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Tech Time: The Charles Lancaster

September 5, 2012

Tech Time Presentation by Phil Davis

Reprinted from the Feb 2012 issue of GunNews.

Phil, as usual, brought something rare and unusual to the meeting for members to see, a “ball and shot gun” by the Charles Lancaster company.

It featured “invisible rifling” which was octagonal rifling that was for all intents and purposes invisible.

The rifle was a dangerous game rifle in 12 bore capable of firing a 2.5” shotgun shell with buckshot (or birdshot) or a similar shell loaded with a .65 caliber ball inside a shot cup.

It could also be loaded with a 750gr hardened conical bullet in a brass case with four drams of powder for “emergency use only”.  This one was the load for the “really” dangerous, thick-skinned game such as rhinoceros, elephants, etc.

It’s fitted with two folding rear sight leaves, one for 50 yards and the second for 100.  Impressively, the sights are fitted with platinum inserts to allow for better sighting in low-light conditions.  Or, you could leave them both folded down, the normal carrying position, to use it as a “shotgun”.

The gun was built back in the late 1800s and the concept was to build an all-purpose rifle to allow hunters to take a single gun to hunt all different types of game throughout the British Empire, so one didn’t need to afford a whole battery of rifles and shotguns to take with them.

The standard ball-in-cup load was for soft skin game, such as antelopes, elks, and was also designed for big game such as cats, lions, leopards, tigers, etc.

Davis was fortunate enough to pick this up at a local gun show and it had a broken stock.  A local man took the original stock and got a exhibition grade piece of walnut and even went so far as to copy the original hand-checkering, including on the butt of the rifle.

They didn’t have butt plates for these guns back then and they didn’t have to have recoil pads.  They knew these big guns kicked and simply held on like real men!

Interestingly enough, there are modern shells made for this gun.  Centurian Ammo Company makes them and Davis got some and took the gun out for a test fire.

After the new stock was done, Davis said it was time to go try it out.  He was a little nervous about it.  “Well, I thought I’ll go out and shoot a 100 year old gun and see if it blows up in my face and see if I can hit anything with it.”

He didn’t have very high expectations and was impressed.  He found the rifle to be phenomenally accurate and consistent at both 50 and 100 yards putting slugs at 9 and 3 o’clock on the X-ring at both ranges and later “knocking the snot” out of steel plates.

“You know what, those English guys have really screwed up on their gun politics now but in the last century, they really knew how to make a gun,” Davis quipped.

Davis talked about the stock (no pistol grip) and how they painstakingly manufactured these guns to be so accurate with both barrels.

For Charles Lancaster, for their guns, it meant that off of a rest with the prescribed ammunition, they would put both balls to 1 1/2 inch at 100 yards.  Everybody that shoots rifles knows that they consider a good bolt action rifle to shoot one minute of angle, 1 inch at 100 yards. This is basically two rifles built on the same action and both of them have to be able to shoot under an inch at 100 yards with the same sight.  It’s pretty impressive craftsmanship, Davis commented.