This curious breech-loader, although not strictly of American invention, has become American from the fact that it made its first appearance as a weapon of war on the battlefields of America, and is the first instance of a breech-loading rifle ever having been used on this continent. A few details will serve to explain its peculiarities. The length of the piece itself is 50 inches, weight 7 pounds. The bayonet is 25 inches in length and 1 1/2 inches wide, and is what is commonly called a sword-blade bayonet. The sight at the breech is so arranged that by elevating it is equally adapted to ranges varying from one hundred to five hundred yards. Its greatest curiosity is the arrangement for the loading at the breech.
The guard plate which protects the trigger is held in its position by a spring at the end nearest the butt. Released from this spring and thrown around by the front, so as to make a complete revolution, a plug descends from the barrel, leaving a cavity in the upper side of the barrel sufficient for the insertion of a ball and cartridge or loose charge. This plug is an accelerating screw, and is furnished with twelve threads to the inch, thereby enabling it, by the one revolution, to open or close the orifice; so that the rifle is thereby rendered capable of being discharged, it has been claimed, as rapidly as the Hall United States (flintlock) carbine. This accelerating screw constitutes the breech of the piece, only, instead of being horizontal, as is usually the case, it is vertical. Were there not twelve independent threads to this screw, it would require two or three revolutions to close the orifice; whereas one suffices. Many of the muskets fabricated in the French arsenals during the last years of Napoleon had bayonets of the shape mentioned herein adapted to them, specimens of which were deposited among the French trophies in the Tower of London.
Farrow, Edward S. American Small Arms; a Veritable Encyclopedia of Knowledge for Sportsmen and Military Men. New York: Bradford, 1904. Print.
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