Smoothbore vs Rifling

Discussion in 'Smoothbore' started by TheTyler7011, Jan 11, 2020.

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  1. Jan 11, 2020 #1

    TheTyler7011

    TheTyler7011

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    I have never owned a long rifle, though I would like to get one. What I am familiar with is .75 cal and .69 cal smoothbore’s, I have a repros of military weapons. Pretty easy to load and shoot

    It’s obvious that the rifles are slower than the smoothbore (to load), my question is why? Is the procedure different? Is it harder to pack a ball in a rifled muzzle? What differences are their?
     
  2. Jan 11, 2020 #2

    Kansas Kid

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    If you’re patching the ball on both I don’t see any difference in loading them.
     
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  3. Jan 11, 2020 #3

    TheTyler7011

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    but I thought I was universally understood that they weren’t regularly used because they took longer to load than smoothbores ?
     
  4. Jan 11, 2020 #4

    Coot

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    Military muskets were typically shooting unpatched balls which allowed speed in loading (= higher volume of fire) at the expense of accuracy. With a rifle, the tighter the patch/ball combo, the harder (+slower) to load as the load first had to be centered over the bore (center the patch or alternately take the extra step to cut at the muzzle), then started & then pushed hand over hand down the barrel. As I recall, several period references mention 3 musket shots to 1 rifle shot in the same amount of time. Introduction of the minie ball changed all this.
     
  5. Jan 11, 2020 #5

    JB67

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    Smoothbores are more forgiving of differences in ball size, and a smoothbore can be loaded like a shotgun with smaller shot.
     
  6. Jan 12, 2020 #6

    TheTyler7011

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    Can you explain to me why the Minie ball changed that? Because I’d imagine the tolerances were still the same.

    Also, why is powder fowling not a thing in rifles? Because smoothbore, each shot is tighter and tighter due to being shot. Whereas if that was the case with rifles you couldn’t use them.
    Thanks for the info, trying to learn
     
  7. Jan 12, 2020 #7

    Coot

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    The minie is slightly under bore size & is loaded without any patch. Goes down quick & easy for much faster loading than a patched roundball. The minie has a skirt that expends when it is fired, thus engaging the rifling so you get loading speed similar to a smoothbore musket but accuracy like a rifle.
     
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  8. Jan 12, 2020 #8

    Grenadier1758

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    Powder fouling is present on rifles as well as in smooth bores.

    Rifles use a patch to grip the ball and engage in the rifling. Because the patch and bell are a much tighter fit and when loading, the patch is compressed along the lands and into the grooves. This is much slower than sliding a lubricated paper cartridge down the bore.

    Minies don't require a patch. The skirt expands to engage the rifling and the rifling applies spin to the minie as it is shot. The grease bands tend to scrape fouling from the barrel. A minie fired in a smoothbore will require the skirt to expand, but since there is no rifling, there is no spin. You get the benefit of having the bore sealed, but there is no stabilizing spin so there is less performance accuracy than if a minie is used in a rifled musket. You may get a little more range than shooting a smooth ball from a smooth bore. you will also have a more extreme rainbow trajectory due to the extra weight of the minie ball.

    With a smooth bore you get speed of reloading, but the loose ball is not particularly accurate.

    With a rifled musket shooting minie balls, you get the advantage of ability to reload quickly. The properly fitted minie ball will engage the rifling and have reasonably good accuracy.

    A rifle firing a patched round ball is slow to reload, but the rifle will have the best accuracy.
     
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  9. Jan 12, 2020 #9

    No Deer

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    Actually it is a bigger problem with a rifle than with a smoothbore. As the fouling increases in a rifle, it becomes more difficult to ram a ball down, and after x number of shots (I say x number because it varies from gun to gun depending on multiple factors) it becomes almost impossible to load. At this point you need to stop and clean the bore. This is not a good thing if you are in a battle and your life is depending on getting it loaded and shot. Smoothbores are a little more forgiving of the fouling and don't seem to cause as much problem loading when the fouling increases.
     
  10. Jan 12, 2020 #10

    Grenadier1758

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    Even in smoothbore, fouling can become a major factor effecting reloading.

    In a relatively recent Woods Walk, my team firing Land Pattern Muskets, okay, smooth bored Brown Besses, went from one station where we had all fired one shot. As we walked to the next station, I was the only one who used the damp tow on a string to wipe some fouling from the bore before reloading. At the next station we had about 6 targets each and a limited time to engage the targets. After the second shot and powder was poured from the cartridge, I would spit on the paper wrapped ball. I could feel fouling trying to grab the ball, but loading was relatively easy. Other members of my team were relying on the loose fit to allow the ball to be rammed home. By the third to the fifth shot, two members had balls stuck so tightly in the fouling that they were no longer able to shoot. We had to use the steel rammers and a solid object to seat the ball before eventually firing to clear the musket.

    The point here is that when shooting, fouling is always something to be considered and addressed as part of the shooting regimen.

    One method is the wipe with a damp patch between shots. Be sure to use a method that doesn't push fouling deeper into the breech and flash channel.

    Another method used an over powder card and a very damp patch on a round ball to remove fouling.

    Of course, there is the slightly undersized minie ball with greased lubricating bands and expanding skirts to carry fouling out with the shot.
     
  11. Jan 12, 2020 #11

    JB67

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    A patched ball does several things. Besides creating a gas seal and gropping the ball to impart spin, the lube helps keep fouling soft so the next round loads easier. The patch also wipes some of the fouling as it loads.
     
  12. Jan 12, 2020 #12

    tenngun

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    If’n you work fast you can get a shot every fifteen seconds from a flint musket. I’ve seen Ted Spring shoot seven a minute and kept it up for almost four minutes.
    I’ve loaded a rifle from a bag in twenty five seconds. Realistically a minute in a half or even two is more common.
    At about the same time minies came around caps came around. Instead of priming from the cartridge was replaced by picking the cap out of a leather cap box,and sticking it on the nipple. Some boys shooting for the NSSA get real fast, but I think on average minnie shooters shot slower then musketmen. While still faster then patched ball.
    However time counts.
    Hitting a line of men with a musket beyond a hundred yards becomes a waste of lead. The time it takes for a line to cross a hundred yards is twenty to twentyfive seconds. Shooting at them with a musket you can shoot every fifteen seconds gets you two volleies at the enemy.
    A minie will shoot as well at three hundred yards as a musket at a hundred. Even slower rate of fire you could still get five or six vollies fired on a line trying to cross three hundred yards.
    I’m just a couple of miles from Wilson creek battle field, and have walked that ground a bit. Much of the fighting took place at that same old hundred yard range.
    I was there watching a demo one year. Amongst the southern soldiers men were armed with their own guns. There were shotguns,some Hall breechloaders some’ modern’ rifled muskets. All seem to have been cap guns. I THINK that had I been facing that enemy I would want my smoothies in flint and paper cartridges on that field.
     
  13. Jan 12, 2020 #13

    Britsmoothy

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    My shots are as easy to load at shot #20 as it is at shot #1. I don't know what I am doing wrong and neither do I wish to know?
     
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  14. Jan 12, 2020 #14

    appalichian hunter

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    Hi Brit, do you shoot mostly shot or round ball, I would think a smoothbore shooting mainly shot loads would hold out longer until fowling becomes a problem. As to the original posters question I will wipe the bore with a spit patch about every 3 shots in the rifled guns. This has worked well for me, Fowling has not been a problem even when hunting. Now the .32 when hunting squirrel's will be wiped about every 2 shots. I Believe a lot depends on the cal. of the weapon smaller bore less room for fowling to accumulate. I would think the same holds true for the larger bore rifles , a .62 cal. vs. a .50 cal. more room also the type of riling for example round bottom vs. square bottom. As to the previous statements if going into a line to fight modern tactics vs. line tactics of days past history shows when rifled muskets were deployed the causality rate went up. Shooting a smooth bore vs. a rifled bore is a cat of a different color but with a bit of attention either will perform well, where the rifle shines is the distance factor.
     
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  15. Jan 12, 2020 #15

    Stantheman86

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    I can load my 1816 Percussion conversion smoothbore with paper cartridges (.648 ball) as many times and as fast as my .58 rifle-muskets with .575 Minies in paper cartridges . The slight edge goes to the smoothbore. I've had no problem getting 50 rounds out with both. I even play with Nessler Balls in my Smoothbore .

    Now, fooling around with loose powder and patched balls like a Kentucky rifle is a whole different ballgame.

    For pure range enjoyment I honestly prefer my Smoothbores. You're just not gonna hit much past 80-100 yards.
     
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  16. Jan 13, 2020 #16

    Stantheman86

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    Here's me using Pritchett cartridges with a Parker-Hale Musketoon.....probably the fastest loading combination you're going to get with anything that loads from the muzzle. The super short barrel makes loading even easier.

    The only thing I have that loads from the front that is faster, by a small margin, would be the Harper's Ferry percussion pistol I just bought from a member here, with cartridges you can get maybe 5 rounds a minute out , maybe 6 if you were really fast with your hands and had a capper.
     
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  17. Jan 13, 2020 #17

    No Deer

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    With my trade gun I have shot our 22 station woodswalk, gone to our trap range and shot a round (10 birds), and then went to the line range and shot about 10 shots. Did not swab the barrel once the whole time, and never had a problem loading. When using round ball in target shooting I use spit patch, so I think that helps keep the fouling to a minimum.
     
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  18. Jan 13, 2020 #18

    Loyalist Dave

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    That was ONE factor, and it is correct...,

    The second factor, depending on the conflict, was that after several shots, time had to be taken for the rifleman to swab the bore...,
    THEN the third factor was that the rifles, being civilian hunting weapons, were not normally fitted for bayonets, and the military mind-set of the time in many cases, was that the musket was a spear-that-shoots, NOT a gun with a pig-sticker on the end as we see rifles and muskets with bayonets, today.

    Along came a change in the 19th century for the change allowed the average soldier to have a rifled musket,... meaning the spear-that-shoots has a bayonet, AND it has rifling, allowing more accurate fire at greater distances..., and add the Minie Ball you get the full improvement, for you get rid of one some of the loading procedure of the patched round ball and thus get faster reloads.

    So more death at a faster speed....ah the mantra of most infantry warfare "improvements". :thumb:

    LD
     
  19. Jan 13, 2020 #19

    Stantheman86

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    Many "casual observers" of muzzleloading totally overlook the whole "Minie paper cartridge " or Pritchett concept and just picture guys in battle with powder flasks and patched balls because that's what Poppy uses at the range before deer season.

    Also with Smoothbores, a guy at my range was fascinated that I was using choked off round ball cartridges like I invented something , I'm like, this is 300+ year old technology sir.......
     
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  20. Jan 13, 2020 #20

    hanshi

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    I fire patched ball in both rifles and smoothbores. This means a smoothbore will take about as long to load as a rifle; but I prefer the fine accuracy plus I don't have to worry about a bayonet charge. With the right patch/lube many shots can be fired from a rifle, at least, before fouling becomes an issue in loading.
     
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