4b.Cartridge and Fire Arms Development

4.         EVOLUTION OF CARTRIDGE            

In 1808 A.D. a French gunsmith named Pauly made a paper device. It was fired when a needle pierced it. This was the fore-runner of the “Needle Gun” later used effectively by Germans, as well as the American “volcanic” system. In 1816 A.D or little later a London gun maker “Old Jee” Manton used a small copper tube as primer. It is not positively known who developed the copper cap to hold fulminate of mercury. This cap led eventually to modern cartridge development.           

5.        OTHER DEVELOPMENTS          

Most of the important principles of fire arms were developed or at least attempted in the 15th or 16th century A.D.  

5.1.      Rifling                      

Again due to the reasons described in sub-para 2.1 above, no one precisely knows where and who introduced rifling. In the West some manuscripts written in the period from 1476 to 1520 A.D indicate that barrels with grooves existed in Vienna, Nuremberg and Italy. It is also believed that weapons used by army of the Mughal Emperor, Zaheer-ud-Din Babar, had rifling in their barrels. Emperor Zaheer-ud-Din Babar was born towards the end of 15th century A.D. It may be mentioned here that initially straight grooves were cut in the barrels for easiness in loading and cleaning. Spiral grooves (rifling) were later introduced for giving rotational movement to the bullet to achieve better accuracy.  

5.2.      Sights:                         Weapons with sights were developed by the end of 15th century. In the 16th century use of sights and rifling made it possible to take aim at about 200 meters.  

5.3.      Interchange-able Barrels:                         The system of interchangeable barrels was also introduced in 16th century which permitted use of different caliber barrels at the option of shooter.  

5.4.      Breech-loader                     Initially fire-arms were loaded from muzzle end. Though attempts were made in 16th century to make breech-loaders but without much success due to gas leak. Later, with improvement of cartridge and development of metallic cartridge with brass case breech loading was successful because brass case expanded to seal the chamber and thus prevent leak. This was possible only towards the end of 19th century.

Continued on Page 4c

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