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perienced person as practically impossible, as the copper head of the cartridge offers so strong a resistance under these circumstances that the barrels cannot be brought into close conjunction with the false breech even if any inexperienced sportsman were so unwise as to make the attempt; consequently, the point of the pin cannot possibly be brought into direct collision with the base of the false breech so as to produce an explosion, and even if such a result had been effected by some combination of circumstances difficult to be anticipated or explained, which I very much doubt, it supplies no argument against the general use of the improved Lafanchaux; indeed, when we take into consideration the fact that the Lafanchaux has gone through an ordeal of more than twenty years' trial in the hands of thousands of sportsmen in England and in France, and that it is admitted by the majority to be the best, most efficient, and safest weapon which can be used, neither this nor any of the many frivolous objections which have recently been urged against it by prejudiced parties can be admitted by any impartial sportsman of practical experience to have any good foundation to rest upon. If the Lafanchaux were really liable to all the objections which have recently been manufactured against it, it is not probable that it would have continued the favourite weapon of the majority of sportsmen in England and France; its component parts are as strong as they are simple, and no gun in use can possibly be more safe. There is no objectionable complication of springs, joints, or screws ; the system is so simple and works so easily that no part of it can easily get out of order, so much so, that I have seen firstrate weapons on this improved principle which have been in constant use for six or seven years, as sound and efficient as the day on which they left the workshop.
Sometimes a new pin may be required after several years' hard work—cost only two-and-sixpence—but the pins, joints, and screws, in fact all the materials used by first-rate gunmakers, are of such excellent quality, and so well hardened, and so highly polished, and so well adjusted that, wearing out before the barrels become unfit for use seems next to impossible. Indeed the materials and workmanship are so good, and all the parts so well adapted to each other, in guns by first-rate makers, that it is not likely that any one part will give way before the other; so that when the gun is fairly worn out, it will not be before the sportsman has had his quid pro quo.
With gross neglect the best guns may be spoilt and rendered unfit for use until they have been repaired. I, however, suggest that every sportsman who has any considerable amount of shooting, should at the end of every season send his gun to his own gunmaker to be examined; it is a precaution which costs little trouble, and may be attended with advantage, and it is unfair towards the gunmaker to neglect it.
In inserting the cartridge into the gun the sportsman, as a matter of course, will always take care that the pin is in the nick purposely made for its reception, and if it should accidentally slip out—which is a very unusual occurrence—he is admonished of the fact by the impediment which is offered to his attempt to close the barrels by the use of the lever; and on no account, if he be possessed of any sense or experience, will he endeavour to force the barrels home in spite of such obstruction, well knowing that he would be defeating his own object by so futile and injudicious an exertion of force. I and others have attempted by force, for the sake of experiment, to close the barrels with the pin out of its place, but so far from succeeding, found it impossible even to approach the condition of closing; the formidable resistance offered by the strong copper head of the cartridge rendering such a result impossible. One of the great advantages of the Lafanchaux system is, that the cartridges cannot be exploded except they are in their right places, as the lever will not act so as to bring the barrels in close connection with the false breech if there be the slightest impediment, and even if the cartridges be rightly inserted, they cannot be reached by the hammers so as to be exploded if the barrels have not been brought home by the lever; a partial movement will not suffice, as the hammers in that case, even if the trigger were unwisely pulled, and even if they reached the pins, would only strike them obliquely, and no discharge would take place; indeed, I have witnessed several missfires when the barrels have been properly closed in a new country-made gun, arising solely from one of the hammers or cocks being of imperfect structure, striking obliquely rather than perpendicularly. The operation of bringing the lever home to its proper position is so easy and simple that it is difficult to suppose that any sportsman would either neglect to perform or in any way mismanage it; in fact if an attempt were made to raise the gun to the shoulder without the lever having been previously moved, the muzzle would in all probability decline with its weight to such an extent that a discharge would be impossible, even if the sportsman were insane enough to pull the trigger, and if these alleged casualties had occurred, which is subject of great doubt, they suggest no legitimate objection to the Lafanchaux system, as in every case they must have arisen from gross negligence or from impardonable recklessness. If a man will act in direct opposition to the suggestions of common sense and ordinary prudence, and a casualty arises, the fault is his, not that of the system.
If reckless sportsmen will pass over or through a fence with the muzzle of a breech-loader towards themselves and they are shot, they merely pay the penalty of their imprudence which would equally have been the case with any other description of gun. It has been alleged by the opponents of the Lafanchaux system, that the pins of the cartridges frequently become bent when packed in boxes, so that when placed in the barrels their oblique positions render a discharge impossible, and that sportsmen are constantly disappointed in consequence of this occurrence. This, like many other objections, I believe to be purely fabulous, as I have never witnessed any missfires on this account, or experienced any myself; indeed a missfire on any account is a very rare occurrence with the Lafanchaux; I have only had one during the whole of a season, and that arose entirely from my own fault, a damp cartridge having accidentally got into my pocket which I had laid aside as unfit for use. The pins are so strong, that it requires immense force to hend them; it cannot easily be done by the hand, if at all.
There are several varieties of the improved Lafanchaux, so equal in their intrinsic worth that the choice or selection is rather a matter of