N.C. Nessler ball testing

Discussion in 'Smoothbore' started by Stantheman86, Nov 21, 2019.

Help Support Muzzle Loading Forum by donating:

  1. Nov 21, 2019 #1

    Stantheman86

    Stantheman86

    Stantheman86

    32 Cal. MLF Supporter

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2018
    Messages:
    988
    Likes Received:
    310
    20191119_101956.jpg
    20191119_105757.jpg
    20191119_102552.jpg
    20191119_104541.jpg

    I got these from Old South Firearms, I think a member here makes them on his Eras Gone mold for Old South .

    They did......ok. They all stayed stable, but accuracy was poor. This target was 25 yards , I didn't bother to move back to 40. The .678 Fosters beat the pants off these by a wide margin.

    I tried a thin paper cartridge, I fired a few more at that target but they just hit sporadically in various spots.

    Tried 60 gr, 70gr, a couple with 80gr, no different. 60 almost seemed to hit closer to POA.

    They , in all likelihood, did their job for North Carolina troops by staying stable over a few hundred yards and volley fire with these being deadlier than a Round Ball at longer ranges......but individual accuracy isn't happening. I think 2,000 men shooting these at a Battalion 200 yards away would be effective, so I guess, for their intended use they will work . None of them tumbled and if you applied the right elevation you could launch them out there.

    They did about the same loaded bare with lube Vs the paper cartridges. I was thinking they might come alive with paper.

    Might they do better with 3f ? I have 20 left I'll shoot them up.
     
    DaveC likes this.
  2. Nov 21, 2019 #2

    dave951

    dave951

    dave951

    40 cal - b

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2019
    Messages:
    229
    Likes Received:
    134
    Just a question here. What is the dia of the Nessler as cast and the actual bore dia of your gun?
     
  3. Nov 22, 2019 #3

    Stantheman86

    Stantheman86

    Stantheman86

    32 Cal. MLF Supporter

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2018
    Messages:
    988
    Likes Received:
    310
    These are .680 because I push them through a .680 sizer, but all of them drop through.

    My bore is right about .690, my cheap micrometer has it at like .689 but it's accurate +/- .001 because it's cheap.

    Foster slugs out of this musket did far, far better.
     
    DaveC likes this.
  4. Nov 22, 2019 #4

    dave951

    dave951

    dave951

    40 cal - b

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2019
    Messages:
    229
    Likes Received:
    134
    In my 42 Macon, the bore is .690 and the ball casts at .685. At 25yd, it will shoot one big hole groups. I'm wondering if you might get better results with a ball closer to bore size.
     
    DaveC and Esrussell like this.
  5. Nov 22, 2019 #5

    Stantheman86

    Stantheman86

    Stantheman86

    32 Cal. MLF Supporter

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2018
    Messages:
    988
    Likes Received:
    310
    The ball is undersize to allow them to be loaded in paper cartridge wrap and to be loaded in a fouled bore.

    Original period tests show less accuracy at 100 yards with a Nessler than a round ball but the Nessler stays stable and carries out to longer ranges.

    The Foster slugs are actually a bit smaller (by .002) but shoot fist sized groups at 40 yards , the hollow base bumps up nicely.
     
  6. Nov 23, 2019 #6

    DaveC

    DaveC

    DaveC

    32 Cal. MLF Supporter

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2009
    Messages:
    333
    Likes Received:
    159
    Location:
    San Antonio, Texas
    I've got the Mr. M. Hubbs' Eras Gone mould for these so-called Nessler balls used by Tar heels in the "late unpleasantness" or Civil War of Northern Aggression Between the Rebellion States or whatever...

    I'll just have to fire up the smelter for lead and try to produce a batch of these and give 'em a try. I'd been remiss in doing so due to other projects and whatnot.

    Stan: You da man! Awesome experimental archaeology on your part! The original Belgian/French/Sardinian/Russian Nessler is shaped much more like your Foster slugs... Makes one wonder, no? o_O The North Carolina School for the Deaf & Blind in Raleigh-produced version is much more like a Pritchett bullet with an ostensibly "collapsing skirt" to take up the windage internal to the bore. I'll use your research to help me try to figure out a couple ways to use these in terms of making cartridges. I'd tried using a brown wrapping/butcher paper, but these proved too thick for my Model 1842.

    Science!:D
     
    Stantheman86 likes this.
  7. Nov 23, 2019 #7

    Stantheman86

    Stantheman86

    Stantheman86

    32 Cal. MLF Supporter

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2018
    Messages:
    988
    Likes Received:
    310
    Cigarette Papers , in two layers are my next try but Vellum paper worked ok. The issue is using enough lube to keep the fouling soft or the paper tears off in the bore.

    I think, in their original form , the Confederates tested these and they improved "combat " performance for already obsolete Smoothbores that were pressed into service. The key here, is carrying further out and hitting massed enemy soldiers. If I were a CSA Ordnance tester I wouldn't much care about individual accuracy either........do they stay stable? Can a Company of men with old , expendable Smoothbore muskets use these to put lead on other Company sized elements 300 yards away? Yes? Sold, start cranking them out they're good enough.

    Because of the solid base they could be used in weapons .69 to .71, and maybe for the .69 armed troops they just tore them out and loaded them bare. I don't think these NC Nesslers were used long enough or in great enough numbers for it to matter , just make them work with what you've got.

    US troops armed with 1842 Smoothbores were , a few times, issued .69 Minie cartridges because it was lead that could be fired and logistically someone either screwed up or didn't feel like figuring out which Units had what weapons.

    My opinion of these NC Nesslers is they work "well enough" for emergency Wartime use.
     
    DaveC likes this.
  8. Nov 23, 2019 #8

    Smokey Plainsman

    Smokey Plainsman

    Smokey Plainsman

    50 Cal.

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2014
    Messages:
    1,528
    Likes Received:
    212
    Seems the moral of the story from all these Nessler thread is... don’t bother with them.
     
    Bon Sauvage likes this.
  9. Nov 23, 2019 #9

    Grenadier1758

    Grenadier1758

    Grenadier1758

    58 Cal.

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2004
    Messages:
    3,782
    Likes Received:
    726
    Location:
    St. Louis, MO
    The Nessler is fun to experiment with, but don't recommend them for hunting or X ring target accuracy.
     
    Smokey Plainsman likes this.
  10. Nov 23, 2019 #10

    Stantheman86

    Stantheman86

    Stantheman86

    32 Cal. MLF Supporter

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2018
    Messages:
    988
    Likes Received:
    310
    They're fun to try if you're interested in the Historical aspect , but if you're looking for an effective "Nessler Ball" the readily available Foster slug is a far, far better option.

    If I were a Federal grunt I wouldn't want 1,000 battle seasoned Confederates shooting these things at me in volleys from 300 yards, especially if I had Buck and Ball loads or just round ball . One guy isn't likely to hit you but a bunch of them will.

    Once I get a chance to shoot out to 100+ I'll be satisfied.

    I'm playing with these just for something to do and I've been having a blast. I'm not done playing around with them.

    My flintlock .69's will continue to use .648 round balls or maybe bigger ones with a patch .
     
  11. Nov 23, 2019 #11

    Stantheman86

    Stantheman86

    Stantheman86

    32 Cal. MLF Supporter

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2018
    Messages:
    988
    Likes Received:
    310
    Mr Hubbs said he's not doing any more molds for these , unless someone made them come alive with unlocking the secret voodoo to make them shoot accurately.....I don't think such voodoo exists but experimenting is 99% of the fun of muzzleloading. Maybe these will do better with 3f? A very heavy charge? I didn't try any 100 grain charges , maybe the intent was to use the same charge as the round ball.

    They seem to want to wander to the left, vs the Fosters that stayed straight.

    Also, there is the psychological aspect of issuing "bullets" to soldiers who already know they are using outdated weapons , so they can feel like they have something equal to their rifled-musket issued counterparts. It was believed by Ordnance Officers that inexperienced troops wouldn't be able to effectively hold high enough to use these at range anyway.

    If I were a NC soldier with a smoothbore and a cartridge box full of these "Nesslers " , if I lived long enough to see a victory I'd drop that musket and box and pick up the first .58 Springfield or Enfield I saw laying on the ground. But I guess these Nesslers were a stopgap solution when anything that fired a projectile was useful.
     
    DaveC likes this.
  12. Nov 23, 2019 #12

    DaveC

    DaveC

    DaveC

    32 Cal. MLF Supporter

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2009
    Messages:
    333
    Likes Received:
    159
    Location:
    San Antonio, Texas
    True that. Thing is, there really were very, very many smooth-bore .69 cal. weapons left in various militia armories when the war began, and these had to be pressed into service. There were even still large numbers of flintlocks in portions of Virginia, but most particularly Tennessee as late as Shiloh. I have read where some Tennesseean Confederate troops managed to capture rifled, cap-lock arms and smashed their flintlocks to bits because they feared they'd be gathered up and given to another hapless group.

    I think you are correct that at the individual level, the so-called NC Nessler might not be an improvement over the round ball. But as far as the military was concerned, it allowed for more effective fire as part of a weapon system--namely, an entire regiment firing at longer range than considered possible or advisable with a smooth-bore. As you say, we're trying to figure out long after how these were used in shotguns, smooth-bores, etc. without any indication of how the cartridges were made. Certainly these do turn up under metal detectors where Tar heels with smooth bores or shotguns fought...

    Robert V. Bruce, Lincoln and the Tools of War "Early in May 1861, the 1st Vermont Volunteer Regiment was alarmed by rumors that the Ordnance Department as about to foist a lot of worthless Belgian muskets on it, even though in New York, where the Regiment was due next day, a cargo of new Enfield rifles waited in the harbor .... Lucius Chittenden took up the cause of the Green Mountain boys.
    War Department officials sent Chittenden to see the Chief of Ordnance... Colonel Ripley [Chief of Ordnance] asked the visitor what he wanted. ... "to deliver one thousand Enfield rifles to the governor for the use of the First Vermont Regiment."
    Ripley's face "deepened into crimson." "Such an application is unheard of!" he snapped. "Why was it not made regularly through the Secretary of War?" Before Chittenden could answer, Ripley continued fiercely: "It is too late." ... [Chittenden insisted, and threatened to go over Ripley's head] At this, RIpley was speechless. His face and hands turned to a "dark purple" as he struggled to express his feelings. He bounded from his chair with a rush which the startled Vermonter thought for a moment was aimed at him; but the impetus carried the colonel to a corner of the room where stood an old Springfield flintlock musket altered to the use of percussion caps. ... The old man seized the gun in both hands, raised it above his head and shook it furiously. "These volunteers don't know what they want!" He roared when he had recovered his voice. "There is the best arm that was ever put into the hands of a raw volunteer! When he throws that away, as they generally do, he does not throw away twenty-five dollars' worth of government property!" ... If the Chief of Ordnance seemed to entertain an archaic affection for smoothbores, it was because he had little else at the moment to give the troops."

    Some Yankee inventor demonstrated his invention of a bullet for a smooth-bore by firing it across the Potomac and noting with Lincoln that it seemed to carry farther than the round ball. Lincoln was impressed, and knowing that there were still very many smooth-bores in use, apparently had it sent to Ordnance. Ripley promptly "lost it." So North Carolina may have been "sold something" at the start of the War of the Rebellion, but officials there were certainly not alone in desiring a way to make the smooth-bore somehow more militarily efficient.
     
  13. Nov 23, 2019 #13

    Stantheman86

    Stantheman86

    Stantheman86

    32 Cal. MLF Supporter

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2018
    Messages:
    988
    Likes Received:
    310
    I was just reading about the "Chace ball" , that poor dude W.B. Chace impressed Lincoln with this mysterious bullet that could be fired out of Smoothbores.....probably got his hopes up thinking he was gonna be rich and then his idea faded into history unused...because Ripley thought it would be senseless to develop a bullet for weapons they were working hard to get rid of as quickly as possible. I guess the goal was to standardize on the. 58 Springfield.


    The Confederates in the NC State Guard probably had a version of a WB Chace type guy who sold them this bullet, they did a quick test and adopted it. It does work , given no other option except a round ball.

    As a hobbyist-shooter at the range, as one man, target shooting.....these make 0 sense. As a Battalion sized element making use of Smoothbores , they make a lot of sense.

    20191123_121820.jpg
    If this were us and 500 of our buddies , armed with conversion Smoothbore muskets and a bunch of NC Nesslers.....being engaged from across this river at about 350 yards by 500 troops with .58 Rifled-Muskets.......I feel if our guys had some experience we could hold high and land volleys on the other side of that river and have more or less an equal fight with those guys.

    If we had Round Ball cartridges we would just be shooting Hail Mary volleys and balls would be skipping across the water, veering 10 feet into the dirt, going off into parts unknown . Maybe some of the balls would find a man sized target but more of the Nesslers would reach out. And that is the only real value to these. Engaging one man? No way, but they keep you in the fight unless you want to March through withering fire to get 80 yards in and blast them with Buck and Ball while losing 70% of your men.
     
    DaveC likes this.
  14. Nov 24, 2019 #14

    RAEDWALD

    RAEDWALD

    RAEDWALD

    40 Cal.

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2012
    Messages:
    385
    Likes Received:
    95
    I must be missing something here. The Balle Nessler was never claimed to reach farther than the round ball, but to do so more accurately out to 400 metres. I can see no reason why a North Carolina 'Nessler' would go any farther than a round ball. Yes it has more mass but it appears to tumble which will both slow it and make it less accurate than a round ball.

    I go with the idea that the purpose was psychological as it gave troops stuck with smooth bores the illusion that they were being given more modern ammunition. Given the poor training of most ACW soldiers and officers they were not going to make good use of rifled weapons anyway and most engagements were within normal musket effective fire ranges anyway so they will feel better off and perform no worse in close volley fire; assuming that their officers even understand and can operate volley fire).

    Whilst the 'Balle Nessler' was no game changer it did prove able to deliver more accurate volley fire at unit size targets at longer ranges than round balls in the Crimea. The wonder is that the 'Balle Nessler' was not taken up by either or both sides in the early part of the ACW as it had a proven track record in combat already. Mind you a rear sight and some brief training of both men and officers would have made the smooth bore a perfectly adequate weapon for the task as demonstrated in actual actions as the potential of the rifle musket was rarely realised other than by trained regular troops or small numbers of previously experienced riflemen. But I digress.
     
    Grenadier1758 likes this.
  15. Nov 24, 2019 #15

    DaveC

    DaveC

    DaveC

    32 Cal. MLF Supporter

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2009
    Messages:
    333
    Likes Received:
    159
    Location:
    San Antonio, Texas
    Here's the French appraisal of the "true" Nessler ball, i.e. with a rear cavity, vs. the solid collapsing skirt version of the North Carolina so-called "Nesler":

    J. Corréard, ed. Journal des armes spéciales et de l’etat-major (Paris: Librairie Militaire, Maritime et Polytechnique, 1866), pp. 271-73:

    Model 1857 (rifle musket) Minié 32 gram/ 493-grain bullet backed by 4grams powder (approximately 60 grains, like the U.S. service charge). This rifle musket caliber measured 17.8mm/.71 caliber, a bit like the British Crimean War-era Pattern 1851 .702-in. rifle musket, which immediately preceded issue of the smaller caliber .577-in. Pattern 1853 Enfield.

    1. Smooth bore (i.e. Mle. 1842 .70): Spherical 16.7mm/ .66 caliber lead ball, weight 27gram/ 415gr., powder charge 9grams/ 1/3rd of an ounce, or about 140 grains (U.S. flintlock muskets employed a charge of 120grains of coarse musket powder, part of which was used to prime the pan. Adoption of the percussion ignition system led to a reduction of the charge to 110grains).

    2. Nessler conical ball for smooth bore arms, 16.7mm/ .66 caliber bullet weighing 30grams/ 464grains propelled by a 6gram/ 90grain powder charge. [Perhaps the charge for the North Carolina “Nesler” was similar, e.g. 100 grains, give or take, or perhaps it was reduced to 60 or 65 grains like the rifle musket charge? Certainly the compression on firing would seal the internal windage of the bore, increase the velocity, and scrape away some of the fouling?)Compared to the spherical ball of the infantry musket, that designed by M. Nessler for smooth bore arms displayed great superiority; see table below:
    https://archive.org/details/journaldesarmes12unkngoog

    All shots taken with Voltigeur Mle. 1842 (e.g. 4ft. 8-in. long, 9lbs. 9oz., 17.8mm/.70 caliber)
    At 200 meters, shooting at a 2m x 1m target, spherical ball scored 35% hits, while the original French Nessler scored 60% hits. The Model 1857 minnie was reportedly 78.33% at that range.
    Another 100 meters out, using the same target, the spherical ball had 25% hits, while the Nessler (the one with the hollow base) was at 43.33% hits, and the minnie at 63.33%. At 400 meters, and a bigger target, 2m x 2m square,no record at all for the spherical ball, and 38.33% for the Nessler ball. The source lists 43.33% hits for the minnie at this range, but I think this is mistaken, and is an error where the number for the Nessler from the preceding column was that number. At 500 meters the minnie was still 51.67% and all the way out to 550m on a 2m x 3m target, the French test concluded 40% for the minnie.

    3. Mle. 1854 Imperial Guard rifle musket—17.8mm/.70 cal. (1.42m/4ft. 7-in. long, with a 1.03m/3ft 4-1/2-in. barrel rifled with four progressive-depth grooves, typically loaded with 4.5grams/69 grains of powder backing a skirted 36gram/554-grain Minié ball).

    I've got some lead and I'm ready to start casting some of the replica "Type II" NC state so-called "Neslers" I'll have to try different powder charges. My understanding is that the service charge for the .69 cal. conical bullet was 70 grains of powder, while the undersized .65 cal. spherical ball used 110 grains.
     
    RAEDWALD likes this.
  16. Nov 24, 2019 #16

    DaveC

    DaveC

    DaveC

    32 Cal. MLF Supporter

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2009
    Messages:
    333
    Likes Received:
    159
    Location:
    San Antonio, Texas
    Hey now. "everyone needs a hobby." ;):rolleyes:
     
  17. Nov 24, 2019 #17

    RAEDWALD

    RAEDWALD

    RAEDWALD

    40 Cal.

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2012
    Messages:
    385
    Likes Received:
    95
    There is a good handle on the Balle Nessler and it's virtues and limitations. BTW both the Nessler and spherical ball above have the paper thickness to be added to their diameter when comparing them to the bore.

    The North Carolina 'Nessler' really has no similarity and must be judged on it's own. I remain dubious that it does obturate on firing via the groove (a la Wilkinson/Lorenz) and I expect it to tumble but that is a personal untested surmise. The performance of the real Nessler is no guide to that of the North Carolina.

    The main thing is to say thank you to Stan for going to the trouble to try things out and reporting them publicly.
     
    DaveC likes this.
  18. Nov 24, 2019 #18

    Stantheman86

    Stantheman86

    Stantheman86

    32 Cal. MLF Supporter

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2018
    Messages:
    988
    Likes Received:
    310
    400 meters, 0 hits for a round ball vs 43% for a Nessler seems like the Nessler carries farther than a round ball. Even if the round ball can be lobbed out to 400m , it doesn't hit anything with any kind of accuracy.

    Even if these NC Nesslers are less effective than the real Nessler, they are still more effective than round balls.

    That's pretty much 100% of the advantage of them is they maintain usable accuracy farther than a round ball. Round balls just bleed off energy and veer off into random directions.
     
  19. Nov 24, 2019 #19

    Stantheman86

    Stantheman86

    Stantheman86

    32 Cal. MLF Supporter

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2018
    Messages:
    988
    Likes Received:
    310
    My range closes for rifle Deer Season but if I get real bored this winter I'll set up some paper bad guys and shoot my remaining NC Nesslers and Foster slugs out to 300 yards. I'll try some round balls too.
     
  20. Nov 25, 2019 #20

    dave951

    dave951

    dave951

    40 cal - b

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2019
    Messages:
    229
    Likes Received:
    134
    I'd be game to try one in 685 with no paper patching. I can understand the desire to be authentic with paper, but that's a nonstarter in NSSA competition.
     

Share This Page



arrow_white