Proofing Rifle Barrels
A wrought-iron rifle or carbine barrel will only endure about one half of this charge. The breech-loading system after it is finished and assembled to the barrel is subjected to a "finished-proof" charge of a single service bullet and a charge of 85 grains of musket-powder, which is all that can be crowded into the cartridge-shell. Numerous trials have shown that the Springfield system will stand at least 120 grains of powder and three service bullets, weighing altogether 1,265 grains. The fact that a small-arm barrel seldom or never bursts or swells at the muzzle in proof shows conclusively that when such defects are found in service the cause is some obstruction in the bore. Obstructions arise generally from the improper stopping up of the muzzle to keep out moisture. It may arise from dirt introduced by resting the muzzle of the piece on the ground. Instances have occurred of the bursting of barrels by a bullet in the bore—the result of a charge insufficient to expel it. Very accurate and delicate machines are now used to weigh each finished cartridge, and reject any that may be deficient in powder. The barrel of a rifle will endure at least 10,000 fires before its accuracy is sensibly impaired; and its exterior dimensions may be very much reduced by wear without impairing its strength for service.
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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