Rifle (Dan., Rifle or Riffel, a chamfer; Ger. reifeln or riffeln, to chamfer or groove), a term applied solely until within the past 25 years to small arms, the surfaces of whose bores are spirally grooved to increase the accuracy of their fire. Rifles are supposed to have been invented in the latter part of the 15th century, by Gaspard Zöllner of Vienna. They are known to have been used in target firing at Leipsic in 1498. The first rifles were made with their grooves parallel to the axis of the bore, and although no increased accuracy was given to the fire by such grooving in theory, yet in practice the firing was better, because the grooves allowed the windage to be diminished, and formed receptacles for the residuum of the firing, which in smooth-bores lodged on the surface of the bore, causing wild shooting after a few discharges. The effect of spiral grooving was probably discovered accidentally, and the date of the discovery cannot be determined. In 1563 a law of the Swiss canton of Bern prohibited the use of arms with spiral rifling in target shooting, on account of the discord which such arms produced among the competitors.

Some accounts name as the inventor Augustin Kutter of Nuremberg, who died in 1630. The advantages of rifling were first discussed scientifically in "New Principles of Gunnery" (1742), by Benjamin Robins, an English mathematician, who died in 1751. He mentions breech-loading arms as in use in Europe at that time. - That length in the direction of the bore in which the spiral rifling would make one turn is called the "twist," the parts cut out of the surface of the bore are the "grooves," and the spaces between the grooves are the "lands." The grooves are as nearly parallel to each other as they can be made, and generally have a constant inclination to the axis of the bore. In this case the twist is said to be uniform. There is another kind of twist, in which the groove starts from the breech parallel to the axis of the bore, and gradually inclines from this line until it attains the required angle, where it remains constant. This is called a "gaining twist." It is now only used in small pistols, and has little if any advantage over the uniform twist. The centres of gravity and of figure of a lead or iron ball do not generally coincide, and the diameter of the ball of a smooth-bore is necessarily smaller than that of the bore of the piece.

It follows from the first fact that the line of direction of the force exerted upon the ball by the powder does not generally pass through its centre of gravity, causing a tendency to revolve about an axis passing through that centre, which axis will not coincide with the axis of the bore or the tangent to the trajectory, thus forming one" source of deviation of the projectile from the theoretic trajectory. It follows from the second fact that the ball as it advances through the piece will bounce against the surface of the bore, causing a motion of rotation about some unknown axis; this is another source of deviation. If these sources of deviation be removed, the projectile will move in the theoretic trajectory, and will strike the point aimed at, if the other conditions to attain this end have been complied with. If a barrel be rifled, and the ball so made that projections on its surface precisely fit the grooves of the rifling, the ball in passing through the barrel must receive a motion of rotation about the axis of the bore; and as the axis of rotation will then nearly or quite coincide with the tangent to the trajectory during its flight, the sources of deviation above mentioned will have been removed.

No account is here taken of the tendency of the axis of rotation to continue parallel to its original direction, which (as the path of the ball after it leaves the gun is a curve) gives some deviation from the desired point, as such a discussion involves an abstruse mathematical investigation. If a lead ball be pushed down the bore of a muzzle-loader until it reaches the powder, and then by some means be so expanded that the lead is squeezed into the grooves of the rifling, such a ball will receive in passing through the bore the required motion of rotation. In a breech-loader the lead ball is slightly larger than the bore, and the explosion of the powder upsets it, and forces the lead into the grooves, thus destroying all windage, and giving the necessary motion of rotation about the axis of the bore. Of two balls of the same weight projected from guns, it is evident that that one which presents the smaller surface to the direction of the motion will be less resisted by the air. Hence, other things being equal, the smaller the bore of the gun within practical limits, the less resistance is there to the motion of the ball, or in other words the further the ball will be carried, or technically the flatter will be the trajectory.

Formerly the difficulty of loading pieces with small bores prevented the use of small calibres in military arms; but the general introduction of breech-loaders, in which small calibres can be loaded as easily and quickly as large ones, has caused the advantages of small calibres with cylindrical bullets to be recognized, and the calibres of all breech-loading military small arms manufactured within the past ten years range between .5 in. and .4 in. The great majority range between .45 in. and .4 in. It has been mathematically determined that the larger and denser the projectile, the less in proportion is the resistance of the air. It follows therefore that for the same calibre an oblong projectile is less retarded than a spherical one, and that for the same initial velocity the oblong projectile will have a greater range than the spherical one. It has also been mathematically determined that the length of trajectory of a projectile, in which the velocity is reduced by any definite amount, is directly proportional to the product of the diameter and density of the projectile, and inversely proportional to the density of the air.

Hence greater ranges are obtained by the use of large and heavy projectiles, in preference to small and light ones, solid shot instead of shells, lead instead of any lighter metal, and long instead of short projectiles. These principles have all been applied in the manufacture of modern rifled small arms; but it is only within the past 30 years that the rifle has come into general use as a military weapon. - Various styles of rifling have been used in the manufacture of military arms, the difference being in the number and shapes of the grooves and the lengths of the twists. But in general, the grooves are flat, in number from three to seven, and the breadth of the lands less than that of the grooves. In muzzle-loaders the depth of the grooves diminishes from the breech to the muzzle, but in breech-loaders that depth is constant. In muzzle-loaders too, as a very great range was not considered attainable,' the twist was gentler than it is in breech-loaders. In the former the twist was generally one turn in 60 in. or more; in the latter it is usually one turn in 22 in., and in some arms it is a little greater than that. The intensity of the twist is limited by the danger of causing the ball to "strip" in passing through the bore.

About 5 per cent. of the force of the powder is taken up in generating the enormous velocity of rotation made necessary to attain the long ranges of modern arms. Whitworth's rifling consisted in making the bore of the barrel hexagonal in section, with rounded angles, and giving the bore a twist. The effect of this was good, but the difficultv of its manufacture, or rather the ease of manufacture of the cylindrical bore, has caused its general rejection in military small arms. Henry's rifling, which was adopted by the British government for all its small arms, has produced excellent results. Although the section looks as if it might be difficult to bore it correctly, yet, on account of the peculiar arrangement of grooves, it is no more difficult to make than ordinary rifling. - As small arms became lighter and of more general use in armies, the necessity for a light arm of long range for the use of light troops, sharpshooters, etc, became more apparent. The fire of the ordinary musket or arquebus was too wild for such troops, and the rifle came gradually into use, but the slowness of its fire prevented its general adoption.

In Germany, during the thirty years' war, organized companies of riflemen were used with advantage by William V., landgrave of Hesse-Cassel. In 1645 three regiments were organized in Bavaria, and in 1674 the elector Frederick William of Brandenburg had riflemen distributed among his infantry regiments. In 1740 Frederick the Great organized a small body of light infantry of 60 men armed with rifles, which finally grew into a regiment. France also early made use of sharpshooters or riflemen. In 1689 a French organization existed in which the men were armed with two pistols, a sword, and a rifle called escopette. But the rifle, on account of the difficulties in its manipulation, did not grow in favor, and at the commencement of the French revolution no rifle regiments or companies existed in France. The Swiss and Austrians paid much attention to their military rifle organizations during the last half of the 18th century, being forced into that direction by the passionate fondness for the arm which existed in the Swiss mountains and in Tyrol. During the war of the American revolution the Americans, who were obliged to bring every weapon into requisition, made excellent use of their hunting rifles, and were really the first sharpshooters.

The British, taught by their dearly bought experience, adopted rifles as an important part of their armament in 1794. Rifled carbines are mentioned in Smith's "Military Dictionary" (1779) as arms "used by the hunters or light infantry." In the new organization the left flank company of each battalion of ten companies was composed of light infantry or riflemen, and received special instruction, the right flank company being grenadiers. The French about the same time (1792), following the same example, introduced new model rifles into their infantry and cavalry armaments. Their accuracy for short ranges-was superior to that of the musket; but the shortness of the range, the slowness of loading, the necessity for a peculiar patched ball and for using a mallet, and the fact that no bayonets were used with them, soon caused their abandonment. The consequence was that under Napoleon I. rifles were little used in the French army. But although Napoleon had a low opinion of the rifle as it existed in his day, he had great faith in the improvement of the musket. He therefore designated Col. Pauly at Paris to improve the musket, who in 1812 patented in France what has since been known as the Pauly gun. The cartridge in this gun contained its own means of ignition. In Pauly's shop Dreyse worked.

Pauly's gun having been thrown aside on account of its alleged want of simplicity, Dreyse worked on in the direction of the bolt gun, and in 1836 made the first breech-loading needle gun. As Pauly's was the parent gun of all breech-loaders which close the breech with a swinging block, so Dreyse's needle gun is the parent of all breechloaders which close the breech with a bolt. In 1826 Lieut. Delvigne of the French artillery invented a rifle with a chamber smaller than the bore. The chamber was connected with the bore by a spherical surface of the same radius as that of the ball. The powder having been poured into the chamber from the muzzle, the ball was dropped into the bore, and rested on the top of the chamber. A few blows of the ramrod, with its head hollowed to fit the bullet, squeezed the lead into the rifling grooves without disturbing the powder, and when the piece was fired it was found that the range and accuracy were materially increased, an effect due to the rifling. This idea of Delvigne's, viz., getting the ball to its place on top of the powder in the chamber without other force than its own weight, and then causing it to take the rifling by the action of ramming, was the mother idea of all improvements in muzzle-loading military rifles from that time onward, and in fact may be said to be the first step in modern improvements of rifles.

In 1842 France armed ten battalions of chasseurs with rifles made on Delvigne's principle, and at the same time instituted the school of firing for the purpose of educating sharpshooters. This school has been imitated by nearly all other nations. The cartridge for Delvigne's arm was special, and therefore objectionable; hence Col. Thouve-nin invented the carabine à tige, in which the bore is of the same diameter from the muzzle to the breech. From the breech projects into the bore a steel rod about 1/4 in. in diameter, the axis of which is coincident with that of the bore, and its length such that the front end of the rod reaches to the top of the powder charge. The rifle was loaded precisely as was the old musket. The middle part of the ball rested on the front end of the rod, and a few blows of the ramrod squeezed the lead into the rifling. This rifle made a good target at 500 yards. The next step in the improvement of rifled small arms was the introduction of the elongated projectile of Capt. Minié about 1845.

Whitworth's Small arm Projectile.

Fig. 1. - Whitworth's Small-arm Projectile.

Henry's Rifling.

Fig. 2. - Henry's Rifling.

Pauly Breech loader. 1. Vertical section. 2. Elevation. 3. Cartridge.

Fig. 3. - Pauly Breech-loader. 1. Vertical section. 2. Elevation. 3. Cartridge.

Breech of Delvigne's Rifle (1S42).

Fig. 4. - Breech of Delvigne's Rifle (1S42).

The carabine à tige was still used, but the rifling was made more abrupt, having a twist of 6 1/2 ft. instead of 20 ft., an increase necessary on account of the greater weight of the new projectile, and the greater range attained. The rod at the breech (tige) was left out. Ranges of more than 1,300 yards were obtained, and accurate shooting was done at ranges of 900 yards. Grooves had been made in the rear part of the bullet to hold the lubricant. In order to simplify the shape of the ball these grooves were afterward left off; but the shooting was materially diminished in accuracy by the omission, and the experiment showed that such grooves made the very resistance which was necessary to keep the axis of the long projectile coincident with the tangent of the trajectory through its flight; or in other words, they kept the bullet from turning end over end. About 1849 Capt. Minié invented a bullet which had in its rear a recess of a truncated conical form lined with a tin cup something like a small thimble. This recess made the sides of the bullet thin, so that the effect of firing the charge was to press the tin cup into the bullet, forcing the lead into the grooves of the rifling.

This invention caused the abandonment of the rod in the carabine à tige, and gave an impetus to the introduction of rifles into all European armies, so that by 1855 the infantry firearm in those armies was the rifle; the old smooth-bore muskets were rifled, and used the Minié bullet, becoming rifles in all respects, and retaining the ease of loading of the smooth-bore. The United States had for 30 years before that time kept a small supply of military rifles, manufactured at the Harper's Ferry armory. Their calibre was .54 in., and their weight about 9f lbs. The rifling was in three grooves, each .36 in. broad, with a constant twist, making one turn in 10 ft. The depth of the grooves was .005 in. at the muzzle and .008 in. at the breech. The ball, which was spherical and patched, weighed 1/2 oz. or 220 grs., and the powder charge weighed 75 grs. These rifles were used in some frontier campaigns, and by a few regiments in the Mexican war. They were altered about 1855 by increasing the calibre to .58 in., and by making the grooves 3 in. broad, .005 in. deep at the muzzle, and .013 in. deep at the breech. In 1855 the United States adopted a new model rifle musket, which has been known since as the Springfield rifle.

The calibre was .58 in., and the weight with bayonet about 10 lbs.

Breech of Carabine à tige (1846).

Fig. 5. - Breech of Carabine à tige (1846).

Minié's First Bullet.

Fig. 6. - Minié's First Bullet.

Minié's Bullet of 1849.

Fig. 7. - Minié's Bullet of 1849.

The rifling was in three grooves, each .3 in. wide, .005 in. deep at the muzzle, and .015 in. deep at the breech. The twist was uniform, making one turn in 6 ft. The bullet was cylin-dro-conical with expanding base, and weighed 500 grs. The powder charge weighed 60 grs. From this date the rifle became the infantry arm of the United States, although the suddenness of the outbreak of the civil war of 1861-5 made it necessary to bring into use all the small arms then belonging to the United States, smooth-bores as well as rifles. - All attempts to improve muzzle-loading small arms may be considered to have ceased after 1861, the fact that breech-loaders were soon to supersede them as infantry arms having become apparent to all military authorities. In 1814 Pauly's invention was examined by a commission of which Brillat-Savarin was president, and an exhaustive series of experiments was made. The commission reported that troops armed with these guns would have a very great advantage over an enemy armed with muzzle-loaders, because the Pauly guns could be loaded and fired without slackening the march; that they could be fired more rapidly than muzzle-loaders, would carry further, and required less powder; that rain or dampness would not affect the fire; that they never hung fire; that the charge was easily withdrawn; that a ramrod was not re-quired; and that, other things being equal, the range was greater than that of a muzzle-loader. Add to these the further advantage that they could be loaded while the soldier was lying down, and we. have all the merits claimed for the breech-loaders of the present day.

But Europe was at that time exhausted with the wars of Napoleon, and little attention was given to the invention. About 1811 a breech-loading rifle was invented in the United States by John H. Hall, and after trial at the Washington arsenal and at Fortress Monroe in 1818-'19, a large number were ordered to be made at the Harper's Ferry armory. They were manufactured there under the direction of the inventor, who first introduced the system of making the parts of the arm interchangeable, and was the first or among the first to use the drop-hammer for stamping out the parts by one or two blows. Carbines were made after the same invention, which were used by the mounted troops of the United States until about the time of the Mexican war. Although these rifles were very strong shooters, there were some elements of danger about them, and they never were favorites with the troops. This is the first instance of the successful introduction of a breech-loader into a military service. The Hall rifle was made to use both the flint and the percussion locks.

Taking an ordinary muzzle-loader, and cutting the barrel in two about 6 in. or less in front of the breech, and arranging the rear piece on a hinge or trunnions so that it may be raised high enough to expose the bore, we have nearly the Hall rifle. This movable piece could be clamped so that its bore and that of the barrel were coincident, and it made the chamber. To load the piece, the front end of the chamber was thrown up by a trigger under the stock. The cartridge was then inserted, the chamber pressed back to its place, where it was held by a trigger and spring, and after priming or capping, the piece was ready for firing. A breech-loading rifle was invented in Norway about 1836, and between 1839 and 1845 extensive preparations were made with it by the government of Sweden, resulting in the conclusion that it was superior in all respects to muzzle - loading arms. - In 1841 Prussia decided to arm the troops with the Zündnadelgewehr or needle gun, and in the course of a few years its whole army was furnished with this arm. Its first uses in actual service were in the revolution of 1848 and the first Schleswig-Holstein war, where its superiority to the muzzle-loader was demonstrated.

The decisive Prussian victory of Sa-dowa in the Austrian war of 1866 was at first attributed wholly to the fact that the Prussians had the needle gun, while the Aus-trians had only muzzle-loaders; and a great impetus was given to the introduction of breech-loaders in all European armies. In France a needle gun was adopted which was in all respects an improvement on that of the Prussians, called the Chassepot after the inventor. The needle-gun breech action consists of a bolt to which is attached a handle which acts in keeping the breech closed, precisely as does the handle of a door bolt in keeping the bolt in place when it is shot. The bolt traverses forward and back in an iron receiver which is screwed to the barrel. The lock and needle are enclosed in the bolt. The spring, like that in nearly all bolt guns, is of spiral steel wire. Supposing the piece unloaded, to load it, the needle is pulled back by the thumb piece in rear; then the handle is turned to the left, the bolt withdrawn, and the cartridge inserted. The bolt is pushed forward, the handle turned to the right against its stop in the receiver, and after cocking by pushing forward the thumb piece, it is ready for firing.

The fulminate is just in rear of the wad at the base of the bullet, so that the needle passes through the whole powder charge before it strikes the fulminate. The cartridge envelope is papier maché. The calibre of the rifle is about .6 in., and the number of grooves is four. There is a great leak of gas from this rifle. The gas check is made by the contact between the bolt and the rear part of the chamber, and is not sufficient, particularly as this contact becomes more imperfect as the gun is used. In the Chassepot, or French military rifle, the breech action is in several respects like that of the preceding, having a bolt handle by which the bolt is held in place, the latter containing the lock and needle. The fulminate is in a paper wad which forms the rear of the cartridge envelope. The gas check is a cylindrical ring of vulcanized India rubber, which is pressed against the surface of the chamber when the explosion takes place, and theoretically forms an efficient obstacle to the passage of the gas. The cartridge envelope is silk or linen, and the calibre is .433 in. (11 millimetres). The number of grooves is four.

These are the two principal breech-loaders in use which do not employ the metallic envelope cartridge, and it is notable that the greatest war of modern times was fought with these two arms, metallic cartridge arms having been scarcely used in any of its great battles. - The civil war in the United States stimulated the invention of breech-loading arms. Nearly all of these used the metallic cartridge, and some displayed great inventive talent. Shortly before the war several breech-loaders were tested by the United States which used the detached percussion cap. Among these are the Burnside, Cosmopolitan, Gallagher, Joslyn, Merrill, Maynard, Smith, Lindner, and Sharp. The last named has been altered to use the metallic cartridge, and is still in use. The others have generally been discarded, and are not in use as military arms. During the civil war the Spencer rifle, a magazine gun, was introduced, and was extensively used by the Union cavalry. It contains a magazine in the butt of the stock, holding seven cartridges, and by the movement of the trigger guard used as a lever the cartridges are admitted to the chamber one by one.

The same movement ejects the shell of the exploded cartridge. "When the magazine is exhausted, it can be replaced by another, or be reloaded, or the rifle may be used as a single breech-loader, the magazine being previously shut off. In the Henry gun, an American invention, the magazine is under the barrel, and parallel to it.

Hall's Rifle.

Fig. 8. - Hall's Rifle.

Prussian Needle Gun.

Fig. 9. - Prussian Needle Gun.

1. Gun complete. 2. Section showing working parts of lock, gun ready to fire. 3. Cartridge.

French Chassepot.

Fig. 10. - French Chassepot.

1. Gun complete. 2. Section showing lock and rifling of gun ready to fire. 3. Cartridge.

Spencer Magazine Gun.

Fig. 11. - Spencer Magazine Gun.

Winchester Repeating Arm.

Fig. 12. - Winchester Repeating Arm.

It contains 17 metallic-cased cartridges, which can be brought successively into the chamber by moving the lever under the stock. It can also be used as a single breech-loader by shutting off the magazine. This gun has been altered by O. F. Winchester, and is now called the Winchester gun. The Ball, Fogarty, and Gardner guns are also magazine guns. The Remington gun is a single breech-loader using metallic-cased cartridges. An iron receiver made to correspond externally to the shape of a gunstock is screwed to the breech of the barrel; in this are contained the breech block and lock. Supposing the piece to have been discharged, it is loaded as follows: 1, it is cocked; 2, the breech block is pulled back by the handle at its right side, ejecting the shell of the exploded cartridge; 3, the cartridge is inserted; 4, the breech block is pushed back to its place, closing the breech. The gun is then ready for firing. The hammer has a projection which passes under the breech block when it is down, or closing the breech, and prevents the block from flying back when the explosion takes place. The firing pin passes through the breech block from the nose of the hammer to the percussion cap in the base of the cartridge shell.

This rifle is used by the United States navy, and has been adopted by Egypt, Spain, and some other nations. It has various calibres and riflings, and is arranged for rim-fire and central-fire cartridges. The Springfield breech-loader, which has been adopted by the United States for the army and militia, is in external appearance like the Springfield muzzle-loader, having nearly the same stock and side lock. The breech action consists of a receiver screwed to the breech of the barrel, and a breech block which when it closes the breech lies in the receiver. To open the breech, the breech block moves upward and forward about a hinge in its front and on top of the barrel. The movement of the hinge in opening the breech block ejects the shell of the exploded cartridge by. a combined cam and spring. In the rear of the breech block is a cam with an eccentric handle used for lifting the block, and so arranged that unless the block is closed the hammer cannot strike the firing pin, but will merely strike the handle. The firing pin goes through the breech block in an inclined direction from the nose of the hammer at the side to the centre of the rear of the chamber, where it strikes the head of the cartridge, exploding the fulminate when its rear end is struck by the hammer.

This rifle was selected by a board of officers of the army in 1873 from about 100 competitors. Its calibre is .45 in., and it has three grooves equal in width to the lands, and a twist of 22 in.

Remington Rim fire Rifle.

Fig. 18. - Remington Rim-fire Rifle.

Springfield Breech loader. 1. Vertical Section of Breech loading System. 2. Gun complete. 8. Cartridge.

Fig. 14. - Springfield Breech-loader. 1. Vertical Section of Breech-loading System. 2. Gun complete. 8. Cartridge.

Martini Henry Gun.

Fig. 15. - Martini-Henry Gun.

The rifle adopted for the military service by the British government is the Martini-Henry, in which the breech action is the invention of Martini, and the rifling that of Henry (not the inventor of the Henry gun), which has already been described. The Martini breech action appears to have been taken from the Peabody gun, an American invention. In the latter the breech block revolves about an axis at its rear end, and the front end falls to open the breech. In the act of falling it moves a bent lever which ejects the shell. The motion of the breech block in the Martini is the same as that in the Peabody; but the Martini breech block contains the lock, differing in this respect from the Peabody, in which the ordinary side lock is used. Turkey has adopted the Martini-Henry gun. The calibre of this rifle is .45 in., the rifling the Henry, with seven grooves.

Peabody Rifle.

Fig. 16. - Peabody Rifle.

The twist is 22 in. The first step made by the British government in the direction of breech-loading small arms was in the alteration of the Enfield muzzle-loader to the breech-loading system by the Snider plan, about 1866. Ihe breech block in this system revolves about an axis parallel to the axis of the bore, and at its right. The firing pin passes obliquely from the nose of the hammer through the breech block to the centre of the base of the cartridge. In 1869 Russia ordered from the United States 30,000 metallic-cartridge rifles, consisting of a combination of the Springfield breech-loader and a spiral spring lock. This was the first movement in arming an enormous army like that of Russia with metallic-cartridge arms. The questions of the kind of cartridge and diameter of bore and rifling were carefully studied by the Russian officers in the United States under Maj. Gen. Gorloff, and their results were adopted by the Russian government. The calibre adopted was .42 in.; the ball weighed 380 grs., the powder 77 grs.; and the cartridge case was brass. central fire. There were six grooves, each .175 in. broad, and the Twist was 22 in. Major Pieri of the French army has adopted the same calibre m a breech-loading rifle lately invented by him.

In this arm the rifling is peculiar, and there is no trigger nor trigger guard on the lower side of the stock. The rifle is fired by touching a thumb piece on the upper side of the stock, behind the breech action. In other respects it is similar to the Chassepot. Afterward Russia adopted in place of the Gorloff a bolt mm which takes the same cartridge, the invention of the American Col. Hiram Berdan. Since the Franco-German war, Germany has changed her needle gun, with paper or linen envelope cartridges, for another with calibre .433 in., using a metallic-shell cartridge; and France has commenced the introduction of an altered form of the Chassepot which will make it available for use with the metallic cartridge. It may be said therefore that all civilized nations are now using breech-loading, metallic-cartridge arms.

Snider Breech Action Rifle.

Fig. 17. - Snider Breech Action Rifle.

Gorloff Russian Breech loader.

Fig. 18. - Gorloff Russian Breech-loader.

Table Showing The Varieties Of Breech-Loading Rifles Used In The Military Services Of The Nations Named





Shots per minute.

Weight of cartridge, grs.

Weight of rifle without bayonet, lbs.

Range, yards.

Calibre, inches.


Great Britain and



Block opens breech by fall-ing at forward end......






Sweden and Denmark have the Remington rifle in their services experimentally.



Block opens breech by turning around axis of bore.................








Falling breech block.......








Breech block opens upward and forward.............








Système à broche.............................








Transformed arm, needle system..........................................








Needle system.................................






Changed to metallic cartridge........................



Needle system.................................






Changed to metallic cartridge, calibre .433 inch.



Transformed arm, needle system..........................................






" ..............................


Block lifting upward and forward.......................................................






Egypt and Spain..............


Block falling down and backward......................................................






United States army and militia...................


Block moving upward and forward........................................................






United States navy..........








The extreme accurate range of military breech-loading rifles now in use by nearly all nations is about 1,000 yards. An expert shot will strike a man at this distance three times out. of four. It is claimed for the Russian rifle described above, that an expert will place every bullet within a space 3 ft. high by 1 1/2 ft. broad at 1,000 yards distance. The range of magazine or repeating rifles does not in general exceed 500 yards. In order to place a large number of charges in the magazine, the charge is kept small, in some degree sacrificing range to rapidity of fire. The range of rifled pistols is about 100 yards. Thirty years ago the range of the musket, which was the infantry arm in use in all armies, was 200 yards, and the tactics of the three arms, infantry, cavalry, and artillery, dimensions of forts, etc., were all determined upon that basis. It is evident that the great increase of range due to the present style of breech-loading weapons must materially increase the distances at which the fire of hostile bodies of infantry becomes deadly, and must therefore involve a radical change in tactics.

This change is now a subject of discussion among the most accomplished soldiers, but has not yet been determined. - See Robins, "New Principles of Gunnery" (London, 1742); Thi-roux, Instruction théorique et pratique d'artil-lerie (Paris, 1842); Roret, Manuel de l'armu-rier (1852); Chesney, "Observations on Firearms " (London, 1852); Wilcox, "Rifles and Rifle Practice" (New York, 1859); L'Haridou, Catalogue du musée d'artillerie (Paris, 1864); Greener, "Modern Breech-loaders" (London, 1870); Favé, Études sur le passé et l'avenir de l'artillerie (Paris, 1871); Mattenheimer, Die Rüchladungsgewehre (Darmstadt and Leipsic, 1872); and Wingate, "Manual for Rifle Practice" (New York, 1875). (For rifled cannon, see Artillery, and Cannon).