HINTS ABOUT SHOT-GUNS AND RIFLES
HINTS ABOUT SHOT-GUNS AND RIFLES
Shot-guns are of various sizes and patterns. The best size, I think, weighs about eight pounds,—double barreled. The best kind, in my opinion, is the laminated steel twist gun.
The gun should put about six shot within the size of your hand at a distance of eight rods, and for ducks and all large game it should be a strong shooter.
The most important point in the gun is the construction of the barrel, that is, the shape of the bore. If this is a perfect cylinder,—of exactly the same size from muzzle to breech,—the gun is worthless, as it would shoot with no force. In order to be a strong shooter it must be a little the largest at the breech. Of course it will " kick," but kicking is not always a sign that the gun will carry shot well, even though it be a strong shooter, and for this reason the contraction of the bore toward the muzzle may be too rapid, or too great, so that the lines of opposite sides of the bore would cross each other too short a distance in advance of the muzzle, so that the shot would cross each Other and so scatter. If these lines cross within a distance of five or six rods, when the shot have flown eight rods, they will scatter over a wide space. As the sbot leave the gun they hug the sides of the bore, and if this is of equal size through its whole length, they will commence to scatter as soon as they leave the muzzle, and the gun will he of no use; but if the bore gathers toward the muzzle so that the charge is concentrated at the proper distance, the gun will shoot well.
If your gun scatters too much, it is because it is too large or too small at the breech. This you can determine by going to a gunsmith, who will cast lead in the barrel. If this will push through the whole barrel with a uniform, pressure, it is of the same size throughout and must be made larger at the breech; this is done by casting a block of lead on the end of a rod near the breech, and working it up and down with emery powder in such a way as to grind it oif more at the breech than toward the muzzle. Try it occasionally until at a distance of eight or nine rods it will plant six shot within the size of your band, placing them in threes, here and there. If it still scatters too much, work out the breech a little more, until it springs sharply in firing and throws the shot as you want it to.
The same principle holds true with regard to the rifle. It will not shoot strongly, unless it is a little smaller at the muzzle than at the breech.
They make rifles in great perfection now-a-days, but they are not all accurate shooters. Very many breech-loaders are not,—not shooting closely and steadily, yet a fifteen shooter is certainly an excellent weapon with which to face a bear, if one can be obtained that will shoot steadily. Still, I am not certain that this is the case.
I like the Henry rifle on many accounts, for you need carry no powder-flask, bullet-pouch, cap-bag, nor ramrod. Your wiper is in the end of the breech. You need not cover this rifle from the rain, and it would go off just as well if it had lain under water all night. It carries a half ounce ball, which is quite large enough.
There are double-barreled rifles, loading from the muzzle, which are accurate shooters, and can be depended on every time.
For bear or deer hunting, I prefer balls that weigh about fifty to the pound.
Thrasher, Halsey. The Hunter and Trapper. New York: Orange Judd and Company, 1808.
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