1636 The Kremlin Games – Snippet 26
Freshly ensconced in his new kingdom, Andrei Korisov didn’t hear about the new understanding of gravity in the Dacha. He wouldn’t have cared that much anyway, because it didn’t change ballistics, just the reason they worked. If he had cared at all, it would have been to be concerned about the allocation of resources away from his guns to flight. That, however, was no longer a problem. He had his own resources now. Well, he was in charge of them. Which was the same thing. He went back to working on the Andrei Korisov rifle.
The mechanics of holding the chamber in place while allowing it to rotate up and out for reloading weren’t very complex, but they were an added complexity. The gimbal was constantly breaking under the stress of firing, then having to be redesigned and strengthened again. Andrei was sure he was missing something. He went out to the range, where one of the apprentice gunsmiths was testing the latest version. Andrei had decided to go with a smaller bore and a shorter barrel, mostly for ease of construction. He would use much tighter rifling and count on the greater spin to keep the smaller bullet accurate. But that wasn’t what these test were about.
These tests were to determine how much wear was caused by the out-gassing. They would fire one hundred shots, then measure the wear on the protective plate Andrei had installed. It was still basically a Russian muzzle-loader with the back five inches of the barrel sawed off, but some things had been added. A heavy iron gimbal had been added to let the firing chamber be rotated up for loading and back down into alignment, and Andrei’s protective plate, a relatively thin piece of curved iron, had been inserted into the stock where the firing chamber muzzle almost touched the open back of the barrel.
Oleg had the new rifle clamped to the bench and was using the string and pulley system to test fire the rifle. Andrei watched as the boy pulled the string and the rifle fired. Then Oleg made a mark in a slate. Fourteen shots since the start of the test. It was going a little faster than Andrei had thought it would.
Oleg went over to the rifle and pulled out the spent chamber and put in another one. He poured a little powder into the pan, cocked the lock, and went back behind the bench and pulled the string. The rifle fired again. The chamber slammed against the back plate and the stock cracked. The stocks weren’t handling the strain.
“Where did you get that chamber?” Andrei shouted.
“Which one?” Oleg asked, then continued quickly, “One is from this rifle, sir, and the other one is from the last one. It’s quicker to load the two chambers together, then just switch them out. I didn’t know I wasn’t supposed to.”
“How do you get one chamber out to put in the next?” Andrei asked.
“After the gimbal broke. Ah . . . they do that a lot,” Oleg said, clearly anxious not to be blamed for breaking the gimbal. “It was just easier to put the chamber in by hand than fix the gimbal every time.”
But Andrei wasn’t concerned with that. He had just found the key to making the rate of fire for the Andrei Korisov rifle much higher, at least for a short while. A chamber was a lot shorter than a barrel and a lot easier to make. He could make several chambers for each rifled musket. The soldier could carry them loaded and have several fairly quick shots before having to reload the chambers.
It was weeks later that he realized that the chamber didn’t have to be the same shape as the barrel. At least in its outer dimensions. And he still hadn’t realized how necessary it was to have the chamber holder attached to something.