Hillard Underhammer Rifleardesa

cning of the grip by cutting away wood there for the lock seat. The bar lock (Nos. 1, 2, and 3 are bar locks) soon regained leadership. The hammer of this Forsyth cap lock contains the usual hollow in its striking end, but is not vented there, as were hammers of later make. The cone for this lock is seated in a recess in the standing breech, the rain drain of which runs backward; after the cap lock had been in use a few years the rain drain was vented forward, which was a more logical way, sincc a gun in the rain is carried muzzle down.

No. 5, Shows a cap lock with the hammer striking sideways. This lock, patented by William Moore of London in (1830?) is supposed to have been the parent of the popular side-lock system so common among New York and Ohio riflemakers in the period between 1840 and 1870. As can be seen by the pictures of American side hammer rifles the principle only was used; both the appearance and the mechanism were entirely changed to suit American requirements.

No. 6y Cap lock, hammer underneath, trigger guard and mainspring combined; peculiar to the northeastern states from about 1835 to about 1860. The lock shown belonged to a very well made rifle. A variant of it had the sear and trigger-leaf connected by a pin; the rear spring rode the sear on an inclined plane and the sear had a loose connection at its rear, so that the movement of the trigger slid the sear horizontally backward out of the full cock bent. In the case of the lock shown the force of the mainspring operated directly against the release of the sear. The majority of all the American under hammer locks were simpler and cheaper; they were provided with flat mainspring bedded in the wood of the grip and were not provided with trigger guard. (Sec Plate 6, No. 8, and Plate 9, No. 6.)

No. 7, Cap and tape lock. Coexistent with the copper cap were many other percussion primers, the chief of which, in America, besides the pill, were the tape primer and the disc primer. Usually these were in a magazine provided for them in the lock plate, and were adjuncts to the copper cap. The tape priming mechanism most used in this country was the invention of Dr. Edward Maynard, an ingenious dental surgeon of Washington, D. C., who patented it in 1845. The picture shows a typical sporting rifle lock using either tape primers or copper caps. Below B a coil of tape primers is shown; there are 50 pellets in the coil.

No. 8, Shows the tape priming magazine located in the hammer instead of in the lock plate. This was Lieutenant J. N. Ward's patent of 1856. A spur on the left side of the hammer, engaging with an adjunct to the lock plate, operates the device for feeding the tape. Means is provided for cutting off a pellet with each falling of the hammer. This device proved unpopular.

No. 9y Cap and disc primer lock. This lock was the combined invention of Christian Sharps, whose patent was in 1852, and his master armorer, R. S. Lawrence, whose patent was in 1857. A tube of discs is shown under C. The tube is to be inserted in the opening reached by removing the screw in the bottom of the lock plate, indicated by the bent* double pointed arrow. A spring within the opening then pushed the whole body of discs upward, so that a finger, operated by the hammer, could slide off the top one and feed it to the cone. When the priming magazine was empty, copper caps could be used.

Plate 5

Here may be seen at a glance the salient features of American rifles of the percussion period, from pill lock to breech loading cap lock (revolving breech), and the shapes and the varieties of ornamentation which were most popular during-that period.

No. 1, Pill lock rifle; the usual single shot type, altered from a Kentucky flintlock. In place of the pan there is an iron bowl, and in place of the cock there is a hammer with a knob to go down into the bowl.

No. 2y Repeating pill lock rifle. Formerly the property of General Sam. Houston. Now in the National Museum, Washington, D. C. Five shots to each magazine, and almost instantaneous repetition of filled magazines. The magazine is a rectangular block with 5 chambers; it slides horizontally across the breech of the barrel, actuated by the movement of the hammer. This is an Americanization of the Systéme Jarré, familiar to students of firearm mechanism.

No. J, Revolving pill lock rifle. Formerly the property of General M. C. Meigs, and now in the National Museum, Washington, D. C. There are two barrels, the upper, rifled, for the 7 charges in the cylinder, and the lower, a shot barrel on which the cylinder turns, to be fired with a separate lock. This rifle wras made about 1840, and contains the essential features of the device patented in 1856 by Dr. Alexandre LeMat, of New Orleans, except that the LeMat arms revolved by cocking instead of by hand, and that the LeMat ones operated both shot and rifle barrels with a single lock.

No. 4, Cap lock presentation rifle of General U. S. Grant, now in the National Museum, Washington. The two former rifles represent the beginning of the cap lock period, and this the end, as it was made in 1866, when the period of the metallic cartridge breech loader was officially a year old.

No. 5, Plains rifle, about .38 calibre, size, shape and ornamentation all excellent. The reverse side of this rifle, pleasingly ornamented with German silver inlay, is shown by No. 1, Plate 6.

No. 6, Paterson-Colt revolving rifle, period about 1836, the usual type having the operating mechanism geared to the hammer. Silver inlaid.

No. 7, Paterson-Colt, experimental, period 1836 to 1842, revolved by a ringed lever in front of trigger.

No. 8, Paterson-Colt, experimental, revolved by a lever extending downward through a slot in the trigger guard. A large and heavy arm, provided with extra cylinders to be carried loaded. For Paterson-Colt data see Volume 2, pages 15 to 50. These three rifles were in their day considered to be in advance of their time, as the cap lock was still young among sporting arms and the army was still using the flintlock.

Plate 6

No. 1, Plains rifle, early type. Marks erased; probably made by Hawkins about 1835-40. Orna-

Underhammer Buggy Rifle1730 Forsyth Double Barrel Shotgun

Plate 6

merited more than usual. The courtesy is acknowledged of Mr. W. E. Hamilton, for the illustration of this specimen from his collection.

As emigrants moved westward they left behind them the land of hills and valleys, woods and streams, where the seeking of game was done afoot, and entered vast plains where shelter and watering-places were far apart, where they could see game at a great distance, and could themselves be seen from far off both by game and savages. Consequently he who stayed long on the prairies soon learned to live astride a horse. The horseman found that the rifle that had served so well when he was afoot was not now so serviceable; as long as the Kentucky rifle brought from home lasted, the inconvenience of its great length became more and more manifest; when a new rifle became necessary the frontier gunsmith of St. Louis or New Orleans was sure to be ordered not to make it so long as the old one, but to " shorten her up a bit."

Of course the gunsmith shop was a rendezvous not only for those going West but also for those returning East, so that the gunsmith became well informed of the vicissitudes of life on the plains and perceived the peculiar conditions which demanded modifications of the Kentucky. While a gunsmith of considerable ability could at once have met the new requirements of horsemen pioneers with a rifle greatly modified from its prototype, such a newr style of arm would no more have met immediate popular favor than did the double express rifles of visiting

Britons, which wrere sneered at until they proved their worth again and again. So at first the gunsmith merely did " shorten her up a bit." The result still was a Kentucky, but a slightly abbreviated one. The next step was towards greater handi-ness by lessening the weight forward. This was accomplished by tapering the barrel and mounting it with a half-stock. Such a rifle was really the first Plains rifle, and is shown by the photograph.

No. 2, Plains rifle, sccond step in evolution. Period about 1840. Half-stock, considerably lighter forward; somewhat shorter; still retains the excessive drop to the butt. As light an arm as could be fired in rapid succession — as in buffalo-shooting or in repelling a raid by savages — considering the recoil engendered by a half-ounce ball and a large charge of powder. As short as was necessary, considering that the plainsman did not then carry his gun by a saddle-sling or in a boot, but by the grasp of the hand. Not yet free of the shape of a rifle fired with deliberate aim, ignoring the fact that a galloping rider can aim only by instinct, as a batsman uses a bat.

No. 3, Plains rifle, third step in evolution. Period about 1845. Straighter lines than formerly, because in firing from a moving horse it was not necessary to put the face to the comb of the stock; also so that the rifle could be carried conveniently thrust between the saddle and the left leg. - A reversion to full stock, so that the deep-seated ramrod thimbles and the absence of a fore end tip would minimize wear and tear on saddle and trousers; also so that the smooth lines minimized the danger of sticking fast in place when necessary to draw with a jerk in a desperate hurry.

No. 4, Plains rifle, period 1845-1850. Straightened lines, half-stock, calibre about .50, average weight about 7§ pounds. This type was intended to be carried in front of the right leg, butt end up, in a leather boot which encased the barrel from muzzle to lock. Of course there was no rule governing the manner of carrying the rifle; the plainsman was just as liable as not to carry this sort of rifle always in his hand. In fact this latter way was the safest, because if the habit of carrying the rifle was a fixed one there was no risk, when afoot, of being caught weaponless.

No. J, Plains rifle, period about 1850. Not flintlock because it was made before the cap lock period, but flintlock because many a middle-aged man was so conservative that lie preferred old time styles with their inconveniences to what he superciliously termed " modern contraptions/' Bipeds of that type are not yet extinct. In this rifle, size and shape, and not the kind of lock, place its period of make. The influence of the percussion military carbines is so apparent that it is probable that the shop of its maker was located near one of the many army posts which dotted the trails that the Argonauts followed.

No. 6, Typical developed American cap lock sporting rifle, period about 1845 to the metallic cartridge period. Our national sporting rifle of the cap lock period was merely a Plains rifle, adapted and perfected for use anywhere by anybody.

The Western gunsmiths who evolved the Plains rifle from the Kentucky held no monopoly on the evolution of a rifle, and the revised size and form, recognized at the very beginning as meritorious for common use, was adopted immediately throughout the United States. The specimen illustrated is an average one, such as was earned in stock by sporting goods stores everywhere. Weights averaged from 6J to 10 pounds; barrel lengths from 26 to 38 inches; bores from 40 to 200 balls to the pound (about .48 to about .28 calibre); prices ranged according to quality of workmanship and amount of ornamentation from about $35.00 for a plain specimen to $75.00 or a good deal more for a handsome one, in the height of the cap lock period. As late as 1900 a few on hand as left-over stock were catalogued by several sporting goods dealers at the bargain prices of ten to fifteen dollars apiece, including mold, wiper, and canvas ■ cover. The shooting qualities varied from commonplace to excellent.

The illustration is taken from the catalogue issued in 1880 by the sporting goods firm of Turner & Ross of Boston, long ago defunct; and the following is an excerpt from the description in the catalogue: " The Genuine ' Killbuck ' Muzzle-loader. Owing to the popularity of breech loading rifles the call for muzzle loaders is very small, and these have come into our hands at half what they cost to make. The locks are front action or bar; the barrels octagon, and the stocks are simply elegant in finish and shape; mountings all brass; set triggers and elegant shooters. We will warrant that every one in the hands of a competent marksman will put 10 balls in succession inside an ordinary playing card at 75 yards, offhand, and 4 out of 5 at 100 yards. We will sell them for $10.00 each, mold included. Satisfaction guaranteed."

From the foregoing it appears that the average rifle of the present day is not more accurate. Also that the Kentucky was not greatly superior at 75 yards. But the ballistical qualities of the developed cap lock rifle were very different from those of the Kentucky. The latter wras a one-charge, one-sight, all-purpose rifle: simple. The former was a varying ammunition adjustable sight arm: complex.

.No. 7, Side hammer rifle. . Although a standard form such as No. 6 fully satisfied the average man there had to be special rifles for exceptional people. In New England, New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, locks with side hammer and under hammer achieved considerable popularity. Whether this was due to some peculiarity of the inhabitants of those regions, just as the Kentucky was the outgrowth of the needs of a small community, is a question. But side hammer and under hammer military rifles were even foisted upon the United States army by inventors of the regions of their use as sporting arms; vide the Jenks and the Greene rifles mentioned in Part II.

No. 8j Under hammer rifle. The lock of this arm is of a simpler and cheaper type than the one shown by No. 6 on Plate 4. It appears to have been developed by D. H. Hilliard, a gunmaker who worked for a third of a century in the village of Cornish, N. H. Mr. Hilliard may have been a man of one idea with uncommon powers of persuasion, for he flooded his territory with guns, rifles, pistols and even muskets for local militia companies, all built with this sort of lock; and, so far as is known, he built no other kind. All these weapons being extremely simple were also very cheap, and gunmakers who worked at a considerable distance were forced by his competition into adopting his designs. The spread of the contagion was, however, confined to New England and eastern New York.

No. P, Marked " M. Babcock, Charlestown, Mass." Hines Collection; courtesy of Mr. F. E. Hines. The trigger guard is the mainspring. The trigger, projecting upwards through the frame, is also the sear. The hammer is centrally hung, and as the cone is in the axis of the barrel, this is a centre-fire rifle. It is also a take-down; the metal frame and fore end accommodate a series of barrels of varying weights and calibres. Each is held rigidly in place for a short time by a screw extending through the rear underside of the frame; the one element of successful design which is lacking in the Babcock design is the frailty of connection between stock and barrel. Period about 1860.

Rifled Whale Guns

Plate 7

Plate 7

special purpose rifles

No. ly American Indian rifle as it looked when new. The picture serves also for a Hudson Bay rifle. From about 1835 to about 1861 the United States Government supplied rifles to its Indian wards, so that they might, according to the statement in their petition, supply themselves-with game. Through the Commissioner of Indian Affairs contracts were let to a number of gunmakcrs, — Leman, Golcher, Deringer, Tryon and others, — and the weapons, as they were delivered to the Department of the Interior, were forwarded to the governors of the western states for distribution. The Indian was permitted his choice of flint or cap lock. The one noteworthy feature of those rifles was their astonishing cheapness, considering that they were strong and safe; the contract prices rarely exceeded $12.00 apiece, yet they were required to endure, before acceptance, a proof charge consisting of 250 grains of the best rifle powder, two wads, and two bullets. Calibres varied from .44 to .80 and barrel lengths from 36 to 42 inches. Each was marked with the name of the contractor.

The Hudson Bay Company first began the sale of muzzle loading rifles in the early part of the metallic cartridge period. In appearance they were like our Indian ones, but were made in Birmingham and bore the Birmingham proof-marks and the HB mark of the company. Many of them had an iron instead of a brass patch box, its cover being elliptical and hinged in the centre of its lower edge.

No. 2, American Indian rifle as it looked after use. The savage neglected and abused his rifle, and when its performance was unsatisfactory endeavored to coerce it with a stick or stone, knife or fire. When so foul that he no longer could get a load into it, he immersed it bodily in the nearest water and left it to soak until the next time it was needed. When found nowadays Indian rifles are usually broken in several places and mended with rawhide. The Indian's love of glitter induced him to stud the wood with brass-headed tacks, which he purchased at the agency store; and from white hunters and trappers he got the habit of cutting a nick in the stock for each enemy or head of large game which the rifle killed; and occasionally he carried the ornamentation a step further and nailed his enemy scalp lock to the butt. Not infrequently that " enemy " was the helpless wife or daughter of some emigrant from the civilization which had given him the weapon.

No. 3, Whale rifle. Marked " Brand Arms Company/' Made entirely of iron. Bore inches. Weight 26 pounds. In front of it is the projectile, made of cast iron bored thin; the breech cap, which has a hole for a fuse, unscrews to permit loading the interior with gunpowder; the outside is rough and is of slightly less diameter than the bore of the rifle; the rings around it are of lead to take the rifling.

No. 4, Marked " Alberston Douglas & Co."

Made entirely of brass. Weight 35 pounds. The butt is hollow to permit the weight to be still further increased.

One of the most profitable industries of New England from about 1700 to about 1850 was whaling. Towards the latter part of the time whales began to be scarce, and methods of killing them more certain than harpooning were eagerly sought.

At various times during a century and a half whales had been shot with guns of large bore. About 1730 some inventor or whaling skipper had conceived the idea of firing a harpoon from a gun, and whale guns and their missiles received considerable shortlived attention. But the adaptation of gun, line, and harpoon to each other being imperfect, the old method of throwing the harpoon by hand was preferred, and the invention soon fell into disuse.

About 1770, and again in 1817, whale guns were revived by a few enterprising skippers, and by 1820, when improvements had been devised, they were considerably in use, both as shoulder guns and as swivel guns mounted in the bow of a boat.

During all this time it is questionable whether rifled guns were used; in all probability the rifled bore, owing to difficulties in loading, was not in use until whales became so scarce that the loss of one was a serious mishap. By that time, about 1850, not only was the firearms inventor's attention turned to rifles because of their recent adoption for military use in America, but also the missile they could use to best advantage, the pointed bomb, had just been invented.

Rifled whale guns to be fired from the shoulder weighed from 18 to 40 pounds, had a bore of an inch or more, and used from 3 to 5 drams of powder. The bomb averaged about 10 inches long, and its weight averaged about a pound. The velocity of the bomb was of course very low, but on account of its great weight and the short distance from which it was fired, it had force to penetrate at least its own length into a whale.

The explosive charge in the bomb was common black powder. It was fired by a slow match, the latter ignited by the flash of the gun. The duration of the slow match was about a half-minute.

Whale rifles were made by a great number of gunsmiths in the coast towns of New England. Those that did the largest business were the Brand Arms Co., of Norwich, Conn.; Alberston, Douglas & Co., of New London, Conn.; Grudchoss & Eggers, and Patrick Cunningham, of New Bedford, Mass.

Some whale rifles were stocked with wood; but the heaviest weight consistent with raising the gun to the shoulder was appreciated by the user on account of the tremendous recoil.

No. 5, Gallery rifle; used a copper cap, a BB shot, and no powder. Eight inches of the barrel, extending from the muzzle back to the notch on the under side, was of the bore to take a BB shot, and rifled. The shot pellet was pushed down from the muzzle with a metal rod. In the notch, concentric with the bore, was a cone for a copper cap. From there back to the lock the barrel was thin and hollow and contained a rod, or plunger, the forward end of which struck the cap and the rear end of which was connected to the hammer. When copper caps were at their best this sort of arm gave surprisingly good shooting at fifty feet. As the fulminating powder in the cap rusted the barrel quickly, the eight-inch piece could be removed by unscrewing and a new one substituted. This specimen is stamped " Bandle Gun Co., Cincinnati." The invention is attributed to John Krider of Philadelphia.

No. 6, Buggy rifle. Fixed stock. In the cap lock period country doctors, continually driving over lonely roads, often met game and occasionally a highwayman. They commonly carried a small rifle or a demountable rifle, either in the tray under the buggy seat, or in .a holster hung on the dasher. The specimen shown is about .44 calibre, has a 14-inch barrel, a centrally hung underneath hammer, and a trigger guard mainspring which slides along the hammer in cocking and firing; this last feature is unusual. The rifle is just the right size for the buggy seat-tray of the period. Single shot arms of this sort frequently were made with demountable stock, and occasionally with hinged stock.

No. 7, Buggy rifle. Demountable stock. Without the stock this weapon could be used as a revolver. The stock can be fixed instantly to the pistol butt merely by pressing the two together; to take apart, the snap-catch is released by pressing with the thumb on the knob. This arm is merely a Wesson & Leavitt revolver with a special butt and a long barrel and a separate stock. It was probably made, and first used, about 1840. Revolving " buggy " rifles from then until the Civil War were favorites with the tin-pedlars; it was a period when the tin-pedlar did a large and profitable business; drove a 2-40 trotter which didn't look the part, and easily won a match with any local speedy road horse; made, won and carried a large amount of ready cash, and sometimes needed a handy multi shot weapon in a hurrv.

No. 8, German-American Target Rifle. From about 1855 to about 1875 short range target shooting with rifles made especially for such work was popular among Germans living in New York City. By them many rifle clubs were formed and competitive matches were held frequently. . Naturally the rifles used were made in New York City by immigrant German gunsmiths after German models. Such rifles could not be used for quick shooting; moreover, because of their weight, shape, projections, method of loading and peculiar ammunition they were unsuitable both for other kinds of match shooting and for sporting use. Shooting with such rifles was merely a game or pastime and served no high purpose.

The specimen chosen for illustration was made by Rein of N. Y., and is a good average specimen of its type. From this type the recently popular Scheut-zen rifles were developed.

Meigs Rifle



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