Target Arms.—For target purposes the greatest possible accuracy is desirable. To obtain this, many features essential in a military arm are sacrificed. Delicate adjustable sights are employed, the trigger pull is reduced, the length of the barrel is increased, the charge reduced, etc.
The most accurate arms available at the present time are the single-shot pistols manufactured by Smith & Wesson, Springfield, Mass., The J. Stevens Arms & Tool Co., Chicopee Falls, Mass.; Fred Adolph, Genoa, N. Y. These pistols are furnished in calibers from .22 rim-fire to .38 central-fire. The barrels are generally 10 inches in length and the trigger pull 2 pounds. In the latest approved form these pistols are of .22 caliber specially bored and chambered for the rim-fire, .22 caliber long rifle cartridge. This is a light, clean, pleasant shooting charge, and may be fired many times with very little fatigue. Pistol shooting with arms of this caliber is rapidly becoming a popular pastime for ladies as well as gentlemen.
The Smith & Wesson pistol has a tip-up action and an automatic extractor. It is made of the best materials and with the greatest care. The fitting and workmanship are superior to that of any other machine-made pistol. The action is similar to that of the Russian Model revolver. The Stevens pistols were formerly furnished in three models and for many years they have enjoyed merited popularity for target shooting among the leading marksmen. This pistol is now supplied only in the No. 35 or " Offhand Target Model," which like the earlier models has a tip-up action and an automatic extractor. A small knob on the left side is pressed to release the barrel and operate the action.
The Remington pistol has an exceedingly strong action, and is the only machine-made pistol with an action adapted for regulation .44, .45, and .50 caliber cartridges. It has a large handle and a heavy barrel. The action is operated when the hammer is at full-cock by throwing back the breech-block with the thumb, simultaneously ejecting the empty shell. Unfortunately the manufacture of these weapons has recently been discontinued.
The Adolph-Weber pistol designed by M. Casimir Weber, of Zurich, Switzerland, is a high grade hand-made arm that can be supplied by Mr. Fred Adolph in accordance with any specifications that the marksman may desire. Fig. 16 illustrates it conforming to the rules and regulations of the U. S. Revolver Association. It has a strong, durable, tip-up action resembling in principle that of the Stevens, and when closed the barrel is securely locked in position by a cross bolt, actuated by a button on the left side.
The Adolph-Martini is a weapon de luxe Ten shots; 51 inch barrel; weight. 2 Ibs., 7 oz. .30 cal.
that has been produced in the same manner as the Adolph-Weber, in which the action of the Martini rifle has been employed. It has double set triggers and is highly ornate.
The Adolph " H. V." is a .22 caliber pistol adapted for a special high velocity cartridge developing a muzzle velocity of 2,000 ft. per second and an energy of 623 foot-pounds.
With good ammunition all these pistols are capable of placing ten shots within a 2-inch circle at 50 yards.
A very accurate pistol for gallery and short-range shooting is made by M. Gastinne Renette of Paris and used in his gallery in that city. These are muzzle-loading and are very tedious and inconvenient to manipulate. For this reason they have not become popular. A few of these arms have been made up as breech-loaders, with a tip-up action similar to the Stevens, but operated by a side lever under the hammer and chambered for the .44 Russian cartridge. In this form with gallery charges the pistol has given very good results.
The revolver is not quite as accurate as the pistol, on account of the necessity of having the cylinder detached from the barrel. If the pin on which the cylinder revolves is not at right angles with the end of the cylinder, there will be more space between the cylinder and the breech end of the barrel in some positions of the cylinder than in others. The result will be varying amounts of gas escaping from the different chambers of the cylinder, and consequently irregular shooting. The accuracy of the revolver depends largely, too, upon the degree of perfection in which all the chambers of the cylinder align with the bore of the barrel at the instant of discharge. When the chambers do not align perfectly, the bullet enters the barrel eccentrically and a portion of it is shaved off. This is fatal to accuracy, especially when smokeless powder is used. Imperfect alignment of chamber and barrel is also a frequent cause of the " leading " of the barrel. Some very ingenious mechanical expedients are used in the best revolvers to reduce to a minimum the wear of those parts which operate and hold the cylinder in position.
The revolvers generally used for target shooting are the military arms already described, with longer barrels, chambered for special cartridges, fitted with target sights, special handles, and other modifications to suit the whims and tastes of individuals.
Some of these modifications are distinctly advantageous. One of the most recent fads is to skeletonize the hammer by boring away as much metal as possible and to increase the tension of the main spring. The combined effect is almost instant response to the trigger pull.
The best and most experienced shots are careful to keep the modifications of all their arms within the rules and regulations of the various national organizations,* in order that they may be used in the annual competitions and other important events. These organizations control the pistol and revolver shooting, and conduct annual competitions. " Freak " arms which do not comply with the rules are not allowed in the competitions, are seldom practical, and have little or no value other than for experimental purposes. Target arms are generally used for trick and exhibition shooting.
Himmelwright, A.L.A.. Pistol and Revolver Shooting. New York: MacMillan, 1922.
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