Realistic accuracy expectations

Discussion in 'Flintlock Rifles' started by jstamper, Jul 18, 2019.

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  1. Aug 19, 2019 #61

    hanshi

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    When I'm shooting really bad (most of the time), I know there's a loose screw behind the butt plate.
     
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  2. Aug 20, 2019 #62

    Noah Hathorne

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    I've been wondering about this topic and I'm glad it's being discussed. I get frustrated with my flintlock shooting ability sometimes. Follow through is tough when you don't get quick ignition.
    I keep looking at the accuracy that was expected in the 18th century. Flint long rifles were made to hit deer or man sized targets at least to 300 yards. Morgan's rifleman needed to be able to hit a head sized shingle at 200 yards to join. Given the exponential growth of the groups spoken of from 50-100 yards I would say we wouldn't make the team! LOL.
    The tiny front sights on original rifles seem to confirm that the rifles were sighted at farther ranges unless they weren't loading them very hot, which is doubtful considering the barrel lengths that were common, and the fact that rifles weren't meant for close range work. When it comes to minute of man or deer, a smooth bore can do that at 50-100 yards and given their versatility, I'll be switching over if I can't expect more from a rifle. I can't help but strive for better accuracy with a rifle considering their history.
     
  3. Aug 20, 2019 #63

    Zonie

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    I don't know where you got those figures about the accuracy of guns in the 18th century but I don't agree with any of them. I could be wrong but they look like something some author dreamed up to make his book exciting.

    Although there were a few exceptional shots made during several wars where roundball shooting guns did make kills at very long ranges, they were all just a matter of luck. Not something that was expected to happen every time a marksman fired his gun.

    A .54 caliber ball fired from a rifle sighted in for 100 yards will be hitting almost 4 feet low at 200 yards. At 300 yards, the same rifle will be hitting 15 feet 3 inches low.

    I agree that a smoothbore can shoot almost as accurately at 50 yards as a rifle but at 100 yards there is no comparison at all to what a rifle is capable of.

    Part of shooting old traditional guns is accepting their limitations and learning to do the best you can with your rifle. It isn't easy with a flintlock but when you've mastered putting up with the slow ignition and ignoring the flash and following thru with each shot your group size will come down. Perhaps not to the idealistic figures you quoted but to something that is very satisfying and acceptable to most shooters.
    I know there are flintlock shooters who can hold 2 inch groups at 100 yards so the guns are capable.
    ( As with all muzzleloaders, getting this kind of accuracy requires first finding out what the most accurate load for that particular gun is. That takes a lot of shooting while resting your elbows on a solid bench. I suggest starting at 50 yards striving for a 1 inch group for 5 shots.)

    Have fun. :)
     
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  4. Aug 20, 2019 #64

    tenngun

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    In 1775 one Virginian was said to leave urbanites in Cambridge Mass goggle eyed by putting eight shots in to a 5x7 inch shingle at sixty yards.
    One company able to hit a 7 inch disk at two hundred yards means you had to find a company that could focus on a seven inch disk at that range. This was a day before corrected vision was widely available.
    I think amazing shots got better in memory then in reality.
    With a full choke unmentionable I took a dove on the wing at over seventy yards, but I don’t think that would be a regular activity.
     
  5. Aug 20, 2019 #65

    Darkhorse

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    You can't judge rifle accuracy if the shooter has not the skill to shoot a flintlock rifle well. Judging from Noah's post this is exactly his problem. I wonder why he assumes to get better accuracy from a flintlock smoothbore than from a rifle? The same challenges exist for both as both are flintlocks.
    Attached is the only 10 shot target I've recorded at 25 yards. First off that red bull is smaller than 1 inch across in the real world. Second, is that once the aiming point has been shot out, then accuracy suffers from then on as you no longer have the same exact point to aim at.
    This post was about "Realistic Accuracy Expectations" and in 2 posts I've given examples of what I expect. Others may expect something else. It all depends on the riflemans skill and the rifle.

    [​IMG]
     
  6. Aug 21, 2019 #66

    Barry Strickland

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    Very interesting thread and comments. Some of you boys should go to the National round ball bench rest championships in Friendship, Indiana. You can show those "pro" shooters using those 30 to 70 pound bench guns how to shoot. It has not been heavily commented on but take a look at the external ballistics tables. For instance using a .530 round ball with a muzzle velocity of 1600 FPS a five MPH crosswind will drift the ball 5.8" off point of aim at 100 yards. That is not even considering if it is a quartering wind where it can be high or low also. And don't forget mirage. I am sure some of you have been to Friendship and looked at the benchrest range with the sea of wind flags there. It is not unusual to see the flags moving in three different directions between you and the targets at 100 Yards. Comments?
     
  7. Aug 21, 2019 #67

    Howard Pippin

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    I too am amazed as what is expected out of the muzzleloaders for accuracy, when it used to be a 30-30 lever action was considered adequate If it would keep the shots in a 6 inch bull at 100 yards. Hard for me to believe that that was that much of an inferior gun to a round ball in front of black powder with a delayed ignition system. The whole thing seems like a mythical approach, if six-inch accuracy at 100 yards will kill deer, I'm certain my three-inch groups at 50 yards will do the same. It is fun seeing what weight changes in powder will do to accuracy. I discovered years ago that it did affect hand loading but not to the same extent. There's a good chance it's because you can't vary smokeless in most rifle to the same degree, And the difference was, it might open up a group by a half or 3/4 inch. That wasn't enough to get my hackles up either.
    We use two flags at the range where I shoot, they have wind socks on them and propellers. There probably 50 yards apart and they are hardly ever doing the same thing at the same time. Perhaps we all need an inside range? I admit I used to do my load testing at night with lights on my chronograph to be able to shoot practically wind free. Old age has tempered that.
    Squint
     
  8. Aug 21, 2019 #68

    Noah Hathorne

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    I didn't say that I get better accuracy from a smoothbore as opposed to a rifle. I was commenting on the distances that people are settling for in regards to their rifle shooting being within that of smooth bores for the most part, i.e. 25-70 yards. No one has to believe anything I say but you would be ignoring the historical record.
    Some of the references for my expectations for a rifle are as follows:
    https://historicfloridamilitia.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/the-rifle-in-the-american-revolution.pdf
    https://www.americanrevolution.org/murphy.php
    http://riflemantrainingtargets.com/morgan_shingles.html
    Gunsmith of Colonial Williamsburg- video 1969, comment during rifling process
    Gunsmith of Grenville County, pg. 365 and also pgs.16-19 where he quotes Lacrosse who wrote "The Frontier Rifleman.
    The Gunsmith's Manual-pg 293
    Mike Beliveau wrote an interesting article in the March/April issue of Muzzleloader and has an accompanying YouTube video worth watching.Very interesting how his main plinking load for close range opened up at 100 yards. He then increased the load to 110 grains which shrunk the group in half! This was about 6 minutes into the video.

    This same phenomenon happens with modern rifles as well. A 100 yard load may open up MOA wise at any range beyond that. I think we need to get out of the "muzzle loading rifles are only good to 100 yards" box. In 1775 riflemen were able to place their shots in a seven inch circle at 250 yards. Exhibitions where held where one man would hold a five inch board between his knees with a dollar sized bulls eye in the middle of it at 60 yards. Other men would shoot the bulls eye repeatedly. This was a sure thing and well documented.
    All this talk about six inch groups at 100 yards being the norm would make me feel better about my shooting if I didn't know better. If you can't see very good and or are totally happy with being able to shoot a deer within 100 yards that's totally fine, but it's not a measure of the capabilities a rifle.
     
  9. Aug 21, 2019 #69

    Noah Hathorne

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    I didn't say that I get better accuracy from a smoothbore as opposed to a rifle. I was commenting on the distances that people are settling for in regards to their rifle shooting being within that of smooth bores for the most part, i.e. 25-70 yards. No one has to believe anything I say but you would be ignoring the historical record.
    Some of the references for my expectations for a rifle are as follows:
    https://historicfloridamilitia.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/the-rifle-in-the-american-revolution.pdf
    https://www.americanrevolution.org/murphy.php
    http://riflemantrainingtargets.com/morgan_shingles.html
    Gunsmith of Colonial Williamsburg- video 1969, comment during rifling process
    Gunsmith of Grenville County, pg. 365 and also pgs.16-19 where he quotes Lacrosse who wrote "The Frontier Rifleman.
    The Gunsmith's Manual-pg 293
    Mike Beliveau wrote an interesting article in the March/April issue of Muzzleloader and has an accompanying YouTube video worth watching.Very interesting how his main plinking load for close range opened up at 100 yards. He then increased the load to 110 grains which shrunk the group in half! This was about 6 minutes into the video.

    This same phenomenon happens with modern rifles as well. A 100 yard load may open up MOA wise at any range beyond that. I think we need to get out of the "muzzle loading rifles are only good to 100 yards" box. In 1775 riflemen were able to place their shots in a seven inch circle at 250 yards. Exhibitions where held where one man would hold a five inch board between his knees with a dollar sized bulls eye in the middle of it at 60 yards. Other men would shoot the bulls eye repeatedly. This was a sure thing and well documented.
    All this talk about six inch groups at 100 yards being the norm would make me feel better about my shooting if I didn't know better. If you can't see very good and or are totally happy with being able to shoot a deer within 100 yards that's totally fine, but it's not a measure of the capabilities a rifle.
     
  10. Aug 21, 2019 #70

    Zonie

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    Speaking of a cross wind, using the .53 diameter ball and 1600 fps muzzle velocity and a 5 mph cross wind, those figures I mentioned at 200 and 300 yards the ball will also be blown off of the line of site, 20 1/2" at 200 yards and almost 4 feet at 300 yards.

    Like I said, those super long shots where some marksman hit his victim at 300 yards was all a matter of luck.
     
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  11. Aug 21, 2019 #71

    Pete G

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    .......and no wind.;)
     
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  12. Aug 21, 2019 #72

    Sun City

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    "In 1775 riflemen were able to place their shots in a seven inch circle at 250 yards."

    For many years I was able to compete against some of the best riflemen in this world shooting offhand at 200 yards on a 12" bull and then a 13" bull and it is my opinion that the statement as typed above is equal to the remains of what is emitted from a bears backside after eating a pile of corn; especially so if the position was offhand!
     
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  13. Aug 21, 2019 #73

    Rudyard

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    I have followed these posts with interest, I have seen the video , I have no reason to doubt the integrity of the shooters . Clearly they are experienced and have done a lot of experiments . I do tend to doubt historical accounts its the nature of the beast to exaggerate and given the conditions of weather, range judging, and all the variable factors that would affect such shooting .that any consistant presision is most unlikely, Though the shooter is definetly' in the hunt' for possible hits .Col George Hanger recounts a similar incident he witnessed as the intended target in a calm valley dureing the Revolt War and certainly if a number of skilled riflemen shot. The opposition would be certainly' in hazzard' or put off . So yes it could happen with luck & skill but far more unlikely as a reliable constancy.. Whatever a bear might do .

    As an aside I have been supprised at the raggety groups some nitro rifle shooters put up at 100 yards when I have outshot them with flintlocks .All the tecnowledgy hangs as much on the shooter then as now . Rudyard
     
  14. Aug 22, 2019 #74

    Darkhorse

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    I would love to do some bench rest shooting in a few matches a year, I enjoyed shooting matches when I was serious about it but it has been over 30 years since I've attended one. One problem is I don't know the rules for bench rest shooting so if someone knows them please pass them along. I'm mainly a hunter and I shoot most of my game under 50 yards where wind is not an issue, but I do know some about wind and also about using those wind flags.
     
  15. Aug 22, 2019 #75

    Rockvillerich

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    My first time in competition at Friendship was a humbling experience indeed. Managed to not embarrass myself the second time out after a huge amount of trigger time, and some coaching from a few of the range heroes. Truth is a properly made flintlock is just as accurate offhand as any modern rifle at 50 yards. Its the shooter that makes the most difference.
     
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  16. Aug 22, 2019 #76

    smo

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    Dark horse, Google the NMLRA web site.

    You should find what your looking for there.

    I think the small bench rest flintlock shoots are what you’re looking for..

    Different matches have different rules as you know...the light bench gun if memory serves me is under 14 lbs and type of sight used depends on the match...
     
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  17. Aug 22, 2019 #77

    Howard Pippin

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    It wasn't my intention to imply that a 6 inch group at a 100 yards is a normal. I was referring to what was acceptable accuracy, in the 1950's, according to a Winchester spokesman about what would pass for a 3030 rifle lever action with open sights. I never shoot at 100 yards with my flintlock, so I don't know how good I could do. I surely wish no bad luck to those that consistently do well at that range, or even further. I do shoot my deer at 50 yards or less. I want to be sure of a good hit with iron sights and glasses and I do enjoy the chance to try and get close. I have scope shot deer, with a modern rifle, at 550 yards. I don't think that should be done. Just a slight breeze will only injure. I too lost some game in my younger years because I thought I could make a killing shot when it didn't happen, and once a wounded deer gets on his feet, It can travel and amazing long distance. I agree with Zonie, I hardly ever can hunt When there's no wind and round balls are not the best wind-buckers.
    There's about 10 or 12 of us that shoot together, mainly cap locks with three Flintlocks at times. Shooting over a plank and a 50 yard turkey, I have yet to see anything less then a 2.5 Inch group for 10 shots, And probably 4 inch groups, in 10 shots, are more common. It seems there is always one or two flyers That messed up the whole group. I won't tell you how just how poor the 50 yard offhand turkey shoot does. Just use a little imagination.
     
  18. Aug 23, 2019 #78

    wiksmo

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    Just found this thread tonight, and enjoyed reading all the posts. In particular, I liked what Sawyer said -- "...cantaloupe coverage with a 50 caliber." I just have to consider and translate the shooting distances, because I shoot a .50 CAL cap & ball pistol. Still, the considerations for rifle shooting accuracy were most interesting. :thumb:


     
  19. Aug 23, 2019 #79

    SDSmlf

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    Never hunted cantaloupe.
     
  20. Aug 23, 2019 #80

    Big Rviers

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    Nothing for me is more satisfying then wringing maximum accuracy from my muzzle loaders. Some days it can be a daunting task just to get the hits on the paper let alone a decent group. But if it was easy then what would the fun be? The group shown here is the results of several months of shooting, frustration even some swearing. But when it all finally comes together it feels real good. That's shots 2-3-4-5-6 of seven (yep 2 flyers) at 50 yards from my new Bedford County .54 caliber longrifle. 70 grains of FFFg. Now that the load is working, some file and sweat work to zero at 100 yards. Just a side comment about the posts about the accuracy of the frontiersmen with their long rifle in the past. These were men who carried a rifle and probably shot every day to feed themselves and protect their families. They knew and understood the capabilities of their rifles better then we know our right hands so I suspect if they say they could hit a man in the head at 250 yards they would.
    69206144_484807048980715_8301147905914306560_n.jpg
     

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