At the end of this century it is fitting to pay tribute to all the inventors and master craftsmen known or unknown, for what they achieved with their primitive resources and tools. Stage by stage they developed the traditional hunting rifle we have today. Both rifles and cartridges were developed for a specific purpose and every single one, although the basic design was for military use, was the creative success of the designer. It has been the most fascinating subject for the past seven centuries and its fascination will last as long as man will dwell the earth. Firearms have changed into many versions in type, design, size and application but the one that didnít change much in the past century, is the hunting rifle.
We know that the expansion of gasses by combustion dates back to before the birth of Christ and was referred to and used many times after that. It gained prominence in Italy in the 12th century when it was first applied as a war machine. Exactly when it was first used as a hunting rifle is unknown, but as we know man and when we read we realize that man was never different even in ancient times. If life can be made easier, man will do that, if hunting can be made easier, man will also adapt.
The first rifle somewhere in the 12th or 13th century was a matchlock which means that the black powder was ignited by a match or a candle. Once the powder was charged in the barrel with a ramrod, the bullet was then forced down the barrel on top of the powder. Some powder was poured into a pan next to the barrel and connected to the powder charge by a hole into the barrel. The powder in the pan was then ignited by the match or candle. The expanding gasses then forced the bullet down the barrel increasing in velocity which started decreasing again as soon as it left the barrel.
People lived with the matchlock for about two hundred years before the flintlock was invented. The flintlock was used for 400 years before a Scotchman invented the percussion cap, which was followed by the primer as we know it today.
The designers feast started in about 1867 to 1890 and many good and lasting designs, methods and principals were established in the military and later in the hunting rifle.
Nothing could ever be written about rifles without honoring the two greatest arms designers of all times, THE American JOHN MOSES BROWNING and the German PAUL MAUSER. Their advanced designs, dominated the century and may well do so for centuries to come.
John Moses Browning with all his lasting inventions paved the way for most military and self defense handguns rifles and cartridges but also designed lasting sporting and hunting firearms. The sheer number of his successful inventions are staggering to the mind.
Paul Mauser worked and perfected the rifle action which was mainly for military purposes and adapted for hunting. All products designed by him were of outstanding quality and functioned without any problems. Sadly Paul Mauser, despite all his work and inventions, died a civil servant and a poor man.
The principals and designs of Browning and Mauser formed the basic design and sizes of what we have today. Many small changes in size and angles led to the hundreds of different cartridges of the past and of what we have today.

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