The Metallic Cartridge Period

The principle of breech loading, about as old as firearms, was, on account of fire leakage and residue clogging, impractical until the invention of the metallic cartridge with expanding case. No inventor, however bright, or workman, however skilful, was ever able to make a thoroughly successful breech-loader until then. Metallic cartridges date back four hundred years or more, but they were merely convenient containers; they were rigid. The thought that the case ought to be thin and springy to seal the bore when expanded by the powder gasses did not occur to inventors, apparently, until about the middle of the 19th Century, and little or no progress was made until then in practical breech loading firearms.

About 1850 many inventors produced metallic cartridges of varying forms and methods of ignition, but almost without exception merely with the objects of safety in handling, rapidity in loading, and possibility of being waterproof. It was only after the thin-wall metallic cartridge had been in use for a considerable time, that the discovery was made that its springy walls had solved the problem of a joint at the breech free of fire leakage and residue clogging. That discovery was claimed by Dr. Edward Maynard, whose capping metallic cartridge

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