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Myths about the Rifle.

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Myths about the Rifle.

Postby TheBibliophile » May 11th, 2016, 8:25 am

I am currently reading F.L Robertsons "The Evolution of Naval Armament" which is a standard reference work, produced in the 1920s.
In it, he makes a claim, something which I hadnt realised before.
He says, that there is a myth that a ball fired from a rifle will carry further than a ball fired from a musket and that that is untrue.

The goes on to explain that this is due to a number of factors:

1. The musket ball faced less resistance to its motion, there was more windage in the barrel
2. The charge used in a musket was larger than that in a rifle. This is partly due to 1. In a rifle barrel, there was less windage, more resistance to motion and hence the powder charges were smaller, since to use the same size charge often caused rifle barrels to explode.

The real difference obviously was accuracy, not carry. However....

He also says (I hadnt realised this either)that the purpose of the leather patch used in early rifles was also to remove fouling from the grooves.

He goes on to say that rifles produced on the continent had a much greater accuracy and range due to the amount of twist employed in their grooves (Continental rifles had a greater twist). This meant that by 1829, the Baker rifle was considered inferior. Competitions were held and it was replaced.

I bet that starts a lively discussion.
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Re: Myths about the Rifle.

Postby unclearthur » May 11th, 2016, 9:46 pm

I'm sure I remember reading a physical explanation on here somewhere that this was untrue and that increased windage actually reduced range because multiple angular contacts within the barrel slowed the ball. D'you think I can find it though? Hmmmph! :cry:
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Re: Myths about the Rifle.

Postby jf42 » May 11th, 2016, 10:23 pm

unclearthur wrote: multiple angular contacts within the barrel

Would that be 'friction' in old money?
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Re: Myths about the Rifle.

Postby DaveH » May 12th, 2016, 12:33 am

It is not friction per se, but the slowing effects of hitting the sides more often - it is like a luge or bobsleigh run.

Bigger windage also meant that some of the force of the explosive was lost as it flowed round he projectile, rather than pushing it forward. Better boring techniques allowed both handguns and artillery to significantly reduce windage from the mid-18th century.

First issued in 1800, the Baker rifle was a copy of the Austrian 1795 pattern (the bottom weapon at, which had seven grooves.

An interesting note at ... rifles.htm says: "Captain Barber of the Duke of Cumberland Sharpshooters wrote in 1804 that a third class marksman should be able to put 5 out of 6 balls in an 8" circle at 100 yards, a second class marksman must be able to do the same at 200 yards, and a first class marksman must be able to do the same at 300 yards but he could use a rest at this range.

Costello in his diary states that Rifleman Tom Plunket lying on his back with the sling of his Rifle wrapped around his foot, took careful aim and shot the French Cavalry General Colbert in the head well over 300 yards and then after reloading also shot the French Trumpeter who dashed over to check on the General with a head shot also."

Wiki notes the Baker too had 7 grooves and was copied from a German jaeger rifle. A lot of British kit from around 1800 is based on Austrian designs, including swords, saddles, headgear and uniform decoration. Wiki also notes: " Prior to the formation of an Experimental Rifle Corps in 1800, a trial was held at Woolwich by the British Board of Ordnance on 22 February 1800 in order to select a standard rifle pattern; the rifle designed by Ezekiel Baker was chosen. During the trial, of the twelve shots fired, eleven were placed in a 6-foot (1.8 m) circular target at a distance of 300 yards (270 m)"
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