Upwards of twenty years have passed since the 'Rifle and Hound in
Ceylon' was published, and I have been requested to write a preface for
a new edition. Although this long interval of time has been spent in a
more profitable manner than simple sport, nevertheless I have added
considerably to my former experience of wild animals by nine years
passed in African explorations. The great improvements that have been
made in rifles have, to a certain extent, modified the opinions that I
expressed in the 'Rifle and Hound in Ceylon.' Breech-loaders have so
entirely superseded the antiquated muzzle-loader, that the hunter of
dangerous animals is possessed of an additional safeguard. At the same
time I look back with satisfaction to the heavy charges of powder that
were used by me thirty years ago and were then regarded as absurd, but
which are now generally acknowledged by scientific gunners as the only
means of insuring the desiderata of the rifle, i.e., high velocity, low
trajectory, long range, penetration, and precision.
When I first began rifle-shooting thirty-seven years ago, not one man in
a thousand had ever handled such a weapon. Our soldiers were then
armed*(*With the exception of the Rifle Brigade) with the common old
musket, and I distinctly remember a snubbing that I received as a
youngster for suggesting, in the presence of military men, 'that the
army should throughout be supplied with rifles.' This absurd idea
proposed by a boy of seventeen who was a good shot with a weapon that
was not in general use, produced such a smile of contempt upon my
hearers, that the rebuke left a deep impression, and was never
forgotten. A life's experience in the pursuit of heavy game has
confirmed my opinion expressed in the `Rifle and Hound' in 1854--that
the best weapon for a hunter of average strength is a double rifle
weighing fifteen pounds, of No. 10 calibre. This should carry a charge
of ten drachms of No. 6 powder (coarse grain). In former days I used six
or seven drachms of the finest grained powder with the old
muzzle-loader, but it is well known that the rim of the breech-loading
cartridge is liable to burst with a heavy charge of the fine grain,
therefore No. 6 is best adapted for the rifle.
Although a diversity of calibres is a serious drawback to the comfort of
a hunter in wild countries, it is quite impossible to avoid the
difficulty, as there is no rifle that will combine the requirements for
a great variety of game. As the wild goose demands B B shot and the
snipe No. 8, in like manner the elephant requires the heavy bullet, and
the deer is contented with the small-bore.
I have found great convenience in the following equipment for hunting
every species of game in wild tropical countries.
One single-barrel rifle to carry a half-pound projectile, or a four
ounce, according to strength of hunter.
Three double-barrelled No. 10 rifles, to carry ten drachms No. 6 powder.
One double-barrelled small-bore rifle, sighted most accurately for
deer-shooting. Express to carry five or six drachms, but with hardened
Two double-barrelled No. 10 smooth-bores to carry shot or ball; the
latter to be the exact size for the No. 10 rifles.
According to my experience, such a battery is irresistible.
The breech-loader has manifold advantages over the muzzle-loader in a
wild country. Cartridges should always be loaded in England, and they
should be packed in hermetically sealed tin cases within wooden boxes,
to contain each fifty, if large bores, or one hundred of the smaller
These will be quite impervious to damp, or to the attacks of insects.
The economy of ammunition will be great, as the cartridge can be drawn
every evening after the day's work, instead of being fired off as with
the muzzle-loader, in order that the rifle may be cleaned.
The best cartridges will never miss fire. This is an invaluable quality
in the pursuit of dangerous game.
Although I advocate the express small-bore with the immense advantage of
low trajectory, I am decidedly opposed to the hollow expanding bullet
for heavy, thick-skinned game. I have so frequently experienced
disappointment by the use of the hollow bullet that I should always
adhere to the slightly hardened and solid projectile that will preserve
its original shape after striking the thick hide of a large animal.
A hollow bullet fired from an express rifle will double up a deer, but
it will be certain to expand upon the hard skin of elephants,
rhinoceros, hippopotami, buffaloes, &c.; in which case it will lose all
power of penetration. When a hollow bullet strikes a large bone, it
absolutely disappears into minute particles of lead,--and of course it
For many years I have been supplied with firstrate No. 10 rifles by
Messrs. Reilly & Co. of Oxford Street, London, which have never become
in the slightest degree deranged during the rough work of wild hunting.
Mr. Reilly was most successful in the manufacture of explosive shells
from my design; these were cast-iron coated with lead, and their effect
Mr. Holland of Bond Street produced a double-barrelled rifle that
carried the Snider Boxer cartridge. This was the most accurate weapon up
to 300 yards, and was altogether the best rifle that I ever used; but
although it possessed extraordinary precision, the hollow bullet caused
the frequent loss of a wounded animal. Mr. Holland is now experimenting
in the conversion of a Whitworth-barrel to a breech-loader. If this
should prove successful, I should prefer the Whitworth projectile to any
other for a sporting rifle in wild countries, as it would combine
accuracy at both long and short ranges with extreme penetration.
The long interval that has elapsed since I was in Ceylon, has caused a
great diminution in the wild animals.