The full development of modern civilization would be impossible without firearms. At a certain stage of history, the gun became a constant human companion, an effective combat tool and a tool for hunting. Despite the fact that the rifled barrels dominate on the battlefield today, smooth-bore weapons continue to be the main tool for hunting. A modern hunting rifle is already far from the weapon used by our ancestors. Thanks to new technologies, the firing range has increased markedly, the accuracy of the shot has increased. Hunting arsenal today is represented by an extensive model range of samples of different calibers, designed for a particular type of hunting.
The first samples of firearms were weapons with a smooth bore. A bullet or a shot during a shot was simply pushed by powder gases from it towards the target. Accuracy at the same time left much to be desired: the shots were inaccurate, and the range of the bullet was small. Muskets, food and arquebus were initially significantly inferior in range to fire bows and crossbows, not to mention the rate of fire.
Despite the fact that the idea of rifling in the barrel arose almost simultaneously with the appearance of the first combat versions of firearms, guns and pistols with smooth barrels had to decide their fate on the battlefield for more than 400 years. The loading system was improved, the gun barrels took a more perfect form, increasing the ballistics of small arms. All these measures contributed to the improvement of tactical and technical characteristics of smooth-bore weapons. As for the other field of application - hunting, here the smooth-bore hunting weapon has reached the peak of its glory!
Gunsmiths of the whole world competed with each other, creating the most diverse types and samples of such equipment. In the course of time, even its own direction in the weapons business developed - the manufacture of hunting rifles. Often, guns were not so much a tool for hunting, as a work of art. There was a fashion to collect hunting weapons. Separate collection specimens of hunting rifles are very expensive.
Nowadays, smooth-bore weapons are the most common type of weapons, having more civilian social and domestic use. This type of weaponry includes single-barreled and double-barreled guns of various types and modifications, air rifles and pistols. Do not neglect the high fighting qualities of pump-action rifles, police and paramilitary units. However, the main scope of application of a smooth stem is hunting. Unlike an old rifle, loaded through the barrel and firing with the help of an ignition mechanism, modern weapons are convenient, practical and effective.
It should be noted one obvious advantage of the hunting smooth-bore guns. Compared to rifled specimens, a weapon with a smooth barrel can fire both bullet and multiple projectiles (shot or canister). Due to the dispersion of shells increases the striking area during shooting at close distances. This quality is especially important when hunting for mobile game. Smooth rifle forgives small errors in aiming. In addition, the nature of the barrel allows this weapon to solve various tasks during a hunt. You can equip your trunk with a caliber bullet or hunt feathered game using small shot charges.
The history of the improvement of smooth-bore weapons
With the loss of their positions of the main type of small arms on the battlefield, smooth-bore guns did not lose their relevance. On the contrary, it was precisely as a hunting weapon that these weapons began to be improved and developed. The impetus to its rapid progress gave a smooth-bore store-type weapon Winchester. In 1897, the Browning company began producing 12-caliber hunting rifles, which later became the prototype of a pump-action shotgun. Winchester recharging was carried out using a characteristic moving forearm, sliding in the longitudinal plane.
In the design of the pump-action rifle, the handguard needed to be moved forward and then backward for reloading. Winchesters were used not only for hunting, but also as a regular weapon of police units. High combat performance made this shotgun one of the most common types of smooth-bore weapons used in the US civilian segment. The convenient loading system and the enormous firepower of the Winchesters of the sample of 1897 seriously pressed the double-barreled systems on the market of hunting weapons. The spread of this type of weapon was helped not only by its excellent fighting qualities, but also by high operational characteristics.
Already in a new form, the shotgun is back on the battlefield. Model Winchester M1897 with the beginning of the First World War was adopted by the US Army, getting a new name Trench Gun Model 1917. The American model served as a prototype for a whole class of smooth-bore weapons. Behind the American Winchester, rifles of similar design began to be produced. The basis of the model range were the Winchester 1300, Remington 870 and Mossberg 590, smooth-bore guns, which were popular among hunters and were armed with police units.
The main advantage of pump pistols was reliability. A rifle could use cartridges of any power, charged with either a canister or a rubber bullet. Accordingly, the shooter with such a weapon was able to solve a wider range of tactical tasks. The disadvantages of pump-action shotguns include the insufficient rate of fire, which was determined not by the loading mechanism, but by the skill and skills of the shooter. However, this does not prevent this type of weapon from remaining popular in our days.
Self-loading smooth-bore guns
Another type of smooth-bore weapons, which also remains in demand today in the market of hunting equipment, are self-loading products. For reloading here, as in automatic weapons, the energy of powder gases or recoil energy is used. For example, models such as the Saiga-12 and Remington 11-87 have recharge systems based on the use of powder gases. Unlike pump guns, recoil on self-loading rifles is much smaller, which significantly improves the accuracy of firing. An important factor is the higher rate of fire of self-loading rifles. At a short distance, shooting from a self-loading smooth-bore hunting rifle is much more effective.
However, self-loading products are not widely spread among hunters. Affected by poor reliability and rather complicated operation. For military needs, such a system, on the contrary, was considered the most effective and efficient. Some samples, such as the FN Auto-5 and Benelli M4 Italian rifle, are actively used by the army units of the US, British and Italian armies.
Attempts to create a combined smooth-bore guns were unsuccessful. The guns, equipped with two reloading mechanisms at the same time, manual and automatic were distinguished by high mass and high cost. Such samples are used in a limited way by police units, as a sporting weapon and as a weapon of self-defense.
The most common among the combined models is the American model Atchisson Assault Shotgun AA-12. This weapon can fire both single shots and bursts. A distinctive feature of this model is a removable drum-type magazine, designed for 20 rounds.
Tactical, technical and design features of smooth-bore guns
Smooth-bore weapons, as well as rifled weapons, are today represented by high-tech products. The barrel can be made of the same diameter or have different diameters at the beginning and at the end. Accordingly, the trunks have either constant or variable narrowing of the trunk. If the diameter of the barrel at the end is less than at the beginning, it is impossible to fire with a sneak bullet from this weapon.
The bullet as a hunting ammunition is used only in models whose barrels do not have a muzzle constriction. In extreme cases, it is allowed to use bullets on guns, where the choke has minimum parameters (0.3-0.5 mm).
The most common element in the design of hunting rifles is a cylindrical barrel, which is suitable for firing both bullets and numerous projectiles. The only drawback of such a weapon is that when firing with shot or shot, the accuracy of shooting with distance increases significantly.
To the note: Guns with barrels, in which there is a muzzle narrowing of 1.25 mm, possess the best accuracy of the fight when using a fraction of medium diameters, Nos. 6 and 7.
In some samples of hunting rifles, the use of special barrel nozzles is proposed. This can be choke, cylinders and poluchok. Nozzles are designed to improve the accuracy of shooting when using small fraction.
All hunting rifles today are divided into classes according to the following parameters:
- the presence or absence of a removable store;
- type of store;
- way to reload the gun;
A hunting rifle can be single-shot or automatic, self-loading. Accordingly, the gun may differ in the type of shop, which can be either a tubular barrel-mounted or box-type. Hunting rifles also differ in reloading. The most common method is a fracture of the trunk, i.e. charging with his breech. Among other methods of reloading are well known longitudinal-sliding mechanism (pump guns), self-loading mechanisms and guns with a revolving loading principle.
The caliber of smooth-bore hunting weapons also plays a decisive role. For hunting rifles, the caliber is usually denoted by the number that corresponds to the number of bullets cast from one pound of lead (453.59 g). In other words, the smaller the diameter of the barrel, the more bullets obtained from the control mass of lead.
- Bullets for shotguns have a spherical shape with a diameter equal to the diameter of the barrel in the middle part. For example: 20 gauge, respectively, is less than 10 gauge, and 16 gauge is less than 12 gauge;
- For hunting weapons are used cartridges whose caliber contains data on the length of the sleeve. For example: 12/70 is a 12 caliber hunting cartridge with a sleeve length of 70 mm;
- Today the most common hunting cartridges with a sleeve length of 70; 76 and 89 mm (Magnum Super Magnum).
Among the samples of hunting rifles, the 12 caliber models are most common, however, it is often possible to find samples of 16,20, 24, 32 and even 36 caliber. The caliber .410, which is used by the Saiga carbines, which are popular among hunters, became widespread in Russia.
If we talk about real numbers, then a 12 caliber rifle has a barrel with a diameter of 18.3 mm. A shot from such a gun is accompanied by a significant return. In modern models, it was possible to achieve a balanced recoil by combining the mass of the weapon with the amount of charge and the mass of the projectile. The recharge system also plays a role in reducing recoil forces.
Disadvantages and advantages
Despite the fact that modern hunting cannot be imagined without smooth-bore weapons, this type of weapon has its drawbacks, which are due to technical and physical parameters. Shotguns can not boast a long range of fire. In field conditions, a smooth-bore hunting rifle allows effective firing at distances of no more than 50-70 m. When firing long distances, a canister or shot released from a rifle disperses and loses its destructive force. Shooting a bullet, you can increase the firing range by 2-3 times. The maximum range for effective firing of a sub-caliber bullet reaches 200 m.
The tactical capabilities of the gunner, armed with smooth-bore weapons, are significantly narrowed due to the large mass and large size of the hunting cartridges. The size of the cartridges limit the ammunition worn by the hunter and, accordingly, reduce the magazine capacity on self-loading models.
However, the listed disadvantages of this type of firearms pale in front of its capabilities. Not only bullets, canister and shot, but also other types of ammunition can be used for firing from the "smoothbolts". This is especially true of non-traumatic types of ammunition, such as rubber bullets and gas-filled grenades. In special divisions and in the police, powerful cartridges of expelling action are widely used, designed to remove obstacles. Such features significantly increase the scope of tactical use of smooth-bore weapons, including not only the civilian nature of use, but also highly specialized.
Well-known single-barreled and double-barreled hunting rifles are direct descendants of the very first samples of firearms. But despite its venerable age, smooth-bore weapons have not lost their relevance. In modern conditions, shotguns have become the main tool of hunting and an effective tool for special forces. In Western countries, especially in the United States, where the free sale of weapons is practiced, self-loading guns and self-loading rifles are very popular as self-defense weapons.
For hunting, a shotgun is considered the best option. This weapon can be equally successfully owned by an aspiring amateur hunter and professional hunter. For each type of hunting, it is better to have your own specific barrel, adjusted to the necessary distance and designed for the use of a certain type of ammunition. For example, for hunting for wild boar and elk fit 12 gauge. When hunting for game birds, it is better to use 20-caliber hunting rifles.
Like any type of firearm, a smoothbone requires some care. Unlike rifled weapons, hunting rifles need regular cleaning. Compliance with the rules of operation of the weapon provides not only a good hunt, but also increases the level of security of the shooter.