Using Nessler Balls?

Discussion in 'Smoothbore' started by Stantheman86, May 13, 2019.

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  1. May 13, 2019 #1

    Stantheman86

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    I just ordered 60 "South Carolina Nessler Balls" from Old South Firearms, for my Pedersoli 1816 Springfield percussion conversion.

    Do these have to be loaded with a paper cartridge i.e. "paper patch" or can you just drop them in?

    Also, do they have to be sized?
     
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  2. May 14, 2019 #2

    RAEDWALD

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    JFI. These are reproductions of what was called a Nessler by South Carolina but is in no way an actual Nessler Ball which was a very different design. No criticism of Old South Firearms. It appears to be a fine reproduction of the bullet of South Carolina. I have no knowledge of the loading method for these balls. I should be interested to hear of their performance.
     
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  3. May 14, 2019 #3

    Smokey Plainsman

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    “Go henceforth, men, and give them a volley of Nesslers!”

    -Unidentified Comfederate General
     
  4. May 14, 2019 #4

    Loyalist Dave

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    I think those are approximations or are confused with the actual bullets that are the Nesslers.
    I think they were going for this:
    BULLET CROSS SECTiON NESSLER 2.jpg

    Here is another cross section from a German manual, actually labelling the bullet a "Nesler". It's a bit different from the first illustration:
    BULLET CROSS SECTIONS NESSLER.jpg
    Both seem to have the triangle opening in the skirt.
    As for loading here appears to be an illustration showing the bullet loaded into a rifled barrel, with no patching of any sort.
    BULLET CROSS SECTION LOADED.jpg
    Now I've seen an ad saying that the Belgians developed the Nessler to give their smooth bore muskets more range and accuracy. Yet I haven't found any reference upon which such a claim could be made (but I'm not well versed on imported Confederate arms or ammo). Yet the illustration I did find shows a clearly rifled barrel, and I wonder if historians confused "musket" and "rifled musket" in old documents ?

    LD
     
  5. May 14, 2019 #5

    tenngun

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    ???, just wondering here. Would that give an ‘arrow stablity’ To a smooth bore? A projectile that’s heavy on one end and light on the other tend to fly straight (er). Arrows and spears sans fletching paper airplanes ect use that principle.
     
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  6. May 14, 2019 #6

    Sidney Smith

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    I'd bet it would fly straighter than a round ball without a spin set to it, but probably nowhere near as accurate as a ball or minie spun by rifling. The old Foster shotgun slugs were developed for the same reason, to give a bit more accuracy to a smoothbore. It helped some but leaves a lot to be desired.
     
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  7. May 14, 2019 #7

    RAEDWALD

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    Whilst Captain Nessler also went on to design expanding balls for rifled arms as above, the 'Nessler Ball' he invented was for smooth bore muskets as below:
    Crimean-Fr-Ness.jpg Crimean-Russ-Ness.jpg Crimean-Sard-Ness.jpg
    They were contained in a paper cartridge loaded as the British Enfield (which copied French practice). i.e. the powder end was opened and poured down the barrel then the cartridge was reversed and the whole cartridge inserted until the (hollow end down) ball was in the barrel. Then the excess was torn off and discarded. The ball (in it's wax dipped paper) was rammed to the charge.

    I only mentioned the hollow expanding base Nessler Ball proper to avoid confusion between it and the South Carolina ball which is a flat based solid with a grease groove and merely uses the same name. Their only similarity is that they were both intended for smooth bore muskets.

    What the actual Nessler Ball did was to provide drag stability so that it could cope better than a spherical ball in the unstable trans sonic speed range which is where spherical balls lose stability. No better at shorter ranges but would give superior accuracy at longer ranges. Much used in the Crimean War by both sides but it quickly faded away as their muskets were replaced by rifle muskets.
     
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  8. May 14, 2019 #8

    Stantheman86

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    For about $50 for 60 of them they could be something fun to play around with.

    I don't have a sizer for this caliber so hopefully none of them are oversized.

    People who shoot them say they are less accurate than a round ball at 100 yards or so but retain usable accuracy (read: combat accurate for the period) out to 300 where a round ball quickly loses accuracy.

    Given their use out of a musket with no real sights , I can see that these might give some kind of usable range for volley fire from smoothbores.

    I'll try them and report back. I can maybe go for some steel targets at 200.

    Depending on their size I might make them up into cartridges.

    The pervading theory about these Nessler balls is that they were came into popularity in the 1850s with the French, Russians etc during the transition from smoothbore to rifled muskets, more so to give soldiers the psychological assurance of having "bullets" in paper cartridges like their rifle armed peers, so they didn't feel they had obsolete or inferior arms.

    In all reality , for poorly trained conscripts they were probably just as capable with a round ball vs a Nessler at realistic ranges but armies have been known to do weird stuff.
     
  9. May 15, 2019 #9

    DaveC

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    I've got a mould for these from eras-gone-by. The North Carolina bullet was named "Nesler" after the Belgian/French "Nessler" bullet used in smooth bore muskets. The original Nessler had a skirt as seen in the posted photos. The North Carolina "Nessler" has a collapsing skirt like the Pritchett bullets, or for that matter, the Lorenz bullet.

    The image from the German manual showing a bullet in a rifled bore is clearly a Tige type central pillar. The heavy rammer would thwack the bullet and distort the skirt into the rifling grooves such that when the round fired, it would take the rifling. The problem, of course, is that no one can exactly replicate how many "thumps" they give the rammer.

    The North Carolina "Nesler" may have been used for tar heels armed with shotguns for use as a slug, for those armed with smooth bore muskets, etc. For all we know--not much!--they may be for use in any .69 caliber musket. I've recently read of Iowans with smooth bore .69 cal. muskets being issued the 730-grain Minié/Burton ball as service ammunition. Perhaps the North Carolina quartermasters thought the same ammo would do for any such gun? Perhaps not. These "Neslers" appear in Civil War battlefields in two variants. Apparently this longer ogive bullet is the "type II."

    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:

    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 yulzari shows 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.

    https://archive.org/details/journaldesarmes12unkngoog
     
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  10. May 15, 2019 #10

    RAEDWALD

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    Thank you for the download reference to the 'Journal des Armes Spéciales et de l’Etat-Major ' DaveC.

    I have doubts that the OP bullet would obturate by compression and if the end result would a stable out of a smooth bore but my mind is open to actual results by comparison to a round ball.
     
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  11. May 15, 2019 #11

    Stantheman86

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    Awesome info thank you DaveC.

    I think I'll start with a 70 gr charge and see how that works.

    110 gr of 2f with a conical bullet might be too heavy and upset the balance of the bullet maybe?
     
  12. May 16, 2019 #12

    DaveC

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    Yeah, I agree. The Minié/Burton .69 cal. used a 70-grain to 80-grain charge of the "musket powder" available back then... So I'd be thinking 60 or 65 grains of FFFg maybe less... And maybe about that much for these here slugs.

    Presumably the skirt collapsing into the base of the bullet seals the inside-the-bore-"windage" and increases the velocity and pressure quite a bit over the undersized round ball. Who knows? Maybe the fouling is lessened somewhat? Also the weight of this here Carolina/tar heel "Nesler" is greater than an ordinary round ball... Albeit not as much as the Minié/Burton. Maybe I can try my hand at making up more of these soon so I can have the basis for a meaningful comparison.

    One thing that makes me leery is no one seems to have documentation on how the actual original cartridges were constructed? I'll have to see if the .680 size fits with a paper patch or without and then maybe size them down somehow. Good luck with your experiments and thank you very much for letting us know your results!
     
  13. May 18, 2019 #13

    Stantheman86

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    I'd be interested in using these as "paper patched bullets" .

    They didnt arrive today, they're a day late so I won't know what size these are until tomorrow.

    I don't even know if Eras Gone By sells the mold anymore.

    People say they use the Lyman 12 gauge slug mold to make bullets for .69 smoothbore muskets.
     
    Last edited: May 18, 2019
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  14. May 18, 2019 #14

    DaveC

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    My Eras Gone By mould casts a .680 size, which fits my smooth bore and my rifled and sighted relined original barrel. Later this weekend, I'll try to cast a more meaningful number than the 25 I did recently of which only 7 were good. I'll just melt down the bad ones and recast.

    I'm going to roll a two piece paper cartridge for these initially. I'll but the bullet base down in a sealed paper tube, dip the bullet end in my Minié/Burton lubricant (sheep's tallow and bees wax at roughly a 3:1 ratio...). I've made Enfield type three-piece cartridges, which is a bit involved, but some of the equipment for that should help in this instance. I'll make a separate envelope for the pwoder charge, and I'll probably start out with FFg instead of FFFg.

    I don't think Eras Gone By has the "Nessler" so-called bullet mold any longer. I do believe that it was a limited run, and it is sold out. A bit of a niche, since these are not approved--at least yet--for use in skirmishes. Maybe we can pull together a Carolina musket team together with these sometime, eh?

    So to start out, I'll probably do what you're doing and go with a paper patch left around the base, before then trying them without any paper like a Minié/Burton.
     
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  15. May 19, 2019 #15

    Stantheman86

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    Without access to a mic, the Nessler balls slide down the pipe of my Pedersoli 1816 .69 percussion conversion with quite a bit of slop.

    Enough so that even with a fouled bore they'd probably drop out.

    I use 3M masking paper as my cartridge paper, I'm thinking that with the bullet part of the cartridge coated in lanolin or even Crisco should work well. Beeswax dip would probably be too thick for a cartridge.
     

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  16. May 19, 2019 #16

    DaveC

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    I've got my initial two-piece cartridges made. I'll add powder charges and see if they fit the barrel of my Model 1842. Thin down the beeswax with some tallow. Crisco would work, but in my admittedly limited experience more seasoned smooth bore shooters have counseled me that use of it can seemingly promote "cook offs" whereby a powder charge poured down the tube ignites from something still smouldering inside from the previous shots...

    My cartridge paper--brown butcher paper--might be too thick, so I'll have to use some newssheet/ gray "packing paper" cut to size as a cartridge wrapper. Hopefully today I can cast some. I suppose I should see abut taking some pictures of my efforts too!
     
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  17. May 19, 2019 #17

    Stantheman86

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    I can see Crisco causing cook offs since it's a vegetable oil, and maybe leaves some hot, boiling oil in the bore.

    I'll try to use tallow to thin the beeswax or maybe use lanolin? As long is it doesnt migrate up the paper and contaminate the powder charge.
     
  18. May 20, 2019 #18

    DaveC

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    If you go to the Hungarian muzzle shooting champion Balazs Nemeth's site "cap and ball" you might be able to turn up an earlier tutorial on how he paper patched a bunch of Pritchett-type bullets for the Austrian Lorenz rifled musket.

    Of course if you are not willing to paper patch and wish to just use a paper cartridge, then making an Enfield paper cartridge would be the way to go. That way the powder charge is essentially in a separate envelope, while the tallow/wax lube is on the outermost portion holding the ball. The Enfield is a three-piece cartridge, so the powder chamber can be snapped off once the bullet is seated in the muzzle.

    I've made all those types before, but I was going to try to "get away" with just a two piece for this initial test of the NC "Nesler" in Texas! I'll see if I can't get a picture posted of what I'm up to. I wonder if simple and readily available lubes like "Bore Butter" might be adequate?

    I think Crisco could work just as long as the shooting is slow and not loading and shooting as quick as one can? Looking forward to your results! :)
     
  19. May 21, 2019 #19

    DaveC

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    OK. These are phone pictures, so not too good.

    Basically, I start with my cartridge forming rod, roll up a tube from the trapezoid shape with the concave end over the tip of the Nesler conical bullet and the solid lead Pritchett groove/skirt/ grease groove facing the end, about 1/2 in. away from the end. Then I fold the edges over tightly to hold the bullet in. Then I dip the base of the bullet in molten lube, wait for it to cool a bit, then put it down on my old pie plate to set.

    The lighter colored, smaller diameter cartridge is an unfilled Enfield-type cartridge .577 for comparison. You can see the bullet is base down, and the entire length of the bullet is lubed. Inside the tube are two additional paper pieces forming the powder cylinder. There is extra paper at the top of the outer wrap, which contains the bullet at the base. Once the powder charge is measured out, it gets poured into the cylinder, and the extra paper at the top is twisted closed, or folded.

    For these initial cartridges, I'm putting a separate powder cylinder in atop the bullet, but the same length/ flush with the top. I'm sure my teeth will thank me when I have to chew both pieces off to the top of the powder. Usually I fold these all fancy like they used to, but in this case I might go for a quicker, if earlier method: flatten, fold 90 degrees, fold over another 90 degrees now paralleling the cartridge body, and then dog ear the upper corner to hold it all together.

    I use an original Model 1842, so for the "trial balloon" I'm going to go with several with 65-grain FFg and several with 70-grain FFg and see what results.
     

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  20. May 22, 2019 #20

    Eras Gone

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    DaveC,

    I'm looking forward to seeing your results. I produced the run of North Carolina "Nesslers" at the request of a good friend. I have gotten very few reports from the field on how they worked. I tried them with lube only in my original model 42 with 80 grains. None key-holed but at 25 yards, they did not provide any better accuracy than unpatched .64 round balls. I suspected they may need to be paper patched in the cartridge as you have done, but wondered if they would fit at .68. Please let us know how they do. If someone breaks the code on these, I may do another run of them. Thanks.
     
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