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Historical Firearms, Long Range Target Shooting & Military History

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Gunpowder projectiles, history of the cartridge from paper tube to solid-drawn case. Contemporary information on loading.

  • Drams or Drachms? - Problems in the measurement of gun powder charges resulting from the use of different terminologies.
  • Joshua Shaw, Artist And Inventor - This biography of Joshua Shaw also features the early history of the copper percussion cap [1869].
  • Manufacture of The Copper Percussion Cap - A short description [1858].
  • Eley's Patent Wire Cartridge - The term 'Cartridge' in the context of the muzzle loading era did not always mean 'a complete round with powder'. In shotgun terms, it meant a package containing the shot charge and possibly the wadding which could be loaded intact onto the powder charge already in the barrel.
  • Military Percussion Caps - In 1858 British military percussion caps were issued in packs of 75 along with 60 cartridges. That year an additional 20 Eley waterproof caps were also issued.
  • Enfield Paper Cartridges - This article draws from Hawes' work on Rifle Ammunition (1859) and other contemporary sources.
  • Snider Cartridge Creaser - A James Dixon & Sons ball cartridge creaser model 1182, for .577 cartridges.

for Target Shooting

  • Metford & Bullet Alloys - W.E. Metford's correspondence with Sir H. Halford provide a fascinating insight into the experimentation conducted by these gentlemen in the pursuit of accuracy.
  • Rigby, Quicksilver & Bullet Alloys - Contemporary comment from the 1870s on bullet alloys and in particular the use of quicksilver (mercury) as a bullet-hardener.
  • Report of Experiments - In the Annual Report of the National Rifle Association for 1875, General Alexander Shaler (President 1875-1877) reported on experiments with powder charges for long range shooting.
  • The Perils of Hand Loading and How to Wrap Bullets - Observations from the 1880s on hand loading and paper patched bullets.
  • The Science of Long Range Shooting - Edwin Perry shares in his Modern Observations on Rifle Shooting (1880), some of the major changes / advancements at Creedmoor, in particular regarding bullet alloys.
  • The Record Long Range Score - Contemporary insight into long range rifle shooting in the US during the 1880s, and a rich resource for detail on practices of the time.
  • Sharps Long Range Bullets - Pictorial feature of boxed sets of long range bullets for the Sharps rifle, manufactured by the Winchester Repeating Arms Co.
  • Paper Patching: A Pictorial Guide - A quick tutorial on paper patching bullets.

The Perils of Hand Loading and How to Wrap Bullets

D. & J. Fraser of Edinburgh introduced their falling block match rifle in 1881. The rifle was tried by several Scottish riflemen in the selection shoots for the Scottish Eight to compete for the Elcho Shield. The rifle gained popularity and six of the Scottish Eight eventually competed using the Fraser rifle that year. Management of the breech loading match rifle was still new to some at the time, the muzzle loader long being favoured despite the success of the American Teams using breech loaders in long range international competition since 1874. The perils of hand loading were still being discovered.

Read more: The Perils of Hand Loading and How to Wrap Bullets