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taste than of judgment; in some the lever lies closely under the barrels, in others it is brought over the trigger-guard; each lever has the same power over the barrels, keeping them equally tight and close against the false breech. In the majority of guns made on this principle, the small piece of wood under the barrels towards the muzzle end must be taken off before the barrels can be removed, this material being connected with the barrels by a small side pin or bolt; in others which I have seen and used, this small end of the stock is connected with the larger part of it by a joint and cannot be taken off, but in each case the barrels and the small end of the stock are kept in their places by a side bolt; this plan answers its purpose as well as the other, and gives less trouble, and at the same time obviates the risk of the small movable end of the stock being either mislaid or lost—a circumstance which I have known to have occurred with guns of this structure. There has been a further alteration introduced, considered by those who have tried it to be a great improvement; it consists of an arrangement in the lower end of the stock which admits of the barrels sliding forwards horizontally to the extent of half an inch, on their being liberated after a discharge, by a movement of the lever, so that the exploded cartridges can be more easily withdrawn, and fresh ones more readily inserted; and this improvement, although of trifling extent in itself, is important, inasmuch as it facilitates the introduction of a further and much larger one, in the shape of two discs projecting from the false breech, which fit exactly into the barrels, thus keeping the cartridges much more firmly and closely fixed than if their ends rested on the flat surface of the false breech. These discs could not be introduced into the original Lafanchaux, the movement of the barrels, on liberation, being immediately vertical, whereas with the partial horizontal movement all impediment is obviated, and I am inclined to believe that guns constructed on this principle will be found to shoot with much greater strength than those made on the original Lafanchaux principle without the discs. The cartridges must be in a firmer and stronger position than if they rested against the false breech, because the discs keep the barrels immovably fixed in their places, rendering any vertical movement impossible, and after a discharge the cartridges are ejected as the barrels slide forward under the influence of the lever. This particular gun is made by Martin of Glasgow, a practical gunmaker of long standing. His father has a large establishment at Paisley, for the construction of all sorts of firearms. In each of these establishments weapons are turned out of first-rate quality; and at about half the price of those sold by London makers. Fishing tackle of the best description may also be procured from Martin; and much valuable information to the sportsman who is going further north for the first time. Dougal of Glasgow has also brought out a gun on a similar principle, but of slightly different structure, his lever not being so powerful as that introduced by Martin; his gun is, however, said to work well in the field.
There are several deviations from the original Lafanchaux worthy of notice—one by Westley Richards, another by Joseph Lang, each considered as an improvement by those who have used them; in the former the barrels are liberated by a slight pressure of the finger on a latch, on the upper part of the stock between the two locks, which is regulated by a small spring; in Lang's, a small horizontal bolt just beyond the trigger-guard, governed also by a spring which, on being pressed, answers the same purpose: and in each case the barrels, after the insertion of fresh cartridges, can be instantly returned to their original position by an upward movement of the left hand, which ought to remain in the position which it occupied at the time of the discharge. The process of reloading in each of these guns is more easy and expeditious than in the ordinary Lafanchaux, and in most other respects each is equal to the best description of them.
The only objection to either of them, which
presents itself, is the spring on which the movement of the lever depends, which of course is more liable to get out of order than the simple, strong, and well-arranged lever of the Lafanchaux; indeed, all the component parts of the original Lafanchaux are so strong and so well adapted to the purpose for which they are intended, that it is difficult to foresee in what manner any disarrangement can occur, whereas we all know that the best tempered springs will under the influence of change of weather sometimes snap. Mr. Bishop, however, informs me that, out of 700 guns of this description which he has sold for Westley Eichards, only one instance of a spring having given way has been brought within his knowledge, and that the guns have given general satisfaction. Springs will, however, sometimes snap, but I have never experienced any disappointment with Lang's gun, which I have used frequently and found to answer its purpose admirably. In each system the barrels are easily and securely locked. It cannot, however, be denied, if the same results can be produced without the employment of springs, by well-hardened highly-polished machinery, of simple structure, which will neither give way nor break, but withstand the work of years, that the system which involves merely the use of the latter is the preferable one, especially for the use of those sportsmen who can only afford to have a couple of c
guns at a time; others, who can afford to indulge their fancies in the use of numerous weapons constructed on various principles, and can always have fresh implements at hand in case of any accident arriving, will in all probability select those which admit of more than ordinary facility and dispatch in loading, especially if they believe them to be equally efficient and safe, notwithstanding the slight liability which I have noticed in reference to the springs. There are many other guns recently invented, which, like the two just alluded to, come under the denomination of snapguns, the working of which depends on the soundness of a spring, which, the inventors tell you, never breaks; but as all experience is opposed to this favourable opinion, sportsmen will be more disposed to place reliance in the former than in the latter, and, moreover, the spring lever has not the strong binding power of the ordinary lever. It cannot possibly keep the two flat surfaces so closely together, so as to prevent all lateral and vertical movement.
In Martin's and in Lancaster's gun the same description of lever is used. As the movement and action are central, consequently the binding power is immense—greater than in any other guns that I have seen. The inventor of this peculiar lever is, I am informed, a man of the name of Irskine; but Martin has wonderfully improved it.