I don't think this one is going to go too far, but I have been having fun with them as they are easy and fun to shoot, cheap- on the whole, have many less legal problems then regular guns, are very inexpensive to shoot, and now I find that they have a long and interesting history. Perfect. Mixing obscure history with guns and shooting. It doesn't get a lot better.
Here is the article that gave me such a wealth of information (400 Years of Airgun History). I can hardly wait to go the the CASU Gala tonight and get a few people in a corner to share my new found wealth of knowledge. I know they will be excited too. :D
Here are a few tidbits:
- You probably are already aware that Lewis and Clark brought along a powerful repeating air rifle on their expedition (The First Assault Rifle). It had an air reservoir in the stock that had to be pumped up with air to provide the power. From Thomas Rodney's Journal: 'Visited Captain Lewess barge. He shewed us his air gun which fired 22 times at one charge. He shewed us the mode of charging her and then loaded with 12 balls which he intended to fire one at a time; but she by some means lost the whole charge of air at the first fire. He charged her again and then she fired twice. He then found the cause and in some measure prevented the airs escaping, and then she fired seven times; but when in perfect order she fires 22 times in a minute. All the balls are put at once into a short side barrel and are then droped into the chamber of the gun one at a time by moving a spring; and when the triger is pulled just so much air escapes out of the air bag which forms the britch of the gun as serves for one ball. It is a curious peice of workmanship not easily discribed and therefore I omit attempting it.”
- The Lewis and Clark gun was patterned after guns produced in Austria in the late 1700's. Known as the 'Giradoni Repeating Rifle' they could fire up to 22 rounds, had spare air tanks that could be traded in. About 1500 rifles were manufactured. A corp of 500 riflemen could theoretically fire up to 300,000 rounds in 30 minutes. The rifles were complicated and required highly trained soldiers, two corporals for support of each gun, and a gunsmith for every 100 guns.
- A powerful air rifle figured in the Sherlock Holmes story of 'The Adventure of the Empty House'.