The Lan­caster base- fire

Shooting Gazette - - Great guns -

In the early de­vel­op­ment of breechload­ing in the 1830s and 1840s, the French­man Casimir Le­faucheux used pin­fire car­tridges. After he dis­played his guns at the Great Ex­hi­bi­tion in Charles Lan­caster’s base-fire cartridge used in a slide-and-drop ac­tion. Lon­don in 1851, the breech-loader grad­u­ally caught on us­ing this pin­fire sys­tem in Great Bri­tain.

How­ever, the pin­fire was not a good or ef­fi­cient de­sign, and mak­ers soon be­gan to im­prove upon it, even­tu­ally lead­ing to G.H. Daw’s wa­ter­shed cen­tre-fire gun of 1861. In the mean­time, other meth­ods were tried, in­clud­ing the base-fire cartridge of Charles Lan­caster.

The base-fire cartridge was a hy­brid rim­fire/ cen­tre-fire shell and very few are known to ex­ist. The head of the cartridge had no per­cus­sion cap, but con­tained in­side the base of the head was a per­fo­rated cop­per disc hous­ing det­o­nat­ing com­pound with four flash holes. Con­se­quently it didn’t mat­ter which part of the cartridge head was struck – the fir­ing pin strik­ing any part of the base would det­o­nate the com­pound, which would then ig­nite the main charge through one of the four flash holes, hence the term base-fire.

The ad­van­tage claimed was that it was safer than the pin­fire. How­ever, the de­fect of the base-fire was that the car­tridges could not be reloaded, so it was an ex­pen­sive sys­tem. Most base­fire Lan­caster guns were con­verted to cen­tre-fire and any orig­i­nal base-fires are very rare to­day.

Twenty-bore Lan­caster slide-and-drop ham­mer gun no. 5173 of 1882, en­graved “Charles Lan­caster’s Patent”. But was it re­ally a Lan­caster patent?

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.