Online Encyclopedia


Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V23, Page 337 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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SCHONAUER. CARCANO.. VERGUIEAO. NALINEGANT. SHORT RIFLE. SPRSINHGFITELD. Box Box Bmt Box Box Box Box Box Box Box Box 5.. 5 5 5 5 5 5 6 5 5 Ch. Clip Clip Ch. Ch. Clip Ch. Ch. Ch. Ch. Ch. No No No No No No No No No Yes Yes- Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes 8 lb 534 oz. g lb It oz. 8 lb 634 oz. 8 lb 10 oz. 8 lb. 13 oz. 8 lb 12(' oz. 8 lb x5/ oz. 9 lb 634 oz. 8 lb 34 oz. , 9 lb x oz. 8 lb 8 oz. g lti xo lb 634 oz. 9 lb 3 oz. 9 lb 9 oz. 9 lb. 9/ oz. 916 9/ oz. g lb xl/ oz. xo lb' 53 OZ. 8 lb Io% oz. 10 lb 8 oz. 9 8 0 2 . lb 4 It. 4 ft.:3 in. ft. 2.75 in. 4 ft. 2.75 in. 4 ft. 4 ft. 0+5 in. 4 ft: 3875 in. , 4 ft. 0.625 in. 3 ft. 7-12 in. 4 ft. o•6 in. 3 ft. 7.21 in. 4 ft. to in. 5 ft. 0.75 in. 5 ft. 2375 in. 5 ft. 5'75 in. 4 ft. 11% in. 4 It. 10.25 in. 5 ft. 9 in. . 4 ft. 10.5. in. 4 ft. 10.75 in. 5 ft. 6.6 in. 4 It. 11.21 in. 28.56 31'125 30'75 31.3 29.08 28.56 31'5 29;039. . 23'.33 29'134 .23'79 6'5 6.5 6.5 6.5 6.5 6•.5 7.62 7 7.5 7.65 7.62 '256 •256 .256 •.256 •256 •256 '5 •276 `295 '301 •30 4 4 4 4 4 4 3 4 4 35.8 32.2 30.7. 30.76.-.. 30.8. 3x.6 .._31.4. 36 ...33.2 200 M. 200 M. 600 m. 400 m. 200 M. 500 M. 400 paces 400 M. 300 01. 250 m. 183 M. (219 yds.) (219ydss.) (656 yds.) (437 Yds.) (219 yds.) (547 yds.) (310 yds.)- (437 yds.) (328 yds.) (273 yds.) (zoo yds.) 2000 m. 2000 M. 2000 m. 2000 M. 2000 M. 2000 m. 2700 paCeS. 2000 m. 1200 I11." .200002. 2287 M. (2187 yds.) (2187 yds.) (2187 yds.) (2187 yds.) (2187 yds.) (2187 yds.) (zo96 yds.) (2187 yds.) (1312 yds.) (2187 yds.) (2850 yds.) 3.05 3.05 3•0 2.98 3.26 3'05 3'025 3.08.E . 3.043 3'07 3'33 348 338 331'8 348'5 .. 350 363 373'5 424 416 392 Round Round Round Round Round Round Round' Round Round Round Pointed N. Nickel plated, Steel, coate d C.N. pointed S Steel coate.d Steel, coate.d ( C.N. Copper C. N. C. N C. steel envelope a 9th C. N. ,ith with C.N over point j w C.N 1.124 1.23 1.182 1.28 1.244 1•194 .. ' I.22 1•18 1'212 1•08 •263 •2637 •266 .26 •2637 308 •2843 •319.311 •308 159.3 162• 163•0 162.9 1553 262 214 1728 212.5 211.3 150 36 36.26 30.09 32.0 - 31'8 - 36 33 38'3g5 30'7 40'2 50 N.C. N.C. Balistite N.G. and N.C. N.C. Pyroxiline N.C. N.C. N.C. Pyro-cellulose 2223 2433 2395 2396 2357 2400 1985 2296 1920 2066 2600 20.18 17.1 17'47 22.3 17.1 19.7. 19'78 N.C. = Nitro-cellulose. progress of the engagement, to change their target, to economize ammunition, to select the ground for the next rush and the next burst of fire, and to regain control of the men; whom a prolonged fire-fight hypnotizes and rivets to the ground, The chief use of " slow " fire, which is generally employed by skirmishers working in pairs, is to keep the enemy under; the storm of well-directed " rapid fire " the fire-director should hold in his own hands, ready to release it at the right moment. Slow fire averages 3 rounds a minute, rapid (aimed) 8-r z. The con-figuration of the ground has often a great influence on fire effect. If the target is on a sharp forward slope, the beaten zone is greatly diminished in depth, ranging errors are no longer neutralized by the flatness of trajectory : and (the bullets meeting the ground at a steeper angle) the dangerous space is reduced; if, on the other hand, the slope descends gently in rear of the target so that the falling bullets instead of making a. pattern upon the ground, skim along parallel to the surface, the zone is increased. For instance, at r 500 yds., if there is a reverse slope of about 5° in rear of the target the depth of the beaten zone is tenfold that of the zone for the same range on level ground. Similarly if the target is on the crest of a hill and the firers below, the " over " half of the cone of fire may graze the reverse slope or pass far above, according as the re-verse slope is gentle or sharp with respect to the line of sight. The normal position for the firing infantryman in action islying; the kneeling position is used for firing from behind cover, the sitting for firing down hill. Standing, formerly the usual position, is now employed chiefly for firing behind cover with the rifle rested, and for snap-shooting during an advance when it is undesirable to halt and lie down. As regards cover, it may by mentioned that well-covered or intrenched troops generally shoot less accurately than troops in the open, the soldier in security being loth to expose himself long enough to take careful aim. This was particularly noticeable in the Russo-Turkish War, and its effect is to create a zone of unaimed fire behind the assailants' fighting line, which sometimes causes serious losses to his supports and • reserves. The relation between the cone of dispersion of peace-time experiments, even when these are specially designed to establish that relation (for example, series fired in France by third-class shots, after a long march without food), has never been satisfactorily established. An arbitrary figure of one-tenth or one-twentieth of peace-time effect has generally been assumed as representing war results, but some think that however the normal cone may be multiplied or divided, no relation can be found between peace and war effect, and that in battle the brave men aim and fire as if on the practice range, and the rest fire absolutely at hazard. From a musketry point of view, this brings again into the fore-ground the question of distance-judging, as, if the sights be wrongly set, the more accurate the fire the less its effect') and a mistake would nullify even the small amount of aimed fire that can be reckoned upon. Peace-time experiments have their value—and it is very great—in establishing data as to the effect of fire on troops in different formations, the limits of permissible error in ranging, &c., on the principle that of two methods, that which is proved to be better in peace would in much the same proportion be found better in war. (C. F. A.) See T. F. Fremantle, The Book of the Rifle; W. W. Greener, The Gun and its Development; the British official Text Book of Small Arms (1909) ; and Musketry Regulations (1909) ; C. B. Mayne, Infantry Fire Tactics; and Taffin, " Tir de Combat " (Revue d'infanterie, 1909). Match or Target Rifle.—The sport or pastime of target shooting has many times changed its character, owing to the steady improvement in the rifle and the different ranges or distances at which shooting is practised. Range usually governs the construction of the target rifle, long-range rifles not being necessarily the best weapons for a short range of, say, 200 yds. Limitations—such as the amount of powder charge, weight of bullet and rifle—are also usually imposed in order to place all competitors on equal terms. The long-range match rifle is not the superior of the military rifle as a weapon, but as a scientific shooting instrument is the best small-arm produced. The ordinary target rifle is a hybrid arm, combining the points of the long-range match, modern military and best sporting rifles. The miniature match rifle is used for short-range practice. Shooting at fixed marks has been practised continuously in Switzerland from medieval times. A club (" Societe de 1'harquebuse et de la Navigation ") has existed in Geneva since 1474; and the Zurich " Schiitzen-Gesellschaft " since about the same date. It is not clear at what period rifles were introduced in these clubs. From the beginning of the 19th century up to 1844 the rifle generally used in Great Britain had a polygrooved barrel .63o in. in diameter, with spherical ball, and the arm weighed from 11 to 15 lb. It was not fired in military fashion, but had a handle extending downwards fixed in front of the trigger-guard, which was grasped by the left hand, the left arm being steadied against the body. This method of shooting is still sometimes followed by Swiss and German riflemen. Target shooting as a sport or business was rarely practised in Great Britain until after the formation of the Volunteer Force in 1859. The inauguration of the " National Rifle Association " in 1860 opened a new and most important era in the history and development of the rifle. This institution was established " for the encouragement of rifle corps and the promotion of rifle shooting throughout Great Britain.... As a national pastime to make the rifle what the bow was in the days of the Plantagenets, the familiar weapon of those who stand forth in the defence of their country." The first meeting of the N.R.A. was held at Wimbledon in 186o. The first shot was fired by Queen Victoria 1 from a Whitworth rifle on a machine rest, at 400 yds., and struck the bull's-eye. The Whitworth muzzle-loading rifle won many of the important prizes at this and subsequent meetings prior to 1871. Its most important features, arrived at after exhaustive experiments, were a smaller bore of .450 in., with a twist of rifling of one turn in 20 in., and an elongated mechanically fitting projectile. Long-range rifle construction is also largely indebted to Whitworth for the highly accurate and superior tools and processes introduced by him in this branch of manufacture. In 1866 and after, Metford's system of hardened expanding bullets and shallow rifling gradually superseded the mechanically fitting system of Whitworth, and the Whitworth rifle gradually lost its position. In 1861, the Henry grooving for a cylindrical The " Queen's " or " King's " prize is the highest distinction to which a rifle shot can attain. The competition is one of three stages, the first and second eliminating all but the best too competitors. The bronze medal of the N.R.A. is awarded to the highest scorer in the first stage, the silver medal to the leader in the second, and the King's prize and N.R.A. gold medal to the winner in the last stage: 71 shots in all are fired at distances up to t000 yds., and the winners' scores of late years have been 320 to 325 out of a possible 355. Only the service rifle is allowed.bullet, a modification of the Whitworth, first appeared. In 1864, Rigby, with a five-grooved rifle and a mechanically fitting bullet, tied with the Whitworth rifle in the preliminary rifle trial of the N.R.A. at l000 yds., and in a subsequent trial took the first place. By 1871 the Whitworth rifle had given place to the Metford system with hardened cylindrical bullets, shallow rifling and increasing spiral. In 1867 the modern breech-loading rifle with a metallic cartridge was first introduced. The Metford system of rifling greatly assisted its development. In this year Rigby also produced a new model long-range rifle designed on the lines followed by Metford. In 1869 the Henry barrel came to the front. In 1870 the Martini-Henry, the new service arm, won the duke of Cambridge's prize, the extreme range in this competition being 800 yds. In 1871 the Snider breech-loader replaced the Enfield muzzle-loader, and the Martini-Henry replaced the Whitworth in the later stages—800, 900 and moo yds.—of the Queen's prize. The Metford barrel was also used in breech-loaders, and the duke of Cambridge's prize—for the first time fired at x000 yds.-fell to it. During the twenty-three years from 1871 to 1894 the Metford military match rifle only four times failed to win this prize, while it took a preponderating share of other prizes. The years 1872 and 1873 marked a decided advance in the military breech-loader, though for fine shooting the muzzle-loader still seemed hard to equal. In 1875 a team of American riflemen first visited Wimbledon with " army-pattern " breech-loading rifles, which were cleaned out after every shot, and met with considerable success. A feature of their shooting was the " back position," then a novelty. In 1877 the superiority of the cleansable and cleansed breech-loader over the increased fouling of the muzzle-loader was clearly demonstrated, though the muzzle-loader did not at once disappear. In 1878 the highest scores ever made with the muzzle-loader in Great Britain were recorded, greater care in cleaning the rifle after every shot being observed. In 1883 the N.R.A. Council altered the conditions, wiping out after every shot was forbidden, but muzzle-loaders were not disqualified. The result was that the American type of rifle disappeared. The poor shooting of the Martini at loon yds. induced the Council to take the retrograde step of reducing the maximum range for the Queen's prize to 900 yds. In 1890 the N.R.A. first met at the new ranges at Bisley. This year was noticeable for the excellent shooting made in the " any " rifle competitions by the Gibbs-Metford match rifle, particularly at x000 yds. range. The accepted type was •461 calibre; 7 grooves •0045 in. in depth; 8o grains of special black gunpowder, and a bullet of 570 grains. In 1892 and 1893 the Lee-Metford •303 rifle with cordite ammunition was first used by the army teams. In 1890 and later the Hon. T. F. Fremantle, Captain Gibbs and some others used Metford's copper-coated bullets in the Gibbs-Metford rifle with success. In 1895 many match rifle shots followed their example. In 1895 and 1896 the •303 was equalled, and in some instances beaten, by the smaller-calibre Mannlicher rifle. This was partly due to faulty Lee-Metford ammunition. The •303 now proved its superiority to the .450 Martini, especially at the longer ranges. The Bisley meeting of 1896 practically closed the series of contests with both the Martini and the military match rifles. The Volunteers were thenceforth armed with the .303. The results of the Bisley meetings since 1895 have proved that rifles of the •303 class, the British •303 rifle particularly, are not so good for match rifles pure and simple as the larger bores using black powder. The light bullets are more subject to deflection by the wind at long ranges than the heavier speed-retaining bullets of the larger bores. No nitro-powder used appears to have equalled the black powder in regularity of shooting. At the same time the object of the N.R.A. competitions is to encourage the use of the military service rifle in the first place, and in the case of the " any " rifle competitions to encourage the production of weapons of the highest efficiency for military purposes. Acting on these principles the rifles allowed by the N.R.A. regulations (1907) are classed as follows:—Class I. Service rifle (S.R.): government pattern •303 magazine rifles; sights strictly in accordance with service pattern .l Class II.—Match rifles (M.R.): any breech-loading rifle complying with the following conditions: maximum weight of barrel, 34. lb; maximum calibre, '325; stock sufficiently strong for service purposes, and without pad or shoe on the heelplate; minimum pull of trigger, 4 lb; sights, of any description. Class III.—Military breech-loading rifles (M.B.L.); any rifle, that is either (a) the regulation military rifle of any country; or (b) a breech-loading rifle complying with the following conditions: maximum weight, exclusive of bayonet, 81 lb; maximum calibre, •315; minimum pull of trigger, 4 lb. Sights may be of any description except telescopic or magnifying, but must be fixed to the barrel and must be strong enough for military purposes. Class I V.—Sporting rifles: calibre, any; minimum pull of trigger, 3 lb; sights, open or such as are sanctioned by the council or committee. The Lyman back-sight and the Beech combination fore-sight have been sanctioned. No lateral adjustment of fore- or back-sight is permitted. The miniature rifles allowed fall into two classes, " military," with open sights, only, and " any," with no restrictions as to sights except that magnifying and telescopic sights are forbidden. Modern American Target Rifles.—In America, according to some authorities, there are three recognized departments of target shooting—namely off-hand shooting; shooting from a simple rest; and shooting from a machine rest, with telescopic or any other sight. For the first two classes small-bore rifles of .38o calibre or under only are used. The usual weight is from 8 to 10 lb, with 28- or 3o-in. barrel. Light charges for the shorter ranges are used. In the •38o bore only 55 grains of powder with a 33o-grain bullet is employed. In the second-class contests, from a simple rest, the barrel is longer and the weight increased to just under 12 lb. The bore is generally .380. The usual range is 200 yds. The third-class shooting from a machine rest, generally with telescopic sights, is not much practised. Every kind of rifle is employed, usually of large bore and weighing from 20 to 6o lb. The long-range breech-loading match rifle, with which so much fine shooting was done when wiping out after each shot was allowed, weighed about ro lb; the breech mechanism, any falling block, as the Sharp, Farquhar-son, Deeley, and Edge or Wiley, that admitted the insertion of the cleaning rod at the breech; length of barrel, 32 to 34 in.; seven or more grooves •003 to •005 in depth with a complete turn in 20 in. A sharp continual spiral and very shallow grooves constituted the feature of the American plan. Rigby's plan was similar, with one turn in 18 in. and eight grooves, the lands being about half the width of the grooves. In the Wiley the grooves were fewer and wider. The Metford is an increasing twist, starting with one turn in 6o in. and finishing with one in 20, or sharper. The usual bore of the American long-range rifle was '458 or •461; powder, 76 grains of special fouling " rifle powder; elongated cylindrical bullet of 54o grains. The pull-off was under 3 lb. During recent years smaller-bore smokeless-powder rifles have also been used. Continental Match Rifles.—The target rifle used by continental marksmen for medium ranges is a modification of the old pattern Swiss rifle, with scroll guard, hollowed butt plate and hair trigger. This latter, a mechanical device to free the tumbler from the sear without sufficient pull on the trigger to influence the aim, is disallowed in military arms. Sporting Rifles.—Prior to 1845 smooth-bore guns with double charge of powder and an ounce spherical ball were generally preferred to rifles for sporting purposes and for large game; 16-bore muzzle-loading rifles were occasionally used by British sportsmen in the East Indies before that date, firing 11 drs. of powder with a spherical ounce ball. These rifles were sighted to 200 yds., but the trajectory was high and the penetration weak; they were also difficult to load when foul. The twist of the rifling was also too rapid, causing the bullet to strip with heavy charges of powder. According to Captain Forsyth and others, up to 186o there was no known rifle suitable 1 The N.R.A. have recently sanctioned the use of the aperture sight in service rifles, provided it be attached to the weapon by the hinge-pin which fastens the ordinary folding leaf.for sporting purposes in India. Rifles of 12-bore gauge, firing a spherical ball, were subsequently made, with broad and shallow grooves making one turn in ro ft. The bullet, of the same diameter as the bore, was loaded with a thin patch that took the grooving. These rifles proved very successful, possessing velocity equal to a smooth-bore of the same calibre, accuracy for sporting distances, flat trajectory and great striking power. In r855 W. Greener produced the " Cape rifle" for South African sport, calibre •450 or •500; rifling, two deep grooves with one turn in 26 in., with a flanged bullet to fit the grooves; weight, 12 lb; sighted up to 1200 yds. This rifle was successful, and others were built by Purdey, who in 1856 named the pattern " Express Train." Since that date the word " express " has been generally used to denote a rifle possessing high velocity, flat trajectory and long fixed-sight range .2 In America small-bore rifles were used earlier in the 19th century. The celebrated Kentucky rifles were of various sizes, firing spherical balls of 90, 6o and 40 to the lb, and were renowned for their accuracy and fixed-sight range up to 100 yds. Some maintain that the express rifle was developed from the Kentucky model. The modern express rifle may be defined as a breech-loading rifle with a height of trajectory not exceeding 42 in. at 150 yds., with a muzzle velocity of at least 1750 f.s. These rifles are usually 5- to 7-grooved, double-barrelled, with 26- to 28-in. barrels of •36o, '400, •450, '500 and •577 bores, weighing respectively from 62 to 7 lb, 7 to 8 lb, 71 to 9 lb, 84 to ro lb and tot to 12 lb. The re., spective average charges are: bullet, 150 grains; powder, 50 grains; 209 and 82; 270 and tto; 340 and 13o; 520 and 16o; the fixed-sight ranges, 130, 16o, 150, 130 and 120 yds. Double and single express rifles of •303 bore with 26-in. barrels are also made. Since the invention of cordite powder and the advent of the small-bore high-velocity rifle for military purposes, the variety of sporting rifles with different-sized bores has increased. Sporting cordite express rifles are now made, both single- and double-barrelled, of the following calibres: • 256, '265, • 276, '303, '310, '36o, .370, •375, '400, '450, '500, '577 and •600. Some of these calibres, such as •soo, '577 and •600, are seldom used with cordite. The •450 cordite express is the largest bore high-velocity rifle recommended. The modern small-bore military rifle already described possesses all the best qualities of an express sporting rifle—namely accuracy, flat trajectory, high muzzle velocity and long point-blank or fixed-sight range up to 200 yds. The muzzle velocity of the '303 bore with black powder is 1850 f.s.; with cordite, 2I00 f.s. The hollow-pointed or slit expanding bullet is generally used in these high-velocity rifles, as in the black-powder express, for ordinary sporting purposes, with the solid metal cartridge-case. The pointed bullet is also sometimes used, generally with the •375 and •475 calibre rifles, and gives an increased muzzle velocity of 2500 f.s. The trajectory of the cordite rifle is stated to be ro in. flatter at 200 yds. than that of a black-powder rifle of similar calibre and corresponding charge. The variety of bores in sporting rifles is due largely to restrictions on the importation of arms of the military calibres (especially '303) into India and South Africa. The sights of sporting express rifles are of some variety, and are usually designed and made with special care. The open V 2 The term " point-blank range " is often used in this connexion. Strictly speaking, there is no such thing as " point-blank range," the bullet commencing to drop immediately it leaves the muzzle of the rifle. The path or trajectory of the bullet if fired horizontally is therefore always a downward curve. The higher the muzzle velocity the flatter is this curve. The " fixed-sight," or so-called " point-blank " range, is usually taken at such range, generally too yds. with black powder, and with such elevation as render the amount of drop of the bullet or curve of its path practically immaterial for sporting purposes, say a maximum of 41 in. At shorter range this curve would therefore take the bullet so much above the line of fixed-sight aim, and must where necessary be allowed for. With the high-velocity small-bore rifle the fixed-sight range can be increased to 200 yds. for the sporting rifle; and for military purposes in the field to 500 yds. and (with pointed bullets) even more. back-sight on an ivory pyramid' with two'ssr three leaves up to 300 yds., and the enamelled bead fore-sight; are the most usual form. The more elaborate Lyman and Beech peep-sights are also popular. One or two varieties of telescope sight, attachable to the barrel, are also made by some leading gunmakers, and have been used with success in the field. Solid-drawn brass cartridge-cases are now always used for sporting rifles, except occasionally for some of the larger bores, in which paper cartridges may be used. The peculiarity of the express bullet is its hollow point, which is intended to ensure the expansion of the projectile on impact. This diminishes its penetration, but translates its velocity or energy into " shock." If greater penetration is needed, the leaden bullet is hardened with mercury or tin, or the military nickel-coated bullet is- used. Explosive bullets filled with detonating powder were at one time used in express and large-bore rifles for large game. These are now practically abandoned, owing to their uncertainty of action and the danger in handling them. The use of the large 4- and 8-bore black-powder rifles is restricted to the hunting of large and dangerous game. These are usually double-barrelled. The 4-bore weighs from 14 to 18 lb with 20-in, barrels, and fires a charge of - 12 to 14 drs. of powder, with a spherical bullet of 1510 grs. The great weight of this rifle is against its general use. The 8-bore rifle weighs from 11 z to 15 lb with 20- to 24-in. barrels, with - a charge of 8 to 12 drs. of powder with a spherical ball. These rifles are accurate and -effective up to 120 yds. Rook and rabbit rifles are usually single-barrel breech-loading rifles of from -220 to '380 bore, hammerless, ejectors. The range is ordinarily restricted to 200 yds. Combined rifles and shot-guns are generally used in countries where the kind of game to be met with is not known beforehand, and by emigrants who can only afford one gun. These weapons are double-barrelled (•450 rifle barrel: and 16-bore short barrel; or •5oo rifle and 12-bore shot). Such a gun has many drawbacks, being too heavy for a shot-gun and too light for a rifle, with a bad balance. More modern combinations of the rifle and shot-gun are Holland's ." Paradox," a smooth bore with the last -three inches of the barrel ratchet-rifled, Lancaster's " Colindian twisted oval- bore, and Bland's " Euoplia " with " invisible ": undulating rifling. All these weapons fire heavy bullets more or less accurately up to too yds., are also used as shot-guns, and are made double-or single-barrelled and of various calibres, 12-bore being the most common. There ,is also Greener's " under, and over," the rifle barrel being topmost (usually 16-bore shot-gun barrel and •450 rifle barrel), The Morris tube also enables a shot-gun to be utilized as a, small-bore rifle or a large rifle as a saloon rifle for gallery practice. The automatic principle has not yet been applied to sporting rifles. Miniature Rifles.—In 1905 a War Office miniature or cadet rifle for instruction purposes was officially adopted by the British military authorities. The details of this rifle were determined by a committee, upon which the National Rifle Association and the Society of Miniature Rifle Clubs were represented. It is a single-loading bolt-action rifle of • '22 calibre with military sights (the aperture sight being barred), shooting a rim-fire cartridge having a 4o-gr. bullet propelled by 5 grs. of black gunpowder or its equivalent in some smokeless explosive. It is used at ranges from, 25 yds. up to a maximum of 200 yds. The official adoption of such a rifle was largely due to the civilian rifle club movement, which was the outcome of the South African War, and in which the Society of Miniature Rifle Clubs has played an important part. Until the recent official adoption of the miniature rifle, the council of the N.R.A. regarded marksmanship with the service rifle as its main object of encouragement, andthe service rifle itself as the orthodox weapon. The Society of Miniature Rifle Clubs, on the other hand, makes the encouragement of the use of, low-power rifles its special object, with few restrictions as to type of sights, rifle or ammunition. Numerous civilian rifle clubs have adopted the •22 calibre rifle, in many cases with aperture sights, with marked success, and British rifle-makers, were encouraged to cater for this new demand for low-power rifles. Such weapons can be far more widely and generally used than the ordinary service weapon, owing to their smaller cost, cheaper ammunition, absence of recoil, and their convenience for use at short covered ranges in crowded centres of population. In many parts of Great Britain there is practically no alternative between low-power short-range practice and no shooting at all. The N.R.A. has now admitted the miniature '22 calibre rifle upon equal terms with the service rifle. The miniature rifle has, to some extent, taken the place of the , Morris tube and " adaptors " previously used for rifle practice at short ranges.l The Morris tube consists of a small-rifled barrel, usually chambered for the 297/230-bore cartridge, and capable of being. fitted inside the barrel of the ordinary service weapon, which thus becomes available as a miniature rifle for short-range practice. The Morris tube has been adopted by the British War Office, and affords an excellent means of training the recruit. "Adaptors" are dummy cartridge-cases fitted into the ,breech of the ordinary rifle, by means of -which a shorter cartridge firing a lighter charge of powder, but with a bullet of the same calibre as the rifle, can be used for short-range practice. One of.. the first English miniature target rifles was the " Sharpshooters' Club " -rifle, on the Martini principle, of •310 calibre, manufactured and introduced. by W. W. Greener, and suitable for ranges from 50 to 300 yds. This rifle was adopted by many rifle clubs, and in 1901 established a record in the miniature rifle competition at Bisley. Miniature rifle shooting has been much encouraged throughout the United Kingdom by the establishment of the Light Rifle Championship competition under the auspices of the Society of Miniature Rifle Clubs. In 1907 Queen Alexandra presented a cup for this event. (H. S-K.) RIFLEMAN-BIRD, or RIFLE-BIRD, names given by the English in Australia to a very beautiful inhabitant of that country,2 probably because in coloration it resembled the well-known uniform of the rifle-regiments of the British army, while in its long and projecting hypochondriac plumes and short tail a further likeness might be traced to the hanging pelisse and the jacket formerly worn by the members of those corps. The cock bird is clothed in velvety-black generally glossed with rich purple, but having each feather of the abdomen broadly tipped with a chevron of green bronze, while the crown of the head is covered with scale-like feathers of glittering green, and on the throat gleams a triangular patch of brilliant bluish emerald, a colour that reappears on the whole upper surface of the middle pair of tail-quills. The hen is greyish-brown above,. the crown striated with dull white; the chin,. throat and a streak behind the eye are pale ochreous, and the lower parts deep buff, each feather bearing a black chevron. According to James Wilson (Ill. Zoology, pl. xi.), specimens of both sexes were obtained by Sir T. Brisbane at Port Ma, quarie, whence, in August 1823, they were sent to the Edinburgh Museum, where they arrived the following year; but the species was first described by W. Swainson in January 1825 (Zool. Journal, i. 481) as the type of a new genus Ptiloris, more properly written Ptilorrhis,3 and it is generally known- in ornithology as P. paradisea. It inhabits thenorthern part of New South Wales and southern part of Queensland as far as Wide Bay, beyond which its place is taken by a kindred species, the P. victoriae of J. Gould, which was found by John Macgillivray on the shores and islets of Rockingham Bay. • Farther to the north, in York Peninsula, occurs what is considered a third species, P. alberti, In the military forces short-range practice now takes two forms —practice with Morris tube or miniature rifle, and practice with the full-sized rifle and ammunition on specially protected 3o-yd. ranges. 2 Curiously enough, its English name seems to be first mentioned in ornithological literature by Frenchmen—R. P. Lesson and Garnet —in 1828, who say (Voy. " Coquille," Zoologie, p. 669) that it was applied " pour tappeler que ce fut un soldat de la garnison [of New South Wales] qui le tua le premier "—which seems to be an insufficient reason, though the statement as to how the first specimen was obtained may be true. 3 Some writers have amended Swainson's faulty name in the form Ptilornis, but that is a -mistake. vety closely allied to and by some authorities thought to be identical with the P. magnifica (Vieillot) of New Guinea—the " Promerops" of many writers. From that country a fifth species, P. wilsoni, has also been described by Mr Ogden (Prot. Acad. Philadelphia, 1875, p. 451, p1. 25). Little is known of the habits of any of them, but the rifleman-bird proper is said to get its food by thrusting its somewhat long bill under the loose bark on the boles or boughs of trees, along the latter of which it runs swiftly, or by searching for it on the ground beneath. During the pairing-season the males mount to the higher branches and there display and trim their brilliant plumage in the morning sun, or fly from tree to tree uttering a note which is syllabled " yass " greatly prolonged, but at the same time making, apparently with their wings, an extraordinary noise like that caused by the shaking of a piece of stiff silk stuff. Verreaux informed D. G. Elliot that he believed they breed in the holes of trees and lay white eggs; but on that score nothing is really known. The genus Ptilorrhis, thought by Gould to be allied to Climacteris, has been generally placed near Epimachus, which is now considered, with Drepanorniis and Seleucides, to belong to the Passerine Paradiseidae, or birdsof-paradise, and in his Monograph of that family all the species then known are beautifully figured by D. G. Elliot. (A. N.)
End of Article: SCHONAUER

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