The historically accuarcy of accuracy?

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ptrells14

Veteran
WBWF&SNWVC
Muskets overall were quite inaccurate and unreliable at ranges over 50-60 yds.  I was part of a test performed at a college event that demonstrated the ballistic differences between a flintlock musket and a flintlock rifle.  First one would have to know the difference.  Muskets have a smoothbore barrel that provides no spin to the ball, where as a rifle's barrel has rifling that provides a stabilizing spin to the ball.  Both Rifles and muskets of the 1812-1815 era had the same flintlock firing mechanisms and the same fundamentals of shooting.

When we began to load the musket the ramrod was extremely easy to slide through the barrel when loading the powder, wading, and the ball and made for a quick reload.  However, when the weapon was fired the ballistic trajectory of the ball was very unusual on all rounds fired.  The ball had a spiraling, circular flight pattern that essentially mirrored a slinky that had been stretched a bit.  This looping pattern varied from 8 inches to 2 ft in diameter before reaching the 50-60 yard mark.  Next the rifle was tested; the rifle was slower to reload mainly due to the rifling in the barrel.  The ball and ramrod would have to pass over the "grooves" in the barrel that greatly increased the reload time.  The test for the rifle was quite boring to be honest as it performed much like a modern muzzle-loader, the same that I and many others use to hunt with during muzzle-loader season minus the flintlock system (I use percussion). 

This test was performed using high speed cameras and laser precision measuring equipment and was not intended to measure the accuracy of the weapon but the trajectory that the projectile flew.  However, with the data collected one could see how accurate (or inaccurate) a musket is, and the way the round travelled before 50-60 yards is a clear indicator that they were not accurate at range.  This was something interesting that I was a part of that I thought I would share with you all.     
 

RalliX

Count
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Okay whoa, slow down there.
Separate your writing into paragraphs first of all, as walloftext format makes things a little difficult.
ptrells14 said:
Muskets overall were quite inaccurate and unreliable at ranges over 50-60 yds.  I was part of a test performed at a college event that demonstrated the ballistic differences between a flintlock musket and a flintlock rifle.

First one would have to know the difference.  Muskets have a smoothbore barrel that provides no spin to the ball, where as a rifle's barrel has rifling that provides a stabilizing spin to the ball.  Both Rifles and muskets of the 1812-1815 era had the same flintlock firing mechanisms and the same fundamentals of shooting.

When we began to load the musket the ramrod was extremely easy to slide through the barrel when loading the powder, wading, and the ball and made for a quick reload.  However, when the weapon was fired the ballistic trajectory of the ball was very unusual on all rounds fired.  The ball had a spiraling, circular flight pattern that essentially mirrored a slinky that had been stretched a bit.  This looping pattern varied from 8 inches to 2 ft in diameter before reaching the 50-60 yard mark. 

Next the rifle was tested; the rifle was slower to reload mainly due to the rifling in the barrel.  The ball and ramrod would have to pass over the "grooves" in the barrel that greatly increased the reload time.  The test for the rifle was quite boring to be honest as it performed much like a modern muzzle-loader, the same that I and many others use to hunt with during muzzle-loader season minus the flintlock system (I use percussion). 

This test was performed using high speed cameras and laser precision measuring equipment and was not intended to measure the accuracy of the weapon but the trajectory that the projectile flew.
However, with the data collected one could see how accurate (or inaccurate) a musket is, and the way the round travelled before 50-60 yards is a clear indicator that they were not accurate at range.  This was something interesting that I was a part of that I thought I would share with you all.     
Okay, as a result of pressing Enter a few times, I can now read your post.

So where did you test these things/get the equipment? A university or somesuch institution?
You also didn't relate the results of the test with the rifled musket.

"Not accurate at range" relative to what, the rifled musket?
I know exactly what is considered accurate as far as rifles are concerned nowadays, but just saying things like "muskets are inaccurate" is not useful.

Be specific in the ranges and deviations.
 

ptrells14

Veteran
WBWF&SNWVC
I formatted the previous text for easier reading.  To begin answering your question the firearms were supplied by the instructor's personal friend who happens to be a collector/historian of 18th and 19th century antiques and is also part of a Royal Highland reenactment group if I remember correctly.  The test was performed on the county shooting range and the measuring equipment was on loan from the physics department from the local community college.  The test/experiment was conducted by the physics department along with the history department from the college as well.  The test was not to compare how much better a rifled musket shoots compared to a smoothbore.  I suppose the test could have been done by other means But I think the instructor thought this would be more interesting for students.

As I mentioned in my closing, the test was not intended to test the accuracy of the weapons, it was to test how a projectile flew with or without means of stabilization; in this case a smoothbore flintlock musket and a flintlock rifle.  Also as I stated before, from the data collected during the experiment one could obviously formulate from the spiraling pattern of the smoothbore musket that a marksman would be hard put to hit his target at 50-60 yards.  I wasn't trying to create an argument I was just sharing some neat stuff that I was apart of and thought I would share it.  No need to be condescending, we're all part of the same community and enjoy (I do at least) reading some of the experiences of others.       
 

RalliX

Count
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Thank you, this is much clearer now.

So let me see if I fully understand your meaning here.
You say that a marksman(A trained, even skilled shooter), would have difficulty(and probably miss) firing on his target with a single shot.
This looping pattern varied from 8 inches to 2 ft in diameter before reaching the 50-60 yard mark.

This specifically is how you defined it. A variation of from 8 to 24 inches at let's say exactly 50 Meters(yes, metric pls). Now my chest cavity(where the vital organs are), is about twelve inches wide, and its height(including my stomach down to my crotch) is about 1.5 to 2x that. We'll go with 24 inches height.

So we have a target the size of a(thin) fighting age male's torso, sans arms/legs/head. This is centermass, which is where you want your shots to land to incapacitate/kill.

In terms of height/vertical deviation, it's actually easy to hit me at 50 meters. At worst, you have a 50/50 chance of hitting me centermass in terms of horizontal/windage variation, without my arms in the equation. With them added(just over 3 inches each in diameter,) tucked in at my sides, you have a target width of 18 inches, meaning a 75% hit rate for horizontal variation.

So all it really means is that the shooter needs to not miss badly and he has a good chance of hitting. And in the case of an area target the height of a man and wider by several times, your hit rate increases dramatically.
 

ptrells14

Veteran
WBWF&SNWVC
I like the numbers you have added, I would say that makes sense when firing at a static point target silhouette.  Just remember that the body would have been angled slightly when firing decreasing the horizontal silhouette size and as you know the overall stature of a male in the 18-19th century was smaller, so I would somewhat disagree with a 75% hit chance but I agree with your logic overall.  As a military man I enjoy speaking with people who share common interests about firearms, ballistics, and military history so thank you, this is the stuff I find interesting.           
 

Hekko

Master Knight
M&BWBWF&SNW
As I have always understood it the issues with accuracy are more psychological and less with the hardware itself. In the sense that people make obvious mistakes when using their fire-arms because they are stressed during a combat situation.

Secondly there's the whole thing with posturing, where people will deliberately miss etc. in order to not have to kill someone else. Which is one of the reasons why artillery has been so effective since responsibility for killing someone is dispersed across several people, so no one feels truly guilty.
 

Alasdair

Regular
WBM&B
Hekko said:
As I have always understood it the issues with accuracy are more psychological and less with the hardware itself. In the sense that people make obvious mistakes when using their fire-arms because they are stressed during a combat situation.

Secondly there's the whole thing with posturing, where people will deliberately miss etc. in order to not have to kill someone else. Which is one of the reasons why artillery has been so effective since responsibility for killing someone is dispersed across several people, so no one feels truly guilty.

Accuracy problems with modern weapons are indeed mostly situational, not mechanical. I can't speak to the accuracy or lack thereof possessed by period muskets. If a 50% or even 75% chance of hitting a torso-sized target at 50 meters is normal in good conditions is correct firearms have increased in accuracy by more than an order of magnitude.
 
I own a pattern 1809 brown bess musket made sometime between 1809 and 1815 I believe.  It is one of the most fun firearms to shoot.  The caliber of my musket is approx. .745.  When I go moose hunting I use a .73 cal 600 grain lead ball.  I use 120 grains of Fg Goex down the barrel and 35 grains in the pan. This set-up is very accurate and I get nail my moose at 100 yards or less 95% of the time thanks to the very tight fitting ball.  At the firing range when I just want to simply fire my musket all day long to harass the other people because I don't use a flash guard, my load is a .68 cal 450 grain lead ball with the same powder.  Since my musket has an original walnut stock, I refrain from tap loading and just patch the ball.  This setup I can hit watermelons at 25 yards and at 100 yards a 6 foot by 8 foot target.  The main problem with me is bullet drop.  The weight of the round and typically lower fps has insane drop.  From what I've seen at 185 yards bullet drop seems to be over 3 feet!

The brown bess I have has no sights on it, but I typically use the bayonet lug as my sight.  My musket has a banister style stock and my head is trained to go to the same spot every time so aiming the musket is possible and with a tight fitting patched ball deadly out to hundred yards.  Trained men with volley fire can easily kill targets in ranked formation at 100 yards with this powerful musket.

Opinion: Muskets should have slightly longer reload times, but slightly more damage and range.

Despite being a brown bess fanatic my entire life, the real issue I dislike about the game is the rifles. I only play as GB so I will be talking about the Baker...  Sadly I do not own a Baker, only a 1853/Snider/Henry.  However I have a friend who does and I am always amazed watching him load a .610 or .615 lead ball wrapped in a greasy rag down the barrel.  It takes forever between shots but watching him nail that watermelon at 100 yards is classic.  The rifle does less damage then my brown bess but the round is smaller, lighter, spins, and moves quicker.  The main advantage other then slightly more accuracy is bullet drop.  There is FAR less bullet drop.

Rifles and Muskets need separated.  Why does my Baker Rifle have the same aim reticule as my brown bess when my baker rifle has sights on it and my brown bess doesn't.  Rifles need separated from the Muskets and given their own class.  Reloading needs to be longer, Damage and accuracy needs to be increased.  I have been shooting targets in the game at what I believe is around 200 yards and its only doing 30 damage.  While not as destructive as larger rounds, the .615 lead ball should be able to kill targets at this range.

Just my two cents.  But if I was getting fired upon by a M1777 at hundred yards I wouldn't be standing around.

I love this mod.  I've played 1812 for years before the mod died and jumped on this when it came out.  There are many issues with the game but its in Alpha stage so its ok.  But I only play GB...  So one personal favor.  When I recruit my 12 lbs cannons in England, can you stop giving me French Artillerymen?!  The Lords get British but I get French!  I hate them so much I get rid of them -.-"
 
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