Aiming a Brown Bess?

Discussion in 'Smoothbore' started by Griz44Mag, Apr 1, 2019.

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  1. Apr 6, 2019 #41

    Artificer

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    Hi Gene,

    Part of shooting in the Northwest Trade Gun Match was shooting at two or three clay pigeons thrown from a hand trap.

    I grew up hunting pheasants, quail, ducks, and geese and some Junior League Trap Shooting with a modern shotgun and was a pretty fair wing shot because we hunted a LOT. However, I was not that successful with the Pedersoli Carbine on hitting clay pigeons, but it was for two reasons.

    The first reason was in an age long before the Internet, I really didn't have anyone to show me how to get a good shot load.

    The second reason was that the Pedersoli had a very heavy trigger pull of around 8 to 10 pounds and I had not yet learned to do trigger jobs on large military Flintlock locks, to get the trigger pull weight down to a manageable 4lbs or a bit more. Of course the large military lock on the Pedersoli, with the extra long throw from half cock to full cock and heavier mainspring that moved the gun a bit and really slowed down the lock time - all made wing shooting more difficult. Of course the Pedersoli will not wing shoot as well as a good fowler; but with a trigger job, a good load and some serious practice, one can do fairly well when wing shooting with the Pedersoli or on a running bunny.

    Gus
     
  2. Apr 6, 2019 #42

    Britsmoothy

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    I did do a trigger job on my carbine and have taken a few birds off the wing with it.
     
  3. Apr 6, 2019 #43

    Feltwad

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    For any crossing bird with a flintlock be it a fowler or a musket on a left or right bird it is the swing , if you stop when you pull the trigger or has most do close your eyes then you has missed it ,so remember swing through the bird and keep swinging
    Feltwad
     
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  4. Apr 6, 2019 #44

    Loyalist Dave

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    Well armies pretty much had gone to open order, between the files, by the AWI and thereafter, so you have one arms length span between each solder in the ranks. Plus Cuthbertson wrote in 1776:

    When powder is given to Recruits, they are to be taught to load and fire singly, that each man may be distinctly instructed in the proper methods of using a Cartridge, and be encouraged to proceed without dread or confusion ; they are then to be fired by Files, and so on by degrees, until a number of them maybe ventured together : they should be taught to fire at marks, at different distances ; be fully instructed in the use of their Bayonets…,

    The general yearly allowance of Ball to a Regiment, when not on Service, being only four to each Man, the insufficiency of that number, for frequently practicing the Companies at firing at marks, must be very obvious ; it will therefore be absolutely necessary, as these four Balls are scarcely enough, to answer the purposes mentioned in the IId Article of this Chapter, that molds and lead be provided for the Companies, in order to cast an additional quantity ; the expence of which is but trifling, if the Butss for firing at are fixed against a bank, from whence the Balls can easily be dug out by the Pioniers, and cast again.

    Leaping, running, climbing precipices, swimming, skirmishing through the wood, loading and firing in different attitudes [positions] at marks, and marching with remarkable rapidity, are the particular Exercises, to which these [Light Infantry] Companies should be trained…

    So the private men, especially the Light Infantry, were supposed to hit what they aimed at, IF their commanding officer followed the training recommendations. ;)

    LD
     
  5. Apr 6, 2019 #45

    Griz44Mag

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    However true that may be, you know - I just gotta try it anyway......:D
     
  6. Apr 6, 2019 #46

    Griz44Mag

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    I do like the way that looks. I assume that one is soldered or brazed on? Think an epoxy attached sight would stay in place?
     
  7. Apr 6, 2019 #47

    Rat

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    Yes silver solder. JB weld might hold a sight, but I wouldn't really trust it. However, I do have an unmentionable six pound, (actually a bit under six pounds) single barrel shotgun, in an equally unmentionable 3" magnum 12 bore chambering, and I only mention this to illustrate that I did JB weld a small piece of aluminum, about 3/8's thick, and about 3/4" long to the rib, where a rear sight would be, just to kind of raise the rib, in order to raise point of impact with slug loads, as it was shooting them low. So far, it has stayed on, and as you can imagine those loads, in a sub-six pound gun, is "severe" to say the least. However-however, I have only fired it three or four times, due to said severity of recoil, and don't plan to shoot it again unless grizz argues with me about who owns the huckleberry patch. It's a berry-picking gun. So yeah, JB weld "could" work.
     
  8. Apr 6, 2019 #48

    Gene L

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    Not saying it can't be done, obviously it can and you did it, but I think that's a 20-21 century thing. The average BB shooter of the time wouldn't have the powder, the skill, or the need to wing shoot.
     
  9. Apr 6, 2019 #49

    Rat

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    Just thought of something, for what's it's worth, on the unmentionable rib, the rib is not a smooth surface, it has tiny grooves/ridges to reduce glare. On the piece of aluminum, I also grooved the bottom of it, so that gives it pretty good "bite". On the smooth surface of a round barrel, it probably would not hold as well. ?? Just a thought. There would be....no "bite".
     
  10. Apr 7, 2019 #50

    FlinterNick

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    The British started adding rear sights to the Pattern 1802 and the 1808/10 New Land Pattern Flintlock Muskets. while these are not technically Brown Bess Muskets due to the design being out of synch with the traditional land pattern muskets. These guns were fitted with rear sights dovetailed into the breech.

    While these muskets did not have a long service life due to being phased out and produced in smaller numbers, these were the top designed British Flintlock Muskets. These .75 caliber muskets are a very good design for target shooting and hunting due to the stocks lighter design, and all other features were designed more like a personal fowling piece with a keyed barrel, and reduced comb that joins the wrist.

    I suppose one could take a casting of a new land pattern rear sight and dove tail it to the Brown Bess or even silver solder it without cutting the barrel.

    However i’m Not sure rear sight is going to bring more accuracy to the Bess of any pattern, such a larger caliber gun is never really going to be accurate.
     
  11. Apr 7, 2019 #51

    45man

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    Fit always drove me nuts and I have to wonder how they shot some back then as they were smaller and mostly shorter. Many guns never fit me so I took a file to them and cut stocks shorter since an over long stock did not work with hunting clothes on. Factory TC ML's never fit me and many shotguns would have a lot of tinder shaved off. The Bess is more like a shotgun but there is a point the body can't adapt. As I shot more and more I found what worked and when I started to make my own and custom guns, I used those dimensions. As a rifle or shotgun slips to my shoulder the sights or bead is in line to where the gun hits.
    A laugh is my friend that is so recoil afraid he down loads every thing. I sold him an Enfield .303 and he bought a new plastic fantastic stock and put a slip on recoil pad on. It had a scope base on so he scoped it. Length of pull is over 15" and I can't shoot it. He says my neck is too short but when I watch him, he is so far from the scope he has a tiny, black hole. He moved the scope back as far as he can. You still need a 12" neck to shoot it. He might be 100# soaking wet so he puts 15 layers on to hunt and I know he will never shoulder the rifle.
    One size does not fit all.
     
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  12. Apr 7, 2019 #52

    Comfortably_Numb

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    Well call me a fool. I had no problems hitting clays with an original 3rd model Bess. The only thing challenging about it is the slow lock time. That large lock and long hammer throw makes for a perceptible delay. Once the pan flashes it's quick, it's just waiting for the cock to end it's long journey that creates the wait.
    A bess is not a gun i'd choose for a round of skeet. But it would serve as an adequate upland gun if that's all you have and you know how to load it and know how to shoot targets on the wing.
    If you'll do some research you'll find out Rogers Rangers shot their Bess's accurately against the French and Indians. No un aimed volley fire for those fellows.
     
  13. Apr 7, 2019 #53

    FlinterNick

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    Accuracy of the Brown Bess is more dependent on how the shot is loaded, if its patched with a .71-.74 round ball for a .77 bore you’ll end up with a pretty accurate round. Paper Cartridges really allowed for faster reloads while sacrificing accuracy.
     
  14. Apr 7, 2019 #54

    tenngun

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    A rear sight on a smoothie of any sort is not going to make any gun more accurate. It’s all about load. The only thing a rear sight does for me is make the gun easier to sight.
    It’s often said that on a smooth your eye becomes the rear sight. Well any rear sight has to align with tha bore. Making sure my eye is aligned with the bore is a skill I haven’t mastered. The rear sight gives me that line when I shoulder, or at least shows me where that line is in a natural way for me.
    It may hinder shooting the flying, getting in the way of your sight picture as you look for your lead spot.
    Shooting the flying is a snap shot, as opposed to bigger ground game where I have a chance to aim that might be ten or twenty seconds long before I shoot. What your asking of your smoothie may make a big difference on a rear sight being practical for you or not.
     
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  15. Apr 7, 2019 #55

    Rat

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    Well no, a rear sight does not "make" a musket (or rifle) more accurate. It makes the shooter more accurate. A more repeatable sight picture, (rear sight) makes for more repeatable results. Take the rear sight off any rifle, and your groups will open up. With much-much shooting and very much practice, you may tighten them up again. But I would be amazed to see someone shoot a 3" group, (or the best group that rifle will shoot) then take off the rear sight, and shoot another 3" group. Muskets are very capable of being very accurate up to 50 yards. For most shooters, you will get a tighter group with a rear sight. For the person that has a good "knack" for shooting shotgun style, and practices a lot, for sure they can make a smooth bore work good/shoot good without a rear sight. For us mortals, I think a rear sight is a very good thing...and will "make" the shooter more accurate.
     
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  16. Apr 8, 2019 #56

    Griz44Mag

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    I thought that since the weather had cleared a bit I would hitch up the horses (IE drive in the pickup) down to the club and see if is not too muddy for a few shots.
    Looks like it's going to be a few days....... Maybe next weekend.
    https://photos.app.goo.gl/XQufVgsEb2d3zqnBA
     
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  17. Apr 11, 2019 #57

    Canute Rex

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    A couple of things on Brown Bess accuracy.

    I have seen racks of original Besses in various British museums, including the Tower of London. Invariably they have two features: 1) The muzzle is worn oval, generally top to bottom. 2) The button on the ramrod is barely a swell in the end of the rod. British soldiers of the 18th and 19th centuries drilled 6 days a week when not on campaign. That involved a lot of dry loading and dry firing drill. Scrub, scrub, scrub, ramrod against bore. I doubt any of those muskets could have hit a man sized target at 50 yards.

    For a Bess shooter today, my advice parallels that already offered on sight picture. My addition is about the back end of things. Take a death grip on the wrist of the stock. The trigger pull on the Bess tends to be hard and if you don't take a grip the gun can "drop off the trigger" and shoot low/erratically. Just before you put your finger in the triggerguard, pull your cheek back along the stock towards the butt an inch or two. Saves your cheekbone from the stock and your nose from your own right thumb. Practice dry firing with a chip of wood in place of a flint. You need a serious follow through with the slow lock time of a Bess.
     
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  18. Apr 11, 2019 #58

    Stumpkiller

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    I sighted mine (and my current smoothbore) the same way I do my instinctive bow or a modern shotgun. Both eyes open, focus on target, ignore the barrel or lug/front sight.

    I'm right handed, right eye dominant. My right eye aligns the horizontal, left eye the vertical. Practice enough that it happens on the subconscious level. Start up close and move backwards as you improve. If you stop improving, get closer and work on form and repeat.
     
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  19. Apr 11, 2019 #59

    Juice Jaws

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    Yes looks a little wet. Don't waste the week end leave the smooth bore home and take the fishing pole.
     
  20. Apr 15, 2019 #60

    Griz44Mag

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    Time for a followup. FINALLY got the the range this morning.
    I got back to the house with only 4 of the 50 balls I cast on Saturday.
    The load was 80gr of 2f, primed with a half pan of 3f.
    I patched the balls with .010 linen with mink lube and wiped between shots.
    The timing between click and boom is going to take some getting used to.
    Had 3 misfires the whole day, just pricked the hole and re-primed, good to go.
    Shot most of them at 25 yards, and ten at 50 yards. At 25, she's a great shooter. (Once I got my eyes adjusted to the gun)
    At 50, well I need to do some work on my part. That saga will continue.
    Had a friend and his girlfriend showing a lot of interest, so I set it up and each took a shot with it.
    Smiles were everywhere, it was a very good day!!!!
    The first shot was left, next shot was high, next 6 shots were all in one hole that just keep eating those massive hunks of lead.
    I failed to get a pic of the 50 yard target, but I assure you, it was not one to brag about anyway...
    20190414_101957_HDR.jpg
     
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