Finally the Pope System of rifle boring and loading solved all the problems of the Schuetzen man, leaving him nothing to do but to load his weapon and shoot. The Pope-Stevens rifle is cut with narrow lands and a gain twist, starting slow at the breech and reaching the desired turn at the muzzle. It has a false muzzle, starter, and ramrod, through the use of which the bullet is started at the muzzle and pushed down to the breech where it rests just in front of the shell chamber. Then the shell is filled with powder and, without a wad, is placed in behind the ball the same as in any other breechloader. The bullet has a very square base, and a broad band at the bottom; as it goes down it pushes the fouling before it, leaving the barrel uniformly clean. The barrel is slightly choked at the muzzle and the lands are narrow and so shaped as to cause little friction; as a consequence after the ball passes through the false muzzle it seats very easily, perfectly centered in the bore.
These rifles can be shot all day without any attention being paid to the bore and at night will be as accurate as when work was begun in the morning. Further, they are the most accurate rifles made anywhere of any description. With one of them ten shots have been placed in an inch and a half circle at two hundred yards when shot with a machine rest, and fifty shots in a three-inch.
I should regard the accuracy of rifles, all equally well cut but with different styles of loading, as something like this: A .32-40 rifle with fixed ammunition will shoot ten shots into a six-inch circle but the accuracy will go off before fifty shots are fired. With heavy bullets loaded un-crimped in the muzzle of the shell, ten shots can be placed in a five-inch and fifty in an eight. Where the bullets are seated ahead of the shell from the breech with a bullet seater, ten shots might be kept in a four-inch circle and fifty in a six-inch. Patched bullets will pattern still closer. With the average Pope rifle and its accessories ten shots should be kept in a two-inch and fifty in a three-inch at the distance. Any of this work implies that weather conditions shall be favorable with little wind to affect the bullet's flight.
Black powder and King's semi-smokeless are the favorite compounds with sharpshooters. Whichever propellant may be selected, it is customary to prime it with a few grains of nitro powder which assist in blowing out the dirt and keeping the bore clean. Flasks are made especially to prime shells with the smokeless and follow with the black with almost one motion, the whole loading being more uniformly accomplished than could be done by dipping.
Pope-Stevens rifles always take heavier bullets than the standard. The .25 caliber 86 grain bullet is replaced by one of 98 grains; the .28-120 grain by one of 140 grains; the .32 uses a 200 grain ball, .33, 220 and .38, 300 grain. All of these bullets have blunt points with a long bearing in the rifling. The shells, of course, being filled to the top, hold more than the normal charge of powder, the .25-25 shell will hold nearly 30 grains and so on with the others.
Which of these calibers to select is something for the individual rifleman to settle for himself. If he has any inclination to flinch, the chances are he does his best work with a .25. The average gallery, trained sharpshooter will likely secure the best results from the .28, while the veteran on the range will cling to his .30-40 or .33. The .38-55 will tire out any but the most rugged marksman ere a day's work is finished. It should always be kept in mind that a man may fire two hundred shots or more in the course of a day.
Askins, Charles. Rifles and Rifle Shooting. New York: Outing, 1912. Print.
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