How to select a gun

A twisted barrel enhances the value of a gun, as it is never known to burst with ordinary use.

The length of a sporting gun should never exceed thirty inches, for this will kill at sixty yards certain, and the average distance that game is shot is from twenty to twenty-five yards. The most useful gauge is No. 14, for though narrower might do for partridges and small birds, and wider for others, this bore will take an average charge, and, if a good gun, will kill at any ordinary distance.

The stock of the gun should be exactly fitted to the shape of the shooter. On putting a gun to the shoulder, there should be no straining of the neck, to take aim. When the eye is fixed upon a distant point and the gun raised to the shoulder, the object aimed at, the sight at the muzzle, the center of the breech, and the eye should all be in a direct line without further adjustment. To ascertain whether or not the shape of the stock is that best adapted for the shooter, he should in this manner frequently raise the gun to his shoulder, and take aim at a distant point with both eyes open; then, closing the left eye, he will perceive whether or not he has mechanically taken a correct aim. If, with the left eye closed, he does not see the object, the stock is too crooked; if he sees all the rib, it is too straight; and if his line of arm is not along the centre of the breech, but from the left corner of it, the stock is not properly cast off. Should the line of aim be along the right side of the breech, the stock is too much thrown off. With a gun properly fitting, the aim is instantaneous; and the sportsman, if not naturally a good shot, is greatly assisted int he field. A gun of the proper shape may be chosen among others very easily by the above simple means of ascertaining that it carries a correct aim to a given object with both eyes open; and with such a gun, the shooter will acquire a practical dexterity in the field otherwise quite unattainable. When a stock is too much bent, the muzzle is depressed, and it is therefore preferable to have the stock rather straight; and it is a safe rule that in looking along the rib you distinctly see one-third of the whole length next the muzzle, as well as the sight. This gives the shot elevation and increases the range.

The word of the stock should be hard and tough; wild cherry is the best. The mounting and locks should be carefully fitted into the wood. In shape, the stock should be thin and well suited to the grasp, immediately behind the locks, where it is termed the handle. From that it should rapidly swell backwards, and acquire its greatest thickness immediately behind where the butt succeeds to the handle. The fore-end of the stock should be broad and full, wide at the end of the lock plates, and may be chequered or not in the same manner as at the handle. The lock is an essential part of the gun; it should be as simple as possible in its construction, but filed in all its parts to perfection. The main-springs should be lively in action, and depend less upon quantity of metal for its strength, than upon width of expansion when released from its confinement, and great care in tempering. The tumbler and sear should be carefully bound down by the bridle and be justly fitted to each other. To test a good lock, draw up the striker with the thumb, and observe that there is no grating or roughness - that it rises freely with decreasing power - and that it "speaks" well, with a clear sound at half and full cock. Draw the trigger, retaining the thumb upon the striker, and observe that it goes down freely, with increasing force, as it approaches the nipple. The trigger should be long and well curved, affording a good hold for the finger. The edges should be rounded, so as not to cut the finger in firing, and they should be set well separate. For nervous persons who have any hesitation, under the excitement of shooting, in choosing the proper trigger, the right-hand one may be chequered, thus giving a distinguishing mark. The guard of the trigger, termed the bow, should be rounded and somewhat thick at the edges, and have no improper projection likely to injure the middle finger in firing.

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