made, rifles especially.
I presume the moderns _borrowed_ the invention; and it would be well if
they made no more extensive use of it than on rifle barrels.

The modern method of making wire-twist and Damascus iron, being
gradations from the same material, are here described under one head:--

Alternate bars of iron and steel are placed on each other, in numbers of
six each; they are then forged into one body or bar; after which, if for
the making of wire-twist barrels, they are rolled down into rods of
3-8ths of an inch in breadth, varying in thickness according to the size
of the barrel for which they are wanted: if for Damascus, invariably
3-8ths of an inch square. When about to be twisted into spirals for
barrels, care must be taken that the edges of the steel and iron shall
be outermost; so that when the barrel is finished and browned it shall
have the appearance of being welded of pieces the size of wires, the
whole length of the barrel. A portion of the rod, pickled in sulphuric
acid, exhibits the following appearance, the bright parts being the
steel, the other the iron.


When about to be converted into Damascus, the rod is heated the whole
length, and the two square ends put into the heads (one of which is a
fixture) of a kind of lathe, which is worked by a handle similar to a
winch. It is then twisted like a rope (or, as Colonel Hawker says, wrung
as wet clothes are) until it has from twelve to fourteen complete turns
in the inch, when it presents this appearance.


By this severe twisting, the rod of six feet is shortened to three,
doubled in thickness, and made perfectly round. Three of these rods are
then placed together, with the inclinations of the twists running in
opposite directions; they are then welded into one, and rolled down into
a rod 11-16ths of an inch in breadth. Being pickled in acid, to eat away
the iron, it exhibits the following appearance:--


This iron has long been held in great esteem. It looks pretty; but
certainly does not possess either the strength or tenacity of wire-twist
iron. It is well known that the strength of a rope may be destroyed by
twisting it too much: so is it with this sort of iron. Iron is best when
not twisted at all: I speak of the bar. It resembles wood, inasmuch as
the strands or fibres run parallel, firmly adhere, and add strength to
each other; if you twist those fibres you tear them asunder, and they no
longer support each other. So it is with iron.

The objection made to the wire-twist is, that owing to the iron and
steel being perfectly separate bodies running through the whole
thickness of the barrel, there is a difficulty in welding them
perfectly; and, of course there is danger of their breaking across, at
any trifling imperfection or mis-weld. This objection is certainly well
grounded, as many barrels break in the proving. I have seen a very
strong barrel indeed broken across the knee without the slightest
difficulty, while, to all appearance, it was perfectly sound. This is
the reason why the manufacturers have ceased to make them, except for
the American trade.

It may be said that the fibres in the Damascus, after being torn
asunder, are welded anew. True; but could you ever glue the fibres of a
piece of wood (twisted in the same way) together again, to make them as
strong as before? No: cut several pieces of wood across the grain and
glue them together, you would not expect them, though equal in substance
with a piece in which the grains run lengthwise, to be of equal
strength. In short, I hold a Damascus barrel to be little superior to a
common barrel, in which the fibres run parallel to the bore.

All the varieties of figured barrels are but modifications of Damascus.
The most endless variety possible may be attained; a figure with the
carbonised material, showing only the ends or edges of the various
laminæ, or portions of the face of that laminæ, may with equal facility
be obtained, if the patience of the artist be in proportion. It would be
a never-ending task, a subject for many volumes, to endeavour to
describe a tithe of the varieties that might be, and have been made.

The Belgians are very expert at this sort of ornamental work. The very
minute Damascus figure they frequently produce, is admirable, if beauty
alone were the advantage sought in a gun barrel. They use thirty-two
alternate bars of steel and iron, and roll them into a sheet of 3-16ths
thick, and then slit them by a machine into square rods; these are
twisted in the way just described, but to such an extreme as to resemble
the threads of a very fine screw: six of them are welded into one,
instead of three as with us. The figure is so extremely fine as to
appear not to be larger than the finest needle. I have seen barrels made
in Liege, superior in minute figure to any real Damascus barrel, or
sword either. Our workmen here say the steel is better; which I am
inclined to think is true: it is a branch of the gun manufacture they
have long excelled in. The very best “Damascene” workers are to be found
at La Chafontaine, a few miles from Liege, where they dwell in as
beautiful a dell as fancy could wish, with a powerful hill-stream
working their boring and grinding-mills, thus enabling them to send
their barrels into Liege, ready for the filer. I have spent considerable
time, and taken great trouble, to produce in Birmingham iron equally
good; and I have succeeded: but, unfortunately, Englishmen are so
extravagant in their ideas of value, as to render the constant
manufacture of this iron here, a losing speculation. It can, however, be
obtained from Belgium now, under the amended tariff, at ten per cent. on
the value. It can be purchased there, ready for barrel making, at a
franc per pound; and cheap it is at that price: two and a half francs
would not purchase it here.

That Damascus iron is incompatible with goodness, I can and shall
clearly prove. Experiment with the testing machine shows a rod of
wire-twist 3-8ths square, containing 1·6875 solid inches, as equal to a
tension of 11,200 lbs.; whereas a rod, when converted into Damascus of
11-16ths of an inch in breadth, by 4-16ths in thickness, containing
2·625 solid inches, was only equal to 8,960 lbs.; thus showing a clear
loss of full thirty-five per cent. And when welded into barrels of the
dimensions described, the relative internal strength of each is
5,019-1/2 lbs., and 3,292 lbs. _to the inch of tube_. This constitutes a
great difference. But unfortunately that is not all.

In the preceding chapter I noted the fact, that all sorts of iron lose a
portion of their strength by being heated or softened; but I found that
Damascus suffered more than any other sort of iron, excepting the
common kinds. For instance, the bar of wire-twist would, in the state it
came from the rolling mill, bear 11,200 lbs., but, after softening, it
would only bear 10,180 lbs., being a diminution of 10 per cent. A bar of
Damascus suspending a weight of 8,940 lbs., the measure of its strength,
when annealed, was 7,840 lbs., being a falling off of 12-1/2 per cent.
Thus, I trust I have clearly shown, that whatever other quality Damascus
possesses, strength is not one of its properties. It must not, however,
be supposed that the above weight indicates its greatest strength; on
the contrary, its strength can be increased full 22-1/2 per cent. by
cold hammering. Still, however, it will only hold its relative position
to other kinds of iron with respect to strength, since they are all
capable of having their strength increased by the same process.

Damascus barrels have fallen much into disuse, being rarely seen except
as pistol barrels,[10] which, together with a great quantity of
_counterfeits_, are made for the South and North American trades, in the
shape of double and single guns of a flashy appearance--all invariably
_veneered_ or _plated_ with ribbons of this ornamental iron. I shall now
dismiss this subject; after remarking, that certainly a very handsome
barrel may be made after this principle, if too much twisting be
avoided. It has been seen that the rods are twisted until there is
fourteen turns in the inch of length: an excess productive of the
detrimental effect mentioned; while, had there been but two turns, a
large proportion of strength, if not all, would have been retained. One
turn only, under the same circumstances, would very likely be highly
beneficial; indeed I have found it to be so: one twist binds the
interior strands, as the outer does the interior in a rope, and thus
adds strength. This shows that there is a medium in all things.

  [10] The London makers are again using them extensively; which is
  certainly no proof of their judgment.

The use of old horse-shoe nails is of a date nearly coeval with the use
of small fire-arms. These nails are made from rod iron of the best
description; and the hammering cold, or tempering the nail, so benefits
and condenses the iron as to improve it greatly. The method in use until
a late period, was to fill and force into an iron hoop, of six or seven
inches diameter, as many stubs as it would contain, to weld the whole,
and draw them down to a bar of such dimensions as might be required.
Modern improvement, however, has shown the advantage of cleansing the
stubs perfectly by a revolving drum, and then fusing and gathering them
into a _bloom_ on the bed of an air-furnace. Thus a body of from 40 to
50 lbs. of melting iron can be obtained at one heat; a matter of economy
and necessity, where large quantities are required, besides possessing
the superior advantage of having the whole mass equally heated: this
cannot be done by the old hoop method, as the surface must be frequently
burnt before the interior is at all in a welding state.

Experience taught the late Mr. Adams and his brother George--who still
manufacture some of the best gun iron in the world--that the stub iron
alone was insufficient; for even then (forty years ago) the absurdity
of imagining that no barrels were or could be good without being soft,
was understood and acted upon by them. They introduced at first
one-fourth of steel to three of stubs; this having been found highly
advantageous, the prejudices of the gun-makers were gradually overcome,
or left in abeyance from ignorance of the introduction. It is a fact,
that as late as 1842, when I issued my former work, men who had been all
their lives _gun-makers_ (by courtesy) actually refused to believe that
any steel at all entered into the composition of the best barrels; and
several whom I know perfectly well, ordered the factors with whom they
dealt “to be sure to send them no barrels with steel in, as they did not
wish their customers’ hands to be blown off.”

Charcoal iron has, up to this day, been the only stub twist barrels they
(and we believe two-thirds of the provincial makers also) have ever been
served with. Reason with these men, and they will snappishly tell you,
“We pay the best price, and we ought to have the best: we don’t see that
our neighbours have any better.” On one occasion of my calling upon one
of the first provincial gun-makers in the kingdom, the subject of
barrels was adverted to--“An excellent work that of yours, I dare say;
but, sir, you have done a deal of harm: it is wrong to let gentlemen
know too much; they give you far too much trouble: they get too
knowing.” These, and such like observations, are the only thanks I ever
received from the generality of the gun trade. There are, however, some
enlightened men who, understanding the subject, have appreciated my
motives; but by far the greater proportion have done the reverse,
asserting “that I had told them nothing but what they knew before.”

The mixture of a portion of steel with the stubs having clearly shown an
improvement, an increased proportion has been adopted by various makers:
we have had as high as three-fourths of steel to one of iron. Where
proper attention is paid to the clipping of the steel to pieces,
corresponding with the stubs, and properly mixing the whole, welding and
forging by the heavy hammer, reducing by a tilt and rolling down to the
smallest description of rod, a most excellent, tenacious, and dense body
of iron is thus obtained; while, by cutting into lengths of six inches,
bundling a number together, and re-welding them into a bar, an increased
density and tenacity is gained, by an increase in quantity, and an
elongation of the fibrous system. Any description of barrel, of this
iron, if made with a moderate degree of care and attention, is
considerably stronger than any explosive fluid ever yet compounded could
burst, under any circumstances bordering on _fair experiment_.

The great advantage derived from welding on the bed of an air-furnace,
arises from an absence of the minute portions of charcoal, of either
wood or coal, as the case may be. Millions of these very minute portions
are imbedded in the midst of the metal in every part. They are enclosed
in cells originally of their own dimensions, but are drawn out with the
fibres to an indefinite extent, forming a system of tubes that may be
compared to the capillary system in trees, and making the iron of a
spungy, compressible nature. It is the absence of these particles of
charcoal that gives part of the superiority to steel as now made for
gun-barrels; and the existence of a portion of them causes the
inferiority of all other kinds of iron. In a chemical analysis of iron,
a large portion of crude coal-charcoal or wood-charcoal is found,
according as either has been used during the manufacture. This is not of
course given as so much carbon in the result, though the injury is
equally detrimental as an excess of carbon is to the goodness of the
metal; for it renders the whole porous, and liable to attract moisture
and induce oxidation. It must be kept prominently in view, and clearly
comprehended, that the denser the body of metal, the less the liability
to oxidise, or in other words _rust_; and here is the one great
preservative principle in good iron: “it is the fibre of dense
cocoa-wood, compared with that of willow or saugh.” In all situations
and for all purposes, where iron is liable to sudden changes of either
heat or cold, wet or dry, the very best of iron should be obtained; as
it will be less affected by the changes of temperature, and amply repay
by its durability the extra cost in the first instance.

The very extensive round of experiments to which I have submitted
mixtures of this nature, clearly establishes all the conclusions I have
formed on these points. The strength of the mixture, three parts steel
to one of stubs, gives a resistance in the rod of 6-16ths broad by
5-16ths thick, and 12 inches long, containing 1·40625 solid inches,
equal to 10,295 lbs. before separating; thus being equal, in a barrel of
the dimensions before mentioned, to an internal pressure of 5,555 lbs.
to the inch of tube. The proportions mentioned in my previous work are
25 lbs. of stubs to 15 lbs. of steel; the strength of this mixture in
the rod is equal to a tension of 8,960 lbs., and the barrel is capable
of restraining a pressure internally of 4,818 lbs., making full 15 per
cent. dissimilarity in favour of the larger proportion of steel: indeed,
all experience points to the great advantage, that steel, properly
worked, possesses over iron alone. Great good can be effected by
condensing iron by hammer-hardening; greater than I have shown steel to
be capable of receiving additionally: as, already having it naturally,
there is no necessity for using artificial means to obtain it. Nor is
steel so liable to depreciation in the hands of an inexperienced
artisan; as the degree of expansion is not more, in the large proportion
of steel mixture, than a loss of strength equal to 4-1/2 per cent, by
heating and cooling gradually. The loss in the mixture containing less
steel is 7-1/2 per cent. The specific gravity of the two is in

The frequent welding and re-rolling of iron is of the most beneficial
tendency, the elongation of the fibres being highly advantageous; for, a
fibrous piece of iron may be compared to a wire rope, the more strands
the greater tenacity; and the smaller the strands, even up to a
proximity of fineness to the human hair, the greater the weight they
will bear in tension. One large wire which, when single, will suspend
500 lbs., will, when drawn down to six small ones, suspend 600 lbs.; and
so on to the greatest extreme. Another great advantage received by the
repeated reworking of iron, is obtaining an increased density; for when
this is secured to a certain extent, you have closed in proportion the
pores of the metal; and in this state it is not liable to that degree of
expansion or contraction, or that fluctuation in strength, which arises
from softening the iron. Nor can you gain, save to a limited extent, any
improvement by hammering,--hammer-hardening, for instance,--simply
because it is already improved to the utmost extent we are at present
acquainted with.

How wonderfully beneficial to mankind is this beautiful arrangement of
the metallic fibrous system! Without it what could we do? our
manufactures would be confined to simple castings, or crystallizations,
possessed merely of strength in proportion to the cohesive nature of the
metal. Where would be all the wonderful springs whose fineness vies with
the silken fibre? Of what could they be constructed? All-powerful gold
would not suffice, nor silver; though each, in its place, possesses
wonderful properties. Gold and silver may both be spread in the thinnest
conceivable coat over space incredible; on the gilded cup, or, still
thinner by electric agency, on the plated epergne. But iron alone is to
the arts, the “_summum bonum_” for which there is no substitute: it is
the “_sine quâ non_” of practical mechanics.

Improvements in the manufacture of a very superior iron may, we believe,
be placed to the credit of the gunmaking profession exclusively; no
other body or class of men having ever yet deemed it worth their trouble
to endeavour to obtain anything of a better description _than bar iron,
suitable to make steel from_. Mr. Mushet, from whose work I have already
quoted, has evidently been more intimately acquainted with the routine
of iron manufacturing than any other person I ever met with or read of:
he understands the question perfectly; yet he seems to care for nothing
further _than a suitable steel iron_.

How many and how fearful have been the explosions by all-powerful steam
since the period of its introduction. How many weeping widows, and how
many fatherless children have had to mourn its effects! Yet what has
human ingenuity done, what have the wonderful energies of the present
race of scientific men accomplished to stay this annual slaughter?
Comparatively little beyond discovery of mysterious causes where none
exist. It reminds me of my first lesson in coursing--“If you want to
find a hare, young man,” said the keeper, “look at your feet: you will
not find her at a distance.” So it is with the state of knowledge on
steam boiler explosions; if you want to find the cause, look “at your
feet:” do not endeavour to envelope in mystery, what you may find in
simple and natural causes.

I may here observe that I have been professionally engaged to inspect
the effects, with a hope of finding the cause, of thirty-four cases of
explosion, where the sacrifice of human life was above an average of
two each, or nearly one hundred, and I never yet have found one single
case which could not be clearly demonstrated to have been caused either
solely by neglect of the superintendent, or from sheer ignorance on the
part of the engineer constructing the arrangement of boilers. For every
accident may _sweepingly be said_ to be occasioned by a want of space
for the escape of the steam: a too small valve, in the first instance,
and in the second, a villanous construction of what is called iron
boiler plate--a concentration of the veriest rubbish, under the name of
wrought iron, ever gathered together. For this reason, I have drawn the
reader’s attention aside for a few moments.

The improvement of boiler-iron may detain us slightly, if by the delay
any good can be accomplished. For an inconsiderable increase of outlay,
a boiler might be rendered doubly safe to what it is at present, by
simply using moderate caution in the selection of scrap iron, a perfect
cleansing of that scrap, and by fusing the bloom on the bed of an air
furnace. The great advantage would be that you would get a stronger, a
much denser, and consequently a much better, metal: nor is this all the
advantage; you might use a very much thinner plate, which would yet be
equally strong; and science will tell you that steam would be more
easily generated, as heat is more rapidly conducted.

There is a very handsome description of barrel-iron made, generally
termed “Stub-Damascus.” The method of preparing it, is of late
considerably altered. A quantity of old files are hardened, by being;
heated red-hot and immersed in water, then broken in pieces with a
hammer, and afterwards pounded in a mortar until the pieces do not
exceed in size a corn of number five shot. A proportion of 15 lbs. of
these to 25 lbs. of stubs, is fused together on the bed of an
air-furnace, beaten down, and rolled into rods. The rod of 3-8ths of an
inch square, is twisted like a rope, precisely in the same way as the
Damascus. The effect of this winding, is to give a beautiful mottle to
the barrel; which will be found depicted in plate No. 3.

Another mixture, represented in plate No. 2, was first made by Mr.
Wiswould, of Birmingham. It is a compound, so far as I have been able to
ascertain, of three parts of steel to two of iron, intimately blended
and intermixed, and twisted as just described. It is a most beautifully
clean and dense iron; but the extreme twisting is to it, as to all,
highly injurious and prejudicial. The twisting is similar to the
Damascus; only that two twisted rods are welded together instead of
three, and with the twist of the strands running in opposite angles, as
depicted in the wood-cut below.


The degree of strength is similar to that of the stub, and other
Damascus; it being quite certain, that, be the composition what it may,
this rending of the cohesive attachment by twisting, will eventually
equalise the strength of the whole.

The use and introduction of what is called “charcoal-iron,” is one of
the shams reared and supported by the hotbed of competition and
deception combined: a wish to foist on the purchaser a counterfeit for
the real metal. I would not give shop-room to the best barrels ever made
from such a compound. I hate a scoundrel and a hypocrite; this iron
exemplifies the qualities of both.

This worthless compound consists principally of cuttings of sheet iron;
of which there is an endless supply in the neighbourhood of Birmingham,
from punchings and from one inferior metal and another. After properly
cleaning, a quantity is put into a charcoal furnace and melted, cast
into a pig, then forged down to a bar, and rolled into rods
corresponding with the size of stub twist, which it is intended to
represent. The action of the charcoal communicates to it a portion of
carbon, which, when stained in a certain way, gives an appearance much
resembling that beautiful metal just mentioned (stub-Damascus); but if
every means imagined by the inventive faculty of man were employed upon
it, it could not be made into really good iron. An iron which is
technically termed “weak,” can never be made a strong bodied iron, or an
“iron suitable to make steel,” to repeat a former quotation. The
original iron from which these scraps generally come, is required to be
“weak” iron, for the facility with which it can be rolled into plates;
a strong fibrous iron is not necessary.

Its greatest strength appears to be as follows: 7-16ths of an inch
broad, and 5-16ths thick, solid contents 1·40635 inches, will bear a
weight of 10,080 pounds; so that if my calculations are correct, it will
bear only a pressure of 4,526 pounds in the tube. The loss of strength
by heating or softening, being full 10 per cent.

This converted iron, however, will not endure the test of browning by
smoke, or, more properly, flame; as the oxygen invariably destroys the
appearance of steel in twelve hours after its application. By the old
method of staining, it would be as impossible for any man, who was not a
judge, to point out the real from the counterfeit, as to discern a copy
executed by a clever artist from an original painting by one of the old

But deception is ever fertile in expedients, and an ingenious invention
was soon found out to imitate the advantage possessed by the “_smoke
brown_,” which they obtain by first browning or staining the barrels
very dark. A weak solution of muriatic acid, or spirits of salt, is
applied very lightly with a sponge, and the colour is extracted from
those portions of the iron left more prominent, by the excessive
_pickling_ they are subjected to before staining; they are then
immediately dried, scalded with hot water, and the stain is complete; it
is a most ingenious imitation.

I have already stated that this iron is very much used in consequence
of its cheapness; its cost being only fourpence per pound, while stub
twist costs fivepence. It is also easily worked, being considerably
softer than any of the above-described kinds of iron.

It may be asked, why so much inferior iron is used, when the difference
in the price between the good and the bad is only a penny per pound? The
reason is this:--If a barrel filer receive an order for a pair of
barrels, he (having probably deceived his customer before, or, at any
rate, knowing that he can deceive him without running any risk of
detection) sends to the welder sufficient charcoal-iron to forge these
barrels. Should the quantity amount to ten pounds, he, of course, saves
tenpence. The welder receives two shillings less for welding this
description of iron, than for welding stub-twist; so that here is
already a saving of 2_s._ 10_d._ At the boring-mill, and the
grinding-mill, the charge is also proportionate: the wages of the
journeymen are less; so that by imposing on his customer one pair of
barrels manufactured of this sort of iron instead of the real
stub-twist, he pockets a clear gain of above 9_s._; and should he
manufacture one hundred pair of such barrels in the year, it would make
at the end no small item in the year’s account of profit.

Thus it is with all description of barrels. The charge for making, by
each workman, in the various stages of the manufacture, is according to
the quality of each pair of barrels. The saving, then, to the man who
makes one hundred pairs of barrels in the year, though it be but a
farthing in the pound of iron, amounts to a considerable sum. This
fraudulent gain of more than 5_s._ on a pair of pretended stub barrels,
is what is called in Birmingham, “doing the natives,” and is a reward
for ingenious knavery.

When orders are given by what are called general factors, who very
kindly supply their country friends at a moderate commission of 40 to 50
per cent., these gentry take care to lap up the cream; for we know from
facts that the barrel filer has sometimes scarcely five per cent. for
his trouble of overlooking. One consequence naturally results from this,
that every species of deception will be resorted to, in order to
indemnify workpeople for their labour and trouble. At the present time,
I have no doubt that there are hundreds of guns made in Birmingham, the
barrels of which, in some instances, never enter the proof house: as
eightpence per barrel, the cost of proof, is a great temptation!
Besides, a great number of barrels declared “wasters”--such as
repeatedly bulged in the proof, are full of flaws, have holes in the
sides, or some other fault sufficient to condemn them in the eyes of a
moderately conscientious barrel-maker--are bought by men who live by
this species of fraud; and are repaired with great neatness, by putting
in pieces artfully, beating down swellings or bulges. Then the
proof-mark “of doubtful identity;” and, last of all,--mark!--they fit
them up, and send them to the engraver to have the name of some living
or defunct London gun-maker of respectability engraved upon them, and
palm them off upon some dealer as a good article.

I commend to the reader the advice of “Edward Davies,” a gentleman who
wrote in 1619; who says “He that loves the safetie of his own person,
and delighteth in the goodness and beautie of a piece, let him always
make choice of one that is double breeched; and if possible, a Mylan
piece, for they be of tough and perfect temper, light, square, and bigge
of breech, and very strong where the powder doth lie, and where the
violent force of the fire doth consist, and notwithstanding thinne at
the end. Our English pieces approach very neare unto them in beautie and
goodness, (their heaviness only excepted) so that they be made of
purpose, and not one of these common sale pieces, with round barrels,
whereunto a beaten souldier will have great respect, and choose rather
to pay double money for a good piece, than to spare his purse and
endanger himself.” Truly, the fraternity have always, we find, been of
doubtful honesty: always making “sale pieces.”

“Threepenny skelp iron” is made from an inferior quality of scrap to
that from which “charcoal iron” is made; but unlike it, there is no
pretension of quality. Its inferiority is not denied; it is poor in
quality, and suits parties who cannot buy better. The method of
preparing is by an air-furnace, forge, tilt and rolling mill, as before
described. The greatest strength of a bar 11-16ths broad by 3-16ths
thick, containing 1·5468 solid inches, is 7,840 lbs.; or equal to an
internal pressure of 3,841 lbs. to the inch of tube. One particular
fact attaches to all kinds of inferior iron--the greater the mass acted
upon by the rollers the greater the variation of strength. This arises
entirely from the increased sponginess of the metal, and its greater
expansibility. For instance, a rod 1-16th thicker, is 15 per cent.
weaker in proportion; and so on to the greatest extent. But on the other
hand, it is capable of recovering a great increase of strength by cold
hammering; greater than better iron. A considerable quantity of this
iron is sold to engineers, and used in the construction of locomotive
and other engines; the price and uniformity of texture in grain fitting
it for that purpose.

“Twopenny” or “Wednesbury skelp” is almost too bad to be used in making
an article which may endanger the limbs of our fellow creatures, and is
now little used, fortunately. It is made of an inferior scrap to the
former, in precisely the same manner; and in point of strength is still
lower. The bar is generally 1 and 1-16th inches in breadth, by 3-16ths
thick, the solid contents 2 inches and 25-64ths, and will bear a weight
of 7,840 pounds; consequently the strength will be 2,840 pounds to the
inch of tube.

This is a great falling-off in strength; and I would ask any one who
values the safety of his hand, if he would like to risk it, by using a
gun made of iron possessing so low a degree of strength, as compared to
the force of the charge it has to bear? Let him recollect that the force
of the charge may be increased by a variety of circumstances. The
pressure of a certain quantity of powder, on which a certain weight of
shot is placed, is so many pounds to the inch; and if you double that
weight of shot, you nearly double the pressure. In estimating the force
of pressure, the opposing friction is also to be taken into account. If
the gun be allowed to get very foul, then friction is increased, and of
course a still greater pressure is thrown on the tube of the barrel. All
these circumstances being taken into consideration, I repeat, that _no
barrel is safe, whose power of resistance is not more than double the
strength of a charge of sufficient force for general shooting_. Every
bad gun should be thrown aside as unsafe, or used with the greatest
caution. Bad and inferior guns are made from the foregoing material; and
not many years have elapsed since it was thought good enough for
military arms.

“Sham damn skelp” is made from the most inferior scrap. I should not
have mentioned this description of iron had I not seen hundreds of
barrels made of it, all which are utterly unfitted for the use of any
person who cares at all for his safety. I have met with them frequently
under the dignified name of twisted barrels. Guns that are fitted up at
from ten to twelve shillings each are not of course patent breeched, but
are made to appear so by staining them generally blue, and by having a
couple of bands to imitate platina, across the squares. A projecting
part is welded on to the side, into which the nipple is inserted, and
the lock joints neatly under it. Many of them are good imitations; but
only take the barrel out of the stock and the deception is instantly
apparent, as it is rarely carried further than the outside. The
beautiful way in which the barrels are painted to imitate fine twist,
catches the eye of the simple countryman, who is generally the dupe of
this artifice; and the persuasive eloquence of the itinerant
hardwareman, seldom fails to extract from the pocket of his unsuspecting
purchaser sometimes thirty or forty shillings of his earnings for what
the _modest trader_ rarely pays above fifteen shillings. Many are the
anathemas vented, when the deception is found out by some one more
knowing than the dupe, who not unfrequently purchases his experience at
the expense of a finger or a hand. It is astonishing what a quantity of
this rubbish is disposed of by hawkers who infest market towns and
villages with guns for sale.

But the English peasant is not the only dupe of this species of knavery.
Thousands of these guns are sent monthly to the United States, to the
Brazils, and South America; where they are disposed of, among the poor
Indians, in exchange for skins and furs.

They are all understood to be “proved.” How many are so who can tell;
but that some of them are not, there can be no doubt.

It is said that the manufacture of these guns is a great support to the
gun trade of Birmingham. In one respect it is, certainly; yet would not
the interest of the trade be advanced, if we were to manufacture none of
so inferior a quality? “But then,” it will be urged, “we could not
compete with our rivals in Germany and the Netherlands.” True, we should
not be their rivals in the production of rubbish; but the superiority of
our guns would then command a better market. By sending to the market an
article no better than theirs, we have made foreigners indifferent about
the purchase of ours: they say “The English guns are no better than the
Belgian or German; we may as well purchase one as the other.” The force
of this remark is illustrated by the state of the African trade. The
base kind of articles we supplied them with some years ago, has produced
a distrust of our manufacture, which will not easily be removed; and a
similar distrust is engendered by the same cause in the minds of our
present customers. It is much to be deplored that the eagerness for
present gain, should render men blind to the consequences of their
conduct, and lead them to prefer the immediate gratification of their
avarice even to their own future prosperity; to say nothing of the
welfare of the trade of the country.

The method I suggested of testing all iron in the bar would go far to
destroy this trade. I have not thought it worth while to test this iron.
But twist barrels are made of it. Should the reader meet with a double
gun so made, let him avoid it: it is unsafe, unless it be so heavy as to
be unmanageable.

A great many long rifle barrels are made of this iron, principally for
the American trade; but from their immense weight, and the small charge
of powder required, there does not exist the same danger from their

Fowling-piece barrels made of it may be generally recognised by the
smallness of the bore and the thickness of metal. As the charge of
powder used in proving is very small when compared with the charges for
proving guns of a wider calibre, we need not be surprised that many of
those that are proved stand proof.

“Swaff iron forging” is a profitable branch of forging carried on in
Birmingham under the above title. It is a metal which is composed of
iron and steel filings, chippings of breeches, pieces and cuttings of
the ends of the screws, lock-plates, cocks, the rough borings of
barrels, and all other small scraps found in gunmakers’ and other
workshops. These are collected by the boys in each shop, and when they
have accumulated, are sold to the “swaff-forger,” the proceeds being
considered as drinking money. They are forged into bars of iron by
attaching them together and immersing them in diluted sulphuric acid;
then, after draining it from them again, and placing a large iron pan
full in a hot situation, they become cemented together by the action of
the oxide. The compound is then taken from the pan, by turning it upside
down, and is put into an air-furnace heated to a welding heat, being
thence removed and beaten into a bar: three men with light hammers
beating it as quickly as they do in welding a gun-barrel. This iron is
sold to the gun-work forgers, for the forging of the patent breeches,
lock-plates, furniture, and other parts of the gun which they think
worthy of good iron; but since cheapness has become so much the order of
the day, the use of this iron is confined to the forging of best
gun-work, cast iron being thought quite good enough for common



In this chapter I shall briefly describe the process of the manufacture
of guns of all qualities, commencing with barrel-welding; which, in
importance, is inferior only to the _quality of iron_ in the routine of
good gun-making.

Birmingham, and the surrounding districts, are the only places in
England where barrel-welding is practised. The superior advantage
possessed in having coal nearly (if not entirely) free from the presence
of the sulphuret of iron, which has always been found a considerable
hindrance to the obtainment of clear and good barrels, is greatly in
their favour. For a considerable period individuals in London contended
with the Warwickshire welders; but being an unequal contest, it ended in
favour of the provincialists. This is to be regretted, as there can be
no doubt but that greater reliance could be placed on the material of
the London manufacture. But a considerable drawback existed with the
latter: they made only one sort of barrel, and that the best. Now it is
requisite to have a fire fitted for the purpose of welding best
barrels--tempered, as it were--and this can only be effected by some
hours’ using, which is generally employed in the production of a number
of very inferior barrels. As the London people made no common guns, and
needed no inferior barrels, they welded their best barrels in a raw,
untempered fire; and hence arose the admitted inferiority of their work.
The late Mr. Fullard struggled long and hard in the competition; but
with his death, barrel-welding ceased in the metropolis. Indeed it would
have been highly imprudent and unprofitable for any one to have entered
upon such a speculation; there being no certainty of success, but rather
of the contrary. The Birmingham barrel-welders are wonderfully clever
smiths: they cannot be excelled. If _ridden with a curb_, they do well;
but no opportunity must be given them, or to a certainty they will
“bolt” from the true path.

The metal rods are twisted by means of two iron bars, the one fixed the
other loose. In the latter there is a prong or notch to receive one end;
and when inserted, the bar is turned by a handle. The fixed bar
preventing the rod from going round, it is bent and twisted over the
moveable rod like the pieces of leather round the handle of a whip. The
loose bar is unshipped, the spiral knocked off, and the same process
recommenced with another rod. The length of all the spirals depends on
the breadth of the rod: for instance, the stub-twist has sixteen circles
in six inches long; a rod of five feet will make a spiral of only seven
inches; while iron, of an inch in breadth, will make a spiral of as many
inches long as there are twists: hence the reason why best barrels have
more joinings than common ones of equal length.

The Damascus being rolled into rods of 11-16ths broad forms a spiral
with the appearance shown in the accompanying woodcut.


The fancy steel barrels and others, where the rod is formed of more than
one piece, such as the stub Damascus, &c., is of rather greater breadth,
like the representation below.


The iron made from stubs and steel, and plain fibrous steel, is
invariably rolled down into rods of 6-16ths broad, forming a spiral, as


A proper attention to the fineness of the spiral will always enable an
amateur to detect any attempt at imposition.

The spiral formed from the rod of charcoal iron has a somewhat different
appearance; but in cases where it is intended to supply the place of the
real stub iron it is of corresponding dimensions, and in general very
difficult to detect without a very intimate knowledge indeed of the
nature of iron. When honestly intended, it forms a similar spiral to the
accompanying one.


The wideness of the twist, or the angular direction of the fibres, will
enable the most uninitiated to recognise a barrel made from threepenny
skelp iron: the very few welds required, is one cause of the cheapness
of barrels made from it. Judgment may be formed of it from the following


Twopenny, or Wednesbury skelp is coarser in the spiral still, and
running so angular as not to be very difficult to detect.


All iron formed in spirals, as a matter of certainty, forms _twist
barrels_--the parties whose use they are intended for, seldom know or
care for anything further than having “a twist barrelled gun.” The
advantage of _sham damn_ iron being twisted is all imaginary: if used at
all, it may be twisted; but those who value their safety would consult
it best by tying a large stone to such a gun and sinking it fathoms
deep. But to satisfy those who may fancy such things, I give a woodcut
of the spiral ready for welding.


The spirals being thus formed, the welders commence their day’s work.
The batch consists of a foreman, one on whose skill all depends, and two
subordinates, whose duty it is to blow the bellows, strike, &c.

They proceed to weld probably a dozen long common barrels for the
American trade; which are generally composed of the inferior iron
mentioned before, rolled into two lengths of different thicknesses.
These skelps are heated, and beaten on a groove until they form a tube
half closed. They are then heated again, and closed with one edge
over-lapping the other; as a brazier would over-lap the edge of a tin
pipe, for boys to blows peas with.

Having got the two lengths of the whole dozen turned into tubes, they
proceed to weld the longer length or forepart, by heating it
sufficiently for four or five inches, introducing a mandril of the
required size to suit the bore wanted, and then beating it into a
perfect tube, in a groove on the anvil, of corresponding diameter;
heating it again and again, until the joint is closed the whole length.
They then proceed with the other eleven foreparts, and advance the whole
to that stage before welding on the breech lengths; which are now
partially heated by laying on the outskirts of the fire, to be in
readiness: they are then closed the same as the foreparts. The end, when
about to be jointed, is opened a little on the peam of the anvil, to
admit a portion of the end of the forepart; which is introduced as soon
as both are in a welding state: the mandril is then introduced, and the
joint is perfected, in less time than we have occupied in the
description. The other part of the tube is closed, and the barrel is
then complete. If, however, the breech part is to be square or octagon
shaped, it is not welded in a groove, but on a plain surface.

Competition has reduced this department of the trade to a low ebb;
thousands of these sort of barrels being now annually welded for about
eightpence each: if to this we add one penny farthing per pound for six
pounds of iron, we get a forged gun barrel for one shilling and
threepence halfpenny. This is certainly a poor remuneration for sweating
over a furnace containing from two to three hundredweight of intensely
heated coal. The introduction of welding by the rolling mill, will
eventually supersede this arrangement; a matter to be regretted only on
the score of its answering the purpose of preparing the fire for best
welding. Of late years rolling has nearly superseded this description of


They now commence the welding of twist barrels. Spirals that are
intended for the breech end, are heated to a welding heat for about
three inches, removed from the fire, and jumped close by striking the
end against the anvil. Again they are heated, and again jumped, to
ensure the perfect welding. They are then beaten lightly in a groove, to
make them round. The neatest part of the process consists in the
joining of the points of the two rods, so as to make the barrel appear
as if it had been twisted out of one rod. The ends of the two rods are a
little detached, brought from the fire, and applied to each other; a
gentle tap is then given, and the union is perfect in an instant. The
rapidity and dexterity with which this is accomplished, ought to be seen
to be duly appreciated. This trouble is only taken with the best
barrels. In the manufacture of barrels of an inferior description, the
ends of the rods are cut in a sloping direction, and when welded
together, become quite square at the part where the pieces are joined.
In a finished barrel the points of junction are easily recognised. By
tracing the twist, a confusion will be found to exist for about an
eighth of an inch, every six or seven inches; and from this appearance
you may conclude that, for a barrel so joined, the welder had not the
best price. Having joined the whole of the spirals, three inches are
again heated to a welding heat, the mandril is introduced, and the tube
hammered, in a groove, to the size required. This operation is repeated
until the whole length is finished.

Then follows hammer-hardening: that is, beating the barrel, in a
comparatively cold state, in a groove, with light hammers, for the space
of half an hour. This is a most important part of the process. It closes
the pores, condenses the texture of the metal, compresses a greater
substance into less bounds, increases greatly the strength of the
barrel, and renders it more elastic. Yet this is seldom done, unless
specially requested; and then a gratuity is, of course, expected either
in money or beer. A few pots of the juice of Sir John Barleycorn will
infuse more strength into your barrels than you could purchase for ten
times the amount in money; as they have the effect of making the hammers
descend with increased velocity.

If all barrels were hardened in this manner, their shooting powers would
be increased, and they would not be so liable to burst in the hands of
the sportsman. This, however, cannot be done, unless the purchaser
either sees it done himself, or has it done under the superintendence of
some person on whom he can depend. The Birmingham workmen, if well paid
and well looked after (to counteract the bad habits they have acquired
from being employed in the manufacture of so large a quantity of goods
of an inferior quality), would produce an article superior to any that
could be produced, at the same cost, in any other part of the world.

The Belgian welders do their work at considerably less cost in coal than
our English workmen. Coal, it is well known, is very dear in Liege, and
necessity may have taught them the extreme of economy both in the size
of their fire and the duration of it. They effect this by adding to
two-thirds of coal, beat into dust, one-third of clay; the latter is
mixed with the coal by being put into a wooden barrel, the two well
stirred up together, and the water drained from it. Even this mixture is
used sparingly: the fire being scarcely larger than might be held in the
two hands, while with us little short of two hundredweight suffices:
which is unquestionably a great and unnecessary waste. True the Belgian
does not get through the great quantity of work the Englishman does by
having “_a great many irons in the fire_” at once; but he certainly does
it well and clean: the quantity of earthy matter in the Belgian’s fire
gives a great heat, which also is retained longer; and it is also free
from any excessive quantity of particles of charcoal.

All twist barrels undergo a similar round; the time and care bestowed
upon them depending entirely on the price, which varies from one pound
per pair down to eighteenpence, and in some instances lower.

In a former work I noticed the introduction of a villanous system of
covering or plating barrels with fine iron over a body of very inferior
iron. I here quote that description:--

The deceptions practised in this branch of manufacture are numerous, and
injurious to the trade. For instance, if you wish to have a heavy single
barrel made from Damascus, or any of the best irons, and you send to the
manufacturer the weight of iron required, the probability is, that
unless you superintend the manufacture yourself, iron of an inferior
quality will be introduced into the inside of the spirals. By this fraud
they obtain iron worth threepence a pound more than that which they
knavishly insert into the barrel. I had been repeatedly told of this
practice, but was incredulous. However, I gave an order for four very
heavy rifle barrels to be made of Damascus iron. They were made; but on
pickling these barrels for the purpose of showing the figure of the
Damascus, I discovered that the iron seemed to be much more easily eaten
away at the muzzle than on the surface. This led me to examine them,
when I found that the inside was entirely composed of iron, over which
the covering of Damascus had been twisted. But for the pickling, this
fraud never would have been detected; yet for these barrels I was
charged at the rate of two barrels for each. Since this occurred, I have
subjected many heavy barrels to examination, and have found the fraud to
be very common. The practice is not only dishonest, but spoils the gun,
by destroying the shooting power, in consequence of the metals, being of
different temperatures, not acting together at the moment of expansion.


Veneering or plating barrels is more extensively practised in Belgium
than in any other nation we are acquainted with; they do not conceal it,
but they use equally good iron, though not ornamented iron: of this
there is much doubt. The method of accomplishing this is by having the
iron required rolled down into ribbons of a thin description; these are
twisted spirally round a tube of common iron having the fibres running
length-ways, or parallel with the bore. The accompanying cut will convey
an idea of this method.

Many will ask what inducement have the welders to take this extra
trouble? Gain. The cost of Damascus is 7-1/2_d._ per pound, and the iron
they use for this purpose is only 1-1/4_d._ A pair of barrels take 14
lbs. of iron; say 6 lbs. of this is Damascus plate, costing 3_s._ 9_d._;
8 lbs. is common, amounting to 10_d._ instead of 5_s._, or a saving of
4_s._ 2_d._ a pair. A splendid profit if you order one hundred. The
borer charges less, the iron is softer, the filer has less, and all
items clubbed amount to something. The facility with which welders can
do this is wonderful; it clearly establishes their ability, and proves
their claim to be considered the cleverest _blacksmiths_ on the face of
the earth. It is not only the best descriptions of iron they plate with:
twopenny skelp is more in use than any. It is now rare to meet with
_painted_ barrels: all are _genuine twist barrels_, _warranted_; for
they are mostly all plated, even down to the gun costing but fourteen
shillings, wholesale price.

This is a subject of serious importance; one which the gun-makers, both
metropolitan and provincial, should resolutely condemn; for safety as
well as goodness of shooting cannot be secured in perfection with any
barrels so constructed. I have met with plated barrels in guns which
cost the purchaser thirty-five guineas, and I have detected them in some
of the first makers’ guns; for the _perfection_ with which the fraud is
accomplished is wonderful, and few can detect it who are not strictly up
to “the dodge.” The application of a portion of sulphuric acid into the
tube at the breech end of the barrel, is the best way of showing the
fraud; for, in most cases, it is all bored out at the thin portion of
the muzzle, and the application there would, under these circumstances,
be no test.

I have frequently been applied to by many masters in the trade for
advice in the recommendation of a barrel-maker. It is at all times an
invidious task to act as a selector for individuals, and to give praise
to one man over another; more especially where the merits of workmen
approximate near to each other. But in barrel-making, a man, to be a
master of his trade, should not only be a good workman, breeching and
filing well, but should possess a good eye in putting barrels together
(for here everything depends upon the eye) and finishing them highly:
these are only a portion of the abilities a barrel-maker should possess.
Several of the London barrel-makers are exceedingly good workmen, for I
have tried them all; but only converse with them, and you find the
technicalities of the work is all they can discourse upon: the iron, the
vital principle, is Greek to them; they know nothing about it, and care
less. How can these men be guides in the right direction? They may have
seen barrels welded; but, if so, it is only a matter of chance: even in
Birmingham, where this can be seen daily, nineteen out of twenty know
nothing theoretically. You will frequently hear them heaping _anathemas_
on a hard barrel, when floating it, and wishing the man who invented
steel barrels “_in the shades below_.” Ask these men’s opinions, and if
they expect to have the job of filing the barrels, they will surely
recommend you soft iron, stub-twist, or charcoal-iron.


Boring and grinding gun-barrels generally take place under the same
roof; the borer occupying a very small shop, the grinder a large one.
Two men and two boys are generally found in a shop. There are four
benches, to each a spindle, in which there is an oblong hole to receive
the end of the boring bit. The barrel is secured on a sort of carriage,
which is at liberty to traverse the whole length of the bench. A boring
bit is then selected of suitable size; it is put into the spindle, and
the point introduced into the end of the barrel. A sort of lever is then
taken and hooked on to a kind of staple, or a piece of hooked iron (a
number of which are fixed in one side of the bench the whole length),
and passed behind the carriage to force it up to the bit; this is
removed and fixed again, until, by forcing up the carriage, the boring
bit has passed through the whole of the barrel. During this operation a
stream of water is kept playing on the barrel to keep it cool. A bit, of
larger dimensions, is next introduced and passed through; then others of
still larger dimensions, until the whole of the scales or blacks are
entirely bored out; or until the barrel has become so large in the bore,
as to preclude any further boring with safety. If the scales are of
great extent, the fault is the forger’s, and the loss will consequently
be his. If the barrels be found perfect, they are sent back to the
filer, or he comes to inspect them, in order to ascertain whether they
be perfectly straight in the inside; if not, to make them so.

The necessity of great care and attention to this point, must be very
obvious; for, if not perfectly correct at this stage, it will require
more skill and time to get it correct afterwards than the generality of
barrel-makers are inclined to bestow.

When the inside has been found to be all right, the barrel is ready for
grinding. Many barrel-makers turn their barrels entirely by self-acting
lathes, and thus obtain a correct taper from breech end to muzzle.
Experience has clearly convinced us that this is not the best shape, but
slightly hollow towards the muzzle is preferable, as additional weight
there is decidedly injurious, and the shooting of barrels of lighter
construction is decidedly better.

The generality of Birmingham barrels are ground to the size required on
large stones, which revolve at a terrific rate. The skill acquired by
many of the workmen is astonishing. Over and over again, have we seen
barrels coming from the mill put into the lathe, and found almost as
true as if they had been turned. They have a method of allowing the
barrel to revolve in their hands at half the rate of the stone, and by
this means they grind them so fine that many would be puzzled to
determine whether they had been turned or ground, were the barrel
smoothed lengthways merely to take out the marks of the stone. We have
seen the squares of a rifle barrel ground to as perfect an octagon as
the eye could assist in forming. Best barrels are generally turned after
they are ground. Inferior barrels are struck up with a large rubber, or
smooth, by boys; in some instances by women.

There is one advantage derived from grinding barrels, namely, that the
friction of the stone being continuous, the temper of the barrel is not
so much affected as where the tool in the slide-rest is cutting a
considerable portion at once; for all barrels are best, and superior to
their compeers, which require least metal to be either ground or turned
off their surface, as there is a density on the outer which is not in
the interior portion. The harder the material, the less the extent of
this objection.

To obtain the true form, it is important that they should be turned. The
way of fixing them in the lathe is by having a number of plugs or
mandrils, which are perfectly true, and of various sizes, to fit
different bores; these are centred and put in the lathe; a carrier is
then secured on a part of the plug that projects out of the breech-end
of the barrel, and then put into the face-plate of the lathe, which
carries it round. The leading screw that travels the slide-rest, is then
set in the angle to which the barrel is to be turned (though some lathes
have not the power of alteration, but turn all barrels in one angle);
the slide is next adjusted to the thickness of the muzzle wanted, and,
when all is ready, the lathe is set going; the leading screw is turned
at the same moment by the machinery connected, which keeps the tool
cutting sufficiently keen to turn a barrel in about twenty-five minutes.
This being done, nothing more is required than a fine smooth file to
remove the marks of the tool.

There can be no doubt of the superiority of this mode of turning
barrels, if due care only be taken with the tool. If it get blunted by
any scales or impurities, it is apt to tear pieces out of the barrel,
similar to the rings that may be noticed in a slovenly bored barrel,
owing to dirt getting on the edges of the bit. In turning a barrel by a
common lathe, it is fixed in the same manner as before; about an inch of
the surface at the breech and the muzzle is turned to the diameter
wanted; the rest is then removed, and half an inch more is turned four
or five inches from either end; then another half inch, at another
distance of four or five inches, and so on, according to the length;
making an allowance each time in the depth of the turning, according to
the taper of the barrel. The iron between these cuttings is then filed
off by floats the lengthways of the barrel, or more frequently ground
off; this is a sure mode of getting the barrels perfectly straight on
the outside, and without any of those hollows and shades which may be
always discovered in an ill-made barrel. It is astonishing how
beautifully many barrels are struck by the float. The mode of turning by
the lathe is, however, cheaper, and is now confined to military barrels.

There is a great diversity of opinion as to the proper inclination of a
pair of double barrels. It is needless to state the precise distance at
which the converging lines drawn from the centre of each barrel, and
indicating the inclination of the barrels to each other, should come to
a point. If we take the point of convergence of those lines at 2-1/2
yards, it will follow that, at 40 yards, each barrel, were it fixed in a
vice, would throw the centre of its charge six inches on the opposite
side of the mark fired at; but if the gun be fired from the shoulder,
the recoil will invariably cause the gun to swerve outwards, so that at
that distance it will never fail to throw the shot in a good direction
for the mark or bull’s-eye.

The subject may be understood by the following observations. All
tapering substances, when laid together were the taper extended, would
come to a point at a certain distance. Gun-barrels are made to taper
towards each other, and some more than others. To make them uniform, it
requires that they should be reduced or flattened, so that the thick or
heavy end should join closer, to allow the point of convergence to be
extended to a greater distance. If, then, we take two barrels two feet
eight inches long, and having a solid substance of metal at the breech
of 3-16ths of an inch each and 1-16th at the muzzle; it requires the
difference 4-16ths to be multiplied 45 times (there being that number of
lengths in 40 yards) to ascertain what distance the points of the
different lines are from each other: which will be eleven 4-16ths of an
inch, or five 10-16th inches from the centre or line of sight. If you
wish to reduce it from the centre, you have to join the barrels so much
nearer at the breech; or should the inclination be too little, the
muzzle must be jointed closer. As, however, all guns are now made very
heavy at the breech, they very seldom require any closing at the muzzle:
though it is customary to do it, and to a great extent; but it is owing
to the ignorance of the nature of shooting.

Different lengths require a difference in the height of the rib. A
greater height is also required for a person accustomed to use a crooked
stock, and less height for one accustomed to the use of a straighter
one; and so on. Few barrels are to be met with in which the elevation is
sufficient. This is a species of innovation much practised by gunmakers
of the present day; but whatever merit there may have been in the
original invention, there is none in “the improvement,” as they term it.
Take any of the modern barrels, and calculate what is the real elevation
of them, and you will find it is not equal to the distance that charges
will droop at forty yards, when we consider the very large charges of
shot that many are accustomed to use, without a corresponding quantity
of powder. It remains then to be decided what elevation a gun should
have for that distance.

I have tried the experiment some hundreds of times with guns of all
descriptions, both with a rest and from the shoulder, and standing as
firm as possible; by turning quickly round, and firing (as we might do
were a bird to spring in a situation where we could only get a snap
shot) against targets such as are used in military ball-practice, being
about six feet high, and by means of which one can perceive where the
body of the shot had struck. I have also fired against the steep sides
of sand-banks, on which, from their smoothness, you can tell every shot
that has struck them. My conviction is, that almost all guns charged (as
is the custom) with heavy charges of shot, droop full twelve inches in
forty yards; though by using small charges of shot you will find them to
be thrown much more correctly than the heavy charges; so that it is
possible to make a gun too high on the rib for a shooter who thinks more
powder and less lead preferable to much lead and little powder.

The elevation I have given will be found to be as near what is requisite
as possible, if we continue to load as heretofore; if reduced charges of
shot be adopted, a less elevation will suffice. To ascertain what
elevation at the breech for the above scale is requisite, take the
thickness of the breech and muzzle, and multiply the difference by as
many times as there are lengths of your barrels in the forty yards, and
you will then ascertain what elevation they give of themselves; and to
make up the difference wanted, must be the elevation of the rib, which
may be calculated in the same way as the barrels; the length of the
barrels being the only way of obtaining a correct idea of the height
required. If making woodcock guns, less elevation is required, the
distance of shooting being shorter. In large guns a greater elevation is
necessary. We believe, however, Colonel Hawker has fallen into an error,
when he says that long guns require a greater elevation than short ones.
Does not a long gun keep the shot more together? Is not more force
generated? and is not the initial velocity greater than in a short gun?
If these be facts, why is more elevation required if the shot do not
droop? We apprehend the Colonel means, if the same height be required to
be given above the mark. Nothing can be plainer than this--that if one
pair of barrels be four inches longer than another, and the elevation
the same, there cannot be as many lengths in the forty yards of the
longer barrels as of the shorter, and hence the difference when
multiplied. I think, therefore, he cannot have taken into consideration
the superiority in their shooting; for there cannot be a doubt that, if
a gun keep the shot together longer, it cannot require that allowance
for drooping which a shorter gun does.

As soon as the barrels are properly jointed; care must be taken to see
that they are perfectly level. If the barrels are not level, it will be
impossible to shoot correctly, as one barrel will throw the shot above,
the other below the mark. This being done, the barrels are bound
together and brazed with hard solder or brass, for about four or five
inches. Greater injury cannot be done to barrels than by this pernicious
practice; for they cannot be brazed without being heated to a white
heat; and by this heat all the advantages derived from hammering are
dissipated at once: the condensation is gone, and the strength is
reduced at least 12-1/2 per cent. And for what purpose? Under the
pretence that the barrels are firmer and not so liable to become loose.
This is a point trivial in importance compared to the excellence and
strength of the barrel; for even if they have received no more hammering
than is necessary in the forging, they are still injured to the extent
of 12-1/2 per cent.: for even beating them when hot improves them much,
provided they be not heated again; but if they have been cold hammered,
the injury is full 30 per cent. This circumstance shows how little the
principles of gun-making are understood by the first gun-makers, the
brazing of barrels being practised by all.

Mr. Wilkinson admits this, for he says--“The practice of brazing the
barrels is decidedly injurious, by softening that part more than the
other; but if they were only soft soldered, the inconvenience would be
far greater, as the barrels would be liable to some accident by the
repeated expansion and contraction that takes place in firing, as well
as by the force required to turn out the breechings.” I can only say
that I have had considerably more than five thousand pairs of barrels
made and put together with soft solder only, and not one pair has come
asunder from any of the causes mentioned; nor ever will, with fair play.
On the contrary, barrels brazed can never be sound; for at some distance
from the part heated for brazing, you cannot get the barrels re-tinned
effectually, and thus for a considerable space between the soft and hard
solder, there is no cohesion at all. Barrels brazed together only for
three or four inches at the breech-end, can never be sound: they almost
invariably become so rusted under the rib, in a few years, as both to
seriously injure the barrels, and force the rib upwards; therefore, if
you hard solder at all, do so from breech to muzzle, as that will be
preferable to partially doing it. I feel quite satisfied, and can prove
it to demonstration, that this is undoubtedly the most injurious process
to which iron can be subjected; and I believe the prejudice with which
the London barrel-makers stick to this practice is productive of
considerable injury to them: more especially when we recollect that they
are the advocates (in practice) of a very inferior quality of Damascus
barrels: an iron very susceptible of injury. The Belgian barrels, and
French also, are of good iron; and I fear not contradiction in asserting
their inferiority to English barrels mostly consists in the foolish
practice of brazing them together from end to end. Both chemically and
mechanically it is a practice for which no valid excuse can be offered.

All barrels should have solid ribs for at least eight inches from the
breech: they tend to lessen the vibration of recoil, as well as to
render the barrels more sound and firm. No maker either understands
science or studies quality, who advocates brazing and hollow ribs.

The invention of the patent breech was the emanation of a scientific
mind; for it has been productive of more real benefit to the progress of
gunnery than any other improvement of the last two centuries. Experience
and study in the theory of guns and gunpowder, give the mind a much more
enlarged view of the subject, if regulated by the established laws of
true and sound principles: a want of thorough knowledge induces the
individual to draw conclusions prematurely, and thus he is apt to fall,
and to lead others, into error. I confess, that, together with many
hundreds more, I once concluded that the great advantage of the patent
breech arose entirely from the loose state in which the powder was
preserved while in the breech, and its thus being more instantaneously
ignited. But I have already shown that the quickness of powder is, in a
great measure, the greatest drawback to its efficacy, and I am clearly
convinced that compression, in most instances, is beneficial, by
retarding the ignition to a certain extent. Here, then, is proof
positive, that we have been on the wrong scent, and running after a
“Will o’ the Wisp.”


There is the clearest evidence, that the only advantage to be derived
from any conical form of breech, does not arise from any peculiarity
attached to the ignition of the gunpowder, but solely from the effect
of the angular shape; conical form being best suited, or presenting the
least direct surface, to the action of the exploded fluid: the angles
receive the blow and throw it off at the same opposite angle, and so on,
without receiving any amount of force from the element striking it, and
thus the elastic fluid is enabled to be resisted efficaciously. The cone
becomes and forms an artificial solid base, to a certain extent; and as
such, it is much more beneficial than the same quantity of powder
ignited on a flat surface--as a common plug breech, for instance; for
here the direct quantity of space on the face of the breech receives the
same impulse as the ball projected, and is acted upon in precisely the
same ratio in proportion to their different weights. In a musket of 11
lbs., the comparative weight of gun and ball is as 1 to 176; and exactly
in that proportion will be the distribution of impulse from the
expellant fluid. It thus becomes a plain question between the patent
breech and the flat surface of the plug. The two halves of a parabola
inverted, or the shape of a parabolic spindle, will be the best shape,
according to the laws of science. The representation given on page 209
is as near as I can get the engraver to represent my views of the best
shape of breech.

A great variety of forms have been advocated and puffed; some of them of
the most unscientific description possible: but it matters not; for if a
zealous advocate could be found to puff well the advantages of the old
matchlock, he would find believers; so prone are mankind to be deluded
by the veriest quackery. The absurdity of exploding gunpowder in a
_shell_ at the breech of a gun, and persisting in the advantage of it,
is certainly tilting at a windmill. It will be asked how it is that
Government do not adopt the patent breech in the musket? I answer,
because of a want of science in the direction, and an imperfect system
of experiments. In fact, they say they do not find any advantage from
the patent breech in a musket: that the range is as great without it as
with it.

Government never considers the personal comfort of the private soldier,
or it would have long ago used the patent breech for military arms; for,
setting aside the propellant advantage, the recoil is (as near as I have
been able to ascertain) under the same circumstances, as one to two in
favour of the angular breech. This is no exaggerated statement: I have
tested it, and will stake my reputation upon its accuracy. But the
superior knowledge of projectiles which artillerists have obtained since
the extensive introduction of chambers to nearly all descriptions of
ordnance, is the clearest proof, were any wanting. The use of the Gomer
form of chamber, is nearly universal in brass guns: the shape is the
frustum of a cone with a spherical bottom. The inutility of enlarging
on, or describing, the various shapes or plans of breeching, will be
apparent; my intention being to point out the science of the question,
not the folly of every invention.

There have been many good gun-lock makers; but they have, I fear,
decreased much of late. From the great demand for second-rate goods,
they are rarely called upon to make a first-rate article; and thus, from
being so little accustomed to make any but inferior locks, they, of
course, are out of practice. Instead of the manufacture of the best
being encouraged, it is becoming every day more rare to meet with a good
one. There is a great degree of skill displayed in the making of locks,
though to the casual observer it is not apparent. On the simple hanging
of the swivel depends all the smoothness of the play of the main-spring;
and on the placing the hole for the scear-pin depends the sweetness of
the scear playing on the tumbler. Many who now pass for excellent
workmen would find this a difficult undertaking, simple as it may seem,
without a pattern by which to work. All locks for percussion should
have the greatest strength of mainspring at the moment they strike the
nipple, or as it is termed, when the lock is down. On the pitching the
scear depends the cutting of the bents, and on their formation, the
danger of the lock catching at half-cock, when the trigger is made to
pull easy; but these observations will be understood by a lock-maker
better than I can explain them.

The quality of all locks depends on the price they cost filing, and
unless you pay the workman a proper remuneration, you may rely on having
them somewhat inferior, or in accordance with the price: but this
requires a workman to point out; so that any person who is not a
first-rate judge, is completely dependent on the honesty of the workman.

There is more real science displayed in the construction of a gun-lock
than mechanics in general imagine. The placing or hanging of the swivel
on the arm of a tumbler, is an arrangement of leverage partaking of the
multiplicate; as the weight when at full cock, is lessened by the lever
bringing the moving force in the immediate vicinity of the axle, and
when down on the nipple, increasing or multiplying that force by the
divergence. The Barside lock possesses this advantage to a greater
degree than has yet been obtained by any backwork lock yet made; though
I perceive no hindrance, if properly understood and tried: it is only
needful to obtain a greater length of arm, and a proportionate length of

The family of the Braziers, of Wolverhampton, have long been celebrated
for the goodness of their locks; which arises solely from the fact that
they take more pains, and will not manufacture any but the best: for it
would be ridiculous to suppose that there are not plenty of men equally
as good, and probably better, workmen than themselves in the kingdom,
were they properly encouraged, and confined to making nothing but
first-rate articles. The Braziers have apprentices and journeymen, and
it is preposterous to imagine that they file the tenth part of the locks
they furnish to the trade; but yet they have always, and deservedly,
obtained a much better price than any other lock-filers out of London.
Several of Brazier’s workmen have of late years commenced manufacturing
on their own account, and now most excellent locks can be had from W.
Evans, of Bath-street, Birmingham, who for many years held the first
place in Joseph Brazier and Sons’ manufactory.

The operations of false breeching, jointing locks, stocking, &c., are
merely mechanical; requiring, certainly, great skill and ability, but
yet involving no principle further than is contained in the proper
suiting of the shape to the make of the user. An endless variety of
opinions has always existed, and always will exist, as to the
description of bend or crook best fitted for rapid shooting, as flying
or running. I have instructed, and with success, too, many young
shooters, who by commencing with a long and straight stock, have
attained a perfection in shooting scarcely to be excelled; and they
never entertain afterwards any wish to change either length or bend.
Therefore I recommend to all beginners to use as long and as straight a
stock as they can _conveniently_ bring to the shoulder. All practised
shooters have generally so accustomed themselves to one shape, that it
would be prejudicial to change. The practice of throwing off a stock at
the butt, or bending from the hand to the heel-plate, in a direction to
the right, so that the eye may get more readily in a line with the
centre of the breech and the sight, is a practice not to be defended on
scientific principles. The body will suit itself best; and if the stock
be not too straight, the eye will always find the true line.

The percussioning of a gun (as the fitting-in of nipple, boring
breeches, filing cocks, &c., is termed,) is also a mechanical operation,
requiring workmen of the very best abilities. The desideratum to be
obtained is nearly a direct communication into the barrel, and an
absence of unnecessary angles, antechambers, &c.; therefore it is
needful that, in a double gun, the nipples should be inserted as near
the centre of the breeches as they can be conveniently placed, with the
nipples standing, not upright, but at an angle of 45°; so that the blow
of the cock shall be in or as near a line with the imaginary upright of
the nipple as possible.

The various plans of copper cap, copper tubes, and I know not how many
other devices, will be discussed under the head of guns and shooting.

Finishing the stock, polishing, engraving, hardening, &c., strictly
speaking, involve no science of consequence, and as such it is scarcely
necessary to occupy the attention of the reader respecting them. The
best method of staining barrels is by the following recipe: but one
material fact must not be overlooked. A considerable difficulty exists
in staining barrels all steel; in such a case, therefore, the acid
should not be so much diluted.

  1   oz. muriate tincture of steel.
  1   oz. spirits of wine.
  1/4 oz. muriate of mercury.
  1/4 oz. strong nitric acid.
  1/8 oz. blue stone.
  1   quart of water.

These are to be well mixed, and allowed to stand a month, to amalgamate.
After the oil or grease has been removed from the barrels by lime, the
mixture is laid on lightly with a sponge every two hours. It should be
scratched off with a steel-wire brush night and morning, until the
barrels are dark enough; and then the acid is destroyed by pouring on
the barrels boiling water, and continuing to rub them till nearly cool.

The Birmingham people brown their barrels of inferior quality in the
following way, to make them look equal to the best. They dissolve as
much muriate of mercury as can be taken up in a dram-glassful of spirits
of wine; this solution is mixed with one pint of water, or as much
diluted as the person requires. A small quantity of the mixture is
poured on a little whitening, and laid on the barrel with a sponge,
rather lightly; as soon as dry, it is brushed off, and a fresh coat is
laid on; and so on until the barrel is dark enough, which is generally
about two days. The effect that the mercury has on every one of the
joints of the fibres is wonderful: it never fails to make them, in two
or three days at most, a beautiful brown; while the other parts, being
harder, remain, comparatively speaking, quite light. The rust is killed
by hot water, but after that, the barrels are suddenly immersed in cold
water; which has the effect of heightening the brightness of both the
colours. The appearance is beautiful, and equally as fine to the eye as
stub-barrels browned in the same way; though this process is mostly used
for the charcoal iron and the threepenny iron barrels. The only method
in which there is no deception, is the smoke brown or stain; and,
plainly speaking, this and no other is the reason the gun-makers condemn
it. As the acid is decidedly weaker, and of course less liable to impart
injury to the iron, no barrel can be browned by it, to look well and
fine, but the best; or, in other words, none save those possessing steel
in their composition.

The method of staining is this: the barrels are anointed with a little
vitriolic acid, to cause the iron to receive the effect of the gas more
readily; it is then washed off, and the barrels rubbed dry. The forge
fire must then be lighted, and blown up with coal possessing as much
hydrogen gas and as little sulphur as possible. When the coals are burnt
till they give out a clear white flame with no black smoke around it,
the barrels must be passed gradually through that flame backward and
forward, until the whole are covered with a black sooty covering. Place
them in as damp and cool a cellar as can be procured, and allow them to
stand for eighteen hours; at that time, if the place is sufficiently
damp, the iron parts will be found covered with a red rust, while the
particles of steel still retain the original sooty coat. Scratch these
off with a steel brush, the same as by any other method of staining;
then take a piece of linen cloth, and wash or polish the barrels with
water and a little washed emery; when the steel will be found of its
original bright colour, and the iron a shade darker, with the outlines
of both distinctly preserved. Rub the barrels dry, and again pass them
through the flame precisely as before; but above all things be careful
not to allow them to remain in the flame till they become hot enough to
melt the solder. When you have once passed them through, do not be in a
hurry to pass them again; but in both be guided by moderation: neither
allow them, after the first time, to stand to rust more than twelve
hours each time. Polish them as before, and you will find them a shade
darker at every smoking. Persevere, until they become as dark as you
wish to have them. The utmost you can obtain is a fine purple-black
colour on the iron; and on the steel, a shade inclined to a copper
colour: but if proper attention be paid to the polishing, it will not
change much from its original colour.

The barrels are taken out of stain in the same way as in the other
recipes, by hot water; but you must continue to scratch or brush them
longer, for by that means you obtain a greater gloss. The principle of
this stain is simply thus: the hydrogen gas contained in the coal acting
on the iron (from being of a softer nature than the steel, which it does
not affect), and the flame also possessing a quantity of tar, it is
imperceptibly embodied by the iron during the action of the oxide; and,
when finished, by filling up the spaces created, it becomes decidedly
more impervious to damp or wet than the other stain, which is entirely
composed of the oxide of iron.

The only objection to this brown has been found to arise from the
discharge of the black colour from the softer parts of the barrels; as
it being but coal tar, the sweat of the hand, hot water in washing, &c.,
invariably extract it in a comparatively short time.

The recipe, for the Birmingham imitations, is as follows:--

  1   oz. sweet nitre.
  1/2 oz. tincture of steel.
  1/4 oz. blue vitriol.
  6   drops nitric acid.
  14  grs. corrosive sublimate.
  1   pint of water.

When the barrels are dark enough, drop a few drops of muriatic acid in a
basin of water, and wash the barrel slightly, to brighten the twists.

This last process is borrowed from the Belgians. In the working of their
extremely fine Damascus barrels, they found a very great difficulty in
staining them so as to produce a clear and distinct figure. The way
they now proceed is either to eat away the particles of iron, leaving
the steel prominent and the barrels bright; or they polish them
extremely fine from end to end, and then blue them in a stove with
charcoal. The process is thus described in the notes to a German
translation, by Dr. Schmidt, of Weimar, of my last edition of the
“Science of Gunnery.”

“The method of browning the Damascus barrels, which are so much admired
in England for their distinctness in colour and beauty of figure, is
obtained very simply: namely, first burnish the barrels very fine; then
cover them with bone oil; pound, or drop, or strew wood-ashes all over;
then heat them in a cage of wire filled with charcoal, until you obtain
a dark first blue; after they are cold, mix a small quantity of
sulphuric acid in water (a quarter of a pint with so many drops); then
take a hard brush and apply it to the barrel, when the acid will extract
the colour from the steel, leaving the iron with its greater adhesion
covered with the blue colour. Great care must be used and skill
displayed to keep a good colour and not to extract too much.”

This we cannot do, because we solder with tin.

The “Belgian Damascus” barrels are generally “eat up,” as it is
technically termed. “Pickled” is the term also used to describe the
process, which is simply eating away the softer metals from around the
steel or harder material. The best preparation for this purpose is 1 lb.
of the sulphate of copper (known as blue vitriol) dissolved in a gallon
of soft water, at the boiling point, and continued boiling in an
earthenware vessel, until the quantity is reduced by evaporation 25 per
cent.; let it cool, and then pour it into a leaden trough or bath. The
barrels, when properly secured at the muzzle and breech-ends to prevent
the liquid getting into the interior, are immersed therein. The solution
will act sufficiently upon the metals in the space of from fifteen to
twenty minutes; care being taken to remove and carefully wash them with
cold water, and then, after observing the progress of the _pickling_,
re-immersing them as before, until the operation is complete. Then pour
boiling water over them, and scratch them well with a steel brush, which
will eventually give that beautiful bright “wavy” surface much admired
by many people. Laminated steel barrels also look very well, after being
subjected to this operation.

Having now detailed as much of the “_modus operandi_,” as the patience
of the reader will admit, I shall endeavour to give a peep into the
“_sanctum sanctorum_” of the gun-makers’ workshop. I have shown in
detail what course ought to be pursued in the construction of guns of
the best quality only; and before proceeding further shall finish this
part of the subject. I am not, as some would say, “going to expose the
_whole_ secrets of the trade:” oh no, only a portion.

There are six qualities or varieties of mixtures of iron for barrels of
best quality. The plate-facing contains two kinds finished, composed of
steel entirely, but of different degrees of carbonization; one is
composed entirely of a laminated series containing many scores of
distinct laminæ in the thickness of the sides of the barrels, twisted
and beat into tortuous shapes. The other, of larger laminæ, but showing
the edges of the laminæ at an angle with the length, and thus appearing
larger than, if presenting the side or end of the plates.

Care must be taken that the great proportion of the fibres shall always
run round the tube, so that the greatest portion of strength may be
obtained, together with a beautiful figure. The cost of this arrangement
is considerable, as it involves a great waste of metal, and occupies a
considerable time to work and re-work--twisting, faggoting with the bars
placed in various forms, at acute angles to each other, at right angles,
plaiting three or four rods together, as a lady does her hair, cutting
these into pieces, faggoting and welding them into one, and, in short,
undergoing an endless routine of manipulations, which it would be
strictly unprofitable to detail, but are all productive of cost. An
ingenious man may work and improve metal of this nature until its cost
equals the price of silver; and, if judiciously done, improving it
still, even until he has wasted 90 per cent. of the original material.

The ultimate characteristics and properties of iron have, as yet, never
been ascertained: it is capable of being condensed until it becomes
nearly, if not quite, equal to the specific gravity of silver or lead.
No pursuit, mechanical or philosophical, presents so great and so
beneficial a research, to the whole civilized and scientific world, as
iron. I could twist and retwist iron, until, from the beautiful and
interesting results, it would become with me a sort of monomania. I
wonder not at the variety of patterns in a Damascus sword-blade: the
mind conveys me to the scene, and a regret arises that I did not live in
those times; yet still it is but a mechanical arrangement directed by an
ingenious mind, and the ultimate benefit, apart from the beauty, is more
than imaginary. However, it proves that the Orientals were artists, and
that they were appreciated: were this the case now with us, we could do
all they ever did, and more.

Laminated steel is now a great fact. It is a name stereotyped in
Belgium, Germany, France, and America, as well as in the place of its
birth--England; and orders come from all quarters of the globe for the
celebrated laminated steel. Every writer of eminence is loud in its
praise, and justly so too; for about its merits there is no mistake. No
combination of metals ever yet before tried since the birth of gunnery,
can equal it, either in density, ductility, or tenacity. A laminated
steel barrel has never been known to burst. “Reputed” laminated steel
barrels have been burst, but no real one ever. Nor is it probable, save
from malconstruction. Through inattention in the welding the best of
metal may be burnt; but the better the iron, the greater the difficulty.
Steel is more liable to melt than burn; so that, with care and skill on
the part of the workman, it will very seldom indeed occur. But that
chance is provided for, as far as human judgment can do, in entrusting
such barrels only to first-rate and steady workmen. Such men are no
doubt, to a certain extent, scarce; but they may yet be found: the
Birmingham welder of proved skill and ability is inferior to none in the
world. Laminated steel barrels are more scarce than welders.

Although the various manufacturers of Europe have complimented me by
adopting the name of my invention, yet I am sorry to add it is but in
name: there are very few even tolerable imitations of them. The cost is
the “bugbear:” the name costs nothing, and can easily be assumed; but to
make laminated steel barrels is quite another matter: it touches the
pocket, and interferes with the profit; and it is only in very rare
cases indeed--although the order may be explicit as words can make
it--that the real article is supplied. There are very few makers in
Birmingham who in reality make “laminated steel.” Steel barrels are more
plentiful: they care not so much for the price of the metal; it is the
after repeated manipulations that are evaded: the labour and loss of
material is too much, and is necessarily “shirked,” and argument is
always met with the answer, “We see nothing in it.” Yet the words
“laminated steel” are to be found engraved upon barrels of the lowest
quality of iron of which double barrels are made. Iron twist is
subjected to a similar process to that already described as employed in
producing Damascus iron, and which may be termed common iron Damascus.
Thousands of guns are made from this kind of metal, and yearly sent to
the United States of America; yet all are unblushingly represented as
“laminated steel barrels.” The actual price charged for these sort of
guns in the United States I know not, but have no doubt for the whole
gun it is about equal to what would be the prime cost of a pair of real
laminated steel barrels alone.

Purchasers should be fully acquainted with the fact that it is
impossible to produce laminated steel barrels at a low figure: labour,
high-priced, skilled labour, is always costly; and talent must be paid
for in all parts of the world. The attainment of high class barrels at a
low figure, as a rule, is an impossibility; and the maker who would
pretend, promise, or undertake to make a laminated steel barrelled gun
under 15_l._ to 20_l._ is an arrant deceiver: he could never profitably
carry out such an intention, even if he possessed the ability to produce
the article. For judgment, skill, and ability, as well as labour, are
required to produce laminated steel barrels. Steel alone is not
laminated; and that is another difficulty: fortunately there are not
many persons capable of effecting it. My method of laminating steel is
kept as much out of sight as possible, as a means of self-protection.

Stub Damascus is by many makers called “steel:” both first and second
class stub; and any attempt to reason them out of the absurdity is a
hopeless task. Many of the highest class makers still doggedly stick to
stub Damascus, and insinuate underhandedly that the benefit of steel is
doubtful: few do it openly; but I feel sorry to record the fact that
prejudice on this point is still rampant.

On the superior shooting properties of steel barrels I will enlarge in
another place.

The Exhibitions have told very beneficially on the future of Birmingham;
the fact of standing highest in every competition will do (and has done)
more to remove the prejudice entertained against Birmingham manufacture
than aught beside. Sportsmen begin to understand the fact that it is
better to order their guns direct from the manufacturer than from the
mere salesman, who can only take his goods on trust, and warrants
without knowing that he can justly do so. Any system that would identify
the maker with his work would do all that is necessary to emancipate
Birmingham from the stigma which prejudice has entailed upon her name;
and from which I hope to see her rise rapidly yet. But I do not wish to
see her rise on the reputation of London: would that all Birmingham guns
were like those of London makers; or superior to them, if possible.

In addition to the serious evil of producing guns of such great
inferiority in material, and dubbing such barrels “laminated steel,” a
far more serious one is the practice of unscrupulously adding to such
guns the names of makers who have spent the majority of their lives in
obtaining a name for their manufacture; thus robbing them indirectly of
what is dear to all honest men--reputation. Few are judges sufficiently
qualified to detect a spurious gun of this description; and the name
thus forged reflects unmerited discredit on a maker who would scorn to
allow such an article to leave his manufactory: but as long as the
standard of moral honesty is so low, both among merchants and
manufacturers, such things will be. Men may excuse themselves for
affixing the names of men and firms to inferior or worthless guns by the
plea of having been ordered to do it by the exporters, but they are not
the less doing a moral wrong, in thus aiding in a deception which
profits them not. But such practices will continue, until the sense of
right and wrong becomes more conscientious, and trade morality rises to
a higher standard than at present.

I have every reason to believe, and have not the least hesitation in
stating the fact, that not only is the epithet “laminated steel” added
to guns the barrels of which do not contain a particle of steel, but
that a far more serious misrepresentation and injury is perpetrated by
affixing the words “William Greener’s Laminated Steel, indestructible by
Gunpowder,” to many guns not even of middling fair quality, but the
veriest rubbish ever manufactured. That this is a species of forgery
there can be no doubt; yet the law of this country affords no remedy to
effectually prevent and punish the rascality of offering for sale an
article fraudulently professing to be what it is not, to the injury of
the purchaser as well as the manufacturer whose good name is thus
maligned. Forged “Greener’s” are to be found principally in the American
markets; where batches of ten and twelve have been seen in various parts
of the States, principally in the hands of “itinerant merchants.” They
are, I believe, pretty plentifully produced in “Liege,” also; where, in
fact, forgeries on all our principal makers are produced.

As the law provides no effectual remedy or punishment for such
rascality, I now, in order to lessen it as much as possible, mark every
gun leaving my manufactory with a “_private mark_” in addition to its
number; and on reference to me, giving a description of the gun
purchased “and its number,” information will be returned of the private
mark, which will stamp the article as real or spurious. If the gun has
no number reference is useless, as I number every gun that I send out,
and the want is certain proof that it is a forgery. But with a view to
lessen the evil as much as can be, I may here say that the best double
gun, with case complete, that I can make will be freely given to any
individual who will produce evidence which will enable me to expose all
parties concerned in such nefarious dealing, and justify me in holding
them up to public reprobation: which will be done as certainly as proof
can be adduced.

There are ample fields of commerce in gunnery yet to be developed, were
articles produced suitable for use, not for show or deception.
Inferiority of manufacture combined with deception is the worst course
ever adopted by any community. If Birmingham would repudiate such a
course, and refuse to make worthless articles, attending more to quality
than cheapness, the gun trade would be more prosperous than it ever has

Time is rapidly realising the recommendations I have put forth of the
great benefit to be obtained, not only in steam boilers, but various
other mechanical constructions, by the use of higher qualities of
metals. We have now even “steel ships” as well as steel guns, giving
double the strength, with half the weight; and if all manufacturers of
high class machines adopted the same principles, an immense saving would
be effected in the long run, from the absence of repairs alone, in
addition to the greater durability of the machine.

There ought to be no accidents from the breaking of railway carriage
axles: such an occurrence as the breaking of an axle is an everlasting
disgrace; for axles could be constructed that no known “fair
application” of strain could possibly break. A simple combination of
steel and iron faggoted in segments, as before described, and rolled
hollow, would enable axles to last double the time of those at present
in use: 40,000 miles travelling is stated to be the maximum distance an
axle can be safely trusted; the destruction being mainly due to the
heating in the journals, or to galvanic action changing the fibrous iron
into crystalline in the immediate vicinity of the bearing. Axles
constructed of different metals, as steel and iron in conjunction, would
not be so affected; and might be rendered still less likely to be so by
a small hollow in the centre of the axle. But this is a digression;
though I may be pardoned for it, in consideration of the importance of
the subject.

[Illustration: _PLATE. II._



The opposite plate (No. 2) represents my mixture in imitation of
Damascus; the process necessary to produce it, as well as its companion,
has already been described. These two also come under the head of
best barrels, as they are costly, and when honestly made (not plated)
constitute, with the defects before enumerated, good barrels.

The cost of a really good first-rate gun must and will always vary,
according to the circumstances of manufacture or the peculiar
arrangements of the manufacturer. Joseph Manton is entitled to the
gratitude, not only of the present generation of gun-makers, but of all
succeeding ones, for this reason,--he not only gave a character to
English guns, but so linked his name with improvements, that it will
never be forgotten. His was the mind to know and appreciate the value of
good workmanship; he elevated the English artisan with himself, and
raised the gunmaker to the acme of mechanical skill: for, without
invidious comparison of the ability required in other professions, we
may say that a first-rate workman as a _gun-maker_[11] (_I mean only a
gun-maker_) is one of the very best mechanics England can boast of, or
in truth any part of the world. Gun-making is the profession of a man of
mind: any man or any workman cannot make a gun, working by square and
rule entirely, as other mechanics do: no, the true _gun-maker_ is an
artist, and Joe Manton made him so.

  [11] Barrel welders, borers, lock-filers, &c., are not technically
  gun-makers: the latter are those workmen who, having barrels, locks,
  wood for stock, &c., make them into a gun. It has been customary to
  say gunsmiths; but this appellation can be applied to the worker in
  iron only.

It is true, we have not now that complex machine, the flint-lock gun,
in which Joe so peculiarly excelled; but we have a more simple and a
more efficacious one in the percussion gun. He was not so fortunate in
the latter as the former; but all men are at fault sometimes, and he
could not be expected to fondle the child of another: no, it was for the
first improvement of the _workmanship_ of the gun, that his memory must
be revered. The English gun, at the outset of his career, was as far
inferior to what he left it, as the tawdry manufacture of the continent
is to ours of the present day. The prices he obtained were enormous
certainly; but all men should be paid well, who can prove they possess
extra brains and ability: he remunerated his workmen on this scale, and
he unquestionably had the best set the world ever saw. We can, at this
period, far excel them, for the _pupil_ sometimes exceeds the _tutor_;
but this arises from laying firmly the foundation of a superior system.

All my ambition has been to be able to make an article that cannot be
exceeded in goodness and neatness, combined with taste, by the
generation in which we live. In proof of this success I may mention that
the two First Class Prize Medals in the Great Exhibition of 1851; two
more in 1853 at New York; and, lastly, two at Paris in 1855, were
awarded to me.

The best gun, or as good a one as ever was constructed, or ever will be,
should yield the maker a profit at 35_l._ Cheaper it cannot be made, if
it be _honestly the best_. I have studied and estimated the cost both
of town and country-made guns, and am aware that the London maker would
be barely remunerated at this rate, owing to the extra expenses he is
liable to. But I also know, without doubt, that as good guns can be, and
have been, made in Birmingham as ever were produced in London: the
facilities Birmingham possesses will always tell in that competition.
Westley Richards is an example; for not much better guns can be
manufactured than he produces daily, as most London gun-makers full well
know. Let but some individual, with the head and the _cash_, try the
experiment of making guns himself at Birmingham, and a fortune would be
the result; as better workmen, if well looked after, cannot be found in
the world. But their talents are now prostituted in the production of
inferior articles; and when wanted are, of course, _amiss_ for any great
effort. Birmingham is a workshop where if one tool does not suit you you
can get another: if a barrel be faulty, or locks inferior, you can have
a new one in the time a London house would take in ordering it. These
remarks are not dictated by any feeling of dislike to the metropolitan
makers, but from a conviction of their truth. Establishments like Joe
Manton’s are not met with in London now-a-days--not one house in the
business can maintain them.

I cannot possibly have any wish to depreciate. What benefit would be
gained by it? But I cannot praise the London manufacturer against
conviction; and I am unfortunately too much in the secret: I know too
well where and how the vast majority of London guns are made. Why keep
up a distinction that does not exist? Why call a gun London-made because
the seller rents a shop and calls himself a gun-maker? Why not at once
say, “Our manufactory is in Birmingham, as we find we can make both
better and cheaper there.” This is truth, and ought to be told. It is
now the extreme of folly to say, “These are _Brummagem_ guns:” that term
only applies to the “_rubbish_,” the low priced article, which no honest
man has hardihood enough to brand with his own name, but substitutes
that of some deceased member of the _fraternity_. But when sensible
London tradesmen so far forget themselves as to designate the produce of
a “_brother chip_” as “only Birmingham guns,” without ever having seen
or examined that work, _I feel sensitive on the point_; for though the
term is strictly correct, yet the meaning is slanderous.

I have always written and impressed upon sportsmen the imperative
necessity of obtaining the very best gun that hands could produce; I
urged this sincerely, and for doing so feel myself entitled to the
gratitude of all gunmakers who delight in good work. Yet instead of the
merit of my work being appreciated, I have unfortunately had to contend
with the secret revilings of those who possess not the heart or ability
to compete with me. “A fair field and no favour” has ever been my motto;
and, without egotism, I can safely offer to make a gun or guns against
any maker in the world. I do not claim this ability exclusively; for I
can name several in Birmingham, who, if they have the price, will not
be far behind. I may fearlessly point to the fact that throughout the
whole breadth of England every gunmaker is a copyist of my patterns.
Three months after the opening of the Paris Exhibition, imitations were
found in every gun-maker’s shop in Paris, labelled, “Fusils de chasse a

Both the Belgians and French are making vast strides in competition with
us. In Liege they have very recently purchased guns by most of our
celebrated makers as models; and every part of the gun is being imitated
to the greatest nicety. I have before alluded to twenty-six of Westley
Richards’ guns, forgeries, having been sent to London; in truth they
have taken us as a model, and if we do not _keep going ahead_, depend
upon it we shall be hard run. In every respectable maker’s shop abroad
you will find proof of this fact. I brought to England several specimens
of their productions, and amongst others a pair of imitation “Braziers’
locks;” these have been shown to many makers in Birmingham, and
pronounced unanimously a fair pair of locks: indeed no workman in the
kingdom but would have taken them to be of English manufacture. In Paris
they carry their imitation, _if possible_, farther still. I saw in Le
Page’s establishment some very good work indeed, and said so; remarking
that they were very _little inferior_ to our best English guns.
“_Inferior_, indeed!” said he, “we consider them quite as good, I assure
you:” showing evidently a wish to _have them as good_. The French may
excel us in the laudable desire to improve. Their periodical Exposition
is a proof of this. We should have our “Exposition” also. Look at the
national importance it would give to our artists in all metals! how many
bright men would then spring into notice! what an impetus it gives to
competition. Artists and sculptors exhibit the effects of their genius:
why should not gunmakers also? The highest skill is required in
producing a gun: a first-rate gun is indeed a work of art. Why is it not
done? “Self” is the stumbling-block. The first makers “_par excellence_”
do not encourage it, being jealous of being beaten by some provincial.
There wants unanimity, a co-operative feeling, both in London and
Birmingham. A well-arranged “Mutual Improvement Society” would be the
means of driving the “_rubbish_” out of the market, and the sordid
manufacturer into a reformation of his ways; it would show him that
honesty in his manufactures is as essential as honesty in his outward
dealings. I lament that this untoward feeling should exist; more
especially in Birmingham, where they possess all the elements for future
prosperity: but these are blighted, from the want of an expansive,
liberal feeling to each other. I hope to see this state of things
attained soon: the seeds of improvement are taking root.

[Illustration: _PLATE. III._



The plate (No. 3) opposite represents stub twist and stub Damascus; the
former, if properly attended to in manufacture, will long hold its
station in the construction of good guns. An excellent second-rate gun
can be made for about 20_l._, with case, &c. At this time there are a
great number made at this price: in fact, very few cost more; even
those of the best production of Birmingham. Superior articles to any yet
produced could be made there, if occasion demanded it, and if there were
a sufficiency of heads to direct and control. The generality of
gunmakers in Birmingham are merely mechanics, and when you say this, all
has been said that can be: a vast majority of excellent workmen have
never fired a gun, and know nothing, strictly speaking, of its use. A
gunmaker, in the true meaning of the word, is, or ought to be, an
enthusiast; delighting in, and living for, his art alone; without being
clogged with prejudice or with a stubborn mind that refuses to advance,
but animated by a spirit to conceive and realize the emanations of

I have already sufficiently enlarged upon the inferiority of barrels
made from charcoal iron. A great quantity of these guns are made or got
up for the general factors, who take orders for everything, from “a
needle to an anchor;” but they manufacture nothing, and only employ
their money _for a moderate return_. The hardwareman is the principal
seller of this description of guns; he generally pays between eight and
ten pounds each for them, and retails them at from twelve to fourteen
pounds, if he can make his customers believe that they are as good as
they can get elsewhere for twenty pounds. I have known a tradesman of
this kind sell more guns in a season than three gun-makers in the same
town during the same time. A certain portion of the warranty was
correct, “that they were as good as could be got elsewhere for eighteen
pounds;” for the articles, as far as barrels and locks are concerned,
are identically the same.

Unfortunately, the generality of gunmakers are content to live like the
snail, who cares not how the world goes, so long as his house remains
whole above his head; rather than try to improve their productions, or
to meet the exigencies of the times, they are content to allow the trade
to be injured by the influx of worthless articles, to their own loss and
the discredit of the business generally. The enormous prices which
gentlemen have been charged for provincial-made guns of the most
inferior quality, has driven them to obtain still worse at a less cost.
An honourable and tradesmanlike method of conducting business will
always be appreciated, and if a gun be required at a low figure, an
honestly-made article might be furnished at a price to suit the
customer, and of equal and mutual benefit to buyer and seller. But this
will not do: high prices or no orders is the rule. It would do very well
if nothing were manufactured but high-priced articles, as good in
quality as they pretend to be; but few provincial makers have the means
to do this: an establishment sufficiently large can only be supported in
certain districts. I must be excused for making these remarks, as I have
both the interest of the maker, combined with that of the sporting
world, in view, and have no other end to serve. I do not include all,
only a part of the profession in these strictures, for there are many
honourable exceptions.

The ironmonger receives these inferior guns, and disposes of them as
stub-twist barrels: he knows no other, nor would he care if he did. A
flashy outside is very captivating to the novice; but one or two years’
use will soon show the quality of the article: the wood then shrinks,
the glue and wax wash out of the fittings, and an apparently crazy and
breaking-up constitution displays itself most clearly: for work put
together at a certain price will have only a certain duration. Were I
free of the gun-making profession entirely, and asked for my
conscientious advice in the purchasing of a gun, I should decidedly say,
buy a gun from no one who has not a character to lose; who is not only
answerable for the article he sells, but also capable of judging of the
quality, and appreciates the value of good materials. The trade is
over-run with swarms of Jew salesmen and others, who cannot, nor ever
will be, able to duly understand and appreciate the responsibility
attached to the profession of a gun-maker.

There have been individuals in Birmingham who realised considerable sums
by manufacturing guns of this quality only for two or three sale shops
of puffing celebrity in London, and so extensive are their orders still,
that an engraver is kept in full employment by them, the excellence of
whose forged imitations of names, &c., is wonderful: so devoid of shame
and debased in intellect do men become from perseverance in evil. Joe
Manton’s guns have become like pictures of celebrated masters; had he
produced one per hour during his existence, he could not have made
one-half of the number that bear his name.

Guns made of threepenny skelp iron are plentifully to be met with in
sale-shops and pawnbroking establishments; they generally bear false
colours and hail from fictitious ports, and are bedecked with painted
stocks and tawdry imitation gold and silver ornaments; but as to the
mechanical arrangement, to use a Brummagism, they are as if they had
been pitched together. A decent gun could be made with barrels of this
quality, if constructed a little heavier than usual; and it would be
perfectly safe, and suited for the use of those who could not purchase
better: if firm and soundly fitted up, with decent locks, sound stock,
&c., it would be worth about eight guineas; but you can get them by the
hundred in Birmingham for 3_l._ 15_s._ each, and, if you particularly
wish it, at 2_l._ 15_s._, or less; and single guns, with plated barrels,
about half that sum.

We have now reached the utmost limits of civilization, and are about to
pass the great desert, where science is never seen or heard of, except
it be in the pretences of an inventor of deceptions: things of wood and
iron, called guns. Pocket volcanoes would be a fitter title, or portable
exploders--for no one can possibly expect anything but destruction who
uses such compounds of dangerous contrivances. But for the edification
of those who use such, we give the prices of each part and cost of
manufacture of them: the statement is literally true; and, except that
by possibility the items may vary a penny or two, the whole is
substantially correct.

_Cost of Material and Workmen’s Prices for making Double and Single
Guns, with “Twopenny” or “Wednesbury Skelp Iron” Twist Barrels._


                                                   _s._   _d._
  Double barrels, twist, patent breeched            12     0
  Pair of locks                                      2     0
  Wood for stock                                     0     6
  Set of cast furniture                              0     5
  Stocking                                           2     0
  Screwing together                                  3     0
  Percussioning                                      2     0
  Polishing and engraving                            1     0
  Varnishing (including painting)                    0     6
  Browning                                           0     6
  Finishing                                          3     0
  Ramrod, tip, and worm                              0     6
  Small work, nails, escutcheons, wood, screws, &c.  1     0
                                                  £1 8     5


                                                    _s._  _d._
  Single barrel, twist, &c.                          5     9
  Lock                                               1     0
  Wood for stock                                     0     6
  Set of cast furniture                              4     0
  Stocking                                           1     0
  Screwing together                                  2     0
  Percussioning                                      1     0
  Polishing and engraving                            0     8
  Stock varnishing and painting                      0     4
  Barrel browning                                    0     4
  Finishing                                          2     0
  Ramrod, tip, and worm                              0     6
  Small work, &c.                                    0     8
                                                    16     1

Common iron barrels plated with this iron can be furnished by
barrel-makers, double for eight shillings per pair, single for four
shillings each; which deducted from each, gives double complete, 1_l._
4_s._ 8_d._, and single 14_s._ 4_d._ each; and for these we have known
the factor charge the ironmonger, double: 3_l._ 10_s._ each, and 1_l._
15_s._ single; so it is strictly an imposition on both sides, one
charging 5_l._, and the other 3_l._

Now for the next: bad as is the preceding, this is infinitely worse; the
former costs two-pence per pound, the present varies from one penny to
one penny farthing per pound. “Sham damn iron” is similar in nature to
brass; a metal with fibres certainly, but they are like the fibres of
willow compared to oak: it is an iron soft and spongy, capable of being
condensed to an immense degree. All slave gun-barrels are made of it.
Mungo Park detailed some of the lamentable atrocities committed by these
guns bursting. The many thousands of mutilated wretches who have lived
to curse the cupidity of their fellow-men, form not a bright side in the
picture of human nature; but were you to bawl into the ears of those
employed in the construction, all these and a thousand more such direful
effects of their handiwork, you would not abate one in the number of
these man-traps.

_Cost of Guns made of Sham Damn Iron._


                                                         _s._  _d._
  Double barrels, plain iron, with side huts, per pair    7     0
  Locks                                                   1     6
  Wood for stock                                          0     6
  Stocking                                                1     2
  Furniture                                               0     5
  Screwing together                                       2     0
  Percussioning                                           1     4
  Polishing and engraving                                 0     9
  Varnishing and painting stock                           0     4
  Painting twist barrels                                  0     4
  Rod, tip, worm                                          0     4
  Small work                                              0     7
      Total                                              16     0


                                                         _s._  _d._
  Single barrel, ribbed and breeched                      3     8
  Lock                                                    0     9
  Wood for stock                                          0     6
  Stocking                                                0     8
  Furniture                                               0     4
  Screwing together                                       1     4
  Percussioning                                           0     9
  Polishing and engraving                                 0     6
  Varnishing and painting stock                           0     4
  Painting twisted barrel                                 0     3
  Rod, tip, worm                                          0     4
  Small work                                              0     4
        Total                                            10     9

The above guns are sold to the factor, at 20_l._ and 12_l._ the score
respectively. The Jews sometimes get even them at that, or a lower
price, as money happens to be plentiful or scarce. There is a
description of tradesmen in this town of hardware, whose establishments
bear the euphonious titles of the “_slaughter shop_” and “_blood
house_;” and in these emporiums of the productions of the needy; may be
obtained gunnery of all kinds, as well as all other material, the
productions of Birmingham. If the article costs little manufacturing, it
costs these men still less. The slaughter-master is a cormorant, who
swallows the substance of the weak, and once past his awful jaws he
cannot be made to disgorge. Here itinerant hardwaremen find an abundant
supply: he has always a stock. The wants of the poor are always
pressing, and the gun-making portions of the inhabitants of Birmingham
are not _over provident_, seldom caring for what to-morrow may bring
forth. The painted pair of shams is faintly portrayed in the opposite
engraving (Plate 4); and the uninitiated may be able to detect what I
have endeavoured to acquaint them with.

[Illustration: _PLATE. IV._



[Illustration: _PLATE. V._



I shall just give the cost of the various items in the fitting-up of an
imitation gun for the African market, combined with an _imitation_
musket for the same; the former is not so desperately bad as the latter,
the one being barely half an inch in the bore, the other full
three-quarters of an inch, and yet their weights are not dissimilar.

You can have a shipload of these for 5_s._ 9_d._ each. It is
satisfactory to know that they send powder with them of _corresponding

_Cost of “African guns” alias “Park Paling.”_

                                              _s._  _d._
  Common musket barrel, or birding barrel      2     0
  Lock                                         0     4
  Stock                                        0     4
  Stocking                                     0     5
  Brass furniture                              0     3-1/2
  Screwing together, and finishing             0     9
  Polishing and hardening, hammer, &c.         0     4
  Steel rod                                    0     3
  Browning and painting barrel and stock       0     4
  Small items                                  0     3
                                    Total      5     3-1/2



For a considerable period subsequently to the introduction of the
manufacture of gunnery into England, there existed no public proof, or
test, for the goodness and safety of barrels; further than that the
feeling of the maker induced him to protect the limbs of his customer.
Even so early as the seventeenth century, the bias of human nature to
evil began to be displayed in the production of materials for guns, the
use of which was attended with loss of both life and limb. In
consequence of the frequent bursting of inferior guns, the Company of
Gunmakers of the City of London instituted a proof-house, to which the
barrels of respectable makers were all sent to be proved. The East India
Company required all their muskets to undergo the same test; hence it
became a custom to have barrels proved there: many also underwent an
extra test on the premises of the manufacturer; so jealous were
sportsmen, and so necessary was it deemed to provide against any
possibility of accident. Thus it was shown clearly that laws are not
always required to carry out certain results, but that it is sometimes
preferable to allow matters of this kind to be arranged according to
the knowledge of the parties interested; for frequently when an
individual is aware that there is a law under which, in case of need, he
can shelter himself--as many do at this day in case of guns bursting--he
becomes careless: he has always a ready answer, “I can assure you the
barrel was proved; and there must have been some unfortunate cause for
her going: you could not have rammed the wadding home, or you must have
put in an extra charge,” and such like excuses. It is never for a moment
supposed that there was any insufficiency in the proof.

The great demand for rubbish of a villanous description during the
existence of the slave trade, induced some philanthropic gentlemen in
Birmingham to found a Company, with suitable premises, for the proof of
all gun barrels; and an Act of Parliament was obtained in the year 1813,
incorporating the body. The first Act proved insufficient, as the
Birmingham makers found easy means of evading it; so they had to obtain
a fresh Act in 1815, by which parties receiving any barrel to rib,
stock, &c., without its having previously been proved, became liable to
a penalty of twenty pounds, and not less than twenty shillings: it also
enacted that any person or persons making and selling any gun, the
barrels of which had not been proved at either this or the London
proof-house, became liable to the same penalty; and it further enacted,
that any person or persons forging the stamps or marks of either of the
two proof-houses, should be liable to the same penalties, and in
default of payment, to a certain term of imprisonment, &c. It also
ordered, that all barrels be proved with the quantity of powder in
proportion to the various bores enumerated in the table.

The severe, but just, strictures cast upon the lax nature of this Act of
Parliament, and the equally lax way in which its provisions were carried
out (individual benefit being held to be the most important element in
the interpretation), imperatively called for an immediate improvement.
The heavy denunciations which I felt bound to visit on the defective
working of this “miscalled proof of gun barrels” in my former works, at
length opened the eyes, not only of the sportsman and the trade, but
also of the Government; and (I believe in 1854) it was intimated to the
proof companies of London and Birmingham that the time had arrived
“_when gun barrels should be proved in reality_;” and that if the
initiative was not taken by the trade, the Government were prepared to
introduce a public Act of Parliament for that purpose. The natural
consequence followed, and in 1855 an Act was passed entitled “The Gun
Barrel Proof Act 1855,” by which most extensive powers are delegated to
the two companies.

The clause of most vital importance enacts that all gun barrels shall be
proved twice; first in the rough, which is called provisional proof; and
secondly, when the barrels are soldered together, breeched, and
percussioned. Thus, in a comparatively finished state, when all the
necessary reductions and other operations have been effected, the
barrels become properly tested. Not only the metal of the barrels and
the soundness of the breeches, but the screwing in of the nipples is
proved--a most important check on a very important branch of
workmanship, and which if imperfectly done renders the gun dangerous.

The first regulation enacts that “barrels are not to be made up unless
proved, and marked as proved.”

2nd. Small arms are not to be sold or exported unless proved, and marked
as proved.

3rd. Barrels provisionally proved and reduced in strength are to be
deemed unproved.

4th. Barrels reduced so that the mark does not represent the proof are
to be deemed unproved.

5th. Barrels with marks defaced are to be deemed unproved.

6th. Barrels with marks removed are to be deemed unproved.

7th. Barrels are to be marked according to scale.

Here follows a list of offences:--

  XCIX. Every person committing any of the following offences shall for
  every such offence be guilty of a misdemeanour, and shall at the
  discretion of the court be sentenced to imprisonment, with or without
  hard labour, for not more than three years, to wit:

  1. Every person who forges or counterfeits any stamp or any part of
  any stamp already or hereafter provided or used by either of the two
  companies for the marking of any barrel:

  2. Every person who sells or parts with the possession of any such
  forged or counterfeit stamp or part of a stamp, knowing the same to be
  forged or counterfeit:

  3. Every person who knowingly marks any barrel with any such forged or
  counterfeit stamp or with any part of such forged or counterfeit

  4. Every person who makes up any barrel so marked, knowing the same to
  be so marked:

  5. Every person who sells or parts with the possession of any barrel
  so marked, knowing the same to be so marked:

  6. Every person who forges or counterfeits or by any means whatever
  produces an imitation upon any barrel of any mark or of any part of
  any mark of any stamp already or hereafter provided or used by either
  of the two companies for the marking of any barrel:

  7. Every person who sells or parts with the possession of any such
  mark or part of a mark, knowing the same to be forged or counterfeit
  or an imitation:

  8. Every person who transposes or removes from any barrel to any other
  barrel any mark or any part of any mark of any stamp already or
  hereafter provided or used by either of the two companies for making
  any barrel:

  9. Every person who shall have in his possession or who shall part
  with the possession of any mark or any part of any mark so transposed
  or removed, knowing the same to be transposed or removed:

  10. Every person without lawful excuse, the proof whereof shall lie on
  him, having in his possession any such forged or counterfeit stamp or
  part of a stamp, or any such forged or counterfeit mark or imitation
  of a mark, or any such transposed or removed mark, knowing the same
  respectively to be forged, counterfeit, imitated, marked, transposed,
  or removed:

  11. Every person who cuts or severs from any barrel any mark or any
  part of any mark of any stamp already or hereafter provided or used by
  either of the two companies for the stamping of any barrel, with
  intent that such mark or such part of a mark be placed upon or joined
  or affixed to any other barrel:

  12. Every person who places upon or joins or affixes to any barrel any
  such mark or part of a mark so cut or severed:

  13. Every person who, with intent to defraud, uses any genuine stamp
  already or hereafter provided or used by either of the two companies
  for the marking of any barrel:

  14. Every person who forges or counterfeits, or by any means produces
  an imitation upon any barrel of any mark, or of any part of any mark,
  of any stamp of a foreign country registered by the two companies
  pursuant to the provisions of this Act.

  C. Every person committing any of the following offences shall for
  every such offence be subject to a penalty as follows, to wit:

  1. Every person selling or exchanging, or exposing or keeping for
  sale, or exporting or importing, or attempting to export or import
  from or to England, or having in his possession without lawful excuse
  (the proof whereof shall lie upon him), any barrel having thereupon
  any mark of any forged or counterfeit stamp or part of a stamp already
  or hereafter provided or used by either of the two companies for
  marking any barrel, or having thereupon any forged or counterfeit mark
  or imitation of a mark of any stamp or part of a stamp so provided or
  used, or having thereupon any mark of any stamp or part of a stamp so
  provided or used, such mark having been transposed or removed thereto
  from any other barrel, shall for every such barrel so sold or
  exchanged, or exposed or kept for sale, or exported or imported, or
  attempted to be exported or imported, or so in his possession, forfeit
  not exceeding twenty pounds:

  2. Every person selling or exchanging or exposing or keeping for sale,
  or exporting or attempting to export from England, any small arm, the
  barrel or barrels whereof are not under this Act duly proved and
  marked as proved, shall for every such barrel forfeit not exceeding
  twenty pounds:

  3. Every person fraudulently erasing, obliterating, or defacing, or
  fraudulently causing to be erased, obliterated, or defaced from any
  barrel, any mark or any part of any mark of any stamp already or
  hereafter provided or used by either of the two companies for the
  marking of barrels, shall for every such offence forfeit not exceeding
  twenty pounds:

  4. Every person delivering or sending or causing or procuring to be
  delivered or sent for sale, or under pretence of sale, or removing,
  consigning, or transmitting, or causing or procuring to be removed,
  consigned, or transmitted for sale, or under pretence of sale, any
  small arm, the barrel or barrels whereof are not duly proved at the
  Proof-house of the Gunmakers’ Company, or the Birmingham Proof-house,
  or some other public proof-house established by law, and marked as
  proved, shall, for every small arm so delivered or sent, or caused or
  procured to be delivered or sent, or removed, consigned, or
  transmitted, or caused or procured to be removed, consigned, or
  transmitted, forfeit not exceeding twenty pounds.

The preceding list of offences against the proper conducting of the gun
manufacture have been found, after nearly three years’ experience, to
fulfil the intentions of the framers[12] of the bill. Undoubtedly a much
more healthy tone has been given to the constitution of the trade; and
it is to be fervently hoped that it will entirely eradicate the evil of
producing such a vast amount of worthless and dangerous guns. The
double-proof has been too much for many of the “sham damns.” No doubt
much remains to be done even yet; but the trade is progressing towards
convalescence, after this severe purging. With these remarks I shall
introduce schedule B of the new Act.

  [12] I had the honour of being one of a committee to frame the



  _Classification of Small Arms._

  _First Class._--Comprising single-barrelled military arms of smooth

  _Second Class._--Comprising double-barrelled military arms of smooth
  bore, and rifled arms of every description, whether of one or more
  barrels, or constructed of plain or twisted iron.

  _Third Class._--Comprising every description of single-barrelled
  birding and fowling-pieces for firing small shot; and also those known
  by the names of Danish, Dutch, Carolina, and Spanish.

  _Fourth Class._--Comprising every description of double-barrelled
  birding and fowling-pieces for firing small shot.

  _Fifth Class._--Comprising revolving and breech-loading small arms of
  every description and system.

  _Rule of Proof._

  The gunpowder used for proof shall be of equal quality and strength
  with that which is now used by the Honourable Board of Ordnance.

  The balls used for the proof of barrels of all classes shall be of
  lead, and spherical, and of the size and weight prescribed by the
  scale for proof.

  Barrels for arms of the second class and of the fourth class, and for
  breech-loading arms of the fifth class, shall be proved provisionally
  and definitively, and barrels for all other arms shall be proved once

  _Conditions precedent to Proof._

  Barrels for arms of the first class shall not be qualified for proof
  until they shall be in a fit and proper state for setting up.

  Barrels for arms of the third class shall not be qualified for proof
  until they shall be in a fit and proper state for setting up, with the
  proper breeches in; and all barrels lumped for percussioning shall be
  proved through the nipple hole, with the proper pins or plugs in.

  Barrels for arms of the second and fourth classes:

  For provisional proof:--If of plain metal, shall be bored and ground,
  having plugs attached, with touch-holes drilled in the plugs, of a
  diameter not exceeding one-sixteenth of an inch. If any touch-hole
  shall be enlarged, from any cause whatever, to a dimension exceeding
  in diameter one-tenth of an inch, the barrel shall be disqualified for
  proof. Notches in the plugs instead of drilled touch-holes shall
  disqualify for proof. If of twisted metal, they shall be fine-bored,
  and struck up, with proving plugs attached, and touch-holes drilled as
  in the case of plain metal barrels.

  For definitive proof:--The barrels, whether of plain or twisted metal,
  shall be in the finished state, ready for setting up, with the
  breeches in the percussioned state, break-offs fitted and locks
  jointed; the top and bottom ribs shall be rough struck up, pipes,
  loops, and stoppers on. All rifle barrels must be rifled; the top and
  bottom ribs of double barrels shall be struck up, pipes, loops, and
  stoppers on, the proper breeches in, and the thread of the screws
  shall be sufficiently sound and full for proof.

  Barrels for revolving arms of the fifth class shall have the cylinders
  with the revolving action attached and complete.

  Barrels for breech-loading arms of the fifth class shall be subject to
  provisional proof, according to the class to which they belong, and to
  definitive proof when the breech-loading action is attached and

  _Marks of Proof._

  The marks applicable to the definitive proof shall be the proof and
  view marks now used by the two companies respectively.

  The marks applicable to the provisional proof for the Gunmakers
  Company shall be the letters (G.P.) interlaced in a cypher surmounted
  by a lion rampant, and for the Birmingham Company shall be the letters
  (B.P.) interlaced in a cypher surmounted by a Crown.

[Illustration: London marks.]

[Illustration: Birmingham marks.]

  _Mode of affixing Proof Marks._

  On arms of the first and third classes the definitive proof mark and
  view mark shall be impressed at the breech end of the barrel, and if
  the barrel be constructed with a patent breech, the view mark shall be
  also impressed upon the breech.

  On arms of the second, fourth, and fifth classes, the provisional
  proof mark shall be impressed at the breech end of the barrel; the
  definitive proof mark and view mark shall be impressed upon the barrel
  above the provisional proof mark; and if the barrel be constructed
  with a patent breech, or with revolving cylinders or chambers, the
  view mark shall be also impressed upon the breech, or upon each of the
  cylinders or chambers with which the barrel is connected, as the case
  may be.

  On all barrels the gauge size of the barrel shall be struck, both at
  the provisional and at the definitive proof.

_Scale for Proof._

The Scale following shows the Proportions of Gunpowder applicable under
the foregoing Rules and Regulations to the Proof of the various Classes
of Arms as distinguished by the Trade Numbers indicating the Calibre.

  |      |            |            |         ||Charges of Powder ||
  |Number|  Diameter  |  Diameter  |Weight of||   for Proof.     ||
  |  of  | of Bore by |of Balls for|Balls for++------------------++
  |Gauge.|Calculation.|   Proof.   |  Proof. ||   First Class.   ||
  |      |            |            |         ++------------------++
  |      |            |            |         ||Definitive Proof. ||
  |      |   inches.  |   inches.  | grains. ||grains. ozs. drs. ||
  |  1   |   1·669    |   1·649    |  6752   || 4812   11  ...   ||
  |  2   |   1·325    |   1·305    |  3342   || 2324    5   5    ||
  |  3   |   1·157    |   1·107    |  2211   || 1531    3   8    ||
  |  4   |   1·052    |   1·032    |  1649   || 1176    2  11    ||
  |  5   |    ·976    |    ·956    |  1315   ||  930    2   2    ||
  |  6   |    ·819    |    ·899    |  1090   ||  766    1  12    ||
  |  7   |    ·873    |    ·853    |   931   ||  656    1   8    ||
  |  8   |    ·835    |    ·815    |   812   ||  602    1   6    ||
  |  9   |    ·803    |    ·783    |   720   ||  492    1   2    ||
  |  10  |    ·775    |    ·755    |   646   ||  465    1   1    ||
  |  11  |    ·751    |    ·731    |   586   ||  437  ...  16    ||
  |  12  |    ·729    |    ·709    |   535   ||  437  ...  16    ||
  |  13  |    ·710    |    ·690    |   493   ||  410  ...  15    ||
  |  14  |    ·693    |    ·673    |   457   ||  383  ...  14    ||
  |  15  |    ·677    |    ·657    |   425   ||  383  ...  14    ||
  |  16  |    ·662    |    ·642    |   399   ||  369  ...  13-1/2||
  |  17  |    ·649    |    ·629    |   374   ||  369  ...  13-1/2||
  |  18  |    ·637    |    ·617    |   352   ||  342  ...  12-1/2||
  |  19  |    ·626    |    ·606    |   334   ||  301  ...  11    ||
  |  20  |    ·615    |    ·595    |   316   ||  273  ...  10    ||
  |  21  |    ·605    |    ·585    |   300   ||  273  ...  10    ||
  |  22  |    ·596    |    ·576    |   287   ||  246  ...   9    ||
  |  23  |    ·587    |    ·567    |   274   ||  246  ...   9    ||
  |  24  |    ·579    |    ·559    |   262   ||  232  ...   8-1/2||
  |  25  |    ·571    |    ·551    |   251   ||  232  ...   8-1/2||
  |  26  |    ·563    |    ·543    |   242   ||  232  ...   8-1/2||
  |  27  |    ·556    |    ·536    |   231   ||  232  ...   8-1/2||
  |  28  |    ·550    |    ·530    |   223   ||  232  ...   8-1/2||
  |  29  |    ·543    |    ·523    |   214   ||  205  ...   7-1/2||
  |  30  |    ·537    |    ·517    |   207   ||  205  ...   7-1/2||
  |  31  |    ·531    |    ·511    |   ---   ||  205  ...   7-1/2||
  |  32  |    ·526    |    ·506    |   194   ||  205  ...   7-1/2||
  |  33  |    ·520    |    ·500    |   ---   ||  191  ...   7    ||
  |  34  |    ·515    |    ·495    |   182   ||  191  ...   7    ||
  |  35  |    ·510    |    ·490    |   ---   ||  191  ...   7    ||
  |  36  |    ·506    |    ·486    |   172   ||  191  ...   7    ||
  |  37  |    ·501    |    ·481    |   ---   ||  191  ...   7    ||
  |  38  |    ·497    |    ·477    |   162   ||  178  ...   6-1/2||
  |  39  |    ·492    |    ·472    |   ---   ||  178  ...   6-1/2||
  |  40  |    ·488    |    ·468    |   154   ||  178  ...   6-1/2||
  |  41  |    ·484    |    ·464    |   ---   ||  164  ...   6    ||
  |  42  |    ·480    |    ·460    |   146   ||  164  ...   6    ||
  |  43  |    ·476    |    ·456    |   ---   ||  164  ...   6    ||
  |  44  |    ·473    |    ·453    |   139   ||  164  ...   6    ||
  |  45  |    ·469    |    ·449    |   ---   ||  150  ...   5-1/2||
  |  46  |    ·466    |    ·446    |   133   ||  150  ...   5-1/2||
  |  47  |    ·463    |    ·443    |   ---   ||  150  ...   5-1/2||
  |  48  |    ·459    |    ·439    |   127   ||  150  ...   5-1/2||
  |  49  |    ·456    |    ·436    |   ---   ||  150  ...   5-1/2||
  |  50  |    ·453    |    ·433    |   122   ||  150  ...   5-1/2||

  |      |            Charges of Powder for Proof.                 ||
  | of   |            Second Class.            ||   Third Class.   ||
  |      |Provisional Proof.| Definitive Proof.|| Definitive Proof.||
  |      |grains. ozs. drs. |grains. ozs. drs. ||grains. ozs. drs. ||
  |  1   | 4812   11  ...   | 2406    5   8    || 3850    8  12-3/4||
  |  2   | 2324    5   5    | 1162    2  10-1/2|| 1859    4   4    ||
  |  3   | 1531    3   8    |  766    1  12    || 1225    2  12-3/4||
  |  4   | 1176    2  11    |  588    1   5-1/2||  941    2   2-1/2||
  |  5   |  930    2   2    |  465    1   1    ||  744    1  11-1/4||
  |  6   |  766    1  12    |  383  ...  14    ||  612    1   6-1/2||
  |  7   |  656    1   8    |  328  ...  12    ||  525    1   3-1/4||
  |  8   |  602    1   6    |  301  ...  11    ||  481    1   1-1/2||
  |  9   |  492    1   2    |  246  ...   9    ||  394  ...  14-1/2||
  |  10  |  465    1   1    |  232  ...   8-1/2||  372  ...  13-1/2||
  |  11  |  437  ...  16    |  219  ...   8    ||  350  ...  12-3/4||
  |  12  |  437  ...  16    |  219  ...   8    ||  350  ...  12-3/4||
  |  13  |  410  ...  15    |  205  ...   7-1/2||  328  ...  12    ||
  |  14  |  383  ...  14    |  191  ...   7    ||  306  ...  11-1/4||
  |  15  |  383  ...  14    |  191  ...   7    ||  306  ...  11-1/4||
  |  16  |  369  ...  13-1/2|  185  ...   6-3/4||  295  ...  10-3/4||
  |  17  |  369  ...  13-1/2|  185  ...   6-3/4||  295  ...  10-3/4||
  |  18  |  342  ...  12-1/2|  171  ...   6-1/4||  273  ...  10    ||
  |  19  |  301  ...  11    |  150  ...   5-1/2||  241  ...   8-3/4||
  |  20  |  273  ...  10    |  137  ...   5    ||  219  ...   8    ||
  |  21  |  273  ...  10    |  137  ...   5    ||  219  ...   8    ||
  |  22  |  246  ...   9    |  123  ...   4-1/2||  197  ...   7-1/4||
  |  23  |  246  ...   9    |  123  ...   4-1/2||  197  ...   7-1/4||
  |  24  |  232  ...   8-1/2|  116  ...   4-1/4||  186  ...   6-3/4||
  |  25  |  232  ...   8-1/2|  116  ...   4-1/4||  186  ...   6-3/4||
  |  26  |  232  ...   8-1/2|  116  ...   4-1/4||  186  ...   6-3/4||
  |  27  |  232  ...   8-1/2|  116  ...   4-1/4||  186  ...   6-3/4||
  |  28  |  232  ...   8-1/2|  116  ...   4-1/4||  186  ...   6-3/4||
  |  29  |  205  ...   7-1/2|  102  ...   3-3/4||  164  ...   6    ||
  |  30  |  205  ...   7-1/2|  102  ...   3-3/4||  164  ...   6    ||
  |  31  |  205  ...   7-1/2|  102  ...   3-3/4||  164  ...   6    ||
  |  32  |  205  ...   7-1/2|  102  ...   3-3/4||  164  ...   6    ||
  |  33  |  191  ...   7    |   96  ...   3-1/2||  153  ...   5-1/2||
  |  34  |  191  ...   7    |   96  ...   3-1/2||  153  ...   5-1/2||
  |  35  |  191  ...   7    |   96  ...   3-1/2||  153  ...   5-1/2||
  |  36  |  191  ...   7    |   96  ...   3-1/2||  153  ...   5-1/2||
  |  37  |  191  ...   7    |   96  ...   3-1/2||  153  ...   5-1/2||
  |  38  |  178  ...   6-1/2|   89  ...   3-1/4||  142  ...   5-1/4||
  |  39  |  178  ...   6-1/2|   89  ...   3-1/4||  142  ...   5-1/4||
  |  40  |  178  ...   6-1/2|   89  ...   3-1/4||  142  ...   5-1/4||
  |  41  |  164  ...   6    |   82  ...   3    ||  131  ...   4-3/4||
  |  42  |  164  ...   6    |   82  ...   3    ||  131  ...   4-3/4||
  |  43  |  164  ...   6    |   82  ...   3    ||  131  ...   4-3/4||
  |  44  |  164  ...   6    |   82  ...   3    ||  131  ...   4-3/4||
  |  45  |  150  ...   5-1/2|   75  ...   2-3/4||  120  ...   4-1/2||
  |  46  |  150  ...   5-1/2|   75  ...   2-3/4||  120  ...   4-1/2||
  |  47  |  150  ...   5-1/2|   75  ...   2-3/4||  120  ...   4-1/2||
  |  48  |  150  ...   5-1/2|   75  ...   2-3/4||  120  ...   4-1/2||
  |  49  |  150  ...   5-1/2|   75  ...   2-3/4||  120  ...   4-1/2||
  |  50  |  150  ...   5-1/2|   75  ...   2-3/4||  120  ...   4-1/2||

  |      |    Charges of Powder for Proof.     |
  |  of  |            Fourth Class.            |
  |      |Provisional Proof.| Definitive Proof.|
  |      |grains. ozs. drs. |grains. ozs. drs. |
  |  1   | 3850    8  12-3/4| 2406    5   8    |
  |  2   | 1859    4   4    | 1162    2  10-1/2|
  |  3   | 1225    2  12-3/4|  766    1  12    |
  |  4   |  941    2   2-1/2|  588    1   5-1/2|
  |  5   |  744    1  11-1/4|  465    1   1    |
  |  6   |  612    1   6-1/2|  383  ...  14    |
  |  7   |  525    1   3-1/4|  328  ...  12    |
  |  8   |  481    1   1-1/2|  301  ...  11    |
  |  9   |  394  ...  14-1/2|  246  ...   9    |
  |  10  |  372  ...  13-1/2|  232  ...   8-1/2|
  |  11  |  350  ...  12-3/4|  219  ...   8    |
  |  12  |  350  ...  12-3/4|  219  ...   8    |
  |  13  |  328  ...  12    |  205  ...   7-1/2|
  |  14  |  306  ...  11-1/4|  191  ...   7    |
  |  15  |  306  ...  11-1/4|  191  ...   7    |
  |  16  |  295  ...  10-3/4|  185  ...   6-3/4|
  |  17  |  295  ...  10-3/4|  185  ...   6-3/4|
  |  18  |  273  ...  10    |  171  ...   6-1/4|
  |  19  |  241  ...   8-3/4|  150  ...   5-1/2|
  |  20  |  219  ...   8    |  137  ...   5    |
  |  21  |  219  ...   8    |  137  ...   5    |
  |  22  |  197  ...   7-1/4|  123  ...   4-1/2|
  |  23  |  197  ...   7-1/4|  123  ...   4-1/2|
  |  24  |  186  ...   6-3/4|  116  ...   4-1/4|
  |  25  |  186  ...   6-3/4|  116  ...   4-1/4|
  |  26  |  186  ...   6-3/4|  116  ...   4-1/4|
  |  27  |  186  ...   6-3/4|  116  ...   4-1/4|
  |  28  |  186  ...   6-3/4|  116  ...   4-1/4|
  |  29  |  164  ...   6    |  102  ...   3-3/4|
  |  30  |  164  ...   6    |  102  ...   3-3/4|
  |  31  |  164  ...   6    |  102  ...   3-3/4|
  |  32  |  164  ...   6    |  102  ...   3-3/4|
  |  33  |  153  ...   5-1/2|   96  ...   3-1/2|
  |  34  |  153  ...   5-1/2|   96  ...   3-1/2|
  |  35  |  153  ...   5-1/2|   96  ...   3-1/2|
  |  36  |  153  ...   5-1/2|   96  ...   3-1/2|
  |  37  |  153  ...   5-1/2|   96  ...   3-1/2|
  |  38  |  142  ...   5-1/4|   89  ...   3-1/4|
  |  39  |  142  ...   5-1/4|   89  ...   3-1/4|
  |  40  |  142  ...   5-1/4|   89  ...   3-1/4|
  |  41  |  131  ...   4-3/4|   82  ...   3    |
  |  42  |  131  ...   4-3/4|   82  ...   3    |
  |  43  |  131  ...   4-3/4|   82  ...   3    |
  |  44  |  131  ...   4-3/4|   82  ...   3    |
  |  45  |  120  ...   4-1/2|   75  ...   2-3/4|
  |  46  |  120  ...   4-1/2|   75  ...   2-3/4|
  |  47  |  120  ...   4-1/2|   75  ...   2-3/4|
  |  48  |  120  ...   4-1/2|   75  ...   2-3/4|
  |  49  |  120  ...   4-1/2|   75  ...   2-3/4|
  |  50  |  120  ...   4-1/2|   75  ...   2-3/4|

N.B.--Revolving Arms of the Fifth Class shall be proved once only, and
such Proof shall be by the Scale laid down for definitive Proof of the
Fourth Class.


As soon as a number of gun barrels are loaded according to the foregoing
scale, they are taken to a house or detached building, standing apart
from other offices. (The woodcut represents the interior accurately.)
The house is lined throughout with thick sheet iron, and the windows,
which resemble Venetian blinds, are constructed of the same metal. Iron
frames are laid the whole length of the room; on these the barrels of
various qualities, when about to be fired, are placed. In the front of
these frames lies a large mass of sand, to receive the balls. Behind the
frame, on which the twist barrels are fixed, lies another bed of sand;
in which, on the recoil, the barrels are buried. Behind the frame, on
which the common barrels or muskets are tried, a strong iron bar is
placed, having a number of holes large enough to receive the tang of the
breech, but not the barrel. The barrels being thus fixed, it is
impossible for them to fly back. A groove runs along the whole length of
each frame, in which the train of powder is strewed to ignite the
charges, upon which the barrels are laid, with the touch-holes

When everything is ready for the proof, the windows are let close down,
the door is shut and secured, and an iron rod heated red hot is
introduced through a hole in the wall. On igniting the train, a
tremendous explosion takes place. The windows are then drawn up, the
door opened, and the smoke dissipated. The twist barrels are found
buried in the sand, the common ones are thrown forwards; some are found
perfect, others burst to pieces. It is rarely that best barrels are
found burst; more frequently they are bulged, or swelled out, in places
which are faulty, or of a softer temper. Those that are found perfect,
are then marked with the provisional punch of different sizes (but
having the same impression), according to the quality of the barrel. In
London and Birmingham they have now an additional punch, containing the
number of the bore by which the barrel has been tried. This mark easily
enables the observer to discover whether the barrel has had any
considerable quantity bored out after proving. Those that are bulged are
sent to the maker, who beats down the swellings, and sends back the
barrels to be proved again. They generally stand the second proof,
though we have known a barrel undergo four proofs before it was marked.
The common barrels are required to stand twenty-four hours before they
are examined; when, if not burst, any holes or other material
imperfections are made quite apparent by the action of the saltpetre.
Such barrels are, of course, sent back unmarked. Those that are found
satisfactory are duly stamped and taken home.

The importance of the gun trade to England may be estimated from the
number of barrels proved during the last year, 1857, of which the
following is a correct statement:--

_Provisional Proof._

  Plain iron barrels                   185,776
  Twisted barrels                      136,804
  Saddle pistol barrels                 33,480
  Best pistol barrels                      962
  Common pistol barrels                  2,066
  Revolving and double barrel pistols   57,106
                           Total       416,194

  Definitively proved, 70,100, being principally double barrels.

This is in Birmingham alone; no doubt the London Company prove to the
extent of 200,000 yearly, which may also be debited to Birmingham, as
the barrels are all welded, bored, and ground before being sent to
London. In addition to these may be counted the Government contracts of
some hundred thousands yearly.

The passing of this Act of Parliament levelled all distinctions between
London and Birmingham proved barrels; they are now treated precisely
alike, and one is equally good with the other.



  “Science begins at the point where mind dominates matter, where the
  attempt is made to subject the mass of experience to the scrutiny of
  reason. Science is mind brought into connection with nature.”--COSMOS.

A new era in the science of gunnery may be dated from the commencement
of the latter half of the nineteenth century; and long before its close
other improvements may be effected which shall eclipse even those of our
day. A new elementary principle has been infused into the science.
Rifles are now really weapons of the highest order; in truth we may be
said to have only recently become acquainted with the principles on
which they should be constructed. Little of science had hitherto been
applied to them; as military arms they were neglected for centuries, to
be ushered into notice at last by the unassisted efforts of private
individuals; Government, to whom arms were of the greatest importance,
having systematically neglected all improvement, by invariably refusing
pecuniary aid, the only grease at all calculated to overcome the
friction retarding the wheels of progress. It is an old proverb, that
“one extreme begets another,” and when changes are once started, the
difficulty is to stop them; the tendency is to rush on from one
alteration to another, before we are really well acquainted with what we
have so hastily thrown aside. Improvement does not always follow a
change; the human race, and the English more especially, have an
inordinate desire for “the marvellous;” and multitudes of “wonderful
discoveries” and inventions of the utmost value are heralded daily by
the ever eager press, often to be as hastily forgotten, or discovered,
even by their promulgators, to be myths.

Improvement, to be at all beneficial, must bring with it all the
elements of improvement; and to render it easy of attainment, none of
its essential points should be costly. In gunnery more especially, it is
essential to avoid all unnecessary friction, excess of recoil, and waste
of gunpowder; whilst, at the same time, transport of the gun must not be
cumbersome, and durability in all its points is essential.

How few study the subject in all its bearings! How rapidly conclusions
are jumped at! Even in getting range, if it is to be purchased at the
cost of other essential principles, it is not economy to sacrifice
several even moderately valuable principles for the sake of range alone.
The experience of the present age has shown that all our important
discoveries have their limits: the locomotive cannot be used with
advantage beyond a certain limited speed; steam vessels attempted to be
propelled at an unusual velocity have but a very brief endurance, and
rapidly decay. All matter has power only to effect a certain amount of
work, and this is endured best at a medium application; showing most
clearly that “the race is not always to the swift or the battle to the

Experience is required in the greatest of modern inventions.
Electricity, at a moderate immersion, subjected to a moderate
superincumbent weight, is an effectual messenger, swift as thought; but
when overweighted by immersion to depths where the superincumbent
pressure amounts to thousands of pounds upon the square inch, then the
messenger becomes paralysed, and refuses to obey man’s will; showing
very clearly that until that pressure be artificially removed by
insulating the conducting wire in tubes equal to restrain or keep from
it that enormous load, the lasting success of an Atlantic telegraph is
very doubtful. Many similar instances might be cited to show the
necessity of considering well the established laws of nature, and their
bearing on the object pursued. In no science is this of more importance
than in gunnery; and the hundreds of useless inventions in gunnery are
to be ascribed to the non-observance of these rules. The two-grooved
rifle, the “steam gun,” “the sciva,” “Warner’s long-range myth,” and
many other inventions equally absurd, engage the attention for a time,
but soon vanish: in fact, all experience shows that improvement can only
be effected in accordance with certain established principles of nature
and practical science.

Iron, in quantities sufficient for all reasonable requirements, is a
dutiful servant; but, when required of colossal proportions, it refuses
to obey: giving us a hint from nature, that we should be content with

All the principles appertaining to science are based on certain
established laws; the unsoundness of one renders the superstructure
unsound also; and any deductions drawn from unsound principles are
comparatively worthless. Gunnery, as a science, must be in uniformity
with truth in all its parts, or no science exists in its arrangements.
This will be best illustrated by dividing the subject into several
heads: 1st, the explosive power and its velocity; 2nd, the retarding
agents, air and friction; 3rd, the construction of the projectile tubes;
and 4th, the form of projectile best calculated to attain a perfect

1st. The explosive power. Gunpowder has been stated by different
authorities to liberate its gases with very different degrees of
rapidity. Hutton has given to it a much greater rapidity than Robins has
evidently even surmised; though, no doubt, as we have already shown,
high velocity in gunpowder depends on several circumstances--the degree
of purification of its ingredients, their intimate mechanical mixture
(that the elements may exert their affinities with the utmost facility),
and, lastly, the degree of granulation observed: and in addition, the
suitability of the tubes or vessels for carrying on correctly such
important experiments. Robins and Hutton unquestionably may be regarded
as the English, if not the European, authorities, and any work on the
science of gunnery would be very incomplete without their valuable

Previously to the researches of Robins, the theory of atmospheric
resistance was but imperfectly surmised, and when he made his statements
of the immense resistance which the fluidity of the air offered to
projectiles in a high state of velocity, they were treated as the idle
chimeras of a speculative brain; and yet he only was enabled to estimate
the real effect of the explosive nature and force of gunpowder to a very
limited extent: indeed, so limited, that Hutton, only twenty years
subsequently, speaking of Robins’ theory, says, “Mr. Robins and other
authors, it may be said, have only guessed at, rather than determined.
That ingenious philosopher, in a simple experiment, truly showed that,
by the firing of a parcel of gunpowder, a quantity of elastic air was
disengaged; which, when confined in the space only occupied by the
powder before it was fired, was found to be nearly 250 times stronger
than the weight or elasticity of the common air. He then heated the same
parcel of air to the degree of red hot iron, and found it in that
temperature to be about four times as strong as before; whence he
inferred, that the first strength of the inflamed fluid must be nearly
1,000 times the pressure of the atmosphere. But this was merely guessing
at the degree of heat in the inflamed fluid, and, consequently, of its
first strength; both which in fact are found to be much greater. It is
true that this assumed degree of strength accorded pretty well with that
author’s experiments; but this seeming agreement, it might easily be
shown, could only be owing to the inaccuracy of his own further
experiments; and, in fact, with far better opportunities than fell to
the lot of Mr. Robins, we have shown that inflamed gunpowder is about
double the strength that he has assigned to it, and that it expands
itself with the velocity of about 5,000 feet per second.” On the same
subject he further says:--“On this principle it was that Mr. Robins made
all his experiments and performed all his calculations in gunnery. But
it is manifest that this method of guessing at the degree of heat of the
flame must be very uncertain and unsatisfactory, being much below the
truth; since all our notions and experience of the heat of inflamed
powder convince us that it is higher than that of red hot iron, and,
indeed, it has clearly appeared from our experiments, that its heat is
at least double that of red hot iron, and that it increases the
elasticity of the elastic fluid more than eight times.”

Here is evidence, though not conclusive, of the immense force of
gunpowder, and also of the progress of knowledge on the subject; yet it
clearly shows the evil of coming to hasty conclusions, however well
supported by apparent facts, as it has had in this case a tendency to
check inquiry and retard the advancement of knowledge. For the extensive
experiments of Hutton were but limited in discovery, because they were
not carried to a sufficient extent, and thus, they are quite unsuited to
the present day. He was satisfied because he had gone further than any
of his predecessors; and though he established and clearly proved the
soundness of his own theory, yet he could not either view the subject to
its utmost bounds, nor yet go sufficiently far, but that others, taking
up the question where he left it, may pursue the subject to a much more
remote limit. The subject, indeed, was limited to him. He far excelled
Robins, no doubt, as he has shown; but that involves no detraction from
the merit due to Robins for his experiments and discoveries, no more
than any individual proving the subject to be a more extensive one than
Hutton did, would excel Hutton; for the value of improvement is more to
be attributed to him who lays the foundation, than to him who raises the
building. So is it in this case; Robins laid the foundation for an
extensive knowledge of the nature and power of the explosive fluids, and
Hutton built upon that foundation a certain extent of superstructure,
and there he left it, without roofing the building: he considered the
question as settled. Common consent has, as yet, received his conclusion
as unshaken and uncontroverted; and it is not my intention to make the
attempt to controvert it, but merely to show that his deductions fall
short of what the principles of gunpowder-making admit--carried out in
the more extensive way it has been within the last few years--owing to
the limited nature of his experiments. This is rather an extensive
position for me to occupy, or endeavour to hold: but I do not mean the
size of the _tools_ of _experiment_ so much as the diversity of them;
for exploding ten thousand tons of powder in the same machine and in
the same way, would but give the same or similar results; it is the
variety and the singularity of experiments that expand and increase the
fund of knowledge, and enable the mind to conceive and comprehend the
immensity of the power and velocity of this wonderful combination. We
have been principally indebted to the exertions of the chemist for means
of purifying and extracting from the ingredients which form this
astonishing compound force, the impurities and foreign substances which
exist, to a certain extent, in all the three, and thus tending to form a
more perfect combustion by increasing the affinities.

Hutton shows that gunpowder is but so much condensed air; for he says
“We may hence, also, deduce the amazing degree of condensation of the
elastic air in the nitre and gunpowder, and the astonishing force
experienced by its explosion. It has been found by Mr. Robins, and other
philosophers, that 3-10ths of the mass of the powder consists of the
pure condensed air, or that the weight of the condensed air is equal to
3-10ths of the whole composition. But the whole composition of the
powder consists of eight parts by weight, of which six parts are nitre,
one part sulphur, one charcoal; of which the nitre or 3-4ths of the
composition furnishes the whole of the condensed air, while the sulphur
and charcoal only give the fire that produces the explosion. But 3-10ths
of the whole mass of eight parts is equal to 4-10ths of the six parts
of nitre, that is 4-10ths or 2-5ths of the nitre consists of condensed
air, or the weight of the gross matter in the nitre as four to six, or
as two to three; and these two parts, it is probable, are of equal
density or specific gravity. Yet the specific gravity of nitre is 1,900,
that of water being 1,000, and of air 1·2, which is contained in 1,900,
as much as 1,583 times; that is, the air in the nitre must be condensed
the amazing quantity of 1,583 times, if its specific gravity be equal to
the compound nitre itself.” Also, “The air is condensed in the nitre
about 1,600 times, nearly double the density of water, which may well be
considered as probably the greatest degree of compression that air is
capable of. Hence it may be perceived that a prodigious force must be
exerted by nature in generating nitre; and as this great force actually
exists in nature, it is very probable that the air in the nitre is thus
compressed into the most dense state possible, and in this consists the
similitude among the different particles of nitre.”

This extract from Hutton enables us to divest the question of any
technicalities, and puts it in so plain a garb that the simplest mind
may comprehend it. Now, the great improvement of chemistry has been to
extract from the nitre the gross material which is contained in the
proportions--2-5ths impurities, and 2-5ths condensed air; thus, half the
quantity being useless, the extraction of these alloys gives a greater
quantity of condensed gases in the same quantity of matter; for if we
take away 2-5ths of the proportions of useless matter, and supply its
place with 2-5ths more condensed air, we thus get 4-5th explosive matter
in the same bulk of material, and thus simply obtain an immense increase
of power without an increase in bulk. We have here evidence of the
progress that has been made in the science of explosive force.

Considering the difference between gunpowder in 1783 and gunpowder in
1858, I cannot say, with Hutton, that the force is doubled now to what
it was when he wrote; but I believe that this would not be far from the
truth; for it must be quite clear--if he is correct (which I believe he
is) in saying the force of gunpowder consists in the quantity of
explosive matter let loose and expanded by heat--that the greater the
quantity of condensed matter we may have in any given weight, the
greater the force, and the more rapid the explosion: purified saltpetre
thus forming nearly pure gaseous matter; as the diamond is pure carbon.
It seems singular, and is rather presumptuous to say, that Hutton was
not much of a chemist; but had he been more so, he must have perceived
that in the extraction of the foreign matter from the nitre, existed the
means of obtaining an increased quantity of explosive power, and a
proportionate increase of speed or velocity in that explosive material.

To ascertain the velocity best suited to all projectiles, constitutes
the germ of the science; and that we are approaching a new era in even
that more intimate portion of the science, is daily apparent. Science
shows clearly that if a given force, a quantity to be correctly
ascertained, can produce a certain result, the use of more is waste, and
unworthy of the seeker after perfection; and thus we have to determine
upon, or define, what is the degree or size of gun for certain effects:
a mere calculation nearly allied to that portion of engineering which
would define what power of engine would work a thousand cotton spindles,
or raise a million gallons of water; and all this will eventually be
done. Science requires that there should be no excess, no waste, no
unnecessary recoil, and all that combined with the utmost range of
projectile; this will have to be defined accurately before we can
clearly or truly say we are masters of the science of gunpowder. True it
is that the granulation of gunpowder gives a clear road to its
attainment; but it will be a wearisome journey to reach the summit: yet
it must and will be effected, and the nation that first attempts and
carries out the attainment, will evince a real love for and mastery of

The following practical experiments illustrate the degree of velocity
and the effects of projectiles so clearly, that they alone will convey
some idea of the high velocity of the evolutions of the gases in

My experiments are, like Robins’, on a small scale; nor would I, like
Hutton, try a brass gun of sixty calibres in length, carrying a
one-pound ball; for one is strictly more limited than the other, and
thus rendered the results laid down by him imperfect: for, as he says,
“If you fill the tube with powder you get no greater velocity, as there
is not a duration in the confinement to enable the powder to explode.”
If he had assimilated the grain of his powder to the gun, he would have
obtained a different result; and a knowledge of this fact, I apprehend,
makes all the difference. The greatest velocity he obtained was with
powder 1-1/2 times the weight of the ball in a gun of sixty calibres in
length, and the velocity he then obtained was only 3,181 feet per
second. The inferences that probably induced him to recommend others not
to endeavour to obtain a greater velocity than 2,000 feet per second,
were, like these experiments, drawn from imperfect data. With a ball of
an ounce weight in a barrel of sixty calibres, and with 3-4ths the
weight of ball in powder, or 12 drachms, a velocity can be given to the
ball to equal it in force to 46,875 pounds. The velocity of this ball I
leave to the calculations of the mathematical world. But, however, I
will give the results of a round of experiments tried to ascertain this;
and if the data laid down be correct, that the velocity of a ball must
be multiplied by its weight to find the force, the result will be the
establishment of a system of velocity never yet dreamt of. I cannot but
imagine that there exists some error; though where it is I know not:
every deduction I have drawn is consequent upon the results hereafter

“The power required to force a punch 0·50 inch diameter through an iron
plate 0·08 inch thick is 6,025 pounds, through copper 3,938 pounds. A
simple rule for determining the force required for punching may thus be

“Taking one inch diameter and one inch in thickness as the units of
calculation it is shown that 150,000 is the constant number for
wrought-iron plates, and 96,000 for copper plates.

“Multiply the constant number by the given diameter in inches, the
product is the pressure in pounds which will be required to punch a hole
of a given diameter through a plate of a given thickness.”

Now an idea struck me, that this would form a very good test of the
comparative force of gunpowder, and I consequently commenced an
extensive round of experiments.

In the first attempt I found the results to vary with the weight of the
pendulum of iron plate, and that it was necessary to obtain uniformity
of size and surface; as it must be comprehended that the only resisting
medium to the pendulous plate was atmospheric resistance, and a
dissimilarity of size of surface would invariably give different
results. Having a number of plates of the different thicknesses
hereafter described, I continued increasing the charge from a definite
quantity, until the projectile was driven with sufficient velocity to
perforate the plate suspended. The gun selected for this purpose was of
heavy material, weighing nearly seventeen pounds, it was three feet
long, the metal of the barrel as thick at the muzzle as at the breech,
and carried a spherical ball of sixteen to the pound, or one ounce, and
which fitted tight with the thinnest patch procurable. The bore was
perfectly cylindrical, and plain inside, being polished longitudinally
to a high state of fineness. With a charge of twelve drachms of Curtis
and Harvey’s diamond grain powder, the ball went through the half-inch
plate, but went only a few yards further; denoting that the effort
necessary had nearly exhausted its velocity and momentum.

The recoil of the gun was of the most severe description, and the
shoulder had to be protected for many explosions previous to this high
charge. The larger sized grain was insufficient, ten drachms effecting
the greatest extent of power it seemed capable of, and it became quite
apparent that the tube would not explode more powder, as indications
convinced me: when any more was added, a portion came out unburnt.

The force necessary to effect this, by the above calculation, is 46,795

The next plate was 7-16ths thick, and a charge of ten drachms punched
the piece out clean; nine and a half drachms were equal to it, when the
centre of the pendulum could be hit fairly, because there was then an
equal resistance from the atmosphere, which cannot exist in cases where
the edge of the disc receives the blow.

I got with ease a perforation in a 6-16ths plate, with a charge of
either fine or coarse powder, not exceeding eight drachms; a charge of
seven drachms of fine grain was unequal to the task; but seven drachms
of the coarse showed evidently greater effects produced, though the
perforation was not perfect. Six and a half drachms of No. 2 grain
penetrated a plate of 5-16ths thick easily, while it took full six and
three-quarters drachms of fine grain; five drachms of the larger
perforated a quarter-inch plate, but it took full five and a half
drachms of fine grain to effect the same; while a 3-16ths plate took
three and three-quarters drachms of fine, or three and a quarter of No.
2 grain; and 1-8th plate was easily punched by a charge of two and a
half drachms coarse or three drachms fine. I will place the relative
results in a table, with the force effected by each:--

  Oz.      Drachms.       Punched a boiler plate   Equal in force to
  1 ball   12 of powder   Half-inch thick          46,875 lbs.
  1  „     10       „     7-16ths     „            41,015   „
  1  „      8       „     6-16ths     „            35,155   „
  1  „      6-1/2   „     5-16ths     „            29,295   „
  1  „      5       „     4-16ths     „            23,437   „
  1  „      3-1/4   „     3-16ths     „            17,578   „
  1  „      2       „     2-16ths     „            11,718   „

Were I to adopt the established method of calculation, multiplying the
weight of ball by the velocity, I should get an answer that would point
to the utter impossibility of any such velocity being possible. And yet
the result is, according to the rule of figures, correct; but in truth
there are exceptions to many rules, for they are only correct when
applied to known products.

That the velocity of these balls was much, very much, greater than 7,000
feet per second of time, there cannot be any doubt; it was nearly three
times that. Yet I must not conceal the fact, that this punching is the
more perfect, the higher the velocity; and it shows how the fibres of
iron are separated from a want of vibration to equilibrise the cohesion.
Mr. Colthurst found that duration of pressure lessened the ultimate
force necessary to punch through metal, and thus it may be that
extremely quick pressure may produce the same. Therefore I suspect it is
not the most correct theory that calculates force to be accomplished at
all times by extreme velocity; there will be found discrepancies in the
rule, and one of them arises from no calculation ever having been made
with extreme velocities: medium velocities may generally give such
conclusions, but the very extreme in this case can never have been taken
into consideration at all; as I have very little doubt--in fact, I am
certain--that no person ever obtained such high velocity before. It
must, and is a vast deal greater, incomprehensibly greater, than any
velocity obtained by Hutton; and much more extensive than ever could be
obtained, or, in fact, ever will, by any ordnance whatever. I wish much
I could have experimented with a gun of greater length and bore, for
with one in every way fitted for the purpose, I have no doubt of being
able to perforate an inch thickness of plate.

Should any person possessing the opportunity and means, wish to try the
experiment, I would advise them to get a barrel of 4-1/2 feet long, 8
bore, to carry a 2 oz. ball, and of a weight to allow of extending the
explosion up to 30 drs. of powder; they would then obtain the extent of
force I have suggested. There is a certain point to be strictly
observed: see that the plate you use is perfectly sound; for if
laminated, or composed of various plates not firmly welded and attached,
the experiment would be imperfect, as there would be an uneven vibration
created, and acting as the hammer does when held against the point of
the nail while driving it in, clinches the point, so does the substance
in the portions of plate prevent a perforation. An ounce ball, suspended
against the back of the pendulum, by the jar or blow it receives and
communicates, completely prevents the effect, and the ball is flattened,
instead of perforating the object struck: so is it if you place a
1/4-inch plate against any support; it thus has the power of perfectly
resisting the force of the ball, though fired with considerably more
power than is requisite under other circumstances. The effect appears to
be chiefly mechanical; the outer fibres are driven in upon those behind
them with such quickness that they lose cohesion, or are condensed
quicker than the waves of vibration travel, thus giving them no means of
communicating the vibration. But when punched, the rapidity of their
motion produces in the metal a sound of the most intense vivacity, which
plays upon the ear for a considerable period, with rather a pleasant
effect. Lead alone is capable of being used in this experiment; except,
of course, the precious metals, which it would not be _convenient_ to
use. Even an adulteration of the slightest quantity of solder is
sufficient to prevent the result which lead, pure, will invariably give.
Lead projected against lead, if sufficiently thick, cannot perforate,
but the lesser portion becomes flattened; a cast-iron ball fired against
lead, with a certain velocity, is broken into pieces, affecting the lead
comparatively little: showing beautifully the peculiarity of dense
incompressible bodies to resist most effectually the greater the
velocity with which they are struck. Water will, if struck very sharply
with the flat of a sword, act against the blow in a way to splinter the
blade into pieces. The greater the velocity with which a ball is fired
into water, the less the depth of penetration; thus showing clearly the
many excellent properties of dense incompressible bodies as projectiles,
and proving the objection that lead is too soft for artillery to be
without a foundation, and only entertained from a want of knowledge of
its nature.

A point of great importance was exemplified during these experiments;
and as the question has lately given rise to considerable discussion, it
will be well that the facts should be stated.

At very short distances from the muzzle of the gun the penetration was
found to be less than at distances more extended. At five yards the iron
plate could not be perforated; at ten yards the effect was much greater,
but fifteen yards was the least distance at which it could be said to be
effectually perforated; at twenty yards the result was still more
satisfactory, clearly demonstrating that bullets gain both in velocity
and penetration for a considerable distance after leaving the muzzle of
the gun. The following experiments verify this remark:--

In the report of the experiments which were carried on at Cork in 1852,
it is stated that the power of penetration of an elongated rifle bullet
gradually increases as the range is increased, up to 190 yards.

In order to prove this, experiments were carried on at Enfield for three
days with a variety of fire-arms, and different sorts of projectiles.
On the fourth day the experiments were repeated with the common musket
and Wilkinson’s rifle. The former, at forty yards, gave a penetration of
2·25 inches; and the latter averaged 2·75, in a target of green elm.
Again: at ninety yards, the musket penetrated 2·25 inches, and the rifle
3·5 inches. At 120 yards, the musket gave 2·5 inches, and the rifle
3·25. Both being subsequently fired at every successive ten yards up to
220, the result was that the penetration of the musket ball gradually
decreased in power as the distance increased, while the elongated bullet
gained power of penetration up to 190 yards; after which it slightly

2nd. Consequent on the velocity of the explosive fluids is the
resistance of that aëriform fluid filling all space. It has been
calculated that in a vacuum, matter in motion would be a long time in
coming to rest; and very providentially it is that nature in her grand
arrangements has made one element to control another. In no other
portion of nature’s work has anything more wonderful than atmospheric
air been produced; its action on the velocity of projectiles is of so
extensive a nature, that without clearly understanding that action, the
science of gunnery never can be thoroughly acquired. The resistance of
the atmosphere is in proportion to the velocity of the attempt to
displace it; the higher that velocity becomes, the greater is the
resistance. This is shown by the actions of all the fulminates. A
quantity of the fulminate of silver exploded on a copper plate will
perforate that plate, or, if fired upon a piece of wood, will bury
itself in that substance, splintering it in proportion to the quantity.
Now, ordinary gunpowder has no such effect as this, because, though it
may produce the same amount of expansive gas, it produces it at
one-fourth the velocity of the fulminates: the air is driven back upon
itself so gradually as to offer no very important resistance; but the
action of the fulminates is so rapid and so violent that the high
elasticity of the air has not time to yield, and the force is driven
into the apparently more solid material, the copper or the wood.

The mode in which atmospheric resistance mostly interferes with
projectile force is owing to the columnar form it assumes in the tubes
of all descriptions of gunnery. If the velocity of gunpowder be as great
as we suppose it to be, the displacement of a column of air must be
effected by driving the whole column in a gun-barrel of many inches,
into a column probably less than half an inch in height; or, if the
length of the tube from the starting of the charge to the muzzle be 38
inches, then will the displacement require a force capable of condensing
thirty-eight atmospheres into one, or something like 570 lbs.; without
estimating the lateral pressure of that column on the sides of the
gun-barrel, which may be safely estimated at one-half more. It may be
supposed that the column would be partially in motion for a greater
distance than half an inch in front of the projectile; but this is
disproved by the fact that time is essential to put aëriform matter in
motion, and naturally it never does so at a greater velocity than it is
familiarly known to do in the shape of winds: but the fact is better
illustrated by the frequent bursting of barrels near the muzzle, caused
by a piece of snow or clay, a piece of paper or wadding. Were a current
established around this projection it would pass on, but the air strikes
these light obstructions when in a high state of condensation, amounting
to many atmospheres in one: so many as to be nearly equal to a solid
which is more powerful than the barrel; the latter therefore succumbs to

The resistance of the air is so highly philosophical a question, that I
merely touch on its actual bearings on the passage of projectiles to
show how the quantity of force is absorbed or expended in relation to
the quantity of the gunpowder employed; which, it may be assumed, is a
proportion of nearly one-third of the whole, or a quantity independent
of that necessary to give velocity to the leaden projectile, to enable
it to overcome the still and uniform impeding agent up to the end of its
flight. The rapid exit of the bullet from the barrel, with a resisting
influence of this weight into the comparatively insignificant one of 15
lbs. to the square inch, will fully explain how it is that a bullet
increases in velocity even up to a considerable distance after leaving
the muzzle of the gun; and further showing that in all arrangements of
truly scientific gunnery, the increasing resistance must be met by a
fresh production of explosive fluid over every atom of space in that
tube, where it is demonstrable that the resistance is increasing in a
geometrical progression as the point of exit is becoming nearer; so that
gunnery, unless all the contingencies are provided for, must necessarily
remain an imperfect science.

Intimately allied to the displacement of the atmosphere is the amount of
friction. Gunnery is now rid of the anomaly of being assisted by
friction: the detention of the projectile in the tube by artificial
friction, to enable more force to be generated, is one of those
absurdities pardonable only in bygone days. Science is best consulted by
lessening friction; guns of steel, with interiors as fine as the polish
in a mirror, are found to shoot best: a rough road is but so much force
uselessly absorbed; the experience of the last few years having proved
that a range of 1,800 yards cannot be accomplished except with barrels
having surfaces as smooth as possible.

Rifles, no doubt, are now in use in which, by increasing the degree of
spiral, friction is more than doubled, perhaps trebled; but such
unscientific constructions are but as one error to counteract another.
Unscientifically formed projectiles not having in themselves the
principles necessary for true flight, have to receive a counteracting
agency in the shape of additional spinning, on an axis coincident to the
line of flight, to enable them to range a given distance, with, as it
will be perceived, an additional amount of expellant agency; but these
cannot be included in the category of scientific gunnery.

3rd. Next to absence of friction is the construction of the gun barrel.
Already have we shown that the inner surface of a gun barrel requires
to be like glass; next to this it is necessary that the metal should be
composed of the most unyielding structure. Metals absorb force in
proportion to their softness: a barrel constructed of lead gives the
worst result of any metal; in truth, as is the increase of tenacity and
density in the tube, so is the increase of range in projectiles. The
wonderful results displayed by the use of steel guns of all descriptions
bear out this assertion to the fullest extent. A yielding gun barrel may
be compared to the dragging of a heavily loaded waggon over boggy
ground, which rises in a wave before the wheels during its progress.

4th. Next in importance to the inflexibility of the gun barrel is the
form of projectile best calculated to displace the atmosphere during its
extended flight. Under the head of Rifles this subject will be more
fully discussed; but, as thousands of years have stamped the arrow as
being in accordance with nature’s laws, it should no doubt be the object
of science to approximate the leaden projectile to that form as much as
possible, and hence the cylindro-conoidal may be assumed to be the best
form of projectile.

That both Jacob’s and Whitworth’s bullets partake of a certain amount of
“_wabbling_” motion after leading the muzzle of the gun is certain, from
their length, as well as from the fact that in both the centre of
gravity is in the hinder part of the bullet; thus they are both in
reality bad in a scientific point of view.

If any merit can be claimed for either, it is on account of the
mechanical ingenuity displayed in neutralizing the effects of want of
scientific principle. The want of principle, however, is not the only
evil, were such guns to come into general use; their manufacture, in the
hands of that portion of the gun trade which never estimates
consequences, and never studies the theory of the science at all, but
manufactures all fire-arms by “rule of thumb,” would prove dangerous in
the extreme.

The bursting of barrels in any attempt to project lengthened projectiles
is of a very different description to that which ordinarily occurs, on
account of the different direction in which the force is applied. In
consequence of their greater length, and their increased friction
against the sides of the barrel, they are more reluctantly set in
motion--_i. e._, their inertia is with greater difficulty overcome. The
result of this is, that in overcoming their inertia the greatest strain
is exerted backward, on the breech of the gun; which, if not more firm
than usual, is blown out, entering the forehead of the shooter: an
accident which would prove fatal not only to the gun, but to the person
who used it.

This accident may no doubt be effectually guarded against by
strengthening the breech end of the gun as well as the breech itself;
but without that precaution it is to be feared that such accidents would
be of frequent occurrence.

A considerable error may easily be promulgated, as to the heat necessary
to be applied ere gunpowder will explode. A late writer says, it is
necessary to raise it to 600 degrees before it is explosive. This is a
splitting of hairs, and such a palpable mystification, that it is
scarcely worth noticing. But I will explain: if you place upon a plate a
few grains of powder, by heating the plate underneath (for instance, on
a smith’s fire,) you will see the sulphur giving out a blue flame, it
being easily fused. As the plate becomes heated to nearly a red heat,
the whole explodes, in consequence of the charcoal and nitre not being
hot enough to allow the gases generating the heat to be liberated; but
as soon as this does take place the explosion ensues. Now, it is a well
known fact, that the smallest particle of matter possessing above 600°
of heat, will ignite any quantity of powder it comes in immediate
contact with; we will suppose with one portion of charcoal, one of
sulphur, and one of nitre (it matters not how small they are: a ten
hundredth part of the substance of one of the smallest grains of powder
would suffice), and if it has the means of communicating to these small
portions 600°, this is sufficient, as their explosion induces also that
of the very largest quantity: for it ought to be perfectly understood,
that a great explosion is but so many millions of small ones combined,
and by their united force effecting the great results we see. The
ingredients of powder are ground and intimately mixed together on the
bed of the mill to the great extent they are, to the end that, if
possible, there shall not be in the composition two grains or portions
of one ingredient in immediate contact with each other; but that, when
the ignition does take place, each may be present to add its peculiar
gas, in order that each affinity may be supplied. Thus becomes evident
the necessity of a most extensive incorporation, a blending and equal
division of mixture throughout the whole material.

The advantage of unglazed gunpowder is here fully shown; for it presents
an inequality, a roughness of surface, over which the flame from the
percussion mixture cannot travel without igniting some of the prominent
parts, and thus the whole. You may glaze powder and make it so smooth
that it would be very difficult indeed to ignite; but except that it
enables the powder to resist moisture better, it is otherwise very
detrimental, as tending both to prevent ignition and lengthening the
period of effecting it.

The flame from the percussion powder is of that intense and vivid
description, that if a charge of powder in the breech of a gun is loose,
the flame will form a mass of condensed air round itself, and driving
the grains of powder before it, prevent the immediate contact of the
heat and the particles of powder, until the heat is expended; and thus
arises a “miss fire.” If the powder is up only to the nipple, there
being a quantity of air in the tube of that nipple, the explosion of the
fluid will drive down this air, and condense it between the powder and
top of the nipple to such an extent as to cause a certain “miss fire.”
It becomes requisite to find a remedy for this, and it can only be done
by bringing the powder into the very vicinity of the explosion on the
nipple. This can be effected in several ways, but the most perfect is
to obtain as direct a communication as possible; a widening of the
perforations of the breech, and space to allow the powder free access up
the nipple. For this purpose we propose an improved form of nipple. The
centre one of the three (here shown in section) is considerably broader
and shorter than the others. A cap made broader and not so deep would be
an improvement, as bringing the point of ignition nearer the charge, and
thus effecting a saving of time; for great and wonderfully quick as is
the explosion, it is clear to the senses that it may be quickened. We
are not finding fault with the “lightning being too slow,” as Colonel
Hawker says; but science means perfection, and the nearer we can come to
it the better.

[Illustration: OLD PLAN OF NIPPLE.



The nipples now in general use have the smaller orifice at the bottom,
and, being lined with platina, never foul. Experience has shown that
admitting the gunpowder into the nipple “is not advantageous,”
especially with large grained powder; by constructing the nipple with
the small orifice at the bottom, the largest grain can be used
beneficially. As the velocity of the fulminating gas is much greater
than “a train” of gunpowder ever can be, quickness is also gained by
their adoption. I have used them for many years with great success;
nothing but cost deters their general adoption. The passing of the flame
through the very small opening in the platina, by this very high
impingement, increases its heat to a great extent, ensuring explosion.

The true science of gunnery consists in knowing that a certain force is
requisite to effect a certain purpose, or, in other words, to kill at a
certain distance; and also how to arrange that force so as to effect the
purpose without having any extra _force_, or any waste of powder, nor
yet too little, but with a corresponding result: a sufficiency; neither
more nor less. This we have shown is attainable by the mechanical
arrangement of granulation; for it is useless to use less, or to use an
iota more of fine grain powder, if the size larger will effect the
purpose without that iota. Propellant velocity is the grand desideratum
in all gunnery; the obtainment of this, to the greatest extent, is the
power of killing at the greatest distance: all ranges are dependent on
velocity; no extreme _range_ can be obtained without a corresponding

The very finest powder, it will be perceived, is fitted--perfectly
fitted, preferable, indeed--to coarser grain for guns of a short length
of tube, where a perfect combustion of the whole charge can be obtained
without any waste or want; but as such is quite unsuited for longer
barrels: I cannot too often repeat it. The column of air is the ruling
power. Look what its effects are by Hutton’s calculations, with the
very low velocities he obtained! So great as to bring all projectiles he
used to a medium velocity, before they were projected beyond a certain
distance. Then what must its resistance be where the velocities are
trebled? I say trebled, for my powder and the percussion combined have
more than trebled the velocities. You must then clearly have a powder of
such grain as suits the capacity of your gun. All barrels have a size of
grain that will suit them best, and manufacturers of gunpowder will
consult their own profit and the convenience of sportsmen, if they
assimilate the grain of powder to various sizes; as in shot, to No. 1,
No. 2, 3, 4, 5, and so on: eventually this system must be adopted.

This will explain quite clearly how the fact (singular to many) occurs,
of short guns excelling their longer competitors, and how frequently a
particular maker obtains an immensity of credit for an excellent gun
only twenty-two inches: “Beat my Lord So-and-so’s of thirty inches!” and
how, “When I cut four inches off my double, she shot better than ever
she did.” All these occurrences are perfectly dependent on a knowledge
of the generating of the explosive force, and may be reversed at any
time by a person possessed of sufficient knowledge of these facts: put
in coarse grain into the short gun, and fine into the long, and the
facts will be changed considerably, as will be easily seen. A degree of
mystery has hitherto existed as to the cause of this discrepancy; but I
trust this explanation will clear it up.

Experiment has shown the error of stating that only a certain quantity
of powder could be consumed: the proportion stated was considerably
below the actual quantity, as the experiments of punching the plates
show; for since twelve drachms can be burnt in a three-feet barrel,
therefore ten drachms may be consumed in one two feet eight inches, with
a given weight to lift. In addition to this, must be placed the fact of
improvement, both in the composition and granulation of the powder;
which we have no hesitation in stating has been considerable, within
only a very few years, all tending to the quickness of generating force.
The granulatory system, if acted upon, will give the sportsman or
soldier a completely new power in gunnery; for it must be evident, if we
have the means of projecting certain bodies with an extreme velocity,
say 5,000 feet per second, it becomes a simple calculation to ascertain
the quantity of force and length of tube to give to a certain weight.
Take, for instance, an ounce ball in a barrel two feet six inches long.
Extremely fine grain powder, from its rapidity of expansion, gives to
the ball this velocity at fifteen inches from the breech; the remaining
fifteen inches contain a column of air highly condensed, which will
inevitably reduce this velocity back nearly fifty per cent., or 2,500,
and with that velocity the ball leaves the muzzle. Therefore, as we have
already said, it must be evident you have here generated a high speed to
be as quickly reduced; and it shows clearly that if a different grain of
powder would expand from breech to muzzle, increasing the velocity on a
granulated scale until it obtained the highest, or 5,000 feet per
second, as the ball left the muzzle, you would save here clear 50 per
cent. in force, with less recoil, less internal strain on the barrel,
and with exactly the same weight of powder; thus showing that you have
just a definite quantity of force in a definite quantity of powder.

The true science of gunnery is the knowledge how to best arrange the
collateral parts, so that you may obtain the greatest result with the
least means. I have also clearly shown that the resistance of the
atmosphere is one, and the principal obstruction in the attainment of
high velocities; its resistance being regulated entirely by the degree
of speed with which it is wanted to be displaced. Thus it is true, as
both Robins and Hutton have shown, that only a certain velocity can be
obtained beneficially; though the degree is considerably greater then
either conceived, as far greater impetus has been obtained, and
projected bodies have ranged much beyond their calculations, and that
beneficially too. One drawback on the theory of these gentlemen is their
calculating the velocities with iron projectiles; for the heavier the
material the more powerful the momentum, and consequently the longer
retention of their velocity, from not presenting the same space to the
resisting medium, the air.

The development of the system of granulation must and does exercise
considerable control over the shooting of barrels of every description.
I have already explained what has been hitherto considered the curious
phenomena of short and long barrels shooting so dissimilarly, and this
illustration completely establishes the fact of the expulsive and
repulsive forces being controlled by each other: as either
preponderates, so is the result. The open-ended barrel projecting balls,
and eventually bursting, is a beautiful and interesting elucidation,
both of the force of gunpowder and the stubborn nature of the
atmospheric fluid. All these facts are valuable, inasmuch as they lay
bare circumstances which have never been satisfactorily accounted for,
and enable the mind of lowest capacity to understand the cause and

The superiority of one barrel in throwing shot stronger and more evenly
distributed, arises, it will be easily seen, from the absence, or
existence of, internal friction, when contrasted with the different
degrees of expelling force, and the degree of resistance from the
atmosphere; it also accounts clearly for the fact of guns shooting
stronger on one day than on another, in fine and in rough weather: the
weight, the resistance of the air, is the only cause of the variation;
for gunpowder cannot drive back a dense atmosphere as quickly as a
lighter one. The cause of guns bursting is to be placed to the account
of both air and the generation of the explosive fluid so
instantaneously; the solid front which air offers to quick compression,
throws the force on the barrel, and the sides of the tube give way
because they are weaker: this cannot occur so easily with powder of a
more gradually expansive force, therefore safety is consulted in its
use, in addition to the numerous advantages it otherwise possesses.

Mr. Blaine, in his Encyclopædia of Rural Sports, has the following: “The
increase of metal in the detonator, we think, with Colonel Hawker, to be
an essential requisite, first, to resist the quicker, and, consequently,
more forcible, expansive force applied by the ignition of the powder
through the agency of detonation, and tend to lessen the recoil so much
more forcibly felt in most detonators. This increased weight of
percussion Mr. Greener, however, objects to, and inquires, ‘Whether some
of the best flint guns met with, have not been very light?’ To this we
answer, that it was the principle on which the explosion of the flint
gun was effected that enabled it to be made lighter, and yet to remain
equally safe in using; but we also know, that where it was required to
add to the rapidity and force of the ignition, it then became necessary
to increase the substance of the barrel.”

Experience teaches the writer, and I dare say it would Mr. Blaine, if he
were to experiment to the extent I have done, that there is no rapidity
in the ignition further than the closing of that point of ignition by
the cock, and no “force” beyond what the comparative instantaneous
ignition of the gunpowder in the nipple creates. This is quite
sufficient to prevent the further penetration of the percussion flame;
and the only increase, to quote his own words, “to resist the quicker,
and, consequently, more expansive, force applied by the ignition of the
powder through the agency of detonation,” arises from an improvement (as
it is termed) in the granulation of the powder, which alone creates the
increased expansive force. This will be clearly understood by any one
reading this work from the beginning; the only difference between the
flint and percussion systems is the stopping of the orifice of ignition
in one, and allowing it to escape in the other; for the flame has to
travel to _windward_ (to use a nautical expression) in the flint; the
other has its own accumulating power to force ignition through the body
of the powder. This alone constitutes the difference. The necessity for
an increase of metal at the breech of a barrel does not arise from any
peculiarity in the mode of communicating the fire, but in the increased
inflammability of the powder alone. The extreme smallness of grain has
effected this more than the use of fulminating flame; and the continuous
cry for fine powder, to get better up the nipples, has produced an
alteration which is placed wrongfully to the credit of the percussion.

Again, he says, “Mr. Greener, however, would have us acquire this
increase of power of resistance, not by quantity of material, but by
increased tenacity and elasticity in the metal the gun is formed of, and
we agree that it would be a great improvement if it could be brought
about. But what is our prospect of it? Is it not the general complaint
that gun metal is not by any means what it was? We have shown that it is
not; and, therefore, we do not think, as Mr. Greener asserts, that any
recommendation of increased weight of metal to the percussion barrel
beyond that of the flint gun “is founded on ignorance;” but, on the
contrary, that the very reason Mr. Greener gives to prove it, is that
which we think affords evidence of its perfect rationality, _the
explosive force created_.” The answer given above applies to this also:
save on the score of lessening recoil, superior quality is preferable,
to quantity.

The shooting powers of gun barrels are dependent on two
circumstances--goodness of metal, and a proper shape of exterior: it
cannot be too often repeated, _that a gun barrel is a spring_, to all
intents and purposes; if you add metal, you add stubbornness, and
destroy that expansibility, without the existence of which the barrel
is, comparatively speaking, useless. Heavy, ponderous barrels do not
propel a charge of shot with either that smartness or degree of
closeness that a barrel more scientifically constructed does; you have
less recoil certainly, but the addition of half an inch of more metal
behind the butt of the breech would do this more effectually, and save
you carrying an additional weight. The gradual ignition of powder
obviates the necessity of a great thickness of metal in the sides of the
barrels; but if it is determined to persevere in the use of peculiarly
fine grained powder, you would certainly be justified, nay, required, to
have more and better metal than at present, for the electrical nature of
the explosion will throw upon the tube that force which would be more
judiciously employed in giving impetus to the charge of projectiles.

I have found that expansion will increase the shooting powers of a
barrel; but then it must not be the expansion of an unelastic piece of
metal, but of metal whose elasticity rebounds with a force equal to that
with which it expands; for whatever else you may obtain by creating
friction, by boring the breech end of the barrel wider you obtain a
greater expansion, as it no doubt has that tendency. We find it an
invariable fact, that when barrels are very heavy, compared with their
size of bore (if a cylinder), they shoot weak. Also, when barrels are
made of irons of different temperatures, where one is placed to prevent
the expansion or springing nature of the other, they are never found to
shoot well. As a proof of this fact, let any one take the best barrel he
ever shot with, and encase it with lead very tight; fire it at a dozen
sheets of paper, and see if the effect be equal to what it was when the
barrel was unencumbered. On the contrary, it will be found to have shot
very weak, though close. Let him then examine the lead; and, if any
moderate substance, he will find that the explosion has enlarged it
considerably. This experiment I have tried repeatedly, and can vouch for
its truth.

The proof of barrels is another fact corroborating the truth of our
assertion. What else can occasion the bulging, but the expansion? Where
the barrels are possessed of soft and hard portions (which is the result
of different tempers of different metals), one expands further than the
other, and then, of course, the soft part receives no assistance from
the hard, and it does not return to its original state.

Put on a barrel, from the breech end to the muzzle, a number of rings of
lead; be sure you have them tight, and not further apart than three or
four inches; fire that barrel with a usual charge, and if it be a
correct taper for shooting, it will have expanded the whole of the rings
an equal distance.

From the observations already made, the reader will perceive that the
shooting of all barrels depends on a certain degree of friction. The
degree of friction necessary, varies according to the nature and
substance of the metal. Those metals that require least shoot best. The
object of the friction is to create a greater force, by detaining the
charge longer in the barrel. If, then, there should not be an extra
quantity of powder to consume, the friction would be a decided evil.

This may be understood by rifle practice, in which we find that a short
barrel of eighteen inches, with a certain charge, will throw a ball as
straight, and quite as strong, or stronger, than a barrel of three feet,
loaded with a similar charge. I account for this fact thus: the barrel
of eighteen inches will burn all the powder put into it; the long one
can do no more. As soon as the ball has left the short barrel, it meets
with no impediment but the air. By the time the ball in the longer one
has travelled eighteen inches the powder is all consumed; the volume of
air in the remaining eighteen inches acts as a destroyer of the force
given to it, and it naturally drops its ball short of the other.
Increase the charge of powder to as much as the long one can burn, and
then it will throw its shot to nearly twice the distance of the other.

An addition of powder beyond the quantity the barrel can consume is
disadvantageous; the reverse will be found equally so. Thus it is with
fowling-pieces. The quantity of powder that a gun would burn in the
shape of a cylinder, would be too little, when, by altering that shape,
you increase the friction. The quantity must, therefore, be increased,
or this friction will diminish the force of the shot. It is on this that
the mistaken supposition is founded, that short barrels will shoot as
far as long ones. It is true that with a small charge, or very fine
powder, the short barrel will kill at the distance of thirty yards, as
well as the long one; but put in the long one as much powder as it can
consume, then try the two at twice the distance, and you will find out
the mistake under which you have been labouring.

It is on the nature of the metal that the goodness of the shooting
principally depends. That barrel which is possessed of the greatest
degree of elasticity and tenacity, will throw its shot strongest and
closest with the least artificial friction. It is on the knowledge of
the qualities and temperatures of the various irons, and on practice in
the art of shooting, that a man’s ability in making guns shoot with
precision must rest. All plans are merely methods by which an
unscientific maker has most frequently succeeded. It would be no
difficult task to produce a hundred barrels which will shoot nearly
alike; yet every barrel shall be different in its bore.

The length of friction depends entirely on the length of the barrel.
Long barrels require more than short, though the latter require it in a
greater degree. A mode of creating friction, much practised by those who
are ignorant of the true method, is to bore the barrels as rough and as
full of rings as possible. These rings are often taken for flaws; though
that may be ascertained by noticing whether or not they have the same
inclination as the twist, and whether or not they are at the jointing of
a spiral. If they be not, the chance is that the barrel is ring-bored,
as it is termed. This roughness, however, answers the same as friction
by relief; but barrels thus roughened are very liable to lead, and
become foul. While the well-bored barrel will fire forty shots as well
as twenty, these cannot be fired more than twenty times with safety and

Each of the barrels in the table below, if 3-16ths thick at the breech,
is equal to the pressure stated. The resistance of a charge of shot of
one ounce we find to be more than before stated; and the additional
increase of explosive force obtained at the moment of ignition, requires
the amount to be much greater in computation, therefore, we may safely
take a pressure of 1,700 pounds to the inch of tube. The reader will
perceive, on reference to the following table, that with the tube filled
with powder for an inch in length, which is a small charge, the
explosive force will be equal to 40,000 pounds, or nearly 1,700 pounds
to the inch.

                                                Pressure of  Surplus
                                                  charge.    strength.
  Laminated and other steel barrels     lbs.        lbs.       lbs.
  are equal to a pressure of            6,022      1,700      4,329
  Wire twist                            5,019-1/2  1,700      3,319-1/2
  New stub twist mixture                5,555      1,700      3,855
  Old stub twist                        4,818      1,700      3,118
  Charcoal iron                         4,526      1,700      2,826
  Threepenny skelp iron                 3,841      1,700      2,141
  Damascus iron                         3,292      1,700      1,592
  Fancy twisted steel                   3,134      1,700      1,434
  Twopenny skelp iron                   2,840      1,700      1,140

If the charge he increased to one ounce and a half, the length it
occupies, and the lateral pressure by the jamming, will create an
additional pressure in proportion, or near 2,550 pounds, as under:--

                                                Pressure of    Surplus
                                              1-1/2 oz. shot. strength.
  Laminated and other steel barrels     lbs.       lbs.        lbs.
  are equal to a pressure of            6,022      2,550      3,472
  Wire twist barrel                     5,019-1/2  2,550      2,469-1/2
  New stub twist mixture                5,555      2,550      3,005
  Old stub twist                        4,818      2,550      2,268
  Charcoal iron                         4,526      2,550      1,976
  Threepenny skelp iron                 3,841      2,550      1,291
  Damascus iron                         3,292      2,550        742
  Fancy twisted steel                   3,134      2,550        584
  Twopenny skelp iron                   2,840      2,550        290

A charge of shot two ounces weight will be greater in pressure than
barrels of these dimensions are equal to restrain, and, consequently, no
barrels should be charged to this extent at any time; but inferior
barrels, as a matter of certainty, are sure to give way if so loaded.

                                                Pressure of   Surplus.
                                                2 oz. shot.
                                      lbs.         lbs.         lbs.
  Laminated barrels, &c.              6,022        3,400       2,622
  Wire twist barrels                  5,029-1/2    3,400       1,619-1/2
  New stub twist mixture              5,555        3,400       2,155
  Old stub twist                      4,818        3,400       1,418
  Charcoal iron                       4,526        3,400       1,126
  Threepenny skelp iron               3,841        3,400         441
  Damascus iron                       3,292        3,400
  Fancy steel barrels                 3,134        3,400
  Twopenny skelp iron                 2,840        3,400

The foregoing tables show clearly the danger of persevering in using
heavy charges of shot; for it must be borne in mind that accidental
circumstances will increase this pressure, and never can act so as to
lessen it: a foul gun, or a variety of other circumstances, being sure
to increase the danger.

Having fully explained the nature of gunpowder, it remains to say
something about the other portion, namely, the shot. That a barrel
creating explosive force, until the charge is in the act of leaving the
muzzle, will shoot better than another which does not do this, there
cannot exist a doubt; for this is the germ of the science. Also that the
column of air in barrels, where the explosive fluid is sooner expended,
acts upon the wadding, and influences the lateral direction of the shot,
there can also be no doubt; therefore, more attention is requisite to
this point than is generally given. I am quite certain that all
well-constructed barrels, both as regards metal and exterior shape,
shoot best, shoot so longest, and foul or lead less, than barrels having
the aid of friction: soft barrels require it, no doubt, but why make
soft barrels? The others cost but little more, and the superiority
admits of no question. The quantity of shot is a matter of the first
consequence, and I think that I have clearly established the fact, that
the less the weight, in proportion to the force, the greater the speed
or velocity given to that weight; hence it follows that to be beneficial
a certain quantity is suited.

All guns, according to their bore and length, will shoot a certain
weight and a certain size of shot best. A great deal of shot in a small
bore lies too far up the barrel, and creates an unnecessary friction;
and the shot, by the compression at the moment of explosion, becomes all
shapes: a circumstance which materially affects its flight. If of too
great a weight, the powder has not power to drive it with that speed and
force required to be efficacious, because the weight is too great in

Those who reason from mathematical calculation will object to this
doctrine. They will say, the greater the weight the greater the effect.
No doubt it is so, if thrown with a proportionate force; but that cannot
be obtained with a small gun. We must adapt the weight of projectile
force to the power we are in possession of; and from many experiments, I
am inclined to think, that a fourteen gauge, two feet eight inches
barrel, should never be loaded with above one ounce and a quarter of
shot (No. 6 will suit best), and the utmost powder she will burn. A
fifteen gauge will not require more than one ounce; and no doubt No. 7
would be thrown by her quite as strong as No. 6 by the fourteen gauge
gun, and do as much execution at forty yards with less recoil. Setting
aside all other reasons, I should, on this account, prefer the fifteen
gauge-gun, if both be of a length; as I find as much execution can be
done at the same distance with one as with the other. To render a
fourteen gauge barrel superior, Colonel Hawker is right in stating, that
it should never be under thirty-four inches; which description of barrel
I very much approve. He also says, “You cannot have closeness and
strength in shooting combined, beyond a certain degree:” an observation,
in the truth of which I fully concur; it being found that where there is
a greater degree of either strength or closeness, the other requisite is
always wanting. Neither would it be advisable, as the sportsman will
find a medium decidedly the best: a medium that will give the shots
fairly spread over a space of thirty inches diameter, at forty yards;
and so regularly, that a space, which would allow a bird to escape,
shall not occur above twice out of five shots, and each shot to
penetrate through thirty sheets of paper. It will be found, that a gun
doing this regularly, is far superior to one throwing twice as close and
not one-half through the paper; as the latter will require four or five
pellets to kill a bird, when two of the other would be quite as
efficacious, on account of penetrating twice as far.

In favour of small shot, Mr. Daniel’s observations are so pertinent,
that I cannot do better than quote him. He says, “The velocity of a
charge of No. 7 being equal (we will say nearly) to one of No. 3 at
that distance (35 yards), and since small shot fly thicker than large in
proportion to its size; and as there are many parts about the body of a
bird, wherein a pellet of No. 7 will affect its vitality equal to a
pellet of No. 2, the chances by using the former are multiplied in the
workman’s favour; for it is the number and not the magnitude of the
particles that kills on the spot. They who prefer large shot, and
accustom themselves to fire at great distances, leave nearly as many
languishing in the field as immediately die. Whereas, those that use
small shot, and shoot fair, fill their bag with little spoil or waste
beyond what they take with them from the field.” To an old gamekeeper of
his (he tells us) he has often put the question, “Why he was so partial
to small shot,” and his reply was, “Sir, they go between the feathers
like pins and needles; whilst the large shot you use, as often glance
off as penetrate them.” No doubt, here Mr. Daniel is as correct as may
be. Mr. Blaine says, query? But he ought to be aware, as I suppose he
is, though allowing himself to lose sight of principles, that small shot
can be, and are, propelled from the barrel with an equal velocity with
the larger; it is only in the length of range that the greater triumphs;
but if we take thirty or thirty-five yards’ distance as an average, the
latter will not “_lead_” in the race. Therefore, the advocates of small
shot have unquestionably the better of the argument at this distance; at
greater, I will not dispute it, though I have picked up No. 5 shot 300
yards from the spot fired from; larger, No. 3, rarely reaches 400 yards.

Hard shot is not so liable to be mis-shaped, nor does it lose its
velocity by contact, as easily as soft.

Under the head mixed shot, Blaine observes, “We do not believe any law
in projectiles can be brought forward to prove its impropriety. The mass
of shot is propelled by the expansive power of the powder; it is ejected
in a mass; and when it separates, each shot carries with it its own
share of ejective force, with very little interference with any other,
it being evident that the projectile force acting on each shot is in the
proportion of its area of dimensions,” &c.

Here is a great mistake. The law of projectiles is not wanted to prove
its fallacy; the laws of motion will do that. If you take any number of
equal or dissimilar sizes of shot, and place it as a charge is placed in
a gun barrel, occupying 3/4 of an inch of tube, there is, of course, a
wadding between powder and shot; this wadding is, or ought to be, a
piston; velocity is communicated to this piston by the explosion; it
does so to the shot immediately above it, that to the layers above, and
so on until the whole mass is in motion. The velocity behind the piston
is increasing to a certain point, where it ceases; then it is that the
layer farthest from the piston, having received its maximum from the
layers below, travels quicker than its assistants; who, having parted
with their force, fall behind in proportion: so does each layer, even
until the last one which received it from the piston, having
communicated so much to his friends before him, is left without himself.
It is an undisputed law in motion that one body may convey to another,
by contact, nearly its own velocity, but in so doing, is sure to come to
rest immediately. Strike one billiard ball against another, if the blow
is centrical, the ball struck receives the motion, the other comes to
rest; and so is it with shot: it is only the layers next the muzzle
which strikes the target, the remainder fall without travelling the same
distance. I have fired three balls from a rifle, and having marked them
I found the uppermost projected farthest, and the others in proportion.
This is easily proved.

Thus, it is quite clear that in all charges of mixed shot, the larger
will extract the velocity from the smaller, and consequently become
useless for the purpose intended: this fact is unquestionable.

In speaking of the longest duck or swivel guns, I may instance Colonel
Hawker’s account of the performance of such fowling artillery. It
appears evident that they do not effect anything like the execution
which might be expected from their immense size and capability. The
reason of this is obvious. From the great space of the interior, in
order to receive that equal pressure on the inch which a common
fowling-piece receives, they should be charged in proportion to the
increased size; but then, I scarcely need add, they would become
ungovernable. In addition to this objection, they could not be forged of
malleable iron, so as to be safe; on account of the impossibility of
forging a barrel of that weight by hand hammers, and the little
probability of hammers ever being invented to work by steam to do it
sufficiently quick. The greater the weight of the barrel its strength is
gradually decreased, owing to the impossibility of sufficiently beating
it throughout the whole body.

It must be well known to any one versed in mechanics, that an
anchor-shank weighing some hundredweights is more easily broken than
iron one-twentieth part of the weight, which has had the advantage of
being forged by hammers where the blows were felt through the whole
mass. This cannot be the case in forging large barrels, as the workmen
cannot use hammers heavy enough; consequently the barrel is turned out
of hand with the pores more open than a piece of cast iron. They have
tried this with large guns for the artillery, and it has repeatedly
failed, entirely from the want of sufficient power to compress the iron.

All guns, therefore, of an unusual size, are not of strength in
proportion to a small gun; hence the reason they cannot with safety be
charged up to the corresponding scale. Neither are they of the length
they should be, if the bore is to be the criterion. It must be
remembered that to be charged in proportion, the pressure on the inch
should be as many times the pressure on the inch of the small gun, as
the one is the number of times larger than the other. If we come exactly
to the real state of the case, we doubt much (when taking into
consideration the difference of surface) that the pressure on the inch
in the large gun is equal even to that on a small gun. The comparison
might be carried up to the largest artillery, and I doubt whether it
would come up to this scale; as it is well known that the heaviest guns
will not throw their projectile as far in proportion as the small gun,
because you dare not generate the force required to do it. The same
principle is applicable to artillery as to fowling-pieces.

From the above data, I would say, never make duck-guns above
seven-eighths in the bore, if you wish them to kill at a great distance;
and not less than fifteen or sixteen pounds weight, and full four feet
long; because then you can generate strength sufficient. Therefore,
instead of the large stanchion-guns being one hundred pounds weight,
they should, strictly speaking, be two hundred, and so on. In proof of
this I may just mention that, upon repeated experiments, I have
ascertained that a double stanchion-gun, with each barrel of the same
bore, weight, and length, as a single gun, will kill further than the
latter; simply owing to the advantage of the greater weight of the
double gun. I have made observations, when trying moderate-sized and
shoulder duck-guns on that fine level piece of sand before spoken of,
and by tracing the grazing of the shots I have been enabled to pick them
up. The large shot from the duck-gun, mostly No. 2, I found scarcely 400
yards from the spot where she was fired; the small shot, five and six,
from a fourteen bore, were repeatedly picked up at 350 yards: thus
showing that the large gun had not much advantage; but yet making
probable many assertions made of killing at seventy, eighty, and
sometimes a hundred yards, with a common-sized gun. By this it appears
possible; for shot that will fly that distance must kill, if it hit
during its flight through the first quarter of such a range; but then,
at a single bird, above fifty-five or sixty yards, it is always twenty
to one against hitting the object at all; as the pellets begin to
separate rapidly at that distance, though their force is still
sufficient, and in large flocks is apt to do execution.

The invention of the patent wire cartridge is rather the production of a
scientific mind than the production of chance; though the invention of
General Shrapnell contains the principle, and the perfection attained is
but the extension of that principle: namely, the means of projecting a
number of bodies of a similarity in size without subjecting them to an
extreme jamming by the lateral expansion, and thus allowing each to
travel his allotted distance without any of his companions robbing him
of his speed by impact. The great peculiarity of the wire cartridge is,
that being less than the bore, and having no bottom wadding, the
explosive fluid acts all around, between the sides of the barrel and the
net, by what may not inaptly be termed the windage, and the shot are
thus expelled by a cushion-like force, which does not jam or compress
them in the way it is liable to by a wadding forcing it outwards. Here
the net is of use to keep the whole in a mass; but you must not suppose
the same would be obtained by a charge of shot, without a wadding
below. The net opens, after leaving the muzzle of the gun. The
introduction of bone-dust is intended for, and answers the purpose of
preventing the grains of shot being mis-shaped by the compression:
during their passage up the barrel they form with the bone-dust a
comparatively solid body, and keep the pellets from impact, thus
allowing them to go forth into the atmosphere beautifully round and
uninjured; and, as such, more likely to travel farther and stronger. The
latter arrangement possesses all the science, as the net can be
dispensed with; for it aids the combination but slightly, and in no case
more than a moderate quantity of good paper would do.

The science of this mechanical construction of projectiles is perfectly
in keeping with all the established laws of motion, and more
particularly good in thus avoiding the necessity of lateral pressure on
the sides of the tube of the gun, the upper end having the means of
better resisting the column of air in their progress outwards; for there
can be no question but this controls and induces the divergence of the
shot in leaving the muzzle. One of the old arrangements, often laughed
at, I mean the bell muzzle in old guns, intimates that our ancestors
possessed some smattering of science; as the relief in the muzzle of a
gun has a tendency, by allowing a gradual expansion laterally, to keep
the charge of shot better together: for it is quite apparent that any
body severely compressed for a certain distance, expands in proportion
when free of that restraint; and the consequence is a tendency to fly
off at a tangent, as the friction of a crooked barrel induces a ball to
fly in a curve contrary to the bend of the barrel.

The extreme relief we find in some old barrels is certainly not
required; but still it clearly shows that the principle was understood
and acted upon: the very extreme has been produced by ignorance, as
certainly as the suggestion was a proof of knowledge on the part of the
suggestor; for many think, if a small dose is good for a patient, a
large one must be equally so. Like ourselves of the present day, having
discovered that fine gunpowder was advantageous, we have carried the
principle so far as undoubtedly to overstep the line to which it was
beneficial we should advance; thus clearly establishing the truth of the
old adage, “One extreme begets another.”

Therefore, in advocating the adoption of gun-barrels of the very essence
of iron, I also say, let that part of the tube whose duty is the
generating of force be nearly cylindrical, and let there be a gradual
expansion of the bore for a few inches in approaching the muzzle, that
the restraint of the lateral pressure may not be too rapidly loosened.
But yet let that expansion be so graduated that there shall not be an
extreme either way--only a scarcely perceptible relief; yet such as will
influence and prevent the divergence of the projectiles to a
considerable extent.

Blaine says--“A very long barrel is liable to have the force of its
discharge lessened by the increase of counter pressure in the greater
volume of internal air in a long than in a short barrel.” The column of
air in the barrel is unquestionably calculated to lessen the force of
the discharge. But I have already shown that this is completely
controlled by the system of granulation. Further, he says--“Its force
must also suffer by the loss which the elasticity of the propelling gas
experiences in its lengthened transit through an extended range of
barrel.” He is here supposing an instantaneous generation of force,
which cannot possibly happen; and if it did, would be comparatively
useless. But he is evidently on the right scent, if he could only follow
it up. Again,--“In such cases, it is probable, that the shot, which
should leave the mouth of the piece at the instant when the propelling
force has gained its maximum, in a long barrel are detained beyond that
particular limit of capacity we have pointed out as inherent in each
barrel; and which properties, and which quantities of charge, nothing
but repeated and varied trials can teach the owner of the gun.”

This is an excellent illustration of the “theory” of the resistance of
the column of air in long barrels with very fine quickly-burnt powder;
and could he have pointed out the cause, the explanation would have been
perfect; as it must be quite apparent to the reader that it is not the
length of barrel which is in fault, but a want of a continuous producing
force in the powder; for when all the charge is exploded, the maximum
has been obtained. This clearly proves that the charge was too small to
keep up that maximum, or that the grain of the powder was too fine, and
thus too quickly expended. There is no discrepancy between the fact of
long barrels being preferable half a century ago, and short ones now;
for it is in the improvement of gunpowder burning in half the time now
that it did then, and leaves the question of length of barrel precisely
where it has ever been. You may have any length you like in moderation,
if you suit the grain of powder to it.

I am quite satisfied to steer between extremes; avoiding alike too small
a charge of projectiles and too wide a calibre with too heavy a charge
of the former, and preferring a size of bore that gives, under all
circumstances, the greatest range with the least amount of explosive
material; which neither requires that to be too fine a grain, nor too
coarse: namely, a bore of fifteen and two feet six inches long. Under
all the above circumstances combined, this size will long hold a
position in the front rank of sporting guns.

The Belgians have long been, and still are, our principal competitors in
supplying those parts of the world which do not rank gun manufacturing
among their staple trade. The cost of labour being small, they have
great facilities for producing cheap material; and the extent to which
they tempt the eye of those inexperienced in gunnery is quite obvious to
the world; but excepting the cheapness of the lower grade of guns, the
Belgian products are not at all to be placed on an equality with the
well made English manufacture.

In consequence of the relaxation of our custom laws, foreign gunnery is
now admitted at ten per cent. duty; and as soon as this change was
made, the Belgians sent large quantities of their guns and pistols to
London; whence they found their way through different parts of the
country. Regular establishments were opened for the sale of their very
highly ornamented barrels: ten different varieties were produced, even
to the imitation of laminated steel.

These barrels were at first sent in the bored and ground state, in large
quantities; their apparent low price and great beauty quite captivated
some of the “Brums,” so that for a period they were all the rage; and
the Belgians began to boast of the extensive trade they were doing. But
nothing in this world runs smooth. “The best laid schemes of mice and
men oft gang agee;” and so it was with the Belgian importations. Our
proof was not exactly to their liking, or perhaps the iron was not equal
to the proof; losses and discoveries began to accumulate: “Too soft, by
far,” says one; “They are all plated,” says another; “Filed it through,
by jingo!” exclaimed a third; “Common iron, by all that’s wonderful!”
protested a fourth; “Oh, twisted iron, under such inimitable Damascus!”
growled a fifth: in short, steel over iron turned out to be the secret
of the whole business.

It is very probable that such facts as these soon established the
inferiority of “the beautiful Damascus and arabesque” of the Belgian
manufacturers; and they have, I trust, disappeared for ever from the
English market: at least, they are not held in estimation by those
qualified to judge.

Their advocates have for years adduced the fact, that the Belgian laws
required guns to be twice proved; and our old laws not requiring this,
they had certainly a tangible argument; but our improved proof laws have
now removed that anomaly, and certainly our proof is now much superior,
even to that of the Belgians: so much so, indeed, that I have now before
me a letter from a Belgian barrel maker, who, in reply to the inquiry
why he did not send any more barrels, says very truly, “your English
proof is too severe.”

A very carefully conducted experiment on at least twenty best Belgian
barrels, satisfied me of the indisputable fact, that at least nineteen
out of the twenty were plated, and principally on twisted iron of the
softest description; as was shown by eating it entirely away, by a
lengthened immersion in a solution of the sulphate of copper. This may
be done in the course of a few hours, leaving the Damascus, and the
arabesque plating comparatively untouched. The production of that
extremely beautiful figure has to be effected by using metals of
considerable dissimilarity in their state of carbonization; the iron
evidently being entirely decarbonized before mixing with the steel, and
the steel even appearing extremely soft; although, no doubt, much of
this would be effected during the heating of the barrels to solder with
brass: and it is well known this cannot be done, except by heating them
to nearly a white heat.

As this is the universal practice with all barrels which the Belgians
finish, a good shooting gun is, by all fixed laws of science, a
scarcity with them. But a point of still greater importance arises from
this injurious proceeding. In the act of heating two tubes like gun
barrels, it is an impossibility to heat them equally, so that neither
shall be at a higher temperature than the other; and again in lifting
them from the furnace, and in cooling, all are subject to bend by
expansion and contraction alone; the result is that perfectly straight
Belgian hard soldered barrels are utterly unattainable. To an
unpractised eye the bending in and out appears trifling, but
professionally, it is a very serious defect indeed; and on that score
alone, the Belgian can never compete in quality with our own
manufacture. Time, however, will no doubt remedy this; already they are
great imitators, and they will, no doubt, become greater. They are
competitors whom respectable manufacturers need not fear; and though
they eschew the imitation of our higher quality, they imitate, even to
the name, the “marks” of our leading makers. I still would welcome and
fraternize with them, as highly skilled workers in elaborate mixtures of
metals suitable for ornamental gun-barrels.

The French gunmakers have not yet realized the true value of the
shooting of their fowling-pieces. This arises, in a great measure, no
doubt, from the want of a proper field for improvement. Necessity has
always been an important improver, and wild game creating the necessity
for good guns in England, a different direction has been given to the
manufacturer, owing to the continual cry for long killing guns; and not
a doubt can exist that English guns are better constructed for that
purpose, than those of any other country. Attention to the shooting has
always been the first study of every English gunmaker, and great
progress has been made during the last twenty years; indeed, a
comparison between the largest “target” of to-day, and the best that
Colonel Hawker ever made with his crack Joe Manton, will show a
progressive improvement of nearly 100 per cent., not only in closeness
of shooting, but also in penetration. All this may not be due entirely
to the gun, but in part to the gunpowder; and to the sensible course we
now pursue of using less weight of shot, avoiding artificial friction in
the barrels, instead of increasing it to retard the shot with the view
of increasing its power: also by having the expellant agent accelerative
to the greatest extent, closeness and strength of shooting are obtained,
with the least amount of recoil possible.

Our French competitors have paid much more attention to the artistic
decoration of their guns than to their usefulness; and the universal
result of this sort of proceeding, ever since the invention of gunnery,
has been a total neglect of their power of extreme projection. The
metal, like other portions of their work is, in all cases, manipulated
with a view to beauty only; as the fact of their veneering, or plating,
their barrels proves.

If at all masters of the science, they must be aware that this weakens
the shooting of the barrels, and is an injurious practice. But the
greater fact remains, that they continue to fix all their barrels
together, by brasing them with brass from end to end, as they do in
Belgium; thus lessening the strength of the barrels in point of safety,
and nearly destroying any smart shooting power they might have

The French appear to me to have only reached that stage of progress
which we attained forty years ago, when every intelligent mechanic was
seeking after that “useless thing,” even when attained, “a perfect
safety gun;” which, from its complex character, might have been
designated “the dangerous gun;” indeed, experience taught (though not
without great cost) that few would use it when attained, and the
consequence was that it fell into disuse. Our Continental neighbours,
however, are mining it with great energy. A little more of our
experience, and they, also, will see the folly of the attempt. All the
facts go clearly to establish the truth of the assertion, that for all
useful purposes they are half a century behind us in the essential part
of gun manufacturing. The anxiety shown by all leading Continental
sportsmen to obtain a first-class English gun, and more especially of
laminated steel, is very strong evidence in support of this assertion.
All the guns I exhibited in Paris in 1855 were eagerly bought up at high
figures; and I have since executed many orders for France, Austria,
Prussia, Sardinia, and Russia, as well as for other northern states.

The display of artistically constructed guns by the French makers in
their Great Exposition of 1855, was very great, and by certain classes
of sportsmen would be considered superb. My notes, made at the time of
inspection, will show better than a description can do, in what state of
transition their manufacture is, and how they vacillate between their
old and our present style:--

Parisian gunmakers presented 36; Rheims, 1; St. Etienne, 14.

Leopold Bernard, barrel-maker.--Very good work; barrels made of two
spirals, inner and outer, with the twist running the reverse way; fine
figure; mixture of steel and iron.

Monsieur Gauvain.--Very good sound work; all highly artistic; the cock
formed so as to resemble a tree with a snake coiled round it, the head
of the snake striking on the nipple. Several other guns of the latest
English patterns.

Monsieur Beringer.--Guns ornamented arabesque; a medium show of work;
principally breech-loaders.

Monsieur Caron.--Showy, ornamental, very middling.

Lepage and Moutier.--Work good, ornamented, principally arabesque. Game
and English scroll pattern, engraving, cocks, &c., but inferior to the
English patterns of Gauvain.

Houllier Blanchard.--Good work; designs English; a very novel pattern of
figure in the barrels.

Monsieur Le Perrin.--All his guns artistic; raised, embossed, artistic,
ornamental, heavy cocks to imitate my shape; one good English pattern
soft gun.

Monsieur Lainê.--Good sound work; English pattern of twenty years ago.

Monsieur Andrê.--Good work; ornaments embossed; “Devisme” inlaying;
carving and embossing unequalled; several English pattern guns, but of
the standard twenty years ago.

“Thomas.”--Guns well inlaid; work medium.

Albert Benard, barrel-maker.--Iron very good, but all lined; bar
apparently reduced from a mass two inches square, which tenuates the
figure extremely, as the bars are only 1/4 inch thick.

Gastienne Renette.--All highly artistically ornamented; work good,
carving very elaborate. A novel mode of breech-loading: a piece on hinge
turns out, a cartridge, slides in return to its place, and a quoin like
a wedge forces it up into a chamber; the wedge and head receiving all
the force of the recoil.

Lenoir, barrel-maker.--Iron very good; thirty rods in a faggot 5 + 6,
and welded and drawn down into 3/8 of an inch square: an enormous
elongation of the fibres.

Doye.--Good English pattern-work--nothing else.

Fontereau.--Work, all English pattern; very good.

M. Brunn, successor to Armand and Bourbon.--Highly embossed work: a
novel breech-loader; artistic design for cock; female figures with
fishes’ tails in scroll on to the tumbler.

Guerin.--A novel safety guard; locks while on the nipple at half cock,
and full cock; swivel double like a split ring.

May.--A novel safety guard, very likely to break the finger: sure to do
it if on an English gun. Breech-loader: central fire, the same as now
made by Lancaster.

Loger, barrel-maker.--Bars faggoted 6 + 2, and so formed to imitate
laminated steel.

Dufour.--All breech-loading guns; but all work of the first class.

Juelle Magana, barrel-maker, St. Etienne.--Barrels well fitted and
figure varying, but not possessing the regularity observed in the
Belgian barrels.

Chapellon.--Coutereau.--Exhibit some barrels filled, with a charge of 12
inches of powder, 6-1/2 inches of shot, and warrant them not to burst on
firing that charge.

Delabourse, Paris.--Good work “à la Purdey.”

Lefaucheaux, Paris, prize medalist, 1851.--Good embossed work;
breech-loaders; also very good imitation of English work.

Such is a fair sample of the whole. But the best work by far is that by
Gauvain, though not so highly estimated by the jury; but that is in many
cases no test of ability whatever--as much depends upon the influence
and standing of the individual.

Great exhibitions are calculated to effect great good if properly
carried out. In that of the English exhibitors at Paris nothing could be
more reprehensible, for the jurors left them to the tender mercies of
their foreign competitors. In the case of the gun-makers, nothing could
be worse, for the two jurymen appointed by the English Government never,
I believe, saw a gun, home-made or foreign; and the fact of my obtaining
two first-class medals speaks much for the impartiality of our
Continental brethren.


Recoil varies according to the position of the gun; when fired on the
horizontal, the resistance to be overcome is the tendency of the
projectile to fall to the earth, and its friction as it moves in a line
parallel to the earth. When the muzzle is elevated this resistance is
increased, because the force generated by the explosion of the gunpowder
has to exert its action more directly in opposition to the direction of
the force of gravity; and when this force is exerted in a line directly
opposed to the centre of gravity, as it is when the gun is fired
vertically, then the recoil is doubled, and is made more painful,
because the body resting on the earth cannot yield.

A gun fired in the direction of the earth, or in the line of the centre
of gravity, would recoil much less (perhaps fifty per cent. less) than
when fired vertically; from the very obvious fact, that if the bullet
was not kept in position by its friction on the sides of the barrel, it
would fall to the ground of itself.

“The recoil of a gun is inseparable from a discharge of its contents--on
the broad principle that action begets reaction; it is, therefore, only
when the ‘kick,’ as it is called, becomes painful, that it is essential
to avoid or lessen it. Irregularity in the bore of the barrel is a very
common source of violent recoil; _contracted breeches_ also, but more
than all, the contraction of the barrel at its centre, occasion recoil,
and that of the most dangerous kind: the expanding flame, during its
ignition, presses violently to make its way through the contracted to
the wider part, thus also destroying the expelling force. ‘Now, action
and reaction being equal, it follows, that the weight of the piece being
the same, the recoil will be in proportion to the quantity of the
powder, and the weight of the ball, or shot; and that with the same
charge the recoil will be in proportion to the weight of the piece, or
the lighter the piece the greater the recoil.’”--_Essay on Shooting._

Here is a true exposition of recoil, though not of contractions in the
breech; for there the action would not be directly back, but have an
inclination towards the muzzle; for the reaction would not have time to
tell on the breech, before the charge was out of the muzzle. An
extremely spiralled rifle barrel destroys the explosive force of
gunpowder, but the effects are not felt in the recoil, being most all
expended laterally. Blaine says, “Could we entirely obviate all recoil
from a gun, we should not only remove an unpleasant shock to our
persons, but there is reason to believe we should much assist the range
and force of the shot likewise; although there is an opinion prevalent,
that the degree of the recoil is in the proportion of the projectile
force.” Of this, however, some doubts are entertained, which are
warranted by the following fact:--“Mortars with iron beds immoveably
fixed in the earth throw their shot to greater distances than guns which
are affixed to carriages can do, and which, therefore, can recoil. This
has been incontestibly proved, both in large and small artillery.
Having suspended a gun barrel, charged with a determinate quantity of
shot, from the ceiling by two cords, so as to allow of its recoil, fire
it point blank at a target, and mark the result accurately. Now, fix the
same barrel to a block, and charge it exactly with a similar charge;
then having moved the target fifteen yards further, fire the barrel; it
is probable that the last shot, though at this increased distance, will
exceed the former, both in range and force.’ These and such like
experiments are laughed at by the giddy and inconsiderate; but it is by
these illustrations that the most important facts are brought to light.

“Projectile force is, therefore, to be increased by resistance; and the
knowledge of this fact offers us a practical hint, that when we stand
immoveable to our shot, not only by holding the gun tightly to our
shoulder, but by also _leaning somewhat forward_ in our shooting
attitude, we considerably increase the resistance, and, consequently, we
not only lessen the shock of the recoil to ourselves, but we aid the
force of the shot and extend its range. That such is the case, may be
further exemplified by the following experiment:--Throw a hand-ball
against any moveable body, and it will displace that body; but the ball
will drop to the ground perpendicularly, however hard the body against
which it is thrown may be. Fix the same body securely, and then the
rebound of the ball will be nearly equal to the force with which it was

The weight or amount of force with which a gun recoils against the
shoulder, is due to, and regulated by, several circumstances. The first
and most important is the amount of explosive force generated before the
charge is moved and during the act of moving, and the amount of inertia
in the body of the projectile. When a quantity of gunpowder is exploded
without any resisting weight in front of it, then the column of air
gives comparatively a slight recoil; though there is, in fact,
considerable recoil, but such as is due to the resistance of the air
only, and, consequently, more like a push than a blow. The exact amount
of recoil is also due to the difference between, or proportionate
weights of, the charge of shot or bullet and the gun; action and
reaction being always equal until one or the other body moves; the
division then will be in favour of that moving fastest, and hence the
obtaining of accelerative velocity: it thus follows, as a truism, that
the smaller the quantity of exploded gases that can be employed to first
move the charge, the less the recoil.

The advantage of the granulation system is here again most clearly
shown; and (alluding again to the law of putting matter in motion
gradually) if you would gain the greatest benefit, it is clear that, in
the same length of tube, you would, at the termination of the
accelerative power, have gained a much greater amount of velocity than
could be obtained under any other circumstances with the more violently
explosive gunpowder.

Many theories have been advanced, and many conjectures made as to the
cause of the recoil of guns; and it must be evident that the causes vary
with the form of gun, with the nature of the gunpowder, and the weight;
or peculiar arrangement of the shot or bullet. For instance, an ounce of
shot, and an ounce of lead in the form of a round bullet, fired from the
same gun would give two very different amounts of recoil, when measured
by the spring cushion; the ounce bullet not giving much more than half
the recoil produced by the ounce of shot. This is owing to the simple
fact that the bullet being a compact body, offers only the resistance of
its weight, and the simple friction of sliding or rolling along the
barrel according as it is tight or loose; but the tendency of the
hundreds of shot corns is to “jam and wedge” in the most extreme manner,
offering, by their lateral pressure against the sides of the barrel, the
greatest amount of friction and reluctance to be driven out: hence the
reaction on the gun, and thence on the shoulder of the shooter; and the
smaller the size of shot the greater the jamming. Again, the same weight
of shot, fired from a 16-bore and a 12-bore will recoil much more in the
smaller than in the larger bore, even when all other points are equal;
because the charge reaches higher in the 16-bore, thus offering at first
a greater amount of inertia. Secondly, there is also more tendency to
jam; and, thirdly, the extension of the surface of lateral pressure on
the tubes of the barrel must also add to recoil. Dirty guns, it is well
known, kick violently, simply from the greater friction, or difficulty
of the matter of the charge being put in motion.

The question as to what the actual amount of recoil really is has never
been settled satisfactorily; the most erroneous opinions have been
given, and assertions equally erroneous have been made, by those who
have attended to the subject. To clearly elucidate this question, it is
absolutely necessary that the circumstances be reduced to one standard:
but the difficulty is to obtain that; for it would vary according to
muscular development, the weight and height of the sportsman. Indeed any
principle laid down would be liable to be disputed, from the very
different way in which every sportsman lifts his gun to his shoulder: if
one presses it against his shoulder with a pressure equal to 5 lbs., he
will receive a certain amount of recoil; he that presses it with a force
equal to 10 lbs. will receive less; and with a pressure of 30 lbs. it
will be found to yield the least of all. I will illustrate it in this
way. Take a spring cushion (something like the spring machine found at
all fairs for testing the force of a man pressing against it), if you
allow a gun to recoil against this when the starting pressure is only 5
lbs., it will drive it up to 70 lbs., or nearly so, from the velocity
with which you have put the 7 lbs. of matter which is contained in the
gun into a long sweeping blow. The next time you try, put the starting
point at 10 lbs., and you will find a much less result in the extreme
weight denoted; but carry on this experiment, placing the cushion with a
resisting force of 30 lbs., and you will find the extreme recoil
indicated at from 40 lbs. to 45 lbs., and even up to a higher starting
resistance. But to this extent it is not advisable to go, for the strain
becomes too great on the handle of the gun-stock, and there is too near
an apparent approach to a solid resistance, which it is well-known would
break the best stock that was ever made.

Having shown how we may approximately obtain the exact amount of force,
and how it may, even with two persons, give different results, I will
now state what I have found to be the result of many hundreds of trials
made with the view of deciding this question. Before doing so, however,
I will further premise that hundreds of attempts have been made at
various times by different Governments, and by many talented men, to
obtain a correct recoil machine which shall efficiently measure the
recoil, and in such a perfect line with the intended direction of the
projectile as to obtain accurate results: but this is found to be
perfectly unattainable, though I believe the nearest approach to it has
been made by Mr. Whitworth during his experiments with the hexagonal

To prove that it is impossible to get all the circumstances alike, so as
accurately to ascertain the exact force of the recoil, one instance only
need be cited. Fire your gun at a fixed object, then fire at an object
in motion, and to your senses the recoil will appear double when fired
at the fixed object; but it is not really so: in the latter instance,
the body of the person firing the gun, and the gun itself being in
motion, a considerable amount of the force of the recoil is absorbed in
overcoming the motion of the gun, and then that of the shooters body, so
that the effect is not noticed. I have already alluded to the greater
force of recoil felt from the lighter pressure of the gun against the
shoulder; here the tendency of the gun and body moving in one direction
is to close them together, and the proportion will be as the velocity of
that movement. Therefore, to bring this to a conclusion, I find that
under ordinary circumstances a 12-bore gun of 7-1/2 lbs. weight, 30
inches in length, with a charge of 2-1/2 drams of No. 5 grained
gunpowder, and 1-1/4 oz. shot, the barrels draw-bored cylindrically,
with the least possible easing at the breech ends, and metal of the best
laminated steel, will recoil with a force of from 40 lbs. to 48 lbs., or
on an average 44 lbs.: this is the most satisfactory conclusion I have
been able to draw from my experiments. This of course will vary, as I
have shown; and it is also liable to deviations, according to the state
of the atmosphere, and other collateral circumstances. Great variations
will of course arise from guns of fine or rough insides; guns new or
old, well kept or neglected; and in guns bored larger at the
breech-ends, in order to give artificial resistance to the escape of the
charge. These last are now, I trust, obsolete, except in that abortion
of science the “French breech-loading crutch gun;” and as an exception,
all ill-constructed guns.

The science of the question may now be regarded as clearly established.
Gun-barrels of the utmost tenacity, with insides of a cylindrical form
as true as possible, polished as fine as a mirror, with a moderate
weight of shot calculated to suit the gun and a good charge of large
granulated gunpowder, will give the greatest killing power, with the
greatest amount of comfort, or absence of recoil, that is to be found in
the pursuit of shooting.

A point of considerable importance in obtaining regular and good
shooting--one, however, which is frequently neglected--is that of
ascertaining what sized shot is particularly suited to the size of bore

The correct adaptation of No. 5 or No. 6 for your particular gun is
easily attained. Place in the muzzle an ordinary wadding, press it into
the barrel the depth of the diameter of the shot, which should be
exactly flush with the muzzle, place as many shot corns on this as you
can, without having more than one distinct layer, and observe the size
that best fills, in concentric rings, the whole circumference of the
bore, leaving no half-spaces unfilled; note whether it be No. 5 or No. 6
shot, and keep to that size for your general shooting. Again, on other
occasions you may wish to use larger shot (Nos. 4, 3, or 2); then
ascertain by the same method which fills the concentric rings most
perfectly: the same should be done with the smaller sizes, Nos. 8 or 9.

The rationale of this proceeding is that any half-spaces are filled by
shot from above pressed in upon the lower layer, disfiguring itself and
those it comes into contact with; this is multiplied up to the 13 or 14
layers of which the charge is composed, and the inevitable result is
that four or five pellets are pressed together until they adhere; either
“balling” or leaving empty spaces in the distribution of the charge, to
the injury of the gun’s shooting--a defect which may easily be obviated
by attending to the instructions given above. One other point may be
observed, viz., that if 1-1/4 give 15-1/2 layers of shot in concentric
rings, the charge should be reduced until the rings are complete, for
the half-layer will do much mischief by its unequal pressure on the
layers beneath it. And it is further necessary to observe that in
loading a gun, either with powder or with shot, the gun should be kept
as nearly in the upright position as possible: the more upright the gun
is held, the more perfectly will it be charged, and the more perfect
will be its shooting.

A vast number of useless changes have of late years been introduced into
the construction of gunnery; they have died, however, a natural death,
as they ought to have done, and have thus afforded additional evidence
that sportsmen of the present day only adopt what are really
improvements. Great professional reputation in a gunmaker is not now, as
formerly, all that is required to command a trial of individual plans of
improvement: the improvement must be self-evident; nothing being taken
on trust: a _bonâ fide_ benefit to the sportsman is essential in the
present day to obtain patronage.

There has lately been introduced a very novel improvement in the
construction of double gun barrels, in order to overcome that defect
long admitted to exist in firing the second shot. It has long been
known that in a 40 yards’ flight, shot falls several inches; and it is
an established fact that few sportsmen can kill with the second shot so
well as with the first, although it is certainly within range of the
gun. This no doubt arises in almost every case, from the shot having
fallen below the object in traversing the greater distance; or, in other
words, the second barrel, in order to kill as well as the first, ought
be fired six inches higher; but this the best shots find it difficult to
do, and it has therefore been proposed to do it for them.

Mr. F. W. Prince, of No. 138, Bond-street, has patented an improvement
to obviate this difficulty; this he does by elevating or pointing upward
the second barrel, so as to cover the calculated fall in the body of the
shot; and the result is, that the second bird is as well aimed at and as
efficiently killed as the first. The alteration is so exceedingly
simple, and the benefit resulting from it so apparent, that the only
wonder is that it should never have been done before; and it being the
improvement of a really practical sportsman of the very first class, as
Mr. Prince has long been known to be, is sufficient to stamp his
invention as worthy of every consideration.



Sporting in France has never been brought to the same state of
perfection as in this country. Grouse-shooting on our wild romantic
hills is a very different sport from quail, partridge, or rabbit
shooting in the vales and on the hills of the Continent. Wild game
requires great energy and perseverance on the part of the sportsman,
courage and strength on the part of the dog, and last, though not least,
great capacity on the part of the gun. For many years the superiority of
the English manufactured gun, as well as of the English gunpowder, and
the matchless skill of the English sportsman, have been acknowledged by
all the world. All things, however, have their limits--the longest lane
has a turning, and a very plausible and insidious innovation has been
made to detract from the acquired reputation of the English sportsman,
and render his shooting inferior to that of some of our friends on the
other side of the Channel.

The French system of breech-loading fire-arms is a specious pretence,
the supposed advantages of which have been loudly boasted of; but none
of these advantages have as yet been established by its most strenuous
advocates. How it is that the British sportsman has become the dupe of
certain men who set themselves up for reputable gunmakers I know not. It
is certain, however, that by these acts they have forfeited all claim to
the confidence of their too confiding customers, and that they never
could have tested the shooting properties of their guns. With regard to
the safety of these guns, they display an utter want of the most
ordinary judgment; and this is abundant proof that they considered
neither their safety, nor (what is also of importance) the economy of
the whole arrangement, as regards their manufacture or their use.

Guns are perfect only so long as they possess the power of shooting
strong and close, with the least available charges. The period has
passed when barrels were bored by rule of thumb, without any
well-defined intention; the workman being ignorant as to whether he
would have the bore of the barrel cylindrical, or (as was frequently the
case) in the form of two inverted cones, and thus he continued to bore
at the barrel until it was utterly useless, or until by chance he hit
upon a tidy shooting bore. Barrels are now constructed so nearly alike,
that it is no stretch of truth to assert that ninety-six or ninety-eight
barrels out of a hundred can be made so nearly alike in their shooting,
as to render it very difficult to discover the real difference between
them. Yet, in the face of this high state of perfection certain
English gunmakers introduce, and recommend to their patrons as an
improvement, a description of gun possessing the following negative
qualities:--First, there is no possibility of a breech-loader ever
shooting equal to a well-constructed muzzle loader; secondly, the gun is
unsafe, and becomes more and more unsafe from the first time it is used;
and, thirdly, it is a very costly affair, both as regards the gun and
ammunition. Nor are these negative qualities at all compensated for by
any of the advantages claimed for these guns by their advocates; this
assertion I now proceed to establish.

In the first place recoil has been an important obstacle to contend
with, ever since the invention of fire-arms, and the methods of
lessening recoil have engaged the special attention of all inventors up
to the present day; on this important point, indeed, very much depends.
Gunnery is good only when recoil exists in a minimum degree. Force,
whether it be that of the gentle “zephyr,” or of the mammoth
steam-boiler which is capable of moving thousands of tons, can always be
measured, and the friction of steam against the tube through which it
passes can be measured also.

The time was, when guns were so imperfectly constructed, that the recoil
and friction of the charge against the barrel destroyed more than half
the force generated by the explosion of the gunpowder; and this loss of
force having been obviated, by finely polishing the interior of the
barrel, as well as by improving the metal of the gun, has rendered
English guns superior in their performance to those manufactured in any
other country. Breeches of a conical form offer the greatest resistance
to the action of aëriform bodies in a direct line; this is the principle
of what is best known as “the patent breech:” to speak of which would be
a waste of time, as nothing more is required to support its superiority
than the fact, that in well constructed artillery of every country, the
interior form of the breech or chamber is more or less conical. Thus we
see that by adopting the crutch gun, we have to give up one of the
oldest and most universally acknowledged principles in lessening
recoil--namely, the conical form of the breech--and to adopt the very
reverse of this: namely, the old right-angled, flat-faced breech, upon
which recoil can exert its utmost force with the certainty of its
reaching the shoulder of the unfortunate user.

Secondly, to enable the gun to be loaded with a cartridge which shall
keep its place, a complicated arrangement is necessary. On inspection of
the barrel, it will be perceived that a cavity has been formed larger
than the bore of the barrel, and that this in some cases only tapers
toward the further end. This cavity exactly receives the cartridge, and
the gunpowder is inflamed in a space much larger than the barrel, which
it has afterwards to pass through. The charge of shot is also started in
a larger space than that which it afterwards has to traverse, and the
column must of necessity become contracted and elongated before it can
escape from the barrel. The first consideration is at what cost of force
is all this effected? Thirty per cent. would certainly be a shrewd
guess; and who is there conversant with the nature of gunpowder hardy
enough to gainsay the fact?

I here present the reader with the measurement of a pair of
barrels--bore 12, diameter of the cavity 10, or two sizes
difference,--tried at the celebrated trial of Breech versus
Muzzle-loading fire-arms, which took place in April last, in the court
at Cremorne. The following are the results of the trial:--

Class 1 comprised twelve bore double guns, not exceeding 7-1/2 lbs. in
weight; the charge for the breech-loaders was three drachms of powder,
and one ounce and a quarter of shot; that for the muzzle-loaders, two
and three-quarter drachms of powder, and an ounce and a quarter of shot.
The question will be asked why were both not charged alike? and the
answer is, because the advocates for breech-loaders well knew the loss
of power caused by the enlarged breech end would require a larger
quantity of powder; yet, with this advantage, the result was a verdict
in favour of the muzzle-loaders of nearly two to one. I quote from the
_Field_. The aggregate number of pellets in the targets from
breech-loaders was 170, the penetration 19. The aggregate number of
pellets put in by the muzzle-loaders was 231, the penetration 48; and
this was effected with a quarter of a drachm of powder less.

Few will doubt that this must be the inevitable result. Force cannot be
expended and retained: we “cannot eat our cake and have it.” If force is
destroyed by friction, it is as useless as if it had never been
generated. So much, then, for the shooting qualities of the

And now comes the question, of much more importance than the shooting
qualities of these guns: namely, can all this force--30 per cent., in
fact, of the whole charge--be thrown away with no worse result than the
mere wasting of the powder? Is there no change taking place in the
barrel of the gun every time it is discharged? Iron and its combinations
are as certainly limited in their duration as is human life itself.
Every bar of iron is capable only of resisting a certain amount of
pressure; every successive strain on its fibres deteriorating it more
rapidly; and whether it be the mainspring of the lock, or a gun-barrel
itself, a certain number of strains will destroy it. This being the
case, how much more rapidly must a breech-loader be destroyed where 30
per cent. of the charge is always “absorbed” on the sides of the barrel
in the cavity alone. This a lengthened experiment will prove; though the
fact is so self-evident, that no experiment is required to demonstrate

Caution in gunnery is absolutely necessary under the most favourable
circumstances, and disregard of perfection in the construction of a gun
is quite unpardonable; then what shall be said of that member of society
who, with all those facts before him, can say to his customers, “I
advise you to have a breech-loader: they are really good guns?” In what
estimation such a tradesman must be held I will not venture to say. Much
more might fairly be said against these guns, but I sum up the whole in
the following damnatory sentence: Breech-loaders do not shoot nearly so
well, and are not half so safe, as muzzle-loading guns.

It is said, and truly, that a breech-loader can be charged more rapidly
than a muzzle-loader; but I hold this to be no advantage, for this
reason: all guns can be loaded more quickly than they are fired, and the
tendency of all barrels to absorb heat, puts a limit to rapidity of
firing; indeed, after ten rapid shots with each barrel, both guns would
be about on an equality. Another question is, can breech-loaders be used
longer than muzzle-loading guns, without cleaning? My opinion is, _they
cannot_. At the trial already spoken of, after twenty-two shots had been
fired from the breech-loaders, the cartridge-cases had to be extracted
from the barrels with a hook, and in several cases it was necessary to
cut them out with a knife; whilst a muzzle-loading gun without friction
would have gone on to a hundred shots without being wiped out. There are
few plans or presumed improvements which have not some redeeming points;
but in the case of breech-loading fire-arms it is quite a task to find
even a resemblance to one. All the advocates for breech-loaders whom I
have ever met with yield, with this acknowledgment: “I must admit that I
never liked them; but so many gentlemen are asking for them that I was
compelled to make them, to keep my customers.” This is, no doubt, the
truth; but it is calculated to lead to serious calamities: for it was
apparent to hundreds, at the Cremorne trials, that even the best and
newest breech-loading guns permitted an escape of gas at the breech to
an extent that I never thought possible; and if this occurs in new guns,
what will happen after a single season’s shooting, should any one be
found sufficiently reckless to use a breech-loader so long?

No fear need be entertained that the use of breech-loaders will become
general; manufactures on false principles soon show themselves
worthless, however pertinaciously they may be puffed off. The number of
accidents arising from the use of breech-loading fire-arms has not been
very great as yet; though I have already heard of several very serious
cases, from the use of well-made guns: let us consider what would be
result if the workmanship was inferior?

There is one other point to which I may briefly allude before dismissing
the breech-loader to the “tomb of all the Capulets.” The majority of
guns on this principle merely abut against a false breech; and, from the
fact of there being no connection either by hook or by cohesion, the
explosion causes a separation between the barrel and the breech to an
extent which would scarcely be credited. This may, however, be
satisfactorily demonstrated by binding a small string of gutta percha
round the joint, when after explosion the string will be found to have
fallen in between the barrel and the breech; thus showing that the
muzzle droops in the act of being discharged, which must must materially
influence the correctness of fire.

The recoil of an ordinary 12-bore gun, loaded at the muzzle, varies from
forty to forty-eight pounds, seldom exceeding the latter; that of a
breech-loader varies from sixty-eight to seventy-six! And this quite
independently of the enormous force which is exerted on the sides of
these enlarged breech guns. The shoulder left in the barrel, too, is a
formidable barrier for the charge to pass by; and, in doing this, the
circle of shot in immediate contact with the barrel becomes disfigured
and misshaped, so as to insure its flight only to a very short distance.
In the muzzle-loader an average of 180 shots strike a target of two feet
six inches diameter; but breech-loaders of the same calibre will rarely
put in 120 shots; showing a clear loss of 60 pellets. This is due to the
enormous jamming they have undergone in passing from the greater to the
lesser area of the barrel. It is said that the paper of the cartridge
fills up this enlargement; but any one who knows what the force of
gunpowder is, must also know that paper intervening between the charge
and the sides of the barrel would be condensed at the moment of
explosion to one-fourth its original thickness.



The Rifle has at length taken its place among scientifically improved
weapons. Mathematicians laboured long and earnestly to develope the
important principles involved in it, and which lay hidden like latent
heat, only waiting for the moment when they were to be extracted, as
they were at length by experiment, the result of necessity: indeed
necessity has done more for the improvement of gunnery than all the
mental toil and labour bestowed on the science itself. The philosopher
has sought in vain for that which mechanical skill unpatronised and
unheeded forced upon the world, and that, too, in spite of prejudice and
contempt; and the present generation see improvements brought out which
were predicted generations before--as the following quotation from
Robins clearly shows:--“Whatever state shall _thoroughly comprehend the
nature_ and advantages of rifle pieces, and having facilitated and
completed their construction, shall introduce into their armies their
general use, with a dexterity in the management of them, they will by
this means acquire a superiority which will almost equal anything that
has been done at any time by the particular excellence of any one kind
of arms, and will perhaps fall but little short of the wonderful effects
which histories relate to have been formerly produced by the first
inventors of fire-arms.”

That the result here predicted has now been obtained no one can doubt.
Greater extension of range is yet attainable; but accuracy of range
amounts already to almost mathematical precision. All that is now
required is, that the same principle should be applied to the heaviest
projectiles; and when these are projected under precisely the same laws,
experience will further establish this principle, that “the heavier the
body in equal velocities the less the deflection from atmospheric
resistance.” When this is demonstrated the present order of things will
be reversed; heavy ordnance will exceed the shoulder rifle in extension
and accuracy of range, whilst the shoulder rifle will again fall back to
its former state of comparative inferiority.

Barrels were first grooved or rifled at Vienna, about the year 1498. The
original object of grooving or rifling the barrels was to find space for
the reception of the foul residue produced by discharging the rifle, and
thus to diminish the friction of the bullet as it was forced down by the
ramrod. During the next twenty years a spiral turn was given to the
groove, and bullets were used with projections to fit the grooves, the
degree of twist or spiral varying as the skill of the gun-maker thought

The difficulty of loading rifles has at all times been a drawback to
their universal adoption as warlike weapons, and it has been reserved
for a humble individual to achieve that which all the talent devoted to
it for three centuries had hitherto failed to accomplish.

A multitude of claimants have “put in their plea” for a share in some
part of the invention; and it may benefit not only the present but also
the future generation, if we give a succinct account of the approaches
made by different men towards the present established principle, and
show the bearing each had in bringing about the revolution that has
taken place in the science of gunnery.

The earliest notice of an elongated bullet is Robins’s “egg-shaped,”
which gives to the hemispherical end the centre of gravity, thus
establishing the first essential principle; but theory and practice were
here sadly discordant, for its wild uncertain flight, caused by the
small end acting as a rudder, rendered his theory useless, and it soon
died of a natural death.

The next innovation on the spherical principle of bullets was the
attempt made by the late Sir Home Popham to introduce elongated
sphero-cylindrical bullets into cannon, with grooves and projections on
the exterior to impart a spinning motion, which should be sustained by
the action of the atmosphere; but this, like Robins’s idea, survived
only a very short time. The next in rotation is a description given by
Captain Beaufoy, in his work on the rifle called _Scloppetaria_, and
published, we believe, in 1808. Captain Beaufoy gives a drawing of an
elongated bullet one and a quarter diameters in length, having a
hemispherical cavity accurately corresponding in shape to its
counterpart at the opposite end. “This,” he states, “he had heard was
beneficial from the fact of the rush of atmospheric air into the vacuum
created, thus inducing a forward motion by the kick _à posteriori_.”
This apparently was but a surmise, an idea never carried out, for in the
same work a degree of spiral grooving is advocated with which the action
of this bullet, had it ever been intended to be expansive in principle,
would be quite incompatible.

Next comes the celebrated Joseph Manton with his invention, intended to
give a spiral motion to the ball by the cup of wood already described
under the head of rifled cannon. This very idea has since been revived
by General Jacob; and in 1822 Captain Norton introduced to the notice of
the Government his “Rifled Shell” for the explosion of an enemy’s
tumbrils. This was of necessity an elongated hollow bullet, containing a
small charge of gunpowder, which was ignited by the explosion of a cap
on a nipple, screwed into the fore-end of the leaden shell.

Here, no doubt, was a partially expansive bullet; for the bullet would
be driven in upon itself, and thus expand from the weakness of the
hollow shell; this near approach, however, to the invention was not
intentional: the sole object in view was the action of the shell, and no
more importance was attached to its expansion, in Captain Norton’s
estimation, than to the bullet described by Captain Beaufoy in his
_Scloppetaria_. It is only within the last few years that some friend,
with more acumen than the gallant officer, discovered his near approach
to the subsequent invention, and a claim has been made on his behalf
which he himself never dreamt of, during the many years we were
battering at the doors of prejudice; closed as they were against
military innovation.

In 1826, Capt. Delvigne proposed to use an elongated bullet: “having
observed that when a bullet was forced in by the old system of the
mallet, its diameter was increased perpendicularly to the axis of the
barrel, he came to the conclusion that by giving a chamber to the breech
of the rifle, and loading with an elongated bullet having just
sufficient windage to enter freely, two or three taps from a steel
ramrod would flatten it sufficiently to make it take the form of the
grooves, into which it would certainly penetrate when fired.” This
contrivance was, however, found to be useless for military purposes; for
after a trial, extending over two or three years, by the Garde Royal in
Algeria, it was given up in 1830. This, then, is clear proof of an
attempt to construct an expansive bullet, and conclusive evidence also
of its failure.

From 1830 to 1839, no evidence can be found of any progress having been
made by these inventors. In 1836 I had the honour of producing the first
perfect expansive bullet. During the winter of 1835 and the spring of
1836, I made an extensive series of experiments in order to overcome the
effect of the very extensive windage existing in military muskets at
that time; better known in the present day by the name of “Old Brown

The mean diameter of the bore was ·760, the diameter of the bullet was
·701, or of the better understood gauge of 11 and 14 bore, thus leaving
more than three sizes for windage. To obviate this great discrepancy by
expanding a bullet from 14 to 11 bore, so as to destroy the windage, was
the first consideration; and, indeed, the first great step towards that
change of which we have as yet only seen the beginning. I here give a
representation of my first attempt, and the observations made upon it in

Five years ago I perfected and laid before the Board of Ordnance a new
plan or system of constructing expansive balls, which is accomplished by
having two dissimilar portions. An oval ball with a flat end and a
perforation extending nearly through, is cast; a taper plug with a head
like a round topped button is also cast, of a composition of lead, tin,
and zinc, as below.



The end of the plug being slightly inserted into the perforation, 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 calculation; and for musketry, where the
stupid regulations of the service require 3-1/2 sizes of bore difference
for windage, it is most excellent, as remedying this considerable
drawback upon the usefulness of the arm; the facility of loading being
as great, if not greater, than by the present practice.

Inventions, however, are of no use whilst kept in obscurity, and my
first and natural course was to bring it under the notice of the parties
for whose benefit it was intended. Accordingly, in July, 1836, a
memorial was duly drawn up, and laid before the Master-General and Board
of Ordnance, soliciting a trial. After overcoming some difficulties, a
trial was ordered at the “cost of the inventor,” and in August, 1836, it
took place at Tynemouth, in Northumberland, under the command of Major
Walcot, of the Royal Horse Artillery, a party of the 60th Rifles being
the firing party. The exact form of the memorial, and the points claimed
by the inventor, are as follows:--

  “To the Right Honourable the Master-General and Officers of His
  Majesty’s Board of Ordnance. The humble Memorial of William Greener,
  Gunmaker, of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, humbly sheweth--

  “That your memorialist has, after considerable trouble and expense,
  discovered a method by which the facility of loading all rifles,
  muskets, and other small fire-arms will be much increased, as well as
  a considerable additional force or range of the projectile be
  obtained, even with a less quantity of powder than at present used.
  Your memorialist has frequently loaded one of his Majesty’s rifles by
  this method, as quickly as any soldier could load the plain musket,
  and the balls when fired have received the same or greater effect from
  the action of the grooves of the rifle. Your memorialist’s plan simply
  consists in the manufacture of a more ready kind of cartridge, which
  will answer for all fire-arms as at present constructed, and will also
  be a considerable saving to his Majesty.

  “Your memorialist being aware, from former communications with your
  Honourable Board, that in no case is any sum of money allowed for
  travelling expenses, &c., and your memorialist being very far from
  rich, is unable to attend any committee, either at Woolwich or
  elsewhere, your memorialist, therefore, suggests that if it meet the
  approbation of your Honourable Board to issue an order to the officer
  commanding the depot of his Majesty’s 1st Brigade 60th Rifles, at
  present stationed in this town, or to any other regiment or detachment
  in the neighbourhood, to appoint a squad of men to fire 100 rounds of
  memorialist’s and 100 rounds of the cartridges now in use, and to
  compare their respective merits, the whole to be provided at your
  memorialist’s expense.

  “And memorialist, as in duty bound, will ever pray.


The success of the experiments far surpassed the expectations of the
military men present; and that they fully established all the points
claimed, will be evident from the following secret report made by Major
Walcott to the Board of Ordnance:--

  “I then examined Mr. Greener’s ammunition, and found he had not made
  it up into complete cartridges, but that his ball was separate from
  his powder. I then examined the ball, which being less than the barrel
  of the rifle, went down very easily--indeed slided down, and is thus
  formed. The ball is cast with a hollow in it, to which a plug of the
  same metal is inserted, but not going home. The force of the charge is
  said by Mr. Greener so to act on this hollow ball as to expand it,
  filling up the whole barrel, preventing all windage, and so truly
  keeping its flight that the head of the plug first striking the object
  fired at, is then driven home; the ball becomes a solid, and as such
  is equal to the present mode, as well as having more force and with a
  less quantity of powder than at present used.

  “A detachment of the 60th was then ordered to load with Mr. Greener’s,
  and an equal number with his Majesty’s practice ammunition. The first
  certainly had the advantage in quickness of loading, but this may be
  accounted for by Mr. Greener’s ball being put in separate from the
  cartridge; for I am by no means certain (it being necessary that his
  plug should be exactly in the centre, either next the cartridge or
  from it) whether, when made into a complete form, should the plug have
  shifted from its position, it would not cost the soldier more time to
  place it right; neither am I certain whether the plug might not be
  liable to become jammed in the soldier’s cartouch-box.

  “After firing several rounds, at 200 yards, at the target, we
  succeeded in obtaining some of Mr. Greener’s balls, one of which that
  had struck the target and did not go through I send (marked) as the
  most favourable specimen of the day’s practice, the plug being driven
  hard into the ball, the others having lost their plugs. Mr. Greener,
  whose wishes I complied with in every way I could, then proposed
  firing a number of rounds into a sandbank, to show that the plugs did
  not quit the ball. A great many rounds were fired; in many the plugs
  were out, in many loosely fixed and easily removed, and in a part
  firm. Not having the advantage of the target I had desired him to
  bring, a number of rounds were fired at the rifle’s extreme range, 350
  yards, as the best means left of ascertaining the difference of range;
  the only result of which was, that it appeared invariably to me and
  others on the slightest resistance from the first the plug quitted the
  ball, and therefore must have lessened its force from loss of weight.
  The balls from both charges, Mr. Greener’s and his Majesty’s, went
  home to the target, but only one of the latter went through. I had
  then fired most of Mr. Greener’s cartridges and balls, and fifty
  rounds of the practice ammunition of the 60th. I beg to submit with
  the greatest deference that in so great a change as this proposed,
  even should it be considered worthy any other trial, that the
  specimens I shall send up by the earliest opportunity may have
  competent examination--for, although the balls of Mr. Greener bear the
  impress of the grooves of the rifle, I am not able to state whether
  such may not equally well be produced by the action of being forced
  from the rifle as by the expansion Mr. Greener states to take
  place--should the Master-General deem it necessary that any further
  experiment be made by me and with cartridges properly made up.”

The immediate result was a very pithy epistle from the Secretary to the
Board, saying, that “in consequence of the bullet I had submitted being
‘_a compound_,’ it was totally unfit for his Majesty’s service, and no
more trials could be allowed.”

This, in 1836, was the universal mode of proceeding, as subsequent
events clearly proved; whether from inability on the part of the
constituted military science controllers, or from a fixed determination
to reject all improvements from civilians, I knew not; but time
explained it all, as the sequel will show.

The total destruction, in 1841, of the small arms department in the
Tower of London, together with all the arms it contained, opened a vista
to improvement both in the principle and mechanical construction of “Old
Brown Bess.” This opportunity was not lost. A series of letters, Nos. 1
to 6, appeared in the _Times_ in November and December, 1841, urging the
necessity of a radical change in the construction of military arms, if
the nation was still to hold its high military prestige. The sensation
created at this time was immense, and no doubt laid the foundation stone
for that change which has rendered English arms superior to any in the
world, instead of being, as they formerly were, inferior to any in

In one of those letters, which may still be found in the _Times_ of
December 25th, 1841, the following account is given of the progress I
had made in the invention since 1836; and when the form and proportions
of my expansive bullet of 1841 are contrasted with the present and the
original form adopted by our Government from the French of Captain Minié
in 1849, it must strike the reader as being so palpable a copy as to
leave no ground for argument.

“One favourite suggestion of Hutton’s has hitherto been strenuously
rejected, even by those to whom his recommendations have, in other
respects, been laws--viz., his plan of using ‘oblong bullets.’ Some
years ago I laid before the Board of Ordnance a very simple plan of
getting rid of all windage, yet of loading easily, and adding to the
weight of the projectile (a favourite theory with the artillerists).
This was effected by employing an oblong ball of lead ‘_a diameter and a
half in length_,’ having a perforation extending through two-thirds of
it. An iron plug of a conical shape is slightly inserted into this
perforation, and the gun loaded with it. When the explosion takes place,
this plug is driven home into the lead, and, by expanding its outer
surface, the projectile comes out of the gun fitting as tight as
possible, and a line of flight is given to it of corresponding accuracy.
The advantages of this arrangement are numerous, but, in naval warfare,
of the most important nature, giving heavier metal with smaller rates,
and from the composition and shape of the projectile combined, producing
a corresponding destruction.

“But the authorities laid the plan upon the shelf, where it will rest
until produced by some more important personage than myself. The poor
inventor obtains but poor encouragement, while his more wealthy
competitor is enabled to have every opportunity of trying schemes which,
in most cases, are not worth the consideration of any, save the friends
of the party.”

In 1842, powerful influence being brought to bear, it was hoped that a
trial of my invention would result; and in order to meet the strongly
expressed public opinion, the Board of Ordnance ordered me to construct
them model arms on my own principle. This was done, and the trial
promised by the Master-General was demanded, but as obstinately refused
by the Select Committee at Woolwich, whose power was superior to that of
the Master-General; though he was fully pledged to afford me a trial.

Thus the progress of invention was delayed until 1848; sometimes
enlivened, however, by the bursting of a shell of intelligence in the
camp of military prejudice. Slashing letters appeared from time to time
on military incapacity. Meanwhile Captain Delvigne and Captain Thierry
continued their experiments, and on June 21st, 1842, a patent was
obtained in France, which is thus described:--

“For having hollowed the base of my cylindro-conical bullet, not only
for motives mentioned in the descriptive memoir given with my demand for
a patent, but besides to obtain its expansion (son èpanouissement) by
the effect of the gases produced through the ignition of the powder. By
this means the effort of the powder itself, which formerly caused
spherical bullets to deviate from the grooves, now contributes to force
the bullets of my system more firmly into them.”

In a paper published by M. Delvigne in the _Spectateur Militaire_, of
August, 1843, we also find:--

  “In order to avoid too great friction I grooved the cylindrical
  surface of the bullet; but, whilst I thus increased the windage of
  the body of the projectile, I reserved, at the two extremities of the
  cylindrical part, two circular rings of a diameter almost equal to
  that of the calibre. These two rings fixed accurately in the bore,
  secured the perfect position of the axis of the bullet, which the blow
  of the ramrod then forced tightly. In case of foulness, they easily
  gave way to the blows of the ramrod, and the axis of the bullet
  remained in the required position. The hollowing of the sides of the
  bullet gives besides the means of fixing on the cartridge without
  increasing the diameter of the calibre. But during these
  investigations, _I made an important discovery, which was, that the
  gas produced by the ignition of the powder, rushing into the vacuum
  formed at the base of the bullet, expanded it and forced it into the
  grooves_. I here give the idea, a new one, as I think, and recommend
  its application to such as occupy themselves with the effect of
  fire-arms and powder. The following, however, must be avoided: if the
  hollow is too deep, the expansion is too great, and the consequent
  friction enormous; sometimes even the gas will traverse the bullet,
  and consequently the projectile is deprived of a proportionary amount
  of velocity; if too small, the expansion does not take place.”

In 1847 and 1848 Captain Minié makes his first appearance on the boards;
and he proposed a hollow iron cup to fill up the cavity in Delvigne’s
bullet, and from this circumstance we get the name of Minié rifle.

The serious defects in our arms were now, however, becoming so glaring,
and the disgrace of getting worsted in skirmishes with contemptible foes
in the Cabul and Caffre wars, as well as nearer home in the
Mediterranean, raised public indignation against the military arms
department; and this indignation reached such a pitch that an immediate
change was called for. The so-called invention of Captain Minié offered
itself, and was immediately adopted, though the very same thing had
previously, on two occasions, been rejected at my hands.

Thus the history of the rifle is brought up to the adoption by the
Government of my principle, under the name of the Minié rifle; and the
validity of the pleas on the part of the several claimants for a share
in the invention has been succinctly stated.

During the succeeding years I several times made unsuccessful attempts
to obtain from the English Government a recognition of my claim to the
invention. True it is that insult was not added to injury, for they did
not tell me I had no claim as an inventor, but they sheltered themselves
under the political plea of “Oh, my dear sir, the injustice did not
occur under our Administration, or we should be so happy to remedy it!”

Time went on, and war came at length, and brought with it proof that but
for my invention we should have been ill prepared. “The queen of weapons
saved the fight:” so said the Thunderer. “When war’s wild din was done,”
the poor inventor was listened to.

The first step taken was through Mr. Scholefield, the member for
Birmingham, who moved in the House of Commons for copies of the
correspondence between myself and the Board of Ordnance in 1836, and the
papers therewith connected. Thus an act of glaring injustice was
exposed, and there was evidence of proceedings having been enacted over
which I would rather draw a veil. The authorities were no doubt shocked
at the injustice which the poor inventor had met with at the hands of
the then Board of Ordnance.

Thus I obtained the Secret Report, which elevates so high the names of
those who could designate a plan as “useless and chimerical,”[13] which
was destined eventually to create greater changes in gunnery than it had
undergone from its earliest invention.


  PRESENT:--Major-General Millar; Colonel Adye, C.B.; Colonel Tyer,
  C.B.; Colonel Drummond, C.B.; Sir Alex. Dickson, K.C.B.; Major Dundas.

  “_Woolwich, 29th August, 1836._


  “I have the honour to report that, in obedience to your minute, dated
  the 22nd inst., I assembled the Select Committee for the purpose of
  considering a new invented cartridge for rifles, made by Mr. William
  Greener, gunmaker, of Newcastle. Patterns of these cartridges, with a
  report from Major Walcott, Royal Horse Artillery, of a day’s practice
  with them at Tynemouth. Several balls that have been discharged at and
  collected after that practice were submitted to the Committee, who,
  after an attentive consideration, is of opinion that the ends purposed
  by Mr. Greener have not been accomplished; that his plan _is useless
  and chimerical_. The Committee do not, therefore, recommend any
  further trial in the terms solicited by Mr. Greener in his memorial of
  the 6th inst.

  “I have, &c.,

  “WILLIAM MILLAR, _Dep.-Adjut.-Gen._”

I then disputed the fact of its being a French invention before the
juries of the French Exposition in 1855; there, however, my evidence was
inadmissible, from the fact of it not having been exhibited, and the
invention not being a recent one. In spite of all this, I still
persevered; and my next step was to submit the subject to royalty. I
first submitted it to the Emperor Napoleon, who carefully investigated
the facts of the case, and admitted the Englishman’s priority.
Eventually the British Government, after much trouble, also admitted the
fact, (though not until after it had been submitted to the successors
of the original select committee) and awarded me the sum of 1,000_l._ in
the army estimates of 1857.

It is a fact, which all will acknowledge, that the principles involved
in an invention should be best known to the inventor himself; and if he
is unable to explain the very principles of such invention, then it is
quite fair to presume that he was not the original inventor.

Now there is no evidence that either Delvigne or Minié had any profound
knowledge of the science of gunnery, and their knowledge of the
principles of the expansive rifle was so meagre as to justify the
assumption, that their only connection with its production was that of
copying from the _Times_ newspaper, or from my works published in 1842
and 1846. My observations certainly appeared before any of theirs; and I
believe that no straining of facts can in any way connect them with the
invention, which was as perfect in 1841 as when they reproduced it in
1848 and 1849.

With these remarks, I pass on to what is of more importance, viz., the
principle of the expansive rifle.

It had long been known that to give a spiral motion to a bullet in a
direction coincident to its line of flight, was the standard of
perfection in rifle projectiles; but this, until the invention of the
expansive bullet, could never be attained with safety.

Spheres receiving this motion are not likely to retain it, because the
periphery of the spherical bullet is, in all cases, subjected to much
more friction than the rest of the sphere; a change would therefore
certainly be induced, the axis of the spinning motion being changed from
one coincident to the line of flight to that of one vertical to the
same. The two grooved rifle was an illustration of this; for in all
cases the projections on the bullet induced a change, the ring of the
bullet revolving parallel to the horizontal line, as I predicted in

Enough has been said to point out the prejudicial action of any
projections on projectiles, both as regards their accuracy and length of
flight; perfect smoothness of surface being, in fact, absolutely
necessary. Lengthened study and a series of experiments with bullets of
a sphero-cylindrical shape having grooves and projections on their
exterior identical with the grooving of the interior of the barrel, led
me to consider the production of a bullet with a considerable cavity
(equal, in fact, to two-thirds of its length) at the same time adopting
as a standard one and a half diameters in the length of the bore of the
gun; thus the thickness of the metal between the apex of the bullet and
apex of the cavity was nearly one half of the diameter, as the following
diagram will show.


This enabled me to insure two important principles, on which depended
the success of the whole invention. 1st. The centre of gravity was in
the head of the projectile. 2nd. “_The force was communicated directly
to the centre of gravity during the explosion._” This is a most
important principle, which all writers presuming to give their version
to the theory of the expansive system, have entirely overlooked.

If the arrow could receive the propelling force in the head, its motion
would be even, and free from “hobbling,” as Roger Ascham wishes it to
be; but if, on the contrary, it is received at the opposite extremity,
then there is a struggle between the head and the tail, as to which
shall be first, and a “wobbling” motion is induced, enduring until an
equilibrium of velocity is established.

It is essential to all future progress in the science of projectiles,
that this point should be remembered, and its importance duly estimated;
and it is possible to apply this principle to projectiles of any weight.
If this point be attended to, where is the difficulty in extending the
length of our projectiles to that of arrows? thus increasing their range
indefinitely. There is, in fact, no law to limit the length of expansive
bullets: the only limit to their length now is the tendency of lead to
squash; but alloys of lead and other metals may yet be beneficially used
for projectiles, and that to an extent of which at present we can form
no conception.

The range of vision of the human eye being inferior to the range of the
rifle will probably be the only limit to its use; and this range will
not be difficult to attain: reduction in the size of bore enables us to
elongate the bullet without diminishing its weight or the accuracy of
its range; but without the existence of a cavity to insure the force
being applied to the head of the bullet, this cannot possibly be done;
whilst all other shapes are limited in their application, and an
extension of range cannot be obtained with them.

Next to these two important points in the invention comes the question
of expansion, whereby the grooves of the rifle are filled up with lead,
and windage is as far as possible obviated. The expander I first
employed consisted of a tapering piece of iron, similar in shape to the
frustum of a cone, and this, when inserted into the cavity of the
bullet, was flush with the bottom of the cylinder. The force generated
by the ignition of the charge was exerted equally on the plug and on the
leaden cylinder; the plug, however, moving more rapidly than the lead,
is driven quicker into the bullet, the bullet expands, and thus the
filling up of the grooves is accomplished. There can be no doubt that at
the same time an upward force is exerted by the plug on the leaden
bullet; and that, too, of a more elastic character than would be exerted
by the gases themselves, if they were allowed to act directly with all
their force upon the lead; for it is a fact beyond all dispute, that any
force tending to set matter in motion gradually is more effective than
that which is instantaneous in its action.

Many writers condemn _in toto_ the Minié principle and its cup. Minié
did not understand it; and the introduction of the cup by him was, I
believe, an accident, or the best he could do by copying my mode of
using it: it was not the production of his own brain.

It has been urged as an argument against the use of this cup, that
sometimes expansion does not occur. This, however, may easily be
accounted for by the fact that the cup is not tightly fitted into the
cavity of the bullet; a space is left through which the elastic fluid
penetrates the cavity, the cup then has as much pressure exerted upon it
behind as in front, and hence it remains undisturbed.

Then the cup is sometimes driven in so violently that it becomes
flattened against the flat surface of the upper portion of the cavity,
cutting the lead so entirely as to leave the cylindrical portion of the
bullet in the breech of the gun; this is well known to have been a
frequent occurrence on the first introduction of this bullet. These
defects are instanced, as evidence to show that Minié and others have no
claim whatever to the production of the original idea--they cannot even
now grasp it, but condemn it, because it is beyond the limits of their
comprehension. True it is that, after blundering for several years, our
Government have come back to my original idea, as the following
quotation will show:--

“Colonel Hay,” says Sir Howard Douglas, “has introduced an important
improvement in the shape of the cup, and in the figure of the cavity
into which it is forced on the firing of the charge. It will be
perceived that the cavity in the Minié shot has the form of the frustum
of a cone, while that of the cup is a hemisphere: now all who have
examined the shot picked up after having struck an iron target or
penetrated into the earth, find that the hemispherical cup is very
liable to be canted or turned instead of being forced directly into the
hollow space; the lead of the shot is not driven equally into the
grooves of the rifle. For this evil Colonel Hay has proposed a remedy,
in giving both to the cup and the cavity in the shot conoidal forms; by
which means the former must, by the force of the powder, proceed
directly forward in the hollow space, and thus uniformly expand the
lower part of the shot in the bore.”

If this is not conclusive evidence of the priority of my invention, then
I cannot understand the English language.

The next object I sought to obtain in the invention was a reduction of
opposing surface, and an increased momentum. The law of atmospheric
resistance is as the area of displacement, and the velocity with which
that displacement is effected. Thus, a spherical bullet of one ounce
weight displaces a bulk of the atmosphere equal to the area of its
hemisphere; whereas an elongated bullet of the same weight would have to
displace so much less as is the difference between their diameters.
These two bullets, started at equal velocities, are acted upon very
differently by opposing forces; the velocity of the spherical is
diminished much sooner than that of the elongated bullet, on account of
its greater diameter: hence the increased range of the elongated bullet.
Let us suppose an extreme case. Take a bullet produced from a
description of hardened lead five diameters in length, and presenting to
the atmosphere one-fifth the surface of a spherical bullet of equal
weight; the reasonable assumption would be that this bullet would range
a greater distance if projected at the same velocity, and if the same
charge of gunpowder be used as with a spherical bullet.

The first series of experiments clearly established the fact that
increased range could be obtained, and also with a vast reduction in the
charge of gunpowder: with a saving, in fact, of nearly 50 per cent. Two
drachms and a half were found equal to a range of fourteen hundred
yards, whilst four drachms and a half on the old system would rarely
reach half that distance. These important points were gradually
developed, though not without many disappointments and much mental
anxiety: the last discovery, to have rendered the task easy, should have
been the first.

Extreme spiral curve in the rifle barrel is incompatible with the
correct action of the expansive bullet. The old-established turns of one
in four feet, one in three feet, and one in two feet nine inches, gave
results in the order I have placed them; and it was not until the
adoption of a spiral approximating to one turn in five and a half up to
six feet, that I found the success of my experiments uniform: and this
fact illustrates one great obstacle which my invention had to contend
with before it was generally adopted.

The ordinary sporting rifles have invariably too much spiral; the amount
of friction generated by an expansive bullet in a rifle of this
construction is enormous, absorbing in many cases one half the power of
the expellant. The result of this is most unsatisfactory: the bullet
suddenly loosed from this immense friction, and freed from the column of
air in the tube, rushes so wildly forward as entirely to destroy
equilibrium in its flight; and hence the very loud complaints of
disappointed experimenters.

The expansive principle now adopted combines such qualities that,
however long and loudly it may be condemned, it will again assert its
superiority, and hold undisputed the first place for generations to
come. It is based on that law of nature which will always tell in
mechanical productions; namely, minimum of friction, and hence maximum
of propulsion or velocity; the greatest possible range with the least
amount of expellant agency. The same law holds, even though the bullet
should be elongated and made into an arrow. That which has been
introduced to the world as an improvement on my invention, and modestly
termed the “Pritchett bullet,” I rejected in 1841 as being inferior to
the expansive bullet: any one who is curious, and wishes to be convinced
of this fact, will find the following quotation in the _Naval and
Military Gazette_ for February, 1842:--“A great improvement may be
effected by using plugs of a cylindrical shape, having the upper end
round, and the part next the powder flat or concave; for rifles, to be
of use, must be constructed for high velocity, and this can be done by a
proportionate spiral and the use of a plug similar to that given above.
In this case we may load with the greatest facility, and the bullet
expanding, forces itself into the grooves of the rifle, and thus
receives the modicum of spiral motion required.” A perusal of “Captain
Jervis on the Musket Rifle” would lead one to infer that this was a
great invention on the part of Mr. Pritchett, and that it would
supersede to a certainty the more perfect expansive bullet; but Mr.
Pritchett’s so-called invention has sunk into oblivion, from whence it
will never emerge.

From practice I found that the most material defect in this bullet was
its uncertainty of action: it was driven in upon itself, and thus its
diameter was increased. A slight difference in the hardness of the lead,
a bullet moulded when the metal was hot, and the reverse, would be such
insuperable difficulties as to render their adoption quite
impracticable; moreover, when rapid firing became necessary, the
enormous friction created by the heat and hardness of the previous
deposit from exploded powder, rendered the use of these bullets highly
dangerous; as was proved in the Crimean war. I trust they are now for
ever abandoned, for their adoption did not show great intelligence on
the part of their advocates.

The expansive principle not being adopted in the armies of France and
other Continental nations, may be justly attributed to the experimenters
of the French school having been led astray; claiming, as they did, the
entire merit of the invention. It is but fair that whilst endeavouring
to establish my own claim to the invention, I should point out the
discrepancies existing in the theory of my opponents.

That considerable imperfections exist in the expansive rifle used in
France, is evident from the results of their experiments, and the time
which has been wasted in discussing the principles necessary for
correcting the flight of the bullet by “annular rings” being applied to
its cylindrical part.

Captain Tamissier’s theory is “that an elongated bullet in passing
through the air, describing the curve of the trajectory, maintained its
axis parallel in its successive positions to the position it had at
starting, and that the angle formed by this axis with the element of the
trajectory--that is, the direction of the motion--changed every instant.
The action of atmospheric resistance would also be altered by the
surface presented by the projectile; as the point of application of this
force would not always pass through the centre of gravity, but would
establish a rotatory motion different from that with which the bullet
was originally animated: in different words, the bullet, by preserving
its original position, would after a time be pursuing its path with its
broadside foremost; that is, with the point of its axis above the line
of the trajectory and the near end below.

“To remedy this, and increase the precision of fire with these bullets,
Captain Tamissier thought it was necessary to create resistances to the
atmosphere as far as possible behind their centre of gravity, in order
to bring the point of the bullet back to its original course. For this
purpose he formed a number of circular grooves on the cylindrical part
of the bullet, in imitation of the feathers of an arrow; which, he says,
are placed at the hinder part to engender resistances.”

The folly of such a theory must be very apparent to a practical man. The
engraving below of a bullet obtained direct from Captain Minié in
December, 1855, and with which the troops were then experimenting at
Vincennes, when compared with my bullet of 1843, renders any further
argument unnecessary.

[Illustration: MINIE BULLET, 1855.]

[Illustration: GREENERIAN BULLET, 1843.]

With this I contrast my bullet of 1841, at page 354, and a very slight
inspection will be sufficient to satisfy any one of its superiority:
every practical rifle-shooter knows that the smoother all the surfaces
of the bullet, the more extensive and accurate is the range. That the
French experiments should have given unsatisfactory results I am not at
all surprised: the flat surface on the point of the bullet must offer a
large space for the resistance of the atmosphere, during 1,000 yards of
flight. Then to this must be added the effect produced by the rings
around the bullet; and when the resistance of the atmosphere and that
produced by the friction of the bullet are added together, we need not
be surprised that the results of the experiments turned out very
unsatisfactory. Surely, if the French school invented the bullet which
produced this wonderful revolution in gunnery, they would have rendered
it perfect, instead of producing it in a more rude state in 1848 than I
had produced it in 1840.

Another point affording strong evidence that the whole was copied from
my work of 1842, is this. In my original plan the bottom of the cavity
of the bullet was flat, exactly as it now appears in Captain Minié’s
annular ringed bullet. In 1843 this was changed into a hemispherical
bottom; and this exists in all English expansive bullets, as the
adjoining woodcut will show.

In 1852 I produced a new form of cup, intended to obviate the use of the
heavier substance, or conical piece of iron. In addition to a cup of a
parabolic spindle shape, it had a rim like that on a man’s hat, as the
woodcut will show.


A great advantage is gained by this contrivance in effectually expanding
the bullet, and thus closing up stray appendages, which are found to
exert considerable influence on the ultimate direction of the bullet. A
slight tail of cartridge-paper, a string, or an appendage of any
description, exerts such an important influence on the bullet’s flight,
as to cause it in some instances to describe a curve, the termination of
which is very eccentric, and commences from the very base of its
starting. It is evident, then, that great accuracy is necessary in order
to produce a perfect expansive bullet. English bullets are pressed into
shape by machinery, whilst in France they are formed in the ordinary
mould; this, however, is at all times an uncertain mode of making them:
a slight cavity in the head of the bullet would make it eccentric in
its flight; and this is very difficult to avoid: a slight puncture, or
an eruption on the surface, would, during a lengthened flight, be
materially acted upon by the atmosphere, so as to influence in a great
degree the direction of its flight.

The scientific world is deeply indebted to General Jacob, of the Scinde
Horse, for the zeal and energy he has displayed in carrying out his
principle of projectiles. He experimented on a scale never before
attempted by any private individual; his explosive projectiles have
created universal interest, and the great ranges he obtained will hand
down the General’s name in the history of gunnery to all future

Whilst ascribing all credit to General Jacob for the benefit he has
bestowed on projectile science, it is not less my duty to point out how
unfortunate for science, and for the General’s scientific reputation,
were the defects which exist in the system of which he is so strenuous
an advocate.

General Jacob’s principle differs from mine as widely as the poles are
separated from each other. In mine there exists the least amount of
friction, the minimum of spiral motion, and a most extensive range, with
the smallest expenditure of expellant force.

In the General’s invention these points are exactly reversed: friction
is at the highest point, the degree of spiral in the groove is more than
double, and the charge, as a matter of course, is much greater. The
range is greater, no doubt; as it ought to be, being obtained at treble
cost. Cost, in all cases, is the key to success or failure; not cost in
a monetary sense only, but cost of wear and tear. Destruction of the
barrel, and the amount of buffeting by recoil, are points of cost; and
the principle of General Jacob is so nearly allied to that of the
“hexagonal” rifle, that many will think, and perhaps not without good
reason, that the one has given rise to the production of the other. The
great length of column, 2-1/2 diameters in height, is so extreme, as to
be evidence in itself of the very unsound principles on which this rifle
is constructed. When bullets composed entirely of lead are used, the
result is that the bullet is so driven in upon itself, as to upset the
whole structure, “swaging” it whilst in the barrel into a long
cylindrical tube of lead, as the wood-cut, exhibiting the bullet before
and after firing, will sufficiently explain; whilst the friction and
lateral pressure on the tube of the barrel, which must be necessary to
effect the change in the bullet, require no further comment.



The experience gained by General Jacob induced him subsequently to
adopt an iron or zinc-pointed bullet, as is depicted in the wood

[Illustration: COMPLETE BULLET.]

[Illustration: METAL POINT.]

Thus departing from the true science of the question, instead of giving
the centre of gravity to the head of the bullet, he tries to overcome
the difficulties by which his system is beset, by increasing the spiral
motion. As other writers take a similar view of the question, I insert
the following quotation from a small work by Lieutenant Simons, Bengal
Artillery, entitled “A Treatise on Fire-arms,” where we have the
following appropriate remarks, strongly bearing on the peculiarities of
this system:--

“Every point upon the surface of a projectile in motion, whether it be a
rocket, javelin, ship, bullet, arrow, or any other description of
projectile, is the end of a lever, the fulcrum of which is situated in
the projectile’s centre of gravity. The effect of the air to upset, _i.
e._, to force the light or pointed end of such projectile to the rear,
or to unsteady, or cause to waver, the same, depends upon the lengths of
the levers at the ends of which it acts, and upon the angles at which
it presses against such levers, as determined by the positions of the
points and by the shape of the projectile; it likewise depends upon the
specific intensity of the pressure, which is doubtless greatest in the
neighbourhood of those parts of the projectile which least easily allow
the air to escape past them.

“An illustration in part of the truth of the foregoing proposition will
present itself to the conceptions of those who have taken notice of the
manner of the flight of rockets, or who have witnessed shells projected
from mortars at night time. The light of the burning fuse, particularly
during the first part of the flight of the shell, is seldom obscured
from the sight of the beholders in the battery from which it is fired.
The end of the fuse protruding beyond the general surface of the shell
is the end of a lever whose fulcrum is the shell’s centre of gravity.
The pressure of the air against this lever as the shell moves forward,
drives it to the rear, in which place it would remain steady, did the
shell in its course describe a straight line; a curve, however, being
the line actually described, it follows that the direction from which
the resistance created by the shell’s own motion comes, is ever varying;
whereby the occurrence of an equilibrium is prevented, and the shell is
caused to oscillate laterally as it were. If the size of the fuze end of
it, however, be at all considerable, the shell will rarely topple over,
and, in consequence, the light of the fuze, during the ascending curve,
will generally be visible.

“The more rapidly a ball is made to reach its goal, the nearer will the
line described by it approach to a straight one, and the less will it
roll. It is possible that the old musket-ball did not roll much during
the first fifty or hundred yards of its flight, and that the accuracy of
shooting with it will have been less on this account. A ball which does
not roll, may be said to be ‘in position;’ there is inherent in it a
fixed tendency to deviate from the line in which it is projected. Now a
shell which rolls much by reason of its comparatively slow motion, is
ever tending to stray in different directions, and, therefore, a
movement in the wrong direction, at one moment, being compensated for
the next by a corresponding movement in the opposite direction, it may
be by this means a recipient of an amount of accidental compensation to
which, perhaps, the musket-ball is a stranger.

“Such being the manifest effect of projections upon the surface of a
shell, it is not difficult to imagine what must be the unseen effect of
projections on the surface of a rifle ball. One projection, placed
without regard to effect upon such surface, would make the ball jog and
oscillate much after the manner that has been described. Two or more of
proper form and construction will, on the contrary, if properly placed
upon a projectile, hold it steady, and so impart to it a fixed tendency
to digress, thereby preparing it to be usefully operated upon by spiral

“So much as has been said will, I think, suffice to disprove that not
unfrequently entertained notion to the effect that the light end of a
bullet is kept forward by the operation of the spiral motion imparted to
it. I could cite more than one person and pamphlet (General Jacob),
apparently under the influence of this belief, but which certainly does
not accord with theory, and the practical incorrectness of which was
thus manifested to me.”

The Whitworth rifle, which was introduced to the world with a clarion
flourish from the _Times_, has not made any very rapid progress toward
perfection. It still drags out an existence, it is true, but its boasted
superiority is all a myth; as time and experience will show.

Like the former, but more meritorious, invention of General Jacob, it is
based on an unsound principle, an untenable theory, good only in
seeming, which collapses when grasped by the hand of practical

The peculiarity connected with this weapon is the extraordinary
circumstances under which it first saw the light:--It was produced by
the aid of Plutus, dragging in reputed science to fashion on the instant
a weapon superior to the tardy results of three centuries; though during
that period numbers of talented individuals had devoted their lives to
the study of gunnery.

Wealth is generally believed to be able to remove all obstructions, and
even to purchase capacity, if need be; though it can scarcely enable one
individual to surpass the experience of ages, however talented that
individual may be. The attempt thus to obtain such assistance was a
slight by the Government of the day to the improvers of British
fire-arms; they were passed over as of no value, and the country’s
wealth was thrown into the lap of a talented, but at the same time, not
a practical man.

The Government of this country had on all previous occasions exacted
from inventors their brains and their money, as an offering in exchange
for patronage; on this occasion, however, they departed widely from
their usual custom, for the “mountain came to the mouse.” It would have
been a grateful compliment if the Government had said to the inventor,
“You have done something for the good of your country with your limited
means, here are thousands of pounds at your command; do something
better, for we need it.” But nothing of the kind was done: a selection
was made, justified by no antecedent qualifications. The first thing
necessary was the acquirement in a very short time of a practical
knowledge of gunnery, in order that a weapon should be produced superior
to any other; but whether success has attended these efforts or not is
still doubtful, and this is in itself a fit rebuff to the Minister, who
expected, like the citizen’s wife, that “gold would purchase capacity.”

The great defect in the hexagonal-bored rifle is the extreme amount of
friction, and the consequent useless expenditure of means.

The bullet is produced in the most accurate manner in a lathe, and is
composed of an alloy of lead, tin, and manganese, so as to render it
hard enough to resist the tendency to squash or swage; which is the case
in General Jacob’s principle. The angles on the bullet are cut with the
greatest precision, in order to fit the groove of the barrel;
constituting, in fact, a female screw of two turns in every thirty-nine
inches of length.

As fair play has always been my motto, I am actuated by no other desire
than that of enabling the reader to form a true conception of the
intricate nature of projectile science; and though the eulogium bestowed
on the inventor’s own creation is rather egotistical, I give it entire,
dissecting it afterwards in the manner I think most conducive to a
correct knowledge of the real science of gunnery.


  “For the last few days a very interesting and important series of
  experiments has been in progress at the Government School of Musketry,
  Hythe, in order to test the comparative merits of these two rifles.
  The trial, which was of the most searching and impartial character,
  was conducted by Colonel Hay, the able head of the school, and has
  terminated in establishing beyond all doubt the great and decided
  superiority of Mr. Whitworth’s invention. The Enfield rifle, which was
  considered so much better than any other as to justify the formation
  of a vast Government establishment for its special manufacture, has
  been completely beaten. In accuracy of fire, in penetration, and in
  range, its rival excels it to a degree which hardly leaves room for

  “The following table gives the best results that have been obtained
  from 10 shots of each arm respectively, in the course of the
  experiments, which have extended over a week in time, and were brought
  to a close yesterday in the presence of Lord Panmure and of a number
  of military and scientific spectators:--

               |Range in |Elevation.|Figure of
      RIFLE.   |  yards. |          |  Merit.
               |         |   Deg.   | Feet.
  Whitworth  } |       { |   1·15   | 0·37
  Enfield    } | 500   { |   1·32   | 2·24
  Whitworth   }|        {|   2·20   | 1·00
  Enfield     }| 800    {|   2·45   | 4·11
  Whitworth  } |       { |   3·45   | 2·41
  Enfield    } |1,100  { |   4·12   | 8·04
  Whitworth   }|        {|   5·00   | 4·62
  Enfield     }|1,400   {|6·20 to 7.| No hits
  Whitworth  } |       { |   6·40   | 11·62
  Enfield    } |1,800  { |    --    |  --

  It would appear from these figures that at 500 yards in 10 shots the
  Manchester rifle has a superior accuracy of 1·87 of a foot; at 800
  yards 3·11; at 1,100 yards 5·63; and that at 1,400 yards and upwards
  the Enfield weapon ceases to afford any data for a comparison. In
  penetration the results obtained have been equally decisive; the
  Whitworth projectile, with the regulation charge of powder, going
  through 33 half-inch planks of elm, and being brought up by a solid
  oak bulk beyond, while the Enfield ball could not get past the 13th

  “The shooting on Tuesday was more to satisfy Lord Panmure and the
  other strangers present upon the comparative merits of the two weapons
  than to show the limit of what each could do under favourable
  circumstances. Still, the targets of every 10 shots on either side
  bore decisive evidence of the superiority of the new rifle, as a
  glance at the following table will prove:--

               |Range in|Elevation.|Figure of
      RIFLE.   |  yards.|          |  Merit.
               |        |   Deg.   | Feet.
  Whitworth  } |       {|   2·22   | 1·41
  Enfield    } |   800 {|   2·45   | 5·67
  Whitworth   }|        |        { | 1·27
  Enfield     }|   500  |    --  { | 3·30
  Whitworth  } |        |         {| 1·33
  Enfield    } |   500  |    --   {| 4·01

  “The last entry in the table records the mean radial distance from a
  central point of 10 shots fired from a table-rest, by Colonel Hay and
  Mr. Gunner, the manager of the Enfield factory. Both are first-rate
  marksmen, yet at 500 yards the Manchester rifle in the hands of the
  former gives three times as good shooting as the latter can get out of
  the Government arm. All the other trials were made by firing from a
  beautifully-constructed machine rest, which placed both weapons on a
  footing of perfect equality as to the conditions under which they were
  tested. In addition to the foregoing experiments, there was one for
  showing that with cylindro-conoidal balls on the expansion principle
  of those used for the Enfield rifle, very superior shooting could be
  obtained from Whitworth’s hexagonal bore. This was most satisfactorily
  established, the mean deviation on the target from the centre of the
  group of 10 hits being only ·85 of a foot at 500 yards’ range. It will
  be observed that at 500 yards’ range, at which the practice commenced,
  the shooting of Whitworth’s rifle was so much better than the other
  that no greater distance was attempted. A reference to the first table
  of experiments will also demonstrate that the target made by the
  former weapon at 1,100 yards is nearly as good as that made by the
  latter at 500. These are great results to have achieved, and amply
  justify the forethought of the late Lord Hardinge in securing the
  services of so eminent a mechanic as Mr. Whitworth for the improvement
  of the rifle. Until he took the subject in hand the proper principles
  for guidance in the construction of the weapon had not been accurately
  determined. The manufacture was still conducted by rule of thumb, and
  in a very hap-hazard way on the most important points. The use of
  grooves and an expansive projectile made it impossible to secure the
  requisite amount of pitch in the rifling and the indispensable
  hardness of metal in the bullet for penetration. Moreover, from the
  small amount of bearing, the wear and tear both in the barrel and in
  the projectile were enormous, and the length of the latter could not
  be increased without causing it to capsize in its flight. By the
  polygonal bore and rapid pitch to which the form of the bullet
  accurately conforms, Mr. Whitworth has rendered stripping impossible,
  and, his rifle when fired acting exactly like a male and female screw,
  the projectile must rotate with perfect steadiness and precision on
  its axis. He can increase its length so considerably as to secure
  space for converting it into a shell if necessary; and, being able to
  use metal of any degree of hardness, he can adapt its form and
  strength exactly to the work which it has to perform. Thus with a
  rifle 39 inches long and half-inch bore, having a turn in 20 inches,
  or two turns in its length, he finds no difficulty in penetrating a
  wrought-iron plate 6-10ths of an inch thick or cutting a core out of
  a piece of solid timber half a foot thick; and some idea may be formed
  of the extraordinary power of this arm when we mention that his
  projectiles in their flight rotate at the rate of 15,000 revolutions
  per minute. The question of driving holes in the 4-inch breast plates
  of floating batteries is at once solved by the application of these
  principles to artillery, the construction of which this new rifle
  proves must be completely revolutionized. A weapon which in expert
  hands will make good practice at 1,400 yards, and the range of which
  can be very easily helped by a telescope if necessary, gives the _coup
  de grace_ to our present system of field batteries. At the Alma it
  would have silenced the Russian guns or driven them from their
  position, rendering the rush of the Light Division, with the heavy
  loss of life consequent thereon, unnecessary. Nor during the siege of
  Sebastopol would the rope mantlets of the Redan and the Malakhoff
  having given much protection to the men working behind the
  embrasures,” &c., &c., &c.

So much for the praise bestowed by Mr. Whitworth on his own production.
A beautiful experiment it has been, and one for which the scientific
world is bound to be thankful; giving, as it does, perhaps a faint idea
only of what is yet to be effected.

However, all is not gold that glitters: it is very well to do all this
by straining every principle that can be brought to bear,--extra charge,
bullets hardened and turned with mathematical precision, steel barrels,
with a fineness of polish in the interior like that of a
looking-glass--these are all great adjuncts in the trial against an
ordinary unprepared gun, taken from a number promiscuously, and which
perhaps might be the worst specimen in the possession of the party at
Hythe. But these are trifles when compared with the two following facts.
The diameter of the bore of Mr. Whitworth’s is 500, or half-inch at the
largest diameter, and 450 at the smallest, or a mean, taking the two
extremes, of fifty bore; the Enfield is 577, or twenty-five bore, and
the bullets on leaving the guns were the same weight exactly. The length
of the Enfield bullet is 7/8 inch, that of the Whitworth is 1-3/8 inch.
But all this will be more fully seen from the woodcuts.



Thus it will be seen that the amount of resistance or displacement of
atmospheric air by one bullet is nearly double that of the other, and
this is a most important point in Mr. Whitworth’s favour; but the
quantity of gunpowder used in the one is precisely the same as that used
in the other, though Mr. Whitworth’s rifle is little more than half the
size of bore, the pressure on the square inch being consequently nearly
double; hence the circumstances are not sufficiently equal for Mr.
Whitworth to claim for his rifle any great superiority: the gun may take
the attention of the unwary, but its principles will not bear

Let me change the circumstances of the case, by retaining the principle
of the Enfield, but changing the bore to the same as Mr. Whitworth’s,
increasing at the same time the length of projectile, and I will engage
to beat it with a much reduced charge. The extreme degree of female
screw or spiral, one turn in twenty inches, or two turns in the whole
length of the barrel, creates, as must be familiar to the most obtuse
mind, an enormous amount of friction, and in consequence of this an
equal quantity of force is absorbed: in other words, there is a useless
waste of force.

The Enfield barrel has but a proportion of turn, one in six feet six
inches, or exactly half a spiral in the three feet three, generating 300
per cent. less friction than in the Whitworth rifle; so that on this
score alone the saving would be very great, and in this trial the
Whitworth would be inferior to the Enfield; the inventor, therefore, has
unjustly laid claim to superiority, as the trial has been conducted on
very unequal terms.

Mr. Whitworth says his bullet rotates at the rate of 15,000 revolutions
in a minute; now the friction on the periphery of a bullet having this
extreme spinning on an axis, must very much lessen its range. If we
weigh force, and carefully calculate its expenditure in 2,000 yards, the
periphery has made 4,000 revolutions. Now look at the shape of the
hexagonal body depicted in the woodcut at page 377, and estimate the
friction it will undergo. The Enfield in the same distance would rotate
only 1,000 times, thus affording another gain of 300 per cent. The
question, therefore, which arises is this: If all this can be done
equally well with the Enfield, why not do it? And the answer is, because
there is nothing to be gained by it. Great doubts now exist whether the
bore 25 is not too great a reduction: in fact, you will find no military
advocates for it. The faculty will tell you that small wounds are not so
destructive as large ones: the human body is as much affected by the
shock as by the penetration of a bullet. Many other reasons might be
advanced in favour of increased size of bullet, and much more important
reasons must be given, before the whole military system has to be
re-changed, than a mere gain of 300 or 400 yards; whilst there can be
little doubt that the ranges we now possess in the Enfield are more than
equivalent to our wants. The human eye cannot define precisely at 900 or
1,000 yards, and yet greater accuracy is required to fire a ball at a
distance of 2,000 yards; again, it is a question which has frequently
arisen in my mind, in how many situations in England or on the Continent
can we get a clear view of 2,000 yards. The effort, indeed, to increase
range appears like seeking after a remedy for a disease which has never
yet been discovered.

If ranges of 2,000 yards and upwards are required, rifled cannon will
again take their proper place; for on investigating the tables of
practice published by General Jacob, I find the average distance of
shot from the centre of butt to be, at 2,000 yards, nearly 9 feet, with
13·7 degrees elevation; whilst the Whitworth is said to be 11-1/2 feet,
with about 8 degrees of elevation. I saw, some time ago, some practice
at Shoeburyness with an 18-pounder rifle cannon, which gave a range of
3,650 yards, with an elevation of 0·10-3/4 degrees, and a breeze blowing
across, a mean deflection of only 30 inches from the centre. This throws
Jacob, Whitworth, and the Enfield all into the shade together; yet there
can be no doubt that this can be excelled, when heavier guns are brought
to the same state of perfection as this 18-pounder. The case therefore
stands thus: the Jacob rifle has a greater range than the Enfield, at a
cost of 100 per cent. more friction, and an expenditure of 50 per cent.
more of projectile force; the Whitworth has also a greater range, but at
a cost of 300 per cent. more friction, and 100 per cent. additional
projectile force. With these observations I leave this subject in the
hands of the public, being convinced that projectile power obtained at
such a cost will never come into general use; though the production of
the Whitworth rifle will always be looked upon as an experiment of very
great interest.

There is but one other point relating to the use of guns on such a
principle, and that is their safety; which is always of the greatest
importance. It is a well-known fact that the first movement of
projectiles depends very much on the amount of inertia in that
projectile; and different forms of projectiles, though of the same
weight, will offer very different amounts of resistance to motion. No
one can doubt that two columns of lead, each of an ounce in weight, one
being as high again as the other, will offer different amounts of
resistance; first, from the law that the time occupied in overcoming
inertia is in proportion to the length of that body; secondly, if these
columns of metals are confined in tubes, then the friction on the one
which is half an inch long will be much less than on the other, which is
one inch in length: and this is, on the mildest terms, the relative
position of the two. There can be no doubt that a much greater pressure
is required to start the longer column of double the length; but when we
consider that there are the facets of six angles, with a spiral
inclination of one in nineteen, the difficulty of starting this bullet
becomes still more apparent. Now suppose the gun has been loaded a few
hours, and a certain amount of adhesion has been effected between the
bullet and sides of the barrel, by the unctuous deposit from previous
discharges, then the difficulty of starting the bullet instantaneously
will be still more increased: supposing the breech end of a barrel, with
the ordinary charge of the Enfield cartridge and bullet, has a force
exerted upon it of 2,000 pounds in the square inch, then in the
hexagonal not much less than double that strength will be requisite to
meet the contingencies of dirty guns: in fact I know that a serious
accident did occur very recently with a double rifle constructed on
Whitworth’s principle, notwithstanding all the care bestowed upon it by
a first-rate maker; and I believe that this gun, if it is to be used
with safety, must have a barrel double the strength of other rifles.

The doubtful nature of Mr. Whitworth’s experiments must be apparent from
the fact that they were made in a shed, from which strong currents of
air were excluded: any bullet would range accurately in vacuo, or in
atmosphere equally quiescent; deductions, therefore, drawn from such
experiments must be worthless. Battles occur not under such favourable
circumstances; protuberances on bullets tell most in high currents, and
least in a quiet atmosphere; so that had the experiments been instituted
in the open air, they would doubtless have yielded a different result.
The hexagonal bullet of large size has been proved to be very eccentric
indeed in its flight; hence a bullet of the smallest dimensions was
used, for had it been larger, its great enemy, the atmosphere, would
have rendered the chance of even partial success perfectly hopeless.

Now, observe what would be the effect of extension of length and
decrease of diameter in the Greenerean expansive bullet. Harden it by
alloys, as adopted in the Whitworth; use the same charge, and the
probability is great, that, from the absence of extreme friction, it
will excel in range, accuracy, and penetration the Whitworth, as much as
that does now the Enfield.

If the Government can see any important advantage to be gained by
extending the range we now possess; if anything is to be gained by
reduction from 25 to 50 bore; if, indeed, there is any point which is
advantageous in the Whitworth, I will pledge my reputation that this
may be obtained in the expansive principle: and that, too, with a much
less expenditure of expellant force.

The “hoodwinking” of the public by not disclosing the fact that the
pressure of the gunpowder in the Whitworth was double, the bore being
but one-half, is at best an attempt at concealment not creditable to the
parties concerned. Knowledge of the principles which regulate projectile
science is not so scanty as to allow the palm to be carried away from
the profession, and worn by a gentleman who, on his own admission, is
unpractised in the science of gunnery. The science to be effectually
improved must be carried on at the cost of the nation, as Mr.
Whitworth’s experiments were. This fact certainly bears the appearance
of a good precedent, and I hope it may be extended.

Mr. Whitworth, like General Jacob, has had to sacrifice scientific
economy in order to obtain the points he required. I have already
dilated upon the truism that all projectiles range with the greatest
economy which have the centre of gravity in the head or fore part of the
bullet. I have also pointed out the fact that the elongated projectiles
which have not the centre of gravity in the head, turn over during their
flight after leaving the muzzle of the gun; and this is also found to be
the case in rifles having a greater degree of spiral than the Enfield,
one turn in six feet 6 inches. To meet this difficulty, therefore,
General Jacob adopts one turn of spiral in every three feet: thus his
bullet in passing out has double the friction of the Enfield; and when
we look at the fact that he is further compelled to increase the length
of his bullet to 2-1/2 diameters, a little reflection will point out the
entire want of economy in his whole arrangement.

On turning to the Whitworth, we find that, in order to ensure his bullet
keeping point foremost in its flight, he has to double the very great
spiral adopted by Jacob: thus we have all its concomitant disadvantages,
friction, expenditure of matter, and danger of bursting the gun. When we
contemplate such arrangements as exist in these two guns, it must be
evident that they are both self-destructive. No system of projectiles
can be durable which is effected by straining all the acknowledged
principles of mechanics; and this has been done in each of these cases.

The scientific world knows well that a much higher rate of speed can be
attained in railway travelling than is daily practised; but they also
know that it can only be obtained in the same way as Jacob and Whitworth
obtained their range in gunnery: namely, by an excessive expenditure of
fuel, and a wear of engine amounting to comparative destruction; whilst,
at the same time, the danger is so much increased that it would be folly
and recklessness to persist in such a course. The question, therefore,
resolves itself into this; that in locomotion and in projectile science,
if we would have them perfect, we must study the mode of obtaining the
greatest results with the least expenditure of means.

Facility of loading must at all times be of great importance: the
soldier cannot have the means of cleaning his rifle when in action, and
yet if the hexagonal principle were to be adopted, it must be repeatedly
cleaned, or it would be almost impossible to load it, and when
discharged it would either burst or its fire would not be effective.
During such a war as that in India, going on day and night, a soldier
could not be expected to wash out his rifle after every half-dozen

The field in which experiments are carried on is very different from
that of a battle. Experiments, as detailed, sometimes turn out most
fallacious when put to the use for which they are intended; and in no
case is this more apparent than in breech-loading arms: thousands of
rounds may be fired in a few days with great success; but extend that
over twelve months, a certain number being fired every day, and the gun
being cleaned after each day’s practice, and long before thousands are
fired, the gun displays weak points--points which could not be
discovered in the lesser experiment. So it is in practice: a gun left
dirty for hours is undergoing rapid destruction; the unctuous deposit
from gunpowder has such an affinity for iron that minute galvanic cells
are formed on its surface in a very short time: half an hour after a gun
has been discharged in a damp atmosphere these operations may be seen to
be going on with rapidity, and an old gun on the hexagonal principle (if
one should last long enough to grow old) would not be a very desirable
weapon, in point of safety.

The comparative cost of ammunition for the hexagonal rifle and the
Enfield, is a point of no little importance. Calculation gives the
former at something equivalent to 4-1/2_d._ or 5_d._ at each discharge,
while the latter cannot exceed 1-1/4_d._, or at most 1-1/2_d._--a
serious question for the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

That this sum may be lessened by the employment of machinery is not
unlikely; but this can only be done to a limited extent, it being
essential that mathematical nicety, as well as the right degree of
hardness, should be strictly observed, otherwise the power of
penetration will be sacrificed: and of this property a great deal has
been made. There are few who do not know that a pound hammer will soon
drive to the head a fine-pointed slender nail; whilst a short, thick,
stumpy nail requires three times the force: again, if fine steel
polished nails were constructed, a still smaller amount of force would
suffice. If such effects are carefully studied, much may be done with
very little means.

Very recently a statement appeared in the press that, owing to some
ill-made cartridges being served out to the troops in India, the men
found it almost impossible to load their Enfield rifles at all; having
to call in the aid of trees and stones against which to butt the ramrod,
in order to force the bullet home. The same account attributed this
defect to the careless construction of these cartridges by the
contractors. This, however, is unjust; all cartridges for the Enfield
rifles being alone produced in the laboratory at Woolwich; and hence the
defect is the more unpardonable. It is easy to conceive that in India,
where the heat is intense, the grease on the cartridge might have
disappeared; the unctuous deposit of gunpowder on the interior of the
barrel is also rendered more adhesive, and necessarily offers greater
obstruction to the ramming down of the bullet. The very slight
difference between the diameter of the bullet and that of the bore, or
windage, must necessarily add to the difficulty under such
circumstances; but if half a size, or a few decimals of diameter, were
taken from the sides of the bullet and added to its length, the
difficulty would be effectually removed: with increased length, and
increasing means of expansion, if necessary, such an occurrence could
never take place.

The original expanding bullet was intended to fill up the difference of
three sizes of gauge; surely, then, there can be no difficulty in
expanding a much less diameter of bullet one half, or even full one size
of gauge. Where would be the difficulty in having the bullet 26-bore, or
even smaller, and expanding it to 25. The occurrence, indeed, of such a
fact as that alluded to is to an intelligent mind quite
incomprehensible; it could only arise from gross incompetency--some
cobbling with the bullet’s cup in the pressing, or perhaps enlargement
by wear, or more likely still from the pulp-made cartridge paper. That
this difficulty has been experienced is obvious; and the inference is
strong, that the official managers of these affairs are still in the
midst of a long experiment: it is clear that they are not perfectly
masters of the practice of gunnery, and it is almost time the people of
this country had their work better done. It is more than probable that,
instead of meeting this difficulty with the proper spirit of
improvement, they will fly off at some other tangent, and adopt the
nostrum of some “arrant quack;” thus effectually adding to the

Each regiment ought to have moulds, and the means of making their
cartridges on such emergencies; a body of provident officials ought to
attend to this, that a repetition of it may be avoided.

An ordinary mind would have perceived that, in such lengthened
operations as those our soldiers have been engaged in, the cleaning of
their arms would be almost impossible; still the men are not instructed
that in such a difficulty an oiled rag passed up and down the barrel
would diminish it; neither is such a simple remedy provided: let us
trust, however, that this misfortune will lead to improvement. If this
difficulty is encountered in the Enfield, which is, comparatively
speaking, a smooth bore, what would be the difficulty in the hexagonal
bore with two turns in 39 inches! The possibility of loading the latter
would be very remote indeed, if not quite impracticable, and a total bar
to anything like its general adoption.

Pure lead is indispensable for all rifle bullets, but more especially
for the expansive, which is in reality useless without it. A lubricating
grease, of a given consistency for various climates, is also a
desideratum yet to be accomplished; how desirable it would be, is shown
by all the accounts of good shooting I have ever received or met with.

A vast number of projectiles have been produced, and strenuously
advocated; but from the total want of scientific arrangement in their
construction they have had but a very short existence. The vital
principle in all elongated projectiles is to have the centre of gravity
in the fore end; wanting that, an unnecessary spinning motion must be
resorted to, at the cost of immense friction: for the tendency to change
position can only be obviated by excessive spiral motion; whilst in a
bullet having the centre of gravity in the head, much less spiral motion
suffices: its scientific construction admits of no tendency to change;
straight forward is its natural inclination, and to this inclination it

A late writer on projectiles has laboured hard to condemn the expansive
principle and the cup; he has even aspired to lecture on it before
Royalty, and as an improvement upon it, he recommends the following
invention of his own:--

“In my endeavours to remedy the evils which have been so often and
justly complained of, I attempted the construction of several bullets,
particularly with the view of solving the question--can a
cylindro-conoidal bullet be contrived, which will have a flat surface
for its base, and the centre of gravity in the fore part? In my attempts
from time to time I met with less or more success until I arrived at my
last improvement, the principle of which has afforded me so much
satisfaction, that I fancy I have only to describe it, to enable any
intelligent marksman to perceive at once the utility of the contrivance.

“In the end of the bullet, which is a fair cylinder for half its length,
I formed a cavity of a conical form, similar to the inside of a small
thimble, which stretches forward somewhat more than half the length of
the bullet, and which is wide enough to reduce sufficiently the weight
of the hinder end, so as to throw the centre of gravity into the fore
part, even after the explosion of the charge takes place. On the edge of
the cavity I made an indentation, or shoulder, about a twelfth of an
inch in depth, and upon this I placed an iron disc of the same
thickness, which closes up the cavity even with the end of the bullet,
making a flat surface of that part; so that it may be called a hollow
flat-ended bullet, though to all appearance solid.”

The adoption of the disc, and the closing of the orifice at the bottom
of the bullet, is merely the production of an elongated plug with weak
sides, which must necessarily be driven in upon themselves, and thus
shortened; and in so doing they expand. The disc prevents the
possibility of the explosive gases acting upon the centre of gravity or
the head, and thus the advantage of that being the primary motion is
lost; and which ensures the absence of “wobbling,” a principle inherent
in all plug bullets after leaving the muzzle: and a defect which it was
the main object of my invention to avoid. The idea is evidently that of
Captain Norton, as evinced in his rifle shell, and consequently is a
plagiarism, either deliberate or accidental.

[Illustration: SWISS BULLET.]

The Swiss bullet has obtained to some extent a reputation, admitting,
like the Lancaster elliptical bullet, of being put into higher velocity.
Its range, however, is limited, from the very great friction it
undergoes in passing up the barrel: it is driven in upon itself until it
becomes a mere plug of lead with a hemispherical head; and the centre of
gravity being behind, ensures its flight frequently terminating by
turning “topsy turvy.” Moreover, it cannot be used on a large scale,
except by the addition of a hard metal point, as in General Jacob’s

The wisdom displayed in rifling barrels with the gathering or deepening
groove may be doubted; it admits of serious consideration, whether or
not it tends to increase the friction of the bullet passing outward. It
is evident that did the bullet expand all at once it would do so; but as
this is well known not to be the case, the question arises what is the
advantage gained? for it is asserted on high authority that it improves
the shooting. The mere deepening of the grooves at the breech end can
have but little effect; and the question is, does the shallowing of the
grooves as the bullet approaches the muzzle, produce the effect? We
think it does. In the process of rifling these barrels, the rifling
tool, by a very ingenious arrangement of screws, is caused gradually to
cut deeper as it travels from the muzzle to the breech, so that when
finished the depth of grooves at the muzzle is ·005 of an inch; half-way
down the barrel it is ·010, and at the breech end ·015: thus gradually
deepening 10/1000 of an inch, whereas the usual method of rifling is to
have one uniform depth of ·010 inches. From the contraction of the
protuberances on the bullet from 1/10 to 1/5000 of an inch in passing up
the barrel, results the apparent benefit: such a reduction would surely
allow of the bullet continuing its flight with less friction on the
atmosphere; for it cannot be too often repeated that perfect smoothness,
even to a polished surface, is essential to the easy passage of all
bullets through the air.

There are some rather curious deductions obtained by practice alone,
which to ordinary minds appear of trifling importance; but they clearly
show that correct rifle-shooting can only be obtained by the most
perfect arrangement in the rifling and scientific construction of the

The Government have lately adopted a highly finished and costly rifle
arm, with sword bayonet attached to the usual form of bar soldered to
the end of the barrels on the right side. When these barrels were first
constructed, they were made lighter than experience subsequently showed
they ought to be; for it was found that the barrel not expanding equally
with the other portions at this necessarily rigid point, influenced the
shooting of the gun to a considerable extent; so that an increase of
metal was found necessary.

The difficulty of obtaining good shooting with double rifles, one side
of each barrel being held rigid whilst the other is yielding, explains
the difficulty, and points to the remedy: an increase of metal, or, what
would be more convenient, the adoption of the most perfect laminated
steel for all double rifles; it being self-evident that soft barrels and
correct rifle-shooting are to a certain extent incompatible.

Double rifles have nearly superseded single ones; for few who can afford
the additional price will use the latter, when in the same weight he can
have two useful weapons. The one great end generally sought in a rifle
is sufficient weight to neutralise the force of the explosion or recoil;
and the additional barrel answers this as effectually as additional
thickness of iron in the single. But there is one objection which I have
never been able to master in the construction of double rifle barrels,
and I much doubt the possibility of effectually overcoming it--another
proof that mathematical demonstrations are frequently wrong in practice,
however correct in theory. Many hold it to be essential that double
rifle barrels should be put together perfectly parallel. I followed this
rule, and was at considerable cost in perfecting tools for the purpose;
yet, strange to say, in trial I found invariably that the right barrel
threw the ball slightly to the right, and the left to the left. This I
have been at enormous trouble to ascertain, and am enabled positively
to declare it is an indisputable fact. The cause of it is evidently the
recoil not striking the stock in the centre, but on one side; which
causes the gun to swerve to that side. However small or unapparent the
recoil may be, still there is a recoil; and hence its effect. To remedy
this it is necessary to incline the barrels in, towards the muzzle, to
counteract that tendency; but in doing this another evil is created, for
you can only do this to suit a given distance, either 100, 150, or 200
yards, as may be determined. Thus it will be perceived a deficiency must
exist at all times; and it shows clearly the necessity for motion being
resisted centrically, if truth is to be maintained. This defect in the
double rifle will always be a drawback to the “_most correct_ shooting;”
yet under ordinary circumstances it may not be a matter of vital
importance, neither does there exist any means of sighting to overcome
the difficulty. The only way to obtain a double rifle perfectly
true--perfectly parallel, is to construct the barrels one above the
other, as double pistols are now constructed. The only objection to them
is the difficulty attending the arrangement of the locks, as one cock
must strike the nipple the thickness of the barrel below the other, and
is an unsightly matter at best. These facts lead to another, namely, the
necessity of all rifles being stocked as straight as possible, avoiding
in all cases any casting off in the butt; as it is evident that these
matters have considerable influence on the correctness of shooting.

One great drawback to correct shooting is produced from the stock being
thrown off at the butt end; and, in other cases, from imperfections in
the stocking of the gun--all truth depending on the barrel or barrels
being both stocked and held perfectly level in the act of using. It must
be quite clear, that in case the right barrel of a pair be depressed but
the 32nd part of an inch, the angle of the sight on the top, instead of
giving elevation, will cause the line of flight of ball to be to the
left, and “_vice versâ_.” Therefore, first of all be sure the gun is
held square; and great advantage will be found in pointing the muzzle in
all cases a few feet below the object, and raising it in a perfect line
upwards to the bull’s eye. If this can be done well, in addition to the
gun being held square, the better half of the difficulty is overcome;
further practice will make perfect.

The point next in importance, is to take off the weight of the pull in
the trigger, during the upward motion; overcoming the last atom of
weight as the muzzle sight covers the bull’s eye. It must be done so
gradually, that no jerk or pull can move the gun, be it ever so
triflingly: in fact, all good shots fire thus while the gun is in
motion. If the sight cannot be correctly obtained during the movement,
always take the rifle down from the shoulder, and raise it again; for
depend upon it, rifle shooting can never be acquired perfectly, where
the habit is practised of holding the gun at the shoulder, “poking” the
muzzle about and seeking the bull’s eye. All good shooting is produced
from the shoulder; an absence of pulsation in the body which is induced
by holding a weight. The shoulder rests are found to be the cause of
vibration; resting one part of the body and straining another begets it
instantly, and where rests are used they should be merely supports for
the muzzle, and not for the centre of the gun. If the centre is placed
upon it, the action of recoil is almost sure to jump the gun upwards.
The best shooting can be accomplished from the shoulder, if the above
instructions be carefully followed. Avoid in all cases gripping a rifle
tightly, or you will most assuredly communicate the pulsation of the
body to the rifle.

During the Crimean war many of the Enfield rifles expanded so much with
the Pritchett plug bullet as not only to loosen all the bands on the
stock, but also to produce a visible effect on the barrel; and to remedy
this the Government adopted my expanding screw bands, which admit of
being tightened by the screw when necessary.

The production of a perfect breech-loading small arm is as difficult as
the production of a perfect breech-loading cannon, and that is so
problematical as to amount, in my humble opinion, to nearly an
impossibility. All experience teaches that a perfectly sound base of
projection in the gun is indispensable, if good direction and velocity
are required; without which there can be no good shooting. If this be a
law, how can it be obtained where soundness is absent? Joints, slides,
and their attendants, are all incompatible with soundness: the two
cannot exist together; and hence no breech-loader can give the same
results as a solid constructed gun barrel, unsoundness and absorption of
power being always found to go hand in hand together.

I have had considerable experience in breech-loading guns, having
obtained one or two patents; and very careful attention to the subject
has satisfied me that the question was sufficiently ventilated soon
after the adoption of gunnery, and that it was exhausted by many
hundreds of inventors as ingenious as those of the present day; the
result being in all cases a total failure.

One of the best breech-loading carbines of the present day is
undoubtedly that of Mr. F. W. Prince, and those to whom they are
unobjectionable will certainly find in this the simplest and a most
effective weapon of the kind: Mr. Prince has certainly made the most of
the practical knowledge he has brought to bear upon the invention.

Revolving rifles are, like revolving pistols, complicated weapons,
useful only for certain purposes; requiring, as they do, very great care
and cleanliness, to insure at best their limited services. Long barrels
are useless, because all the velocity that can be given to the
projectile has to be generated in the revolving chambers; all the
superfluous force escaping at the joint of breeches and barrels. For any
useful purpose, a nine-inch would be better than a longer barrel,
allowing the bullet to leave the muzzle at a much higher velocity than
it would do after passing through a barrel of thirty inches. It is
evident, indeed, that a revolving pistol and a revolving rifle are
possessed of power in inverse ratio to their lengths.

The French Government are making great efforts to improve their military
system, in imparting to every soldier as much information relative to
his weapons and the best method of using them, as is compatible with his
limited education. Their institution of a normal-school for the
instruction of the whole army in all that relates to guns, shooting, and
natural “trigonometry,” is proof of this. A detachment from every
infantry regiment in the service arrives at “Vincennes” early in the
spring, and the men undergo a complete course of instruction during the
whole of the summer and autumn months, or until by ability they acquire
all that is to be taught. The first and a very essential part of the
duty is to teach them to judge of distance; for this purpose a soldier
takes a target, and runs straight ahead as far as he pleases. Having
planted it, each man is called upon to judge the distance, which is
recorded in a report of the day. This exercise is carried on to a great
extent, until each becomes well able to judge correctly; then commences
the instruction in shooting, each soldier using an elevation according
to the distance he calculates he is from the target; and this is
practised at all distances, from 500 to 1,000 paces. The greatest degree
of perfection attained by the instructed is rewarded, by promotion or
otherwise; and such skill in shooting is displayed by these various
detachments as would truly astonish our military officers.

The accomplishment of a school of instruction for teachers of rifle
shooting to the British army is now an established fact; the results,
most flattering to the projectors, more than verifying their
anticipations. The degree of perfection attained by some before leaving
Hythe is so extraordinary, that I will leave the reality to be imagined
or witnessed; and it will well repay the journey. The standing order
lately issued, awarding substantial benefits to the adept in shooting,
is sure to bear its fruits, and is only the first step to many others of
no less importance.

Double rifled carbines can be constructed of so light a weight that
their exclusive use for cavalry purposes is not far distant, 5-1/2
pounds being sufficient weight to ensure perfect safety. A carbine of
this description, from 18 to 20 inches in the barrel, could give a
practical range of from 600 to 700 yards, with an extreme range of 1,000
to 1,100. A cavalry soldier armed with two of these would be equal to
four of the present day, for they would be no greater encumbrance than
the late carbine used by the Guards, which approaches 10 lbs. in weight;
and a pair of double carbines could easily be carried at the saddle bow,
their length being no obstacle.

Revolvers have not yet been, and I fear they never can be, made
sufficiently durable to become a useful cavalry appendage. The fact may
be concealed, but it is true, nevertheless, that their fragile nature,
independently of their great cost, will always confine their use to an
exclusive few: indeed, revolving and breech-loading weapons are among
the doubtful class of arms, not fully developed as yet, even if they
ever can be.

The adoption of double carbines will eventually throw all other small
arms for cavalry purposes into the back ground; a range of 1,000 yards
with a toy 5-1/2 lbs. in weight is one of the greatest wonders of this
wonderful age, showing the astonishing change which has been effected in
gunnery: for a deadly power now exists in the most Lilliputian toy as
well as in the Brobdignagian monster; and that, too, at immense
distances. In proof of this, I will just quote a letter from that
gallant officer, Lieutenant William A. Kerr, Southern Mahratta Irregular

  “_Camp, Bejapore, May 29th, 1858._


  “I have received the Enfield carbine, and am much pleased with it in
  every respect. It cannot, I consider, be improved on, and is by far
  the best weapon for the mounted service I have ever handled. It is but
  due to you that I should mention, that your work, as put into the
  carbine, is far beyond what I expected at the money. I hope to be in a
  position, at no very distant date, to give you a heavy commission, and
  will certainly recommend you in every way I can. I have knocked over a
  deer at 400 yards with the carbine, and make very good practice up to
  800 yards, by firing with two drachms of fine rifle powder. I have
  given it, and Prince’s breech-loader, a fair trial; the latter cannot
  be compared to the former; it has not the same range, power of
  projection, or of shooting; it moreover fouls in the proportion of at
  least 3 to 1 more. Had I had such carbines at Kolapore, I would have
  destroyed the 27th Native Infantry in an hour.

  “I am, sir, yours, &c.,


The weight of this single carbine is only 5-1/4 lbs., and it is 20
inches in the barrel. The great power of shooting would justify a
reduction of length to 15 inches, thus reducing the weight to a little
over 4-1/4 lbs.; and yet this carbine would be more certain in its
effects at 600 yards, than old Brown Bess at 150. The complaint that
carbines are found to be an encumbrance in the service is no longer
valid: they may be made to form merely a portion of the saddle with the
same facility of handling as a pistol, and with a hundredfold greater
accuracy of range.

[Illustration: Mr. Greener’s Model Carbine, 22 inches long in the
barrel, .577 bore, 5-1/4 lbs. weight.]

The hybrid affair, adopted by the Government, of a pistol made to serve
as a carbine by the introduction of a loose butt, is of doubtful
utility: if valuable as a carbine, it will never be used as a pistol;
hence it had been much better to make it a carbine at once, thus
rendering it at the same time more durable and less costly: even a
double carbine might be constructed at about twice the price paid for
the socket joint alone. But there is still a want in the Government
establishment of “designers” of ability; all that has been effected by
way of improvement has been done by feeling the way: a kind of
progressional experiment, with a total absence of mind to grasp good
ideas, and to hold them fast. The arms used by the corps of Guides who
have distinguished themselves so much in India are now seven years old,
and they will bear comparison with the best arms our Government are only
just now producing: in fact, the irregular cavalry in India have always
been armed with weapons in advance of those of the Government troops;
and the explanation of this is very suggestive, they provide arms for
themselves, and are more alive than the Government officials to the
importance of having good ones.

The adoption of greased cartridges in India by some irregular corps,
took place in carbines supplied by me eight or nine years ago; and the
origin of the idea was this:--

The principal objection urged against the adoption of the rifle, is that
of loading. I know not how quickly it is possible to load a musket; but
with cartridges properly made, I think I could load and fire a rifle
four times in a minute. But then it will be said, at the conclusion of
so many shots, the rifle gets so foul, that it will be difficult to get
the ball down. Not difficult at all. Have your cartridges made with a
saturated cover, to surround the ball, and fit properly the grooves of
the rifle.

It would clean the barrel so much, as to allow forty shots to be fired
with as much ease as you now fire twenty. Or let a steel-wire brush be
attached to the rifle; and by screwing it to the end of the rod, you
can, by two or three times rubbing up and down, remove any accumulation
of dirt from the powder. If, however, the covering I have mentioned were
used with a weighty rod to the rifle, there would be no occasion for
cleaning, short of fifty shots.

Experience leaves no room for doubt that a few grooves are better than
many, in all expansive-principled rifles: the nearer the approach to a
smooth surface the better, and the three divisions of grooves and
projections adopted by the British Government is the best to meet all
requirements. They will shoot as well as poly-grooved rifles; and if
three grooves give the same result, more are unnecessary and useless.
The advantage of the atmosphere acting to keep the bullet steady by its
current down the grooving on the bullet seems to meet with no
confirmation; improved shooting accruing by the grooves being reduced,
as in the case of the gathering-grooved rifle experiments. In all cases
of wild animal shooting at short distances with small charges, the many
grooves will be an advantage: the same as those formerly adopted, and
which are shown in the cut.


Expansive bullets may be effectually used; but in varying charges,
incidental to game shooting, the same form of cavity in the bullet as
is observed in the Enfield would not act, therefore a large cavity would
be preferable to enable the less charge to act in expanding the lead
into the grooving.

For other purposes than war, rifles will continue to be constructed on
the poly-groove principle, and with spherical bullets. The perfect
destruction of various animals is dependent generally on two causes: the
penetration into the body, and the shock to the system during that act
of penetration. No doubt exists that a spherical bullet would combine
these two qualities best. The 25 bore, the 32 and 50 hexagonal bore
would be, practically speaking, useless for the killing of elephants,
tigers, &c. The effectual and instant killing of seals on ice is an
illustration: failing to kill a seal dead, he will to a certainty reach
his hole in the ice, and disappear, to the shooter’s serious
disappointment. Small bore elongated bullets were very rapidly adopted,
and as rapidly abandoned. “They did not kill dead;” the spherical bullet
did this better. It would be wise to pause and consider whether a good
military rifle is a good game-shooting rifle or not: whether the hole in
the beast be wide enough. I am inclined to think the reduction to a bore
of 25 too small for this purpose. In military muskets of smooth bore,
the elongated bullet is not applicable: very little benefit is gained in
using them in a smooth bore; and, although the original invention
contemplated this, experience decided otherwise. The spherical bullet
being thus indispensable, it follows that one size should be adopted
which combines the greatest number of favourable points. Many years ago
I made numberless experiments to ascertain this fact, and had it
demonstrated beyond all doubt to be a bore of 18 and a bullet of 19; the
difference in size admitting of the paper of the cartridge with a
moderate degree of tightness. The ultimate range of such a musket with
three drachms of gunpowder, would be equal to the range of the Enfield;
but, of course, without one-tenth its accuracy. Yet for close quarters,
line-firing, or quickness of loading, the musket will hold its place for
centuries to come; and that this opinion is entertained by many
officers, is proved by the fact that our Government is at this moment
issuing contracts for 100,000 plain-bored muskets: 17 bore, 3 feet 3
inches long in the barrel. The near approximation of bore to my standard
is suggestive of the influence my writings have had after many years, as
the following extract from my book of 1842 shows:--

“Military rifles should never be shorter than three feet--say three feet
three inches, with half-turn of spiral--the length of the musket. They
should not be larger in the bore than a ball eighteen to the pound, as
at that length a force, calculated to throw an extreme distance, might
be generated. Whatever may be the arguments for heavy substances, they
do not avail here, as it is impossible to throw them either with
velocity or accuracy; for there never can be certainty, where so much
elevation is required. The size of ball we have mentioned, can be thrown
with great certainty, as far, if not farther, than any soldier in her
Majesty’s service can accurately survey a single object. For the purpose
of annoying a dense body of men, such as a square column, such a rifle
would be an invaluable gun; as the muskets now made will not throw a
ball one-half the distance. As to the actual range of a rifle of this
bore and length, I should think it would reach, effectively, the
distance of 1,500 yards.”

The experimental or competitive trials by the Royal Engineers at Chatham
to prove the superiority of the elliptical bored rifle over the Enfield,
is another of those occasional clap-traps with which the public are
amused. The ordinary reader would judge and set it down for an
established fact that the elliptical rifle was, as has generally been
represented, an invention purely Lancasterian, gun and bullet; while the
real facts are quite contrary: true, the barrel is rifled, slightly
elliptical, and having “an increasing spiral;” but the ammunition is
that of the Enfield--the “‘Greenerian’ expansive bullet with the centre
of gravity in the head.” The bullet that Lancaster adopted, as well
known, had a leaden plug. I quote from the report of the select

  “The plug bullet used by Mr. Lancaster does not appear suitable for
  military service, for when the plug is driven into the bullet by the
  ignition of the powder, it generally nips the paper of the cartridge
  between itself and the base of the bullet, and carries a portion of it
  away, as may be seen by the specimens sent to the committee; upon the
  amount of paper so carried away by the ball depends the accuracy or
  inaccuracy of its flight; and the plugs do not in all cases remain
  firmly attached to the bullet.”

What then are these trials conducted to prove? It cannot be the
superiority of Lancaster’s bullet; for he has abandoned that, “_and uses
the Enfield_.” Is it the rifling?--if so, let us see what the same
committee say of that:--

  “The chief peculiarity of this rifle consists in the inner surface of
  the barrel being smooth, instead of cut into grooves, as in most
  rifled barrels. As a substitute for grooves, the interior of the
  barrel is cut into the form of an ellipse, whose major axis exceeds
  the minor by ·005 of an inch. The ball is rifled by being forced (when
  expanded by the explosion of the gunpowder) into the major axis of the
  ellipse, which thus fulfils the office of grooves in conducting the
  ball into the required degree of spiral motion.

  “As Mr. Lancaster has adopted the American plan of a ‘gaining-twist,’
  or ‘increasing spiral,’ and applied it to his smooth-bored barrels
  with _elongated_ projectiles, it may be as well to consider the merits
  of this system.

  “The advantages are supposed to be:

  “1st. Increased accuracy.

  “2nd. Less recoil.

  “3rd. An absence of the tendency a ball has, when starting with a
  rapid spiral, to twist the rifle over sideways to the right or left,
  according to the inclination of the grooves.

  “4th. A diminution of the tendency a ball has to ‘strip’ when first

  “1st. The alleged increased accuracy has been by some attributed to
  the supposition that the revolutions of the bullet round its own axis
  increase in rapidity while passing through the air, in consequence of
  having acquired that motion when passing through the barrel, under the
  influence of the grooves; but it is difficult to imagine how a leaden
  bullet can carry within itself, after leaving the muzzle, any power of
  increasing its own rotatory or progressive motion.

  “2nd. That there should be less recoil is natural, as the bullet meets
  with less opposition when first started from a state of rest; but the
  amount of recoil in all rifles now made for expanding projectiles is
  quite inconsiderable, and not worth noticing.

  “3rd. The tendency of a bullet to twist the rifle on one side is now
  avoided by reducing the spirality of the grooves. Instead of being
  one turn in three or four feet as formerly, it is now one turn in six
  feet six inches, and sometimes only one turn in eight or nine feet.

  “4th. The advocates of this system maintain that a bullet is less
  likely to ‘strip,’ or pass out of the barrel without rifling itself,
  when conducted gradually into the required degree of spirality. But
  the question is, whether in a well-constructed rifle, the bullet
  _does_ strip? and if not, then a gaining-twist is unnecessary and
  objectionable, as it offers to the ball’s progress a continually
  increasing opposition, while the ball itself is subjected to a
  continually increasing urging force from the inflamed gunpowder in the
  barrel, so that, as the velocity of the ball increases, so also does
  the resistance to its escape. A projectile is set in motion gradually,
  and is (or should be, if the quality and quantity of the powder, and
  the barrel, have a right proportion to each other) at its greatest
  velocity just before leaving the muzzle; consequently the tendency of
  a ball would be to yield to the increasing force of the powder and
  pass straight out of the barrel without following the grooves; and
  this more especially in a smooth bore, which has no clearly defined
  edges to hold and guide the ball to its proper degree of spirality,
  but where the lead may be compressed along the smooth surface so as to
  pass straight along the barrel.”

So much for the gaining twist; it requires no further argument. The oval
bore is not an invention of Mr. Lancaster: it is older than Captain
Beaufoy’s book, “Scloppetaria,” published in 1808, for in it you will
find a description how to rifle a smooth bore; and he gives drawings of
the tools to do it with.

If these statements are facts--and I defy them being gainsaid--what
connection has this gentleman with it at all? for what purpose is it
pompously announced that the Lancaster elliptical bored rifle shoots
superior to the Enfield, when there is _not such a thing_? The superior
shooting of one man over another is more than sufficient explanation.
The highly unscientific theory of putting a bullet into excessive
spiral motion at the instant it has acquired a maximum of velocity is
untenable, admitting of no lucid explanation. The Enfield rifle has
evidently many enemies, who do not hesitate in injuring her reputation,
nor hesitate about the means of doing it. All elliptical bores are but
the two-grooved rifle in disguise: an idea fast exploding.

The truth of my opinion about the two-grooved or Brunswick rifle,
introduced into the service in 1840, is now proved. Many of my readers
will recollect that in my books of 1842 and 1846 I termed this “an
abortion of science:” it has since died with that cognomen; though it
was puffed up, as my readers will remember, by many high authorities,
and amongst the rest by Dr. Ure, who said nearly as much for it as is
now advanced in favour of the hexagonal rifle. On referring to the
report of the Select Committee on Small Arms, published in 1852, I find
the following account of it:--

  “At all distances above 400 yards the shooting was so wild as to be
  unrecorded. The Brunswick rifle has shown itself to be much inferior
  in point of range to every other arm hitherto noticed.

  “The loading of this rifle is so difficult that it is wonderful how
  the rifle regiments have continued to use it so long--the force
  required to ram down the ball being so great as to render any man’s
  hand unsteady for accurate shooting. Comment is unnecessary.”

The Prussian needle gun, too, has departed this life: another instance
of the absurdity of adopting plans containing in themselves the reverse
of scientific principles; for it may safely be accepted as an axiom that
success at the present day can only arise to mechanical constructions
which are based on those immutable foundations of mechanical science in
accordance with great Nature’s laws.

That the principles of the expansive or “Greenerian” rifles are fast
gaining the approbation of all scientific men qualified by their
pursuits to judge, is evident from the fact that Birmingham has
contributed, within the last twelve months, a considerable number of
workmen to construct Enfield rifles in all the principal States of
Europe. France, and Russia especially, are expending large amounts in
manufacturing this arm; so that it is no stretch of imagination to
suppose that in a few years the equilibrium of arms will be again
established, all nations being armed with equally good weapons, to
contrast with the contemptible ones of bygone times.

Before separating for the recess, a question was asked from the
officials by an honourable member in the House of Commons:--“When a
report would be given in as to the relative merits of the Enfield and
Whitworth rifles as military weapons?” The answer given was evidently
intended to mystify; for, from the most intimate inquiries I have made,
I find that no experiments whatever are in progress. The last took place
at Woolwich, in October, 1857, and terminated so very unsatisfactorily,
that Mr. Whitworth wished to make some alterations in his rifles, in
order to overcome the difficulties presented. Up to the present time the
authorities inform me that no other rifles have been sent in for further

The defects demonstrated in these experiments were precisely those
pointed out in this chapter. On reversing their positions, “hard bullets
_v._ soft,” the penetration of the Enfield was found to be equal to that
of the Whitworth; the same number of elm deals being perforated. This
proves what may be done by “mechanical dodges,” and how intimately
acquainted those in charge of “gunnery experiments” ought to be with all
its ramifications, or they, too, may be hoodwinked.

The difficulty of loading was here more strongly exemplified than at
Hythe. The deposit from the “Government gunpowder” became so tenacious
in the “hexagonal grooves,” that after a certain number of shots,
loading became a very difficult matter indeed; so much so, that Mr.
Whitworth considerately provided a very superior description of
gunpowder, with which the hexagonal rifle worked a little better. The
recoil, too, was of that severe kind as to leave strong recollections of
its force on the minds of the reluctant operative shooters employed to
carry out the experiment. The entire result may be summed up, in the
mildest term, as “unsatisfactory.” The concealment of this result may be
probably a considerate act on the part of the late Government; the
parts acted by some of the members of it must be strong in the
recollection of others; and letting _down quietly_ this very highly
inflated “wind-bag,” when it showed symptoms of collapse, was doubtless
a judicious act.



Revolving or repeating pistols have now become as necessary in war as
the rifle. The peculiarity of the contests in various parts of America
first showed the necessity of a weapon being constructed, the moral and
destructive effects of which should be equal.

Colonel Colt was unquestionably the first to overcome the difficulties
found to exist in the earliest productions, and when the introduction of
the revolver into Europe became general, and the demands for it
increased, the manufacturers were enabled, from the commencement, to
avoid the defects which he had overcome in the course of his experience;
and thus, their task was a lighter one than his. An immense number of
revolving pistols have been constructed in a very short time; but, like
all new creations in mechanical science, the production has been
distinguished by quantity rather than quality. The general adoption of
these arms has been greatly impeded by the very inferior quality
produced. Revolving pistols may be had from 10_s._ upwards; but as to
the utility of such cheap trash nothing can be said. The possession of
one may have a moral effect on the courage of the bearer, and its
appearance may act on the fears of the opponent, but the danger is
greatest to him who fires. The complicated arrangement of all repeating
fire-arms requires that they should be of the very best workmanship, if
they are to be safe and efficient weapons. That they have been of the
utmost use to the allied armies in the Crimea, and in that more
desultory but treacherous struggle in the East, is certain. Many and
valuable lives have been saved by their ready application. The moral
effect of the revolver was amply demonstrated where one noble young
soldier held his post at “Rewah” by the dread of his revolver alone; the
mutineers knowing well that six of them must fall before they could
reach him, and feeling that each might be one of the six, he held his
own until relief came.

Again, a tale is told of another gallant officer who shot five in
succession, reserving the sixth for that arch-miscreant Nana Sahib; but
unfortunately that sixth barrel missed fire. How many thousands of lives
that shot might have saved had it been successfully fired! With all
good, however, comes a certain amount of evil: no perfect weapon has
ever yet been constructed; but this shows how desirable it is that a
perfect revolver should be invented, if possible.

There are but few manufacturers of revolvers who have reached any degree
of eminence: Colt, Dean, Adams, Tranter, and Webley, comprise nearly all
the distinguished men in this country. There are a multitude of
second-rate makers in England, France, and Belgium; but the most
celebrated makers in Europe are those I have enumerated; and in order
to guide the reader as far as my knowledge will serve, I will
impartially point out the advantages and defects belonging to each

The construction of Colonel Colt’s repeating pistol is, according to his
own description, a motion got by cocking the lock and rotating the
cylinders; as described in the following quotation:--

  “They differ from those formerly made, principally in the greater
  simplicity and the better proportions of the parts of the lock and the
  framework. Important additions and improvements have been made in the
  loading lever and rammer for forcing the balls firmly into the
  cylinder, the employment of the helical or spiral groove on the arbor
  on which the cylinder turns, whose sharp edges are intended to prevent
  fouling by scraping off any smoke or dirt accumulating in the cylinder
  from the lateral fire entering the centre opening, and the inclined
  plane leading to the recesses on the periphery of the cylinder, to
  direct the bolt below the opposite shoulder in the recesses; thus
  preventing the cylinder from being accidentally thrown too far by the
  sudden action of cocking. The lock is now composed of five working
  parts, instead of seventeen, as formerly; and it is obvious that if
  the several parts of the machinery are made proportionally strong for
  the work they have to do, so is the arm rendered more efficient by the
  greater simplicity of the general construction.

  “In all arms having a moveable breech it is desirable to bring the
  barrel and cylinder as nearly in contact as possible, in order to
  prevent the escape of lateral fire, and yet to leave freedom for
  motion, without friction: this is now effected by the base pin, on
  which the cylinder turns, entering a corresponding opening in the
  under part of the barrel, being there held in place by a key passing
  through and bearing against the back end of the slot in the barrel,
  and the fore end of the slot in the base pin, which is thus drawn up
  to the bottom of the hole, and yet the barrel is prevented from being
  brought too close upon, or in absolute contact with, the cylinder,
  whilst its end is still held in its proper position with respect to
  the cylinder. In the event of any abrasion of the end of the cylinder
  or of the barrel, by deepening the cavity, or filing the end of the
  base pin, the key can be driven further in, and the proper distance
  for the readjustment of those parts be maintained, whilst the
  essential rigidity of structure is secured.

  “In loading the present arm, it is necessary to draw back the hammer
  to the half notch, to allow the cylinder to be rotated freely by hand;
  a charge of powder is then placed in each chamber, and the balls,
  without wadding or patch, are put one at a time upon the mouths of the
  chambers, turned under the rammer and forced down, by the lever, below
  the mouth of the chamber. This is repeated until all the chambers are
  loaded. Percussion caps are then placed on the nipples, when, by
  drawing back the hammer to the full catch, the click or lever is
  brought into contact with one of the ratchet teeth, on the base of the
  cylinder, bringing the nipple into the precise position to receive the
  blow of the hammer: the arm is then in a condition for being
  discharged by simply pulling the trigger; and a repetition of the same
  portion produces the like results, until all the chambers are
  discharged through the barrel.

  “The movements of the revolving chamber and hammer are admirably
  provided for. The breach, containing six cylindrical cells for holding
  the powder and ball, moves one-sixth of a revolution at a time; it
  can, therefore, only be fired when the chamber and the barrel are in a
  direct line. The base of the cylindrical breech being cut externally
  into a circular ratchet of six teeth (the lever which moves the
  ratchet being attached to the hammer), as the hammer is raised in the
  act of cocking, the cylinder is made to revolve, and to revolve in one
  direction only. While the hammer is falling, the chamber is firmly
  held in its position by a lever fitted for the purpose; when the
  hammer is raised, the lever is removed and the chamber released.

  “So long as the hammer remains at half-cock the chamber is free, and
  can be loaded at pleasure. The rapidity with which these arms can be
  loaded is one of their great recommendations, the powder being merely
  poured into each receptacle in succession, and the balls being then
  dropped in upon it, without any wadding, and driven home by the
  ramrod, which of course is never required to enter the barrel.

  “While carried in the pocket, or belt, there is no possibility of an
  accidental discharge of these pistols. Whenever it is required to
  clean the barrel and chamber, they can be taken to pieces in a moment,
  wiped out, oiled, and replaced.

  “The hammer at full-cock forms the sight by which aim is taken. The
  pistol is readily cocked by the thumb of the right hand, a plan in
  every way far superior to the arrangement whereby the hammer is raised
  by a pull on the trigger: this is in every respect most objectionable,
  the pull materially interfering with the correctness of aim; and the
  sear-spring having the duty of the main-spring to perform as well, is
  apt constantly to be getting out of order.

  “The ramrod attached to these pistols consists of a very clever but
  simple compound lever, which, forcing the ball effectually home,
  hermetically seals the chamber containing the powder, and by the
  application of a small quantity of wax to the nipple before capping,
  the pistol may be immersed for hours in water without the chance of a

The great disadvantage said to be existing in this revolver is the
necessity of cocking and half-cocking at every discharge; which double
action is difficult in certain positions where revolvers are of the
greatest use, as in a melée surrounded by many enemies, where the
cocking and firing by one pulling motion, as in Tranter’s and Dean’s, is
more expeditious: in fact, certificates are published by officers who,
at the battle of Inkermann, would have been cut down had the slightest
delay been necessary for cocking the pistol. On the other hand, it is
said, that no certain aim can be taken where the pulling up and sudden
liberation of the mainspring discharges the pistol; the act of
discharging it destroying the aim. These two points have their advocates
and their objectors, as has always been the case with new plans.

The mechanical construction of Colt’s pistol is effected entirely by
machinery, and on this account superiority is claimed for it; in my
opinion, however, the boasted benefits of machinery have never yet been
realised. The manufacture of guns without machinery is difficult, but
the entire use of it is unnecessary. Certain portions of pistol-making
can never be done as they should be by machinery; and I have not yet
been able to discover anything in Colt’s manufacture to make me advocate
the use of machinery. I should not consider a pistol made by hand, and
equal to the best of Colt’s, as well made; a hand-made pistol ought to
be much better in all respects.

Dean and Adams were the first makers of note who contested the palm with
Colt. They thus describe their pistol:--

  “The barrel, the lock-frame, and top-bar were all forged out of one
  piece of iron: the chamber to contain five charges, revolved on a
  centre pin, which could be either drawn entirely, or partially out, as
  was required and was held in its position by a side spring; the
  toothed ratchet was secured to the base of the chamber by two screws,
  so as to admit of its being renewed, when it was abraded by use, and
  motion was given to it by a ratchet pall, connected with the hammer,
  which was lifted by pulling the trigger. The hammer moved on a
  transverse pin, and was pressed down on the nipple by a back spring in
  the stock, being connected with it by a swivel link; the trigger was
  kept in position by a horizontal bent spring, and had attached to it
  the hammer-lifter and the ratchet pall; the point of the former fell
  into a notch in the base of the hammer, so that as the trigger was
  pulled, the hammer was raised, until the rounded portion of the base,
  acting as a cam, forced the lifter out of the notch, and allowed the
  hammer to descend on the nipple and to explode the percussion-cap. On
  withdrawing the finger from the trigger, the lifter and ratchet pall
  descended and again slipped into the notches of the hammer and the
  chamber, in readiness for repeating the operation of firing. The
  lifter was retained in contact with the hammer, by a small flat
  spring, the upper end of which was attached to the pall, while the
  lower end acted upon the lifter, which, in turning on its centre,
  brought the lower prolongation against the spring, below the centre,
  so as to press the upper end in the proper direction, in order that
  its action might be certain.

  “The rotation of the chambers was obtained by a ratchet pall, acting
  on a tooth each time the trigger was pulled, thus causing the chambers
  to revolve, so far as to bring a nipple into the proper position for
  receiving the blow of the hammer, and in that situation it was held by
  a projecting stop on the back of the trigger.

  “In order to load the chambers it was necessary that they should
  revolve free of the stop: this was effected by pressing inwards
  another stop, attached to a spring on the side of the lock, which
  engaged the point of the hammer and prevented it from descending on
  the nipple, until the chambers were loaded, when, on the trigger being
  pulled, the side spring stop was released and resumed its original
  position, leaving the weapon ready for action.

  “The bullets were cast with a small ‘tang’ on them, which served to
  fix a wad on each; thus no ramrod was required in loading, the bullets
  being merely pressed in with the finger. The aperture of the barrel
  was slightly expanded at the lower end to admit of the bullets
  entering more readily in firing. The rifling of the barrel was the
  reverse of the ordinary system, as it consisted of three projecting
  ‘feathers,’ or ridges, extending the length of the tube, leaving very
  wide grooves between them.

  “It would be observed, that the cocking and firing were performed by
  the same action of the trigger; therefore the rapidity of firing was
  proportionally great; the arm was very light, its construction simple,
  and its action certain.”

The defect of cocking and firing by the same action of the trigger must
have been important; for new patents were, I believe, taken to cover
both plans, and they now manufacture what is termed a double-action
pistol, which acts either by cocking with the finger, or by the trigger,
as of old. The important improvement in the durability and soundness of
Dean and Adams’s pistol over Colt’s is, that the barrel, the lock-frame,
and top bar, are all forged out of one piece of iron; thus, the
cylinders revolve in a frame which cannot undergo any displacement.

In Colt’s, the barrel is supported by a crooked elbow, rising from the
centre, or revolving pin; its principal support consequently is some
distance below the tube of the barrel, but parallel to it: the effect of
long firing is to bend this elbow, causing the barrel to fall or droop
downward, instead of continuing in a straight line with the chambers;
thus, an opening between the chambers and the barrel is established,
increasing the space for lateral escape.

Next, though certainly not least, is Tranter’s pistol, of three
different modes of construction. The name of this manufacturer has risen
higher than that of his London competitors; owing, no doubt, in a great
measure, to the generally entertained opinion that all essential
improvements in the English revolving pistols have arisen from the skill
and untiring industry of Mr. William Tranter. Whether the opinion that
he originated all the improvements claimed for Dean and Adams’s pistol
is well founded or not, I cannot say: I only reiterate the opinion; and
I believe, from the very great attention Mr. Tranter has paid to the
subject, and from his great mechanical skill, that he is quite capable
of effecting these improvements. Any admirer of beautiful arrangements
in gunnery has only to examine one of his double-trigger revolving
pistols, to be struck with the elaborate nature of his improvements. I
give a wood-cut of it on the next page, and some quotations from his own
description of its quality:--

“W. Tranter’s patents for a double trigger, a safety-hammer spring, an
elongated socket for the chamber, a loading lever, and a lubricating
bullet for revolving arms, increase the value and efficiency of these
arms as defensive weapons.

[Illustration: Half size of the medium 54 gauge double-trigger

“By means of the patent double-trigger the pistol can be held more
firmly in the hand while being fired, and only one hand is required to
raise the hammer and fire the pistol. A perfectly accurate and quicker
aim can be taken, and the pistol discharged at the instant desired; the
hammer can be raised again without lowering or removing the pistol from
the object till the whole of the chambers are fired off. The chamber is
held firmly opposite the front barrel before the hammer begins to fall,
and also at the moment it is discharged; the chamber cannot be turned
away from the front barrel by the hammer at the moment it is discharged.
In cases of emergency the pistol can be fired with the greatest rapidity
by pulling both triggers together. The exploded caps do not get into
the works and render the pistol useless till removed. But little
practice is required to enable a person to shoot with accuracy.

“The patent safety hammer spring always acts with the hammer and
trigger; should anything accidentally lift the hammer, the safety-spring
instantly falls under it and prevents it falling upon the cap, thereby
preventing an accidental discharge. The safety-spring also facilitates
the loading, by allowing the hammer to rest upon it while the chambers
are being charged, and at the same time acting as a safety-spring during
the operation of loading. The pistol can be carried with perfect safety
when loaded, either in the pocket or holster, by allowing the hammer to
rest upon the safety-spring.

“By means of the patent elongating socket, the chamber can be properly
and readily adjusted to the frame of the pistol; and as the chamber with
use becomes too free, and the strength of the shooting depreciated, the
elongating socket enables it to be readjusted as perfectly as when first
made--an important consideration with these arms.

“The patent loading lever enables the pistol to be loaded with greater
facility, and fits the lubricating bullet to the chamber so exactly that
the powder cannot fail to bend up the flange of the bullet and
distribute the lubrication all over the inner surface of the chamber and
barrel; it also fixes the bullet so firmly in its place in the chamber
that it does not fall out with being carried in the pocket or holster,
neither does it project forward with the firing of the pistol.

“The patent lubricating bullet, with the lubricating composition,
effectually lubricates the inner surface of the chamber as far as the
bullet enters, also the face of the chamber where it comes in contact
with the front barrel, and the whole of the inner surface of the front
barrel; thereby preventing any deposit of lead or powder that may deform
the bullet, enabling the pistol to be loaded with the greatest ease
after firing a number of shots, and facilitating the passage of the
bullet through the front barrel. The accurate fitting of the bullet and
the repellent properties of the lubrication completely protect the
powder from exposure to wet or damp, and effectually prevent one chamber
igniting the powder in the other while being fired. The pistol has been
fired five hundred times in succession with the lubricating bullets
without being cleaned or getting out of order, the last fifty shots
being fired with as much accuracy as the first; the pistol could then be
loaded and fired with the greatest facility, there being no deposit
which interfered either with the loading or firing.

“W. Tranter has taken out another patent for improvements in fire-arms,
and having combined with those improvements some of the improvements
comprised in his former patents, recommends the above as possessing
every requisite for a double-action cocking revolver.”

These revolvers will be found to possess the following advantages:--

“The pistol can be used with one hand, and fired with the greatest
rapidity and facility by pulling the trigger with the fore finger only.

“The hammer can be raised and the pistol fired as an ordinary

“The spring lock for locking the chambers enables the pistol to be
carried safely, and can be released when required by the thumb of the
right hand.

“The lock of the pistol is simple, and not liable to derangement. It can
be easily taken to pieces when required, and as easily put together

“The patent elongating socket is combined with this revolver in the same
manner as with the patent double-trigger revolver, and with the same

[Illustration: Tranter’s double-action Revolver.]

“The new patent loading lever is attached to this revolver in the same
manner and with the same advantages as to the patent double-trigger

Webley’s patent revolving pistol is an improvement upon Colt’s best
pistol, the cylinder rotating by the cocking of the lock. The advantages
obtained are, an exceedingly simple construction in the rotating
movement, enabling the patentee to manufacture them at a lower price
than any of the preceding makers, and thus to produce, what is a great
desideratum, a good and reasonable priced pistol.

[Illustration: Webley’s Revolver.]

“Keep your powder dry” was the old watchword: “Take care of your
ammunition” ought to be the watchword of the present day.

Facility of loading is no doubt to a certain extent an advantage, but
doubts exist whether breech-loading guns, if brought to such a state of
perfection as to come into general use, would not, from their very
facility of loading, become a serious evil.

The difficulty which Commanding Officers have to contend with in war is
in restraining their men from firing too rapidly, using two shots where
one would suffice; but the process of loading inculcates care of it,
takes considerable trouble, and hence men husband their fire the more.

The two different principles of revolvers illustrate this. The
self-acting one is apt to be fired more than once; a man in a state of
excitement may pull twice before he pauses, and two shots are expended
where one would have sufficed. The cocking-lock pistol, in addition to
the less pull required in firing, gives time for observation, as the
necessity for cocking every time creates a pause, and is an admonition
to coolness: this is often very advantageous in shooting game, in which,
as in the more serious affair of shooting men, deliberate coolness is

Therefore, excepting only the chance--the very remote chance, that may
arise, requiring you to fire six shots as rapidly as possible--so
rapidly that the cocking pistol would be too slow, I would myself prefer
the cocking pistol; from the fact of being able to take much better aim
with it, and there being less chance of missing, through the heavy pull
necessary to raise the cock and fire the pistol on the self-acting
principle. The almost general adoption, in the present day, of the
cocking-lock, and its application in both Adams’s and Tranter’s
self-acting principles, is proof of the general bias towards the same

The tendency of all revolving pistols, and of course revolving rifles
also, to foul in the barrel after a few shots, is a very serious
drawback to their efficiency in use. The following quotation from
Lieutenant Symons’ work is one opinion which I select from a number in
my possession:--

“Revolving pistols only ought now-a-days, in my opinion, to be made
breech-loading; and of these the pistol of Colonel Colt is a very good
specimen. I can generally hit a target the size of a man with this
pistol at a distance of 150 yards when clean, _i. e._, with the first
shot; and I on one occasion put five out of the six shots into the
target successively. When foul, however, the bullets will not fly
steadily and on their points. I one day, for the purpose of experiment,
fired 60 rounds without cleaning, at planks placed a few yards off only,
when latterly the bullets, instead of cutting the circular holes they
had been doing, commenced to make marks in the planks as if nails an
inch long had struck them sideways. On taking off the barrel to
ascertain the cause, I found that it was nearly choked up with lead. The
barrel of this pistol rapidly fouls, though the chambers do not.”

It also furnishes a complete answer to the absurd proposition of
imparting spiral motion to a bullet, by means of an increasing spiral,
after it is put into high velocity. The fouling of the barrel by lead to
an extent (as I have seen) of a considerable portion of the bore, is
absolute proof that the bullet does not follow the course of the
grooving: in its passage through the directing barrel it passes straight
out, with the velocity imparted to it in the chamber.

The experience of this fact induced Mr. Tranter to invent his
lubricating bullet, the only form of pistol with which many shots can
be fired without cleaning. There are, in reality, many defects to be
overcome (though it is very doubtful whether they will ever be) before
revolvers can in any degree be relied upon for constant operations. I
know for a fact that at this moment Government have in store many
thousands, disabled for all useful purposes, though by the most trivial
circumstances; fouling with lead being one of the most prominent
defects, or some trifling disarrangement of the rotating machinery, such
as it might be supposed could be repaired: but they are returned to
store as hopeless, in the usual course, and thus their fate is sealed as
a military weapon.

The double-barrelled under-and-over pistol was entirely discarded for
the new toy; but hopes are entertained that the former will soon be
restored to the lost preference of all who value their own safety, and
would rather depend on two certainly destructive shots than six
uncertain ones. For my own personal use in any scene of combat, my
reliance would be on a pair of double-barrelled pistols; or what is of
more use still, on double carbines. The Emperor of the French, however,
is arming his sailors with revolving pistols; and lately, in India, a
squadron of Dragoons used the revolver with deadly effect on a body of
rebel Sepoys.



Enfield, the seat of the Government manufacture of small arms, will
become a celebrated place in future history; its productions being now
one of the wonders of the present age. The term “Enfield Rifle” does not
denote any one improvement, but a series of improvements; Enfield being
merely the name of the place where the manufactory is situated.

The Enfield rifle differs from the original rifled musket (better known
as the Minié musket) in the fact of the bore having been reduced to
·577, and the weight of the arm to 9 lbs. The regulation Minié musket
was 10 lbs. 8-3/4 oz. in weight, so that a saving of 1-1/2 lbs. has been
effected by the adoption of the present gun. The size of the bore was
·702, and the weight of the bullet 680 grains, whilst the present
regulation musket is only ·577 bore, the bullet being 520 grains in

The model arms ordered by Lord Hardinge, the Commander-in-Chief, in
1852, of Messrs. Greener, Purday, Richards, Lancaster, and Wilkinson,
formed the base from which the Enfield was constructed. The “Sight” was
Westley Richards’ invention. The Expanding Bands for securing the stock
and barrels (without which a machine-made musket would always be an
uncertainty) are an invention of mine; several other points were also
adopted on my recommendation: as, for instance, the furniture being
case-hardened, as in the rifle-corps gun, and the fastenings of the
bayonet. These points, however, being merely suggested improvements, and
not, strictly speaking, inventions, conferred no benefit on me beyond
the compliment involved in their adoption.

It is well known that, but for my evidence before a committee of the
House of Commons in 1848, the swivel-lock would not have been so soon
adopted as it was. Thus it is evident that much of the outer form, as
well as the principle, of the present arm is due to my exertions. Much
surprise was shown by the Select Committee in 1852 that I did not give
in for trial some improvement upon my own principle (which, by the by,
they had not at that time admitted); but prudence taught me otherwise:
to have done so would have affected the soundness of my claims.

About the year 1851 it was determined to adopt some portion of the
American system of manufacturing guns by the aid of machinery. A
commission was appointed and sent out to the United States in order to
inspect the operations of their mechanism, and to ascertain the
advisability of adopting the whole, or a portion, of their machinery in
England. To the selection of the members of that commission, and to
their judgment, may be ascribed whatever is ill or good in the system;
the majority being military men connected with military matters, and the
others machinists, the bias was no doubt in favour of machinery. The
Enfield manufactory, at its starting, was intended to be a moderate
affair, I believe; but now it has expanded into such gigantic
proportions that, if it continues in action, the manufacture of military
arms must partially cease to be the trade of Birmingham: for all large
establishments of machinery must be employed, to protect them from
decay; and whatever may be the cost of production, machinery must go on,
or be entirely given up.

The extent of the Enfield manufactory may be estimated from the fact
that it now produces weekly 1,100 stand of arms complete, and employs
men and boys to the number of 1,300. At this rate of production, a very
few years will suffice to place such a stock of arms at the command of
the Government as will render the employment of foreign artisans
unnecessary. Enfield machine-made arms are undoubtedly specimens of the
highest class of that description; but whether they will be found as
durable as hand-made arms I very much doubt: time alone can decide



Whale shooting has now become a great fact; no other means being used to
capture this monster of the deep but the harpoon gun, when it is
possible to obtain it. Although little doubt remains but that whales,
like “grouse,” are becoming scarce, and that in a short time they will
become almost extinct, yet their great value when captured will always
stimulate hardy and daring seamen to pursue them even into their
remotest haunts. The following cut represents the boat and gun now in


Experience has proved the value of this invention; and every ship that
goes to the fishing has now a full complement of six harpoon guns.
Nine-tenths of the fish got within the last few years have been shot.
From a calculation I made after the conclusion of a late season, the
result must have been very satisfactory and profitable to the owners of
the ships, and also to the gun-makers. I have every reason to know that
the amount of money realised by these harpoon guns amounted to little
short of 100,000_l._; and this from guns of my manufacture alone: for I,
like most inventors, have competitors, who manufacture upon my model and
at less than my price.

Harpoon guns are similar to small swivel guns; they are of 1-1/2 inch
bore and 3 feet long in the barrel, which when stocked and complete
weighs 75 lbs. The construction of the lock is very simple, being upon
the principle of a saddle pistol lock; the caps, the nipples, and lock,
are completely and effectually covered, and protected from damp, or
spray from the sea. The lock is also securely bolted until the moment it
is wanted; when by the removal of a pin, the trigger string is pulled,
which fires the gun. The harpoon is projected with considerable accuracy
to any distance under eighty-four yards; that being the greatest range
ever obtained with this description of gun. The charge is very small to
project 40 lbs. weight; for the harpoon itself is 10-1/2 lbs., with an
increasing weight of three-inch line from the gun to the extreme range,
in all weighing full 40 lbs. This immense improvement is the result of
calculations, deduced from the nature of gunpowder. The charge is short
of an ounce of powder; but is, or ought to be, good powder, of the
largest grain; fine powder will not do it, but, on the contrary, would
jump up the end of the harpoon, or bend it, so that it would be of no
further use until repaired.



Patent shot being still produced as at the time of publishing previous
editions of my works, I have no important improvement to record.


The manufacture is very simple: the lead is first tempered by the aid of
arsenic, in the proportions required by the slag (a technical term) for
the kind used; some lead taking more and some less. The melted metal is
then poured into a perforated pan placed over the mouth of the pit, or
tower (whichever may be in use.) Messrs. Walkers, Parkers, and Co. have
towers in their various factories where they make shot; the cut
represents the one in Newcastle. Messrs. Locke, Blackett, and Co. cast
down the shaft of a pit, and by this means obtain a greater fall. The
fluid metal takes a globular shape in falling, and the concentric motion
of each particle round its axis keeps it in this form until its passage
through the air has extracted the heat, and before it reaches the body
of water placed to receive it. The only difficulty is in casting very
large sizes; for if the distance the drops fall be not sufficiently
great, and they reach the water in a semi-fluid state, the resistance of
the water misshapes them. About three different sizes come out through
one pan. These are separated by the aid of riddles, or tabled, as the
process is termed. A quantity of the shot is placed on a slight incline,
when those that do not run off are rejected. The whole are then polished
in a machine termed a drum, with a mixture of black lead. This gives to
the shot that beautiful polish which captivates the eye, but which
injures the shooting of the gun, as the black lead adheres to the
interior of the tube. All shot should be used unpolished; and the
addition of hardness is unquestionably another advantage. Slag-lead is
lighter than other lead, but it is much harder, and thus more suitable
for shot. I regret the disuse of shot made with quicksilver, as it is
unquestionably much superior, though more costly. A considerable
improvement is yet to be introduced in the manipulation of shot-making;
and I shall commence a round of experiments with that object at the
earliest opportunity.

Copper caps are now a misnomer: very few are to be met with. Brass caps
boiled to the colour of copper are the rule, the former the exception.
Good caps are made in Birmingham, if a remunerative price is paid for
them; and I have the pleasure to name several makers: Messrs. E. and A.
Ludlow, Messrs. Pursall and Philips, and Mr. Cox. It must be borne in
mind that cheapness means inferiority: every article is made according
to price.

The mixture of fulminating mercury composition is:

  Fulminating mercury   3 grains or ounces.
  Chlorate of potash    5 do.
  Sulphur               1 do.
  Powdered glass        1 do.

The above is one of the best compounds in use.

  Chlorate of Potash    6   grains or ounces.
  Sulphur               3   do.
  Glass, powdered       1   do.
  Charcoal, ditto       1/2 do.

Is the best mixture where the corrosive principle is not heeded.

Messrs. Eley, Brothers, were the first manufacturers who turned their
attention to making waterproof copper caps for sporting purposes,
commencing it in 1837. The principle is simple, the excellence mainly
consisting in the quality of the ingredients used, and their being
thoroughly secured from the effects of moisture. They are so constituted
that the largest portion of the percussion powder and the weakest part
of the waterproof covering which lines the inner surface of the cap, are
immediately over the surface of the nipple; consequently, when the blow
ignites the percussion powder, the larger portion of the explosion is
forced down the nipple, and is of such intensity of heat (especially in
platina-lined nipples) that it will ignite the gunpowder some distance
up the barrel: in an _eprouvette_ it will do so at four or five inches
from the nipple. A miss-fire thus very seldom occurs, as the heat is
sure to penetrate to the charge, even when a gun has become foul after a
long day’s shooting and the powder cannot pass freely through the
chambers to the nipples. It is well known that caps which do not possess
these igniting qualities may be fired through gunpowder, and frequently
fail to ignite it, from the want of proper attention to the constitution
of the fulminate and its mixture. In all cheaply manufactured caps this
inferiority is sure to prevail, and the manifold advantages to be
derived from the sterling quality of all sporting adjuncts is now fully
appreciated by sportsmen generally. “Penny wise and pound foolish” is a
proverb more borne in mind than formerly, and the conviction is now
general that a good gun only proves to be so when proper attention is
paid to the loading in every particular.

Good wadding is as essential as good gunpowder: a perfect separation
must be maintained between the exploded powder and the shot, or no
result can be depended upon; cheap wadding, therefore, according to the
above adage, is out of favour.

Cartridges of wire, or “universal,” are now so well known as to need no
treatise to point out their advantages. A more striking example of the
progress of knowledge in properly estimating the value of high-class
manufactures cannot be adduced than in the case of Eley, Brothers, who
have by unwearied industry in the production of sporting ammunition of
the first quality, nearly obtained a monopoly in that department of

I can safely refer to the Manufacturers to be found in the advertising
list as able to supply the sportsman with all requisites, from a gun “to
a turnscrew,” and on such terms as will be found to be advantageous to
the purchaser.







In returning thanks to the Sporting World for their distinguished
support during many years, begs to intimate to them that he has now
accomplished the long cherished wish of establishing his manufactory in
Birmingham, the seat of the gun manufacture, where the facilities of
producing a first-rate gun are superior to any other locality in the
world; for here he can reject imperfect materials and replace them,
while makers in other parts of the kingdom would be writing about the
deficiency. Here he can exercise his own judgment on the goodness of
material during the progress of production; here he can carry out any
alteration or improvement in barrels or locks that may suggest itself;
and here eventually will settle the whole manufacture for the kingdom.
This is nearly accomplished now, for it would be idle to conceal the
fact that a vast majority of what is sold in London, as London make, is
made here. Here the best workmen are congregating and meet with the
greatest encouragement. Under these circumstances he has judged it best
to avail himself of the means offered of producing, without “egotism,”
guns equal, if not superior, to anything yet produced by any maker
whatever. This may be considered a wide assertion, but to prove he does
not make it rashly he is prepared to test the fact by a competition with
any maker whatever, barring none; to be decided by the following five
points: 1st, safety--the greatest difficulty in bursting; 2ndly,
lightness; 3rdly, goodness of shooting--strength and closeness combined
with the least charges; 4thly, durability; 5thly, beauty and taste

He considers it a crime of great magnitude that guns should burst; they
never do so where proper metal is used. He will produce an ordinary
weight of barrel which he will allow any one to burst if they can; in
fact, he believes it to be the greatest difficulty to do so.

W. G. will undertake contracts for quantities of arms subject to private
arrangement, such as military arms, shipping ditto, rifles or sealing
guns, for foreign powers or private companies, provided in all cases the
quality be sufficiently good to enable him to brand them with his name;
anything inferior he declines to make.

       *       *       *       *       *

The prices of his guns are as under:--

  Double rifles of every superior quality of taste and       £ _s._ _d._
  finish, case complete with every requisite                40   0   0
  Double guns of very superior quality, with laminated
  steel barrels, &c., case and every requisite complete     35   0   0
  Double rifle, second quality, same material, but not so
  highly finished, case complete                            30   0   0
  Double gun, second quality, same material, but not so
  highly finished, case complete                            25   0   0
  Double rifle, excellent quality, stubs Damascus, no case  18   0   0
  Double gun, excellent quality, laminated steel, no case   15   0   0
  Double rifle, good                                        10  10   0
  Double gun, good                                           8  10   0
  Double rifle, no engraving, &c.                            8   0   0
  Double gun,       ditto                                    6   0   0
  Very best single rifles, superior style and finish, case
  complete                                                  21   0   0
  Second quality, case                                      16  16   0
  Good quality, no case                                     10  10   0
  Plain, ditto                                               5   0   0
  Sealing rifles                                             3  10   0
  Very best single gun, case complete                       16  16   0
  Second quality, with case                                 12  12   0
  Good quality                                               7   0   0
  Plain, ditto                                               4   0   0
  Sealing or other guns in quantity                          3   0   0
  Enfield musket percussion, swivel locks                    2   0   0
  Enfield rifle, plain ditto                                 1   5   0

The above includes every size which can be fired from the shoulder.

Pistols, Cutlasses, Pikes, &c., supplied on the most moderate Terms.

Business done for cash on delivery only.

Foreign Bills for orders payable in London, or reference for payment in
any part of England.

N.B.--W. G. now manufactures a very superior double waterproof copper
and iron cap.


=Every description of Sporting Guns imported on reasonable Terms.=




  Manufacturers of

_Contractors to the Honourable Board of Ordnance._


  Dealers in

=A large quantity of fine well-seasoned Gun-stocks always on hand.=





P. WEBLEY respectfully informs the public, that he is prepared to supply
in any quantity his


which he can confidently recommend, as they embrace all latest
improvements with the greatest possible simplicity of construction, and
are pronounced by men of experience, both civil and military, to be most
efficient weapons.

The action is very similar to the ordinary gun lock; the thumb being
used to bring the hammer to cock, while the arm is extended; the chamber
at the same time revolving and firmly locked at the moment of discharge,
by a spring underneath, thus obviating the objection to other Patent
Pistols, which are self-acting.

(Large size 48, middle 60, small 120 bores).

P. W. also manufactures Officers’ Double, Under and Over, Breast and
Single Pistols.

P. W. particularly invites attention to his Under and Over Pistols,
which are rifled and made to suit the present Government size cartridge.

P. W. also manufactures every description of Revolving, Saloon, Holster,
Pocket, Inlaid and Fancy Pistols.


of every description, Greenerian, Minie, Pritchett, Whitworth, Jacob,
Cone, Spherical, &c. Rifle sights, both military and burden. Rifle
strap, Furniture, Gunlocks, and all other Implements.



Manufacturers of the Patent Double Waterproof Central Fire and
Anticorrosive Caps; Chemically prepared edged Gun Wadding; Cartridges of
every description. Inventor and sole Manufacturer of the Improved
Flanged (or Hat) Caps, as adopted by all the leading sportsmen of the
day, and acknowledged by all to be the best and most ready primer ever

Samples with Price List may be obtained at the Works.



Manufacturer of Guns, Muskets, Revolvers, Pistols, Rifles, and Small
Arms suitable for the various markets and Governments of the world.



Improved Breech-Loading Guns, Repeating Arms, and every approved article
in the above line.




_Primers, Cartridges, &c., of every description, Chemically Prepared,
and other Gun Waddings._







Manufacturers of Gun Locks of the very best description for the London
and Scotch trades; Shot Pouches, Gun Implements, &c. &c.

Patentees of Improved Revolving Pistols, &c.

  BULLETS, &c.




Of every description, upon an improved construction, adapted for
numerous Sports and Amusements, viz.--Killing Rabbits, Rooks, Sea Fowl,
&c., with ball, destroying vermin, small birds, and collecting rare
specimens with shot, and fish near the surface of the water with
harpoons and lines.


Manufacturer of Powder, Walking-Stick Guns, Rifles of every variety,
Saloon Pistols, Bulleted Caps, Needle Rifles, &c., &c.

_N.B._--Agents for the London Armoury Company for the sale of


And likewise Agent for



  W. R. PAPE.

Possesses the highest practical knowledge of what a Gun ought to be for
general sporting purposes, and the fact of submitting every Gun to the
severest tests, before being finally finished, gives him every
confidence in stating, that for shooting powers and other good
qualities, his guns cannot be excelled by any maker whatever; for proof
of which, _see_ the amount of shooting at Ashburnham Park, London, on
the 9th April 1858, in the _Field_ Newspaper of 17th April, 1858.


Every description of Double and Single Barrels, Rifle and Revolving
Pistol Barrels, warranted equal to those of any other Manufacturer of
the day.



ELEY BROTHERS, LONDON, beg to call the attention of Sportsmen to the
advantages to be derived from the use of the Wire Cartridge, in the
pursuit of all kinds of large or small game.

As there are few Sportsmen who are not in the habit of using these
Cartridges, they are so well known as to make a description of them
scarcely requisite. The shot is packed within a wire cage, which is
constructed so as to allow them to escape from it gradually while the
charge is in motion. They cause all guns to shoot with double the
strength which can be obtained by the ordinary mode of loading, and with
much greater regularity, as each shot retains its spherical form.

The Royal Cartridge is mostly used in this country for killing wild

The Green Cartridge is the sort generally in demand for India and
America, being made for foreign field sports with the largest drop shot,
and also with mould shot, and will be found very effective at large game
where the Sportsman has not a rifle in the field.


These Caps are now well known and approved, being found superior to all
others for their certainty and rapidity of fire, either in dry or wet

For India and the Colonies, or any climate where Caps may be exposed to
great vicissitudes of heat, cold, or moisture, they are particularly
recommended, as they cannot be injured by any amount of exposure to wet
or heat, nor their qualities impaired, if kept for years in a tropical
climate. The ignition at all times is safe and certain, whilst in humid
weather, the discharge is as instantaneous as with the ordinary Cap on
the dryest day.

For testimonials as to their value for shooting in India _see_ Colonel
Jacob’s work on “Rifles and Projectiles.”

They have been much approved for the rifle in foreign field sports,
where the Cap is often allowed to remain a long time upon the nipple.

Being perfectly waterproof, they will bear immersion in sea-water for
days without injury; but when testing them in this manner, it is
necessary to blow the water out of them before placing them upon the

Concaved Felt, and chemically prepared Cloth Gun Waddings, to prevent
the leading of guns, warranted not to blow to pieces in the barrel.

Cartridges for Breech-loading Shot Guns, Rifles, &c.; also for Sharp’s
Breech-loading Rifles, and Prince’s Breech-loading Carbines.

Cartridges made for Needle Rifles, very simple and effective in their

Skin Cartridges, suitable for Adams’, Deane’s, and Colt’s
Revolvers--warranted to leave no deposit when fired.

Also Rifle Shell Tubes, as manufactured by direction of Colonel John
Jacob, of the Bombay Artillery, and every description of ammunition for
sporting or military purposes.

Sole Contractors to the War Department for Waterproof Military Caps,
Revolver Cartridges, Jacob’s Rifle Shell Tubes, &c.

Eley’s ammunition may be had of all Gunmakers and Dealers at home or






_65, Cornhill, London, September, 1858._



_Social Innovators and their Schemes._ By WILLIAM LUCAS SARGANT, Author
of “The Science of Social Opulence,” &c.

  _Post 8vo._

_Indian Scenes and Characters, Sketched from Life._ By Prince ALEXIS

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_Christianity in India._ By JOHN WILLIAM KAYE, Author of “Life of Lord
Metcalfe,” &c.

  _8vo._ (_In the Press._)

_Lectures and Addresses on Literary and Social Topics._ By the late Rev.
FRED. W. ROBERTSON, of Brighton. _Post 8vo._ (_Just Ready._)

_Tents and Tent Life._ By Capt. GODFREY RHODES, 94th Regt. _Post 8vo.,
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_The Life of J. Deacon Hume, Esq., late Secretary to the Board of
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_Historic Notes on the Old and New Testament._ By SAMUEL SHARPE, Esq.

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  _Demy 8vo., with Illustrations, price 14s., cloth._

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  _Post 8vo, cloth, One Shilling._

NEW PUBLICATIONS--_continued_.

_The Chaplain’s Narrative of the Siege of Delhi._ By the Rev. J. E. W.
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WILSON, 13th Bengal N. I., Assistant-Adjutant-General.

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_The Education of the Human Race._ Now first Translated from the German

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  ⁂ This remarkable work is now first published in English.

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  The Essay makes quite a gem in its English form.”--_Westminster

  “This invaluable Tract.”--_Critic._

_The Autobiography of Lutfullah, a Mohamedan Gentleman, with an Account
of his Visit to England._ Edited by E. B. EASTWICK, Esq.

  _Third Edition, Small Post 8vo. Price 5s. cloth._

  “We have read this book with wonder and delight.”--_Athenæum._

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_The Life and Correspondence of Sir John Malcolm, G.C.B._ By JOHN

  _Two Volumes, 8vo. With Portrait. Price 36s. cloth._

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  narrative, copiously illustrated with valuable


_Notes on the Pictures in the Exhibition of the Royal Academy, &c., for

  _Fifth Thousand. 8vo, price One Shilling._

_The Political Economy of Art._ _Price 2s. 6d. cloth._

  “A most able, eloquent, and well-timed work. We hail it with
  satisfaction, thinking it calculated to do much practical good, and we
  cordially recommend it to our readers.”--_Witness._

  Mr. Ruskin’s chief purpose is to treat the artist’s power, and the art
  itself, as items of the world’s wealth, and to show how these may be
  best evolved, produced, accumulated, and distributed.”--_Athenæum._

  “We never quit Mr. Ruskin without being the better for what he has
  told us, and we therefore recommend this little volume, like all his
  other works, to the perusal of our readers.”--_Economist._

  “This book, daring, as it is, glances keenly at principles, of which
  some are among the articles of ancient codes, while others are
  evolving slowly to the light.”--_Leader._

_The Elements of Drawing._

  _Second Edition. Crown 8vo. With Illustrations drawn by the Author._

  _Price 7s. 6d., cloth._

  “The rules are clearly and fully laid down; and the earlier exercises
  always conducive to the end by simple and unembarrassing means. The
  whole volume is full of liveliness.”--_Spectator._

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  master, yet that no student of art should launch forth without this
  work as a compass.”--_Athenæum._

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  but agreeable and instructive reading for any one who wishes to refine
  his perceptions of natural scenery, and of its worthiest artistic

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  instructive and suggestive.”--_Literary Gazette._

  “The most useful and practical book on the subject which has ever come
  under our notice.”--_Press._

_Modern Painters, Vol. IV. On Mountain Beauty._

  _Imperial 8vo, with Thirty-five Illustrations engraved on Steel, and
  116 Woodcuts, drawn by the Author. Price 2l. 10s. cloth._

  “Considered as an illustrated volume, this is the most remarkable
  which Mr. Ruskin has yet issued. The plates and woodcuts are profuse,
  and include numerous drawings of mountain form by the author, which
  prove Mr. Ruskin to be essentially an artist. He is an unique man,
  both among artists and writers.”--_Spectator._

  “The present volume of Mr. Ruskin’s elaborate work treats chiefly of
  mountain scenery, and discusses at length the principles involved in
  the pleasure we derive from mountains and their pictorial
  representation. The singular beauty of his style, the hearty sympathy
  with all forms of natural loveliness, the profusion of his
  illustrations form irresistible attractions.”--_Daily News._

_Modern Painters, Vol. III. Of Many Things._

  _With Eighteen Illustrations drawn by the Author, and engraved on

  _Price 38s. cloth._

  “Every one who cares about nature, or poetry, or the story of human
  development--every one who has a tinge of literature or philosophy,
  will find something that is for him in this volume.”--_Westminster

  “Mr. Ruskin is in possession of a clear and penetrating mind; he is
  undeniably practical in his fundamental ideas; full of the deepest
  reverence for all that appears to him beautiful and holy. His style
  is, as usual, clear, bold, racy. Mr. Ruskin is one of the first
  writers of the day.”--_Economist._

  “The present volume, viewed as a literary achievement, is the highest
  and most striking evidence of the author’s abilities that has yet been

  “All, it is to be hoped, will read the book for themselves. They will
  find it well worth a careful perusal.”--_Saturday Review._

WORKS OF MR. RUSKIN--_continued_.

_Modern Painters. Vols. I. and II._

  _Imp. 8vo. Vol. I., 5th Edit, 18s. cloth. Vol. II., 4th Edit., 10s.
  6d. cloth._

  “Mr. Ruskin’s work will send the painter more than ever to the study
  of nature; will train men who have always been delighted spectators of
  nature, to be also attentive observers. Our critics will learn to
  admire, and mere admirers will learn how to criticise: thus a public
  will be educated.”--_Blackwood’s Magazine._

  “A generous and impassioned review of the works of living painters. A
  hearty and earnest work, full of deep thought, and developing great
  and striking truths in art.”--_British Quarterly Review._

  “A very extraordinary and delightful book, full of truth and goodness,
  of power and beauty.”--_North British Review._

_The Stones of Venice._

  _Complete in Three Volumes, Imperial 8vo, with Fifty-three Plates and
  numerous Woodcuts, drawn by the Author. Price 5l. 15s. 6d., cloth._


  VOL.   I. THE FOUNDATIONS, _with 21 Plates, price 2l. 2s. 2nd Ed._
  VOL.  II. THE SEA STORIES, _with 20 Plates, price 2l. 2s._
  VOL. III. THE FALL,        _with 12 Plates, price 1l. 11s. 6d._

  “This book is one which, perhaps, no other man could have written, and
  one for which the world ought to be and will be thankful. It is in the
  highest degree eloquent, acute, stimulating to thought, and fertile in
  suggestion. It will, we are convinced, elevate taste and intellect,
  raise the tone of moral feeling, kindle benevolence towards men, and
  increase the love and fear of God.”--_Times._

  “The ‘Stones of Venice’ is the production of an earnest, religious,
  progressive, and informed mind. The author of this essay on
  architecture has condensed into it a poetic apprehension, the fruit of
  awe of God, and delight in nature; a knowledge, love, and just
  estimate of art; a holding fast to fact and repudiation of hearsay; an
  historic breadth, and a fearless challenge of existing social
  problems, whose union we know not where to find

_The Seven Lamps of Architecture._

  _Second Edition, with Fourteen Plates drawn by the Author. Imperial
  8vo. Price 1l. 1s. cloth._

  “By the ‘Seven Lamps of Architecture,’ we understand Mr. Ruskin to
  mean the seven fundamental and cardinal laws, the observance of and
  obedience to which are indispensable to the architect, who would
  deserve the name. The politician, the moralist, the divine, will find
  in it ample store of instructive matter, as well as the artist. The
  author of this work belongs to a class of thinkers of whom we have too
  few amongst us.”--_Examiner._

  “Mr. Ruskin’s book bears so unmistakeably the marks of keen and
  accurate observation, of a true and subtle judgment and refined sense
  of beauty, joined with so much earnestness, so noble a sense of the
  purposes and business of art, and such a command of rich and glowing
  language, that it cannot but tell powerfully in producing a more
  religious view of the uses of architecture, and a deeper insight into
  its artistic principles.”--_Guardian._

_Lectures on Architecture and Painting._

  _With Fourteen Cuts, drawn by the Author. Second Edition. Crown 8vo.
  Price 8s. 6d. cloth._

  “Mr. Ruskin’s lectures--eloquent, graphic, and impassioned--exposing
  and ridiculing some of the vices of our present system of building,
  and exciting his hearers by strong motives of duty and pleasure to
  attend to architecture--are very successful.”--_Economist._

  “We conceive it to be impossible that any intelligent persons could
  listen to the lectures, however they might differ from the judgments
  asserted, and from the general propositions laid down, without an
  elevating influence and an aroused enthusiasm.”--_Spectator._

       *       *       *       *       *

_A Portrait of John Ruskin, Esq., Engraved by_ F. HOLL, _from a Drawing

  _Prints, One Guinea; India Proofs, Two Guineas._


_Sermons._ By the late REV. FRED. W. ROBERTSON, A.M., Incumbent of
Trinity Chapel, Brighton.

FIRST SERIES--_Fourth Edition, Post 8vo, price 9s. cloth._

SECOND SERIES--_Fourth Edition, price 9s. cloth._

THIRD SERIES--_Second Edition, Post 8vo, with Portrait, price 9s.

  “Very beautiful in feeling and occasionally striking and forcible in
  conception to a remarkable degree.”--_Guardian._

  “Mr. Robertson, of Brighton, is a name familiar to most of us, and
  honoured by all to whom it is familiar.”--_Globe._

  “These sermons are full of thought and beauty. There is not a sermon
  in the series that does not furnish evidence of originality without
  extravagance, of discrimination without tediousness, and of piety
  without cant or conventionalism.”--_British Quarterly._

_Esmond._ By W. M. THACKERAY, Esq.

  _A New Edition in One Volume, Crown 8vo, price 6s. cloth._

  “Mr. Thackeray has selected for his hero a very noble type of the
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  introducing the same characters, but continuing their history at a
  later period.”--_Leader._

_Captivity of Russian Princesses in the Caucasus: including a Seven
Months’ Residence in Shamil’s Seraglio, in the Years 1854-5._ Translated
from the Russian, by H. S. EDWARDS.

  _With an authentic Portrait of Shamil, a Plan of his House, and a Map.
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_Religion in Common Life._ By WILLIAM ELLIS.

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  “A book addressed to young people of the upper ten thousand upon
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  “Lessons in Political Economy for young people by a skilful

_The Sea Officers Manual; being a Compendium of the Duties of a
Commander; First, Second, Third, and Fourth Officer; Officer of the
Watch; and Midshipman in the Mercantile Navy._ By CAPTAIN A. PARISH, of
the East India Merchant Service.

  _Second Edition, Small Post 8vo, price 5s. cloth._

  “A very lucid and compendious manual. We would recommend youths intent
  upon a seafaring life to study it.”--_Athenæum._

  “A little book that ought to be in great request among young

RECENT WORKS--_continued_.

_Annals of British Legislation, a Classified Summary of Parliamentary
Papers._ Edited by PROFESSOR LEONE LEVI.


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_The Principles of Agriculture; especially Tropical._ By P. LOVELL

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_Tauler’s Life and Sermons._

  Translated by MISS SUSANNA WINKWORTH. With a Preface by the REV.

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_Chandler’s Visit to Salt Lake; being a Journey Across the Plains to the
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This e-book uses the text of the original work. Inconsistent
capitalisation, hyphenation and spelling have been retained
(spungy/spongy and spunging/sponging; scear/sear; immoveable/immovable;
Minié/Minie, bareled/barelled, brasing/brazing; Froissart/Froisart;
fuse/fuze; Greenerean/Greenerian; Monk/Monck; etc.), except as mentioned
below under Changes.

The two typographical forms of fractions (for example, 1/2 and 1-8th)
have been retained.

The List of Plates shows (slightly) different texts from the captions in
the plates themselves.

The List of Illustrations is incomplete, and not all illustrations have
the captions listed in the List of Illustrations.

The sometimes slight difference in wording between the Table of Contents
and the actual chapter headings has been retained.

Textual remarks

Page 12, snaphaunce is not a Dutch word; it is derived from the Dutch

Page 64, footnote: the original does not show the footnote anchor; the
footnote has been included without its anchor. Possibly the footnote
refers to the Point Blank Range data for the 10-inch and 8-inch

Page 239, price calculations: the total for single guns should be 19_s._
9_d._ The other amounts given in the text do not correspond with the
table; this has not been changed.

Page 240, price calculations: the totals for double and single guns
should be 16_s._ 3_d._ and 9_s._ 9_d._, respectively.

Page 13 (first set of advertisements), amount of shooting is possibly an
error for account of shooting.

French accents have not been corrected or added (Andrê, Minie,
èpanouissement, etc.), Latin accents have been retained, unless
mentioned below.

Changes made to the text

Footnotes and illustrations have been moved; some illustrations have
been rotated 90°

Some missing/incorrect punctuation has been added or corrected silently

Page vii: Polygroove changed to Poly-groove as elsewhere

Page ix: Firelock changed to Fire-lock as in the text

Page xi: Badajoz changed to Badajos; Mallett changed to Mallet (2x) as
in the text

Page xvi: manufactury changed to manufactory as in the text

Page 5: a cubic distance changed to a cubit distance

Page 8: likwise changed to likewise

Page 23: suphuretted changed to sulphuretted

Page 27 (table): 9.90 changed to 9·90

Page 42: horizonal changed to horizontal

Page 63: almost from a class changed to almost form a class

Page 91: enginering changed to engineering

Page 131: impres changed to impress

Page 139: fusees changed to fuses

Page 140: wthin changed to within

Page 154: furnance changed to furnace

Page 159: is is changed to is

Page 160: exhibibits changed to exhibits

Page 166: Ther changed to There

Page 169: 1·40265 changed to 1·40625

Page 211: fustrum changed to frustum

Page 219: Weimer changed to Weimar

Page 229: artizan changed to artisan

Page 239: Wedgebury changed to Wednesbury as elsewhere

Page 249: twent changed to twenty

Page 271: answert hat changed to answer that

Page 301: expansive powder changed to expansive power

Page 303: impossibity changed to impossibility

Page 317: filed changed to filled

Page 356: frustrum changed to frustum

Page 358: frustrum changed to frustum

Page 436: to to changed to to

Page 5 (first set of advertisements): STEEET changed to STREET

Page 8 (first set of advertisements): BRMINGHAM changed to BIRMINGHAM

Page 3 (second set of advertisements): Gobe changed to Globe

Page 5 (second set of advertisements): Bouchier changed to Bourchier

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