Small-bore Rifles Compared, Wimbledon 1862

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During the early years of the National Rifle Association’s Annual Rifle Meeting there was keen interest in the small-bore rifles used. One correspondent to the Volunteer Service Gazette in 1863 in seeking to understand the merits of different makers rifles, collated scores obtained at Wimbledon in 1862 by four rifles – Henry, Kerr, Turner and Whitworth. His letter and comparative tables are included below – note the caveat about the riflemen who used the rifles.

Averages of The Principal Small-Bores Used at Wimbledon

To The Editor Of The Volunteer Service Gazette

Sir, – The following statement will probably be interesting to some of your readers: At the last Wimbledon meeting there were 1,730 rifles used, of which 591 were Henry, 582 by Whitworth, 291 by Turner, and 166 Kerr. Those numbers show how strongly public opinion has run in favour of the costly rifles of the first-named makers; but public opinion, though generally right in the end, is often very wrong by the way, and I was anxious to know how far the actual scores obtained by these four rifles justified the public preference. To satisfy this curiosity, I took out the National Rifle Association’s Report for 1862 the scores obtained by these rifles in thirteen principal contests. In some of the contests all four rifles did not appear, and were, therefore, useless for my purpose. I give below the average score per barrel, with the ranges in yards:

MakersTotal number used
at Wimbledon
Average number of Rifles
used in the above contests
Grand average of
marks per barrel

First, mark that the average of rifles used in these contests tallies exactly with the number of rifles on the ground; second, mark that nearly all the known crack shots used Henry or Whitworth rifles (not a Turner or Kerr being in the match between Lords and Commons, or between England and Scotland, and that comparatively unknown men used Turner and Kerr rifles. What would have been the result if all the crack shots had used Turner and Kerr rifles, and comparatively unknown shots had used Henry and Whitworth? – I am, Sir, yours, &c.,

A Member of the National Rifle Association

Caterham, Feb. 23, 1863.

Source: Volunteer Service Gazette, Saturday 28 February 1863