Monday, August 12, 2013

"do not go with a lamp in one hand and a revolver in the other"



Some Sensible Advice on the Use of Up to Date Weapons and Explosives—The Best Way to Bag the Burglar Who Enters Your Trap.

   When Samantha sends you down cellar after a burglar, do not go with a lamp in one hand and a revolver in the other. Of course it is not likely that there is any burglar at all, but if there should be he has every advantage, being on the alert and knowing just where to expect you, while you are fuddled with sleep and do not know where he may be. To carry a light is simply suicidal, for a man in pitch darkness can aim as accurately at a light as he can at a bullseye in the day­time.

   A revolver is the most difficult of all firearms to master, and unless you have fired thousands of shots with one at targets till you have learned how to shoot straight you better rely upon a club.

   The best weapon for house defense is a short barreled cylinder bore repeating shotgun, commonly called "riot gun." With a charge of buckshot you are much more likely to hit an object in the dark than with a single bullet, and it gives a paralyzing, knock down blow, whereas a pistol bullet seldom puts a man out of action before he can strike back.

   Fill the magazine of the gun with shells loaded with buckshot, but leave the chamber of the gun empty. Then it is safe to keep about the house, for if a child or ignorant person gets hold of it he cannot discharge the piece by snapping it, but must first throw tho lever, which requires some strength. The gun is always ready for instant use by simply pumping a shell into the chamber from the magazine, and then you have several shots in reserve.

   To bag a burglar without risk to your self open a window commanding the yard, have your wife raise an outcry from the other end of the house, and when the criminal dashes out aim low.

   Never use smokeless powder except strictly according to the maker's directions. There are three distinct classes of smokeless powders—namely, shotgun nitro, low pressure rifle nitro and high pressure rifle nitro. The first is intended for shotguns only. It is quick burning, and on this account dangerous to use in rifles.

   Do not fancy that because a rifle barrel is so much thicker than a shotgun it offers much less resistance to the expansion that endangers its bursting. Smokeless powder is practically gun cotton tamed down, its explosive principle being nitroglycerin or similar nitro product. The low pressure variety is purposely reduced in strength so as to give the same pressure, under normal circumstances, as the same bulk of black gunpowder. It may be used in any rifle.

   But high pressure nitro is vastly stronger and will burst an ordinary soft steel barrel. I have seen a heavy target rifle blown to fragments by it, although the barrel was more than half an inch thick around the bore. High pressure powder is intended exclusively for special military and sporting rifles having barrels of nickel steel, with a tensile strength of at least 60,000 pounds to the inch.

   Such guns are safe when properly used, but the ammunition is so different from the old black powder cartridges that you should not experiment in reloading it unless you have special training. So many guns of this description are now sold that a few words of warning will not be amiss.

   Do not try to make expanding bullets out of the full jacketed ones by filing off the points to expose the lead. British soldiers are said to have done this before the Dum Dum bullets were manufactured, but it is a hazardous experiment, for tho following reasons: The regular soft point bullets now made by the cartridge factories have a jacket which covers the base of the bullet completely, leaving the lead exposed at the point, but the hard mantle of a full jacketed bullet is reversed, covering the point, but not the head. Consequently if you tile off the point of a full jacketed bullet, nothing is left of the mantle but a thimble covering the bearing surface.

   Now, when such a bullet is fired, the charge of high pressure powder drives it forward with tremendous energy, but the steel thimble is so hard and the bullet fits the bore so tightly that great friction is generated, tending to hold the projectile back.

   The result of these two forces is that the lead core is likely to be driven through the thimble, leaving the latter sticking in the bore of the gun. and if another shot is then fired the rifle is likely to burst. This would scarcely be the case with black gunpowder, which exerts a fairly uniform pressure and would probably only drive out the thimble, ringing, but not bursting the barrel.

   But smokeless powder is, as I have said, largely composed of nitroglycerin. It will burn quietly in the open air and will explode moderately when subjected to reasonable pressure, but when it meets sudden and firm resistance it detonates with terrific violence. The effect of bursting a gun barrel with smokeless powder is far more disastrous than that of bursting it with an overcharge of black powder, the mere report being sufficient to crack a man's ear drums and make him permanently deaf even though by marvelous good luck he escapes instant death.—St. Louis Globe-Democrat.

[Bismarck Weekly Tribune, Bismark, North Dakota, Friday, September 29, 1899. Pg. 5]

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