Discussion in 'Flintlock Rifles' started by GriscomRun, Jan 10, 2019.
Curious about members experiences. Does a swamped barrel shoot as accurate as a straight barrel ?
I don't notice a difference between them off the bench. Swamped is better balanced off hand in my rifles.
I never owned one or inletted one. Shouldered a few and vey nice. The most important is just how good they looked. Nothing looks as good and balanced and ‘organic’ as swamped.
I own both straight and swamped. Yes, the longer 42” swamped barrels that I own balance better but 38” straight barrels are front heavy and just sit solid on the target when I’m shooting off hand ( my preferred way of shooting ). Thus, I enjoy both but the straight barrels get my nod for accuracy!
I am a pretty good shot. I often post photos of targets I shot with rifles I built attesting to that. I notice no difference in my accuracy when shooting straight or swamped barrels. Having said that, there are some, particularly bench rest and chunk shooters who suggest barrel "harmonics" are better with straight barrels because barrel wall thickness is even over the length of the barrel. Supposedly, that improves accuracy. I have no data to support or dispute that and am willing to bow to others' experiences. On the other hand, the muzzle weight issue is a red herring because there are plenty of swamped barrels with heavy muzzles owing to the flare at the muzzle. Moreover, you can build a gun with a swamped barrel that has muzzle weight, a wide breech for good stock architecture, and yet it does not weigh a ton like a straight barrel with same breech dimensions. In addition, that gun will carry better during hunting because of better balance.
I do think for pure consistent accuracy the straight barrel would outshoot a swamped barrel, everything else being equal. Like Dave, I have no data to support my statement but I'm sure with a little research I could find it. Which one, in the hand, is more shootable? That is so much more complicated and subjective. It would depend on simple things like stature, overall fitness, and so many other variables and perceptions.
Once you have had the opportunity to hold and shoot a rifle with a swamped barrel, you will be hard pressed to go back to a straight sided barrel.
My .75 cal. Jaeger has a swamped barrel of 42", it is surprisingly pleasant to hold off hand, also a friend is building a .40 cal. rifle with a 38" swamped barrel. It feels like a fly rod.
Before you buy or make a rifle, try and hold a rifle with a swamped barrel. See if you are comfortable with it.
Good advise given me in the late 60s was to watch the top performers (not just one) and learn what they do. Not just equipment but how they practice, prepare mentally and physically. Applies to golf, business, racing, etc.
My informal survey of top offhand shooters done over 30+ years at National Territorials, several other large state/ regional matches and recently on 2 trips to Friendship rfound a swamped barrel was used by only 1 shooter.
Certainly not a comprehensive or scientific poll but I feel that More of those “X hunters” would have been shooting swamped barrels if there were an advantage.
For years I shot Pedersoli rifles because nothing else was to be had... Some rifles, like the Kentucky were light and comfortable to shoot. The last Pedersoli I bought was the Frontier ... This gun was much longer and therefore more muzzle heavy. But I did not bother about it because I did not know any better. Two years back my wife presented me with a VERY nice gift because I became a pensioner... So I ordered a nice TVM gun with a 42" swamped barrel. Although this gun was longer then my Pedersoli Frontier it was much lighter and very much more in balance ! I loved it from the moment I unpacked it! The Pedersoli is in the gun safe now ... For the rest I guess personnel preference comes into it too... A fellow shooter handled my swamped barreled gun and didn't like it - he prefers heavier - muzzle heavier - guns ... To each his own I guess ?
I don't doubt your impression but of course years ago, the best barrel makers like Bill Large mainly made straight barrels. I suspect a lot of the choices are about the barrel maker rather than straight or swamped only. Regardless, I know of one NMLRA champion shooter who uses a swamped barrel because I made his gun.
Swamped barrels make guns feel "delightful" and beautifully balanced. A rifle with a swamped barrel makes the best all around rifle for everything from targets to (especially) hunting. I've never noticed a difference in the accuracy of one over the other. Having said that, The best shooting offhand rifles have, IMHO, straight barrels. The better offhand accuracy is due to the rock solid "hang" of the straight barrel rather than any inherent difference in precision.
I don't know if one style of barrel is inherently more accurate but I find a swamped barrel gives me a steadier hold when shooting off hand. But with my level of marksmanship, maybe average, the difference on the target is not huge. However, as I get older I'll take any help I can get.
I have a Pedersoli Mortimer. It has an 36 inch octogon to round barrel, bit it is still front heavy, and overall heavy at 10+ pounds. It never misfires, and is very quick to bang. I hunted it last season and it was unconfortable at the end of every day. This year I switched to a TVM early Virginia with a 42 inch swamped Rice 54 caliber barrel. It seems to carry so much better, even though it is 8 1/2 pounds. It holds as steady as the Mortimer and after a long hunt, I think I could place a better shot with the swamped barrel.
I plan on having a 36 inch swamped barrel built this year. I think 7.5 pounds would be a dream. Personally I don't want anything but swamped.
I have built one rifle with a swamped barrel-all the rest are straight. I have competed and won matches with all of them at one time or another. The highest score I ever shot was with the 42", B weight, swamped barrel. The rifle is a joy to pick up and shoulder. I suspect it is no more or less accurate than my straight barreled rifles, but it is a lot more comfortable to hold and maybe that accounted for the high score.
I agree with the post above. If you are going to be carrying a rifle all day in the field, a swamped barrel is absolutely the best way to go. If you are only shooting at line matches, I don't think there is much difference between the two.
Swamped barrels offer more balance and can make a rifle's overall weight slightly lighter.
Straight barrels naturally have a straight tapper; and are thicker and heavier. Theoretically thicker barrels can withstand larger charges for penetrating power; but not a very significant overall benefit to accuracy.
Straight barrels that naturally have taper are called "tapered barrels". The only thick part that is important for large charges is the breech, the rest can be quite light.
I would think the thickness in the middle would have a great impact on the rifling depth.
Many civil war muskets were converted from smooth to rifled if the thickness of the barrel could support it.
Swamped barrel designs are of course not military. Just a thought.
Thickness of the barrel isn't relevant to rifling depth.
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