In the UK to acquire a rifle you must have a valid Firearms Certificate (FAC).
To obtain a FAC you must be able to demonstrate good reason for requiring a rifle. Good reason may be considered as membership of a target shooting club with 6 months probation a requirement or for hunting/stalking and pest control. In the case of the latter written permission to carry out shooting is usually required.
You must also be able to provide 2 valid references to support your application for a FAC.
In the UK there are 2 types of rifle available Bolt Action Centrefire rifles or Semi automatic or bolt action Rimfire rifles. Semi automatic centrefire rifles were banned after the 1988 Firearms Act (amendment)
For each firearm you must demonstrate a need and apply (at cost) for a variation on your certificate. It maybe be quite difficult to obtain 2 rifles of the same calibre. There are also certain requirements regarding what calibre can be used for hunting certain animals. You must only use your Firearm within the conditions specifed on your licence or you will be committing an offence.
It is the opinion of Firearms UK that the current UK firearms law is very cumbersome, lacks a lot of common sense and people can easily fall foul of it. One example of this is you could have a gun owner who is licenced for .308 for deer stalking and a .223 for foxing. Now even if you were on private land and were completely safe if you used the .308 to dispatch a fox you would be committing an offence and could end up in a lot of trouble. For this reason it is extremely important to ensure that the conditions stated on your FAC match those that you intend to use the firearms for.
We feel the law could be greatly simplified and relaxed respecting both the rights of law abiding citizens who wish to take up shooting and also ensuring public safety.
A Brief History of Rifles
A rifle is a firearm designed to be fired from the shoulder. Rifles get their name from the helical grooves inside the barrel which is known as rifling. Rifles have greater range and are more accurate than smoothbore firearms due to the fact that the “rifling” imparts a spin onto the projectile which aids stability and prevents tumbling. This allows the use of aerodynamically efficient pointed bullets as opposed to the balls used in smoothbore muskets.
Typically, a bullet is propelled by the contained deflagration of an explosive compound (originally black powder, later cordite, and now nitrocellulose), although other means such as compressed air are used in air rifles, which are popular for vermin control, hunting small game, formal target shooting and casual shooting (“plinking).
The very first rifles were muzzle loaders however due to the impracticalities of pushing a tight fitting projectile into barrel that would quickly clog up with grim from previous shots they were difficult to load so this led to several innovations although the easiest involved a bullet with slightly smaller than the bore of the rifle which would expand upon firing. Due to these problems the breech loader soon arrived.
From 1836, breech-loading rifles were introduced with the German Dreyse Needle gun, and followed by the French Tabatière in 1857 the British Calisher and Terry carbine made in Birmingham and later in 1864 and the more well known British Snider-Enfield. Primitive chamber-locking mechanisms were soon replaced by bolt-action mechanisms, exemplified by the Chassepot in 1866. Breech loading was to have a major impact on warfare, as breech-loading rifles can be fired at a rate many times higher than muzzle loaded rifles and significantly can be loaded from a prone rather than standing position. Firing prone is more accurate than firing from a standing position, while a prone rifleman presents a much smaller target than a standing soldier. The higher accuracy and range, combined with reduced vulnerability generally benefited the defence while making the traditional battle between lines of standing and volleying infantry men obsolete.
Picture: One of the most famous Breech loading rifles was the Martini Henry MkIV shown bellow.
Revolving Rifles were an attempt to increase the rate of fire by utilising the mechanism for revolving handguns which had already been developed. These types of rifle were unpopular however due to shards of metal being projected from around the cylinder into the users hands!
An important area of development was the way that cartridges were stored and used in the weapon. The Spencer repeating rifle was a breech-loading manually operated lever action rifle that was adopted by the United States. Over 20,000 were used during the American Civil War. It marked the first adoption of a removable magazine-fed infantry rifle by any country. The design was completed by Christopher Spencer in 1860. It used copper rimfire cartridges stored in a removable seven round tube magazine, enabling the rounds to be fired one after another. When the magazine was empty, it could be exchanged for another.
The 20th century has saw some incredible developments in firearms and was perhaps the first time hugely industrialised nations fought each other on a large scale with constantly evolving modern weapons.At the