Chapter Viii

REPEATING AND AUTOMATIC SHOT-

GUNS

WHAT I have said heretofore relates entirely to double hammcrlcss guns, but there is another type of shotgun which being a weapon of absolute merit and a strictly American production must not be overlooked. I refer to the repeating shotgun either handfunctioned or autoloading. 1 shall consider them both as one type of arm, for undoubtedly the pump repeater is merely a halfway house on the march to an automatic.

Pump guns and auto-loaders may never replace the double gun in the affections of sportsmen, yet their use is increasing steadily and rapidly. Note the picture of a crowd of trap shooters and you will observe that the majority of them arc armed with repeating shotguns of some kind, which is no less true of a group of Western hunters. I might be wrong but I would consider it a reasonable estimate to say that one-third of the cartridges loaded by our factories will be fired from repeating shotguns.

Pictures Shotgun Houses Modified

THE HIGHEST GRADE REMINGTON REPEATING SHOTGUN

I believe it is true beyond question or dispute that there is more gun, better gun value for the money, in an American repeater than in any other shotgun in the world. They will shoot as well as any smooth bore tube ever fired, and one of them is equal to two double guns with a man following about to carry one and do the loading—English fashion. Unquestionably custom is mighty and a man's prejudices small, for the Briton will have none of the repeater on the grounds that it is too deadly and unsportsmanlike, yet he will have the aforesaid two guns carried about so that he can kill game as rapidly as he could with the repeater.

The hand functioned repeaters are so common that a detailed description of them would be a waste of time. They are made in tw7o models, one working with an under lever, now nearly obsolete, and the other with a sliding fore-arm, known as the pump-action. In the latter, moving this sliding fore-arm back and forth ejects the spent shell and reloads. An expert can move this slide so fast that he can shoot nearly if not quite as rapidly as he could fire two shots from a double gun, while at times he will discharge six shots to the two of the double barreled man.

The pump gun is the favorite trap gun in America to-day. If I am not mistaken it holds all American records at the trap, the longest run on clay birds, the best annual professional average, and odds the greatest number of first place wins either amateur or professional. As a trap gun for clay birds under present conditions it is unrivaled. It balances as well as a double arm, shoots more evenly, and will fire five thousand shots for every dollar that it cost and still be readv for business.

Nevertheless, I believe an auto-loading mechanism is the ultimate fate of all pump repeaters. Within another dccade I expect to see every gunbuilder, who now places a pump gun on the market, extolling the virtues of his own particular automatic.

The manufacturers claim for this type of gun that it is in effect a single trigger, hammerless ejector with five barrels to shoot and but one to load and care for, a weapon that reloads itself and shoots with greatly lessened recoil. A single trigger is admittedly an improvement in a double gun, and it must have the same advantage in an automatic. The double gun derives its prestige over the single shot from the fact that it delivers two shots in place of one; this being true, three more shots of the automatic could hardly be considered less than a most commendable feature.

Few who have used a self-eiector will ever return to the old method of extracting shells by hand, and the auto gun is beyond question a self-ejector. Every user of an ejecting double gun must have felt at times that if his gun only reloaded itself he could ask for no more—the automatic reloads.

The last claim to superiority made by the builders is that a single barrel, not being bound by rigid ribs and the contact of another barrel, expands more uniformly under pressure of the powder gas and hence makes a more round and regular pattern.

It might be concluded from the foregoing that the auto-loadcr is nothing short of perfection, but the other fellow is not slow, in telling his side of the story. He claims that the automatic is over weight for any purpose except duck and trap shooting; that the piece utterly lacks balance; that the grip of the two hands because of the size of the fore-arm and depth of the frame is so far below the line of sight that the man accustomed to a double gun cannot point the piece straight, but will be absolutely at a loss to know when he is holding right. He further asserts that because of its complicated mechanism the auto arm is bound to break down after a season or two.

He declares that the gun frequently fails to function, balks, and must then be worked by hand, making it slower than a single shot. He is positive, too, that the piece is an ill looking, clublike affair, without a single attractive line. He sharply maintains that it is an unsportsmanlike arm as well—both a game killer and a game crippler owing to the reserve of fire which leads the gunner to blaze away wildly at everything within range and out of it. Additionally he protests that there is no such reduction of recoil as the manufacturers claim, but on the other hand the piece gives him an additional prod every time it is fired.

In truth it seems that both sides can readily make out a case, and the author hardly feels competent to sit in judgment. Doubtless every man will have to pass upon the matter himself, and then he will either like the arm or he will not and decide accordingly.

The contention that the arm is unsportsmanlike might be thrown out since it depends so much upon whose hands are on the gun. A shotgun is made, primarily, to kill game and not to save it—the more effective it is the better adapted to its purpose. That it will kill game is no reason that it should be made to do so beyond reason or lawful limit. #

That the mechanism is complicated is something hardly to be denied, and no man should expect it to have as long and sound a life as a high class double gun. However, three auto-loaders can be bought at the price of one good double hammerless. It must be admitted, too, that the combined cheapness and quality of these automatics are the greatest of all tributes to the genius of American gunbuilding.

That the piece lacks the graceful lines of a double gun is quite true, though it might alike be asserted that the repeating rifle is without the clean lines of the single shot. You could hardly attach a magazine to a double barrel and maintain its grace of outline. Sometimes beauty must yield to utility.

I believe, myself, that the man accustomed to a double gun will have some trouble in shooting as accurately with the auto because of the distance his pointing hands arc below their accustomed place. However this is something that time and practicc will assuredly remedy.

As to the recoil, while it would appear reasonable that some of this would be absorbed by the heavy spring and the butt at least come back with more of a push, yet to the man unaccustomed to the automatic the jerk of the arm as the spring throws the barrel back into place is more annoying than the sharper blow of the double barrel.

Since the auto gun is operated by recoil it follows that this should be made as nearly a fixed factor as possible, which precludes the use of a large variety of ammunition with satisfaction. The manufacturers advise shooting standard ammunition only when that is possible. At first glance this might be thought a hardship, but in the end the gunner will discover that the use of a cartridge with a regular velocity and breech pressure is the greatest possible help toward uniform shooting. In wing-shooting the gunner could no more expect to do regular work with one shell that gave a velocity of a thousand feet and another of eight hundred than he could with a rifle having a fixed sight and using one high and one low power cartridge.

The automatic arm, being the latest invention in firearms, might still be regarded as in the embryo stage. If so we may be forgiven for idly speculating as to what the future will bring forth. At present it seems an assured fact that in time all military and sporting rifles and side arms will be auto-loading. If this is true of rifles why not of shotguns?

It seems highly probable that every fault that can now be found with the automatic will finally be remedied. Means will be discovered to simplify the mechanism. A reduction in gauge would reduce the size and clumsy appearance of the fore-arm, giving the piece the lines of our present single barrel trap gun. The weight of the weapon is certain to be reduced in the immediate future so as to come within the standard weights of field arms. Whatever is done, wc can look forward with great interest to automatic gunbuilding, certain that no prejudice, not even law enactment, can long retard the development of an arm that in the logic of events must displace every weapon of other description.

For myself, I am looking forward hopefully to the appearance of a twenty bore automatic that will be neat in outline, positive and lasting in action, and with a weight under seven pounds. I should prefer that it use dense nitro powder in a shell not over two inches long so as to shorten the present heavy frame; that the fore-arm be cut down to the last ounce of weight; and that the number of shells in the magazine be rcduced to three. I expect that through an improvement in boring and choking the entire twenty gauge charge will be placed in a given circle in place of sixty-five or seventy per cent., and that the charge will be given a muzzle velocity three hundred feet higher than the now standard thousand feet. Such a weapon would he as much an improvement over the twelve gauge double gun of to-day as the modern Springfield army rifle is superior to the old 45—70.

FITTING THE GUN TO THE MAN.

ONE of the most important features of a shotgun is its fit, fit and balance having more to do with a gunner's ability to perform well with his weapon than even the shooting qualities of the gun. Shotguns can be obtained that are quite capable of "outshooting" their owner, however expert he may be, and hence the chief study of the skilled and the novice alike should be perfect fit and balance as contributing to finer holding.

It is true that there are men who can shoot fairly with any gun, just as we have all heard of the man who can down his birds as surely from the hip as from the shoulder. If the reader happens to belong to the "hip-shooting" class this chapter is not for him, since he has risen superior to the gunbuilder's art and merely requires barrels that will kill. However the majority of us do plenty of missing without deliberately courting that sort of thing by purchasing a gun that is unbalanced or a misfit.

The neatest fitting coat can be procured by going to an experienced tailor and being measured for it, and the hest fitting gun should be turned out by the expert gunmaker. Nevertheless, when beyond the reach of tailor shops, fou must needs go to the largest retail store you can find and there try on coats until you get one that fits, and the same rule applies to procuring a gun. A sporting goods dealer should have arms of every size, weight, and measurement, some of which would be of the exact dimensions required. If you are a novicc consult the salesman who should know his business, or take with you the most experienced of your shooting

"3

Gun Stock Measuring

1. From trigger t.o center of butt, ins. (This corresponds Tvith an ordinary leiigt.fi of stock of 11 Vi in*.). 2. Frnn- bottom of stand. lnjs frame to center of butt, 17 % ins. (This rives correct IchkUi ol" 14% in. slock regard!©«* of position o: trigger.) From bottom of standing frame lo heel, 17 Ins. 4. From bot'.oui of standing trnroe to toe. 18 ins. 0. From tottom of «lauding frame to end of grip. 7 Vis ins. (This length well fidnpxod to single trigger.)

friends. Be careful in the selection of your first gun, for you will "grow" to it, and it will always influence you thereafter, perhaps in the wrong way.

The fit of a gun relates principally to the length and drop of stock, the drop, thickness, and shape of comb, the length, shape, and size of the grip, the slant and shape of the buttplate, and possibly its cast-off. The balance of the piece, technically known as its "hang," concerns its equable distribution of weight.

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