"THE HENRY RIFLE. We may venture safely to assert that there is no one in the United Kingdom who take. any interest in rifles or rifle practice to whom the Henry rifle is not known, at least by reputation. Before it's claims to wonderful accuracy at long ranges, the Whitworth pales its ineffectual fires,' and is forced to rest satisfied with the second if not the third place amongst the small bores of the present day. Scarcely a year old, the Henry rifle has already established a reputation which must be based on some solid foundation of merit. At the annual competitive trial of small bore rifles, held by the National Rifle Association at Hythe on Feb. 12th, to determine the best weapon which should be employed to compete for the Queen's prize, Henry's rifle was brought into contact with the Whitworth. As all the arms tried had to be fired from a machine rest, which did not fit the Henry,' the inventor declined to allow his rifle to be submitted to what may be termed the xperimentum crucis of accuracy in shooting; but trials from the shoulder and sand-bag rest showed such astonishing results, that from that time the arm took the rest place. We will now endeavour to convey as clear an idea of the principle of rifling which constitutes the peculiarity of the Henry' as can be done without the assistance of drawings. This will best be effected by describing the simplest modification of the improved form of rifling. Let the reader take a square Piece of paper, and inscribe thereon a circle. We will suppose for a moment that the figure represents a section of a square gun-barrel and of an elongated bullet, in situ. To prevent windage in such a barrel, the bullet would have to expand into the large angular space at each corner. But this would involve 110 great a distortion of the lead, that it is very doubtful whether it could be effected. Now, however, let the four corners of the paper be neatly folded inwards until they touch the inscribed circle, and the reader will have a tolerably distinct conception of the Henry system of rifling it its simplest form. It will be seen at once that such a rifle would consist of four planes and four re-entering angles or intervening ridges, which together would afford eight bearing points for the projectile. There is no doubt that a rifle constructed with only four planes and four ridges would give excellent practice; but, to still further diminish the amount of expansion necessary to preclude windage, and at the same time to afford an increased number of bearing points to rotate the bullet, the inventor employs from four to twelve or more planes and re- entering angles. The greater the number of these, the more nearly will the missile fill the barrel before starting, and the less will it be required to expand, to insure its receiving the maximum effect of the exploded powder. As a means of providing additional bearing points on the projectile, the inventor claims the introduction of a curved groove in the centre of each plane. A rifle thus constructed would present the appearance of a poly- grooved rifle having alternate curved and angular grooves. As the planes and angles are found amply sufficient to rotate the bullet, we believe this last form of rifling is not much employed. The favourite form of the Henry for the 45 gauge—-that employed at Wimble- don— ia a polygon, with seven sides and seven inter- vening ridges or re-entering angles. The barrels varied from 33 in. to 36 in., and weighed from 6 lb. to 6l lb. Some few rifles were long-stocked, and fastened with bands like the Enfield; but most of them were short- stocked, with ribs and pipes for the ramrod like an ordinary sporting rifle, aa the inventor considered that the shooting of the long-stocked rifles was not quite so regular as the others. Mr. Henry does not adopt quite so rapid a spiral as most of the other makers of small- bore rifles. The pitch of the rifling ia varied, according to the calibre of the arm, from 30 inches to 6 feet. In the '451 rifle the twist is one turn in 30 inches, and regular throughout the length of the barrel. The cuts are '003 in. deeper at the muzzle than at the breech. The ridges are '025 in. in height, and, both planes and ridges are concentric with the axis of the bore, the bullet, when put into the barrel, has fourteen bearing points, and leaves but trifling windage. The expansion is thus so slight that, when the projectile leaves the barrel, it is very little altered in shape, and offers no sensible projections to create friction in passing through the air. The inventor claims that either the planes or the ridges would alone be sufficient to rotate the bullet, and that their combination makes stripping' almost an impossibility. The rifle complete weighs about 9t lbs. It is admirably balanced, and, having great weight in the barrel, has comparatively little recoil. It is fitted with a foresight wind gauge, giving ample lateral deviation for any ordinary target practice up to 1,000 yards. The sights are very beautifully finished, and there can be no doubt that much of the credit which the rifle has obtained is due to the extreme accuracy with which each arm is regulated for all distances before leaving the hands of the maker. The projectile is cylindroconoidal, with hollow base, weighing 550 grains. The charge of powder is 86 grains of No. 6; though 90 or 95 are recommended when much wind is blowing across the range or directly in front of the bullet. The lubricating material is three parts tallow and one part beeswax. We have never heard any practical objection urged against the Henry rifle, although theoretically it has been stated that the rifling would wear out rapidly. We confess we cannot see that there ie much ground for Buch an assertion. If, however, it were true, the only part which could wear must be the ridges or re-entering angles, and as, when they are obliterated, the rifle will only be converted into a Whitworth, we think the patrons of theHenry may await the result without much uneasiness. The recorded practice of the Henry ia more ample than that of any other small-bore, and in accuracy leaves very little to be desired. Thia being a point of, the greatest interest to riflemen, we shall offer no apology for giving the scores of some of our best shots. At a 12 feet by 6 feet target, with a 2 feet centre, Capt. Horatio Ross, with IS shota at 1,000 yards, made 13 hita, 5 ot which were centres. All the hits but one were within a space of 4 feet by 3 feet. Lord Vernon, one of the most experienced riflemen in this country, tested the Henry most severely on three consecutive days. On Feb. 20th, with the wind blowing strongly across the range, he made 15 consecutive hits on an 18 feet target, with < feet centre, at 600 yards, scoring 9 centres and 3 outers, the 3 outers being just beneath the centre. On Thurs- day, Feb. 21st., wind blowing strongly across the range from the left, target 12 feet by 6 feet, centre 3 feet, distance 1,000 yards, Lord Vernon made 19 hits from 20 shots, scoring 27 points, 8 being centres and 11 outers. Saturday Feb. 23—incessant rain, atmosphere very heavy, target seen indistinctly, size 8 feet by 6 feet, centre 2 feet, distance €00 yards, from 20 shots made 13 outers and 7 centres total 27 pointa weapon a small sporting rifle. With the same arm on another day Lord Vernon scored 24 points from 10 shots at 250 yards. At a first class, April 1, 1861, the same noble- man, at 600 yards, made 17 centres and 3 outers close to 1 centre, from 20 shots. Repeating the practice on the ..me day, he made 25 centres and 5 outers close to 1 centre out of 30 shots. Mr. Hugo Lawley, on the same day, made 14 centres and 1 outer close to the centre out of 15 shots. In a quiet trial of skill between the Rosses (father and son) in June last, at 800, 900, and 1,000 yards, 10 ehots at each distance, the following capital scores were made: Captain Ross, 800 yards, 13 points; 900 yards, 10 points; 1,000 yards, 11 points total, 30 shots, 34 points, 4 misses. Mr. Edward Ross, 800, 15 points; 900 yards, 14 points; 1,000 yards, 14 points; total, 30 shots, 43 points. Speaking of his performance with the Henry, the latter gentleman says: '1 have repeatedly, with the same rifle, made 17 points with 10 shots at 800 yards, and 15 points at 930, and at the shorter ranges I have made most satisfactory shooting, generally scoring 17 points with 10 shots at 500 and 600 yards, and occasionally 18. Upon none oi these occasions have I had any trial shots, otherwise the scores might have been greater. At 200 yards I have made some good shooting also, often 13 points, and even 14 and 16 points, with 5 shots, shooting standing and off-hand.' Captain Moir, of the Stirlingshire Rifle Volunteers, from 21 shots at 1,000 yards, made 7 centres, 12 outers, and 2 misses. The mean radial deviation of the Henry rifle at Hythe, in February last, from the shoulder and sandbag rest, was as follows: February 12—20 shots at 800 yards, by Corporal Tay lor, 2 82 feet; 20 shots at 1,000 yards, by Sergeant Wilson, 2-94 feet. February 13, by General Hay, 20 shots at 800 yards, 1*91 feet; 20 shots at 1,000 yards, 194 feet. Even this wonderful shooting has been surpassed, for on one occasion, from a table rest, distance 1,000 yards, a mean figure of 1'31 feet was obtained. It is worth recording that the first and second prizes in the All Comers' Matches, at the recent prize contest in Yorkshire, were gained by the Henry rifle; also that the ex-champion, Ross, and his veteran father, took all the prizes, with but two exceptions, at Inverness, with the same weapon, the two exceptions having been won by other competitors, but with the Henry. These examples might be multiplied ad infinitum, but enough have been cited to show that the Henry is an effective weapon at distances far beyond the ability of average riflemen to make good practice."
Source: Pembrokeshire Herald and General Advertiser 25yh October 1861