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It seems a foregone conclusion that the rifle of the future must be automatic in its reloading. Sportsmen and military authorities are so nearly unanimous about this that their very expectations would force the development of the arm. Doubtless the first type of rifle that the automatic will entirely replace will be the army gun of all countries. Sporting rifles will follow gradually, for in the nature of things they cannot be changed so suddenly or radically. The last of our present models to give way should be the single-shot and the double barrel—the one because a self-loader cannot improve upon a single shot where rapidity of fire is useless while the double rifle of large bore will have a special field of its own so long as the great game of Asia and Africa remains.

It is not to be expected that men will continue to pump a gun, yank a lever, or push, pull, and twist a bolt when the rifle can be made to do it all more uniformly and more quickly and surely. Conservatism and caution will of course have an effect for a time, which is the history of firearms from the beginning. Self-loading is in its youth; changes will be made and improvements are sure to come. Perhaps in course of time we will come to look upon our present automatics as extremely crude.

However, since the self-loader is about the only model of rifle that hasn't reached full development, we can expect the gun inventive ability of the world to be turned solely in its direction, with certain and gratifying results sure to follow. While the careful man may consider it wise to bide his time and await the gun of the future, I cannot forbear a word of praise for our automatics just as they are.

I am free to admit an honest liking for an automatic. No grizzly ever charged me yet, but if he should I want to hit him once for every jump he makes, and twice while he is falling,— all this without a thought to the rifle further than to hold and pull trigger. If a repeating rifle is needed at all, the demand should be for the one that repeats the quickest, with the least effort of mind and muscle on the part of the marksman.

For the novice whose first shot may not mean sudden death, for use in the woods where a vital part of the animal may not even be exposed, for running shots, there is no rifled firearm to compare with an automatic. Critics may complain that this model looks clumsy compared with its highly developed rivals, that its mechanism is complicated with too many springs, pieces, and parts, nevertheless I believe that every make of these rifles is strong, reliable, compact, and exactly adapted to the work required of it. I have yet to hear of the unprejudiced man who was dissatisfied with one of these weapons after giving it a fair trial, or of one of them that failed to give a good account of itself in a hot corner.

There are two or three points wherein I think the rifles could be improved, though for mechanical reasons the changes may be difficult. The barrels are now made twenty and twenty-two inches, while the man who likes a long sighting plane would prefer them longer. Moreover in one of the models the trigger pull is hard and drags, which is of course a detriment to good rifle work. Further there is a demand for higher velocity ammunition than anything now used in an automatic, and this may be expected to have a bearing on future models of the rifles. The three makes of these rifles we now have differ materially in self-loading principle, and one or the other will finally prove its superiority, I have little doubt.

Askins, Charles. Rifles and Rifle Shooting. New York: Outing, 1912. Print.

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