EVOLUTION OF GUNS AND AMMUNITION
EVOLUTION OF GUNS AND AMMUNITION
When one of our forefathers of prehistoric times picked a stone off the ground and threw it at his enemy, he unknowingly invented guns and ammunition. The stone was the ammunition and his arm was the gun.
One day a cave man, with a little more intelligence than his brothers, discovered that a stone, held by the folds of a piece of rawhide and whirled around the head, could be made to fly farther and hit a harder blow than a stone thrown by hand.
This was the second step in the development of guns and ammunition. Later on in history the bow and arrow were invented. As the world progressed, we find the demands for means that would strike a harder blow at a greater distance than the arrow would, so the crossbow and bolt with its many modifications came into existence.
About this time powder was invented and then came the struggle to devise some means of using the explosive force of this substance. The first devices for this purpose were heavy and cumbersome weapons, more like cannon than guns, as we now know them. A flash pan for powder was provided alongside the touchhole and fired by a match or torch applied by hand.
Later the torch was eliminated and a slow burning match for fuse was fastened to a movable cock operated by a trigger in such a manner as to dip the match into the powder in the flash pan and thus fire the gun. This arrangement was known as the matchlock.
The wheel lock came into existence about the beginning of the fifteenth century. This consisted of a toothed steel wheel containing a spring and wound up with a key like a clock. A piece of flint was held against the toothed edge of the wheel and when the trigger was pulled the toothed wheel revolved, setting up a stream of sparks from the flint which ignited the powder in the flash pan and discharged the gun.
Along about this time we read of guns having been made with a twisted barrel. This was the first attempt at rifling.
The next step in the evolution of our present day gun was the invention of the flintlock. This consisted of a piece of flint fastened to the cock and adapted to hit against a steel plate and make a spark which would drop into the flash pan, fire the powder and set off the gun.
At this time we have records of several attempts being made to construct a repeating rifle. Guns were made up having several barrels, some had revolving barrels like our present day revolvers, others had magazines in the stock, but all were crude, although along the right idea.
The greatest single improvement in guns and ammunition since their inception was the invention of Alexander Forsyth, a Scotch clergyman, who, in 1817, patented the percussion system of firing. In this system the hammer of the gun was adapted to fall on a cap containing a primer, producing a small explosion which fired the main charge of powder and set off the gun. This is much the same system as is used in our present day cartridges.
Up to this time practically all guns had been muzzle loaders. We now find the breechloader coming into use. Since the adoption of the breech loader up to the present time there have been innumerable inventions on suns and ammunition and the modern gun and cartridge, as made today by the Winchester Repeating Arms Company, are just about as close to perfection as human ingenuity and skill can make them. They represent a long series of inventions by experts in their lines seeking constantly to improve even the best previous Winchester products.
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