Muzzle Blasts Online

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That part of the barrel acts as receiver (A) with vertical breech (B) [plug] are heat treated, case hardened steel. The Ferguson breech is different from any other. Loading though the breech's 7/8-inch vertical opening (C), the sphere rolls forward until stopped by a lip, or venturi shoulder radius, or taper, or by its engaging the barrel's rifling. Projectiles seal the barrel from windage - that is, from propulsion gases blowing ahead of the ball on its way out of the muzzle - an unfortunate but normal occurrence when loading from the muzzle. The vertical breech does not - repeat, does not - serve the same purpose as does a cartridge rifle's breech bolt. There is no stress or pressure from ignition [that threatens] to blow the breech bolt from the mechanism. There is no brass gasket that must be precisely supported. The breech must deal with imperfect gas seals at its top and bottom. Long term, this is a wear resistance problem, not a strength problem. (Taken from Ferguson's book circa 1888.)

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