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Blunderbuss Buckshot Patterning   Small Arms <20mm

Started 13-Oct by gatnerd; 1024 views.
RovingPedant

From: RovingPedant

13-Oct

taschoene said...

I've been reading Steven Sears' history of Gettysburg recently, and it's instructive that commanders were constantly telling their troops to aim low and especially to aim for the enemy's feet, because they were definitely going to end up shooting high otherwise.  

Interesting. I’ve noticed that novice shooters tend to shoot high, preferring to place the stock low or even under their shoulder while keeping their head high. When lining up the muzzle with the target they consequently almost always end up shooting high.

Red7272

From: Red7272

13-Oct

gatnerd said:

If 50 yards is the engagement range for the smoothbore era, I'm frankly surprised they weren't all using blunderbuss's, as thats comfortably within effective buckshot distance, especially against a bunch of troops lined up. 

Lethality is one part. The other is needing the length of the musket plus bayonet for fighting off cavalry and melee, which is where the better troops spent a lot of their time. 

Red7272

From: Red7272

13-Oct

RovingPedant said:

Interesting. I’ve noticed that novice shooters tend to shoot high, preferring to place the stock low or even under their shoulder while keeping their head high. When lining up the muzzle with the target they consequently almost always end up shooting high.

Yeah, the British army was famous for letting their troops fire 5 rounds a year in training. It seems the first time most troops fired their musket was in combat. 

jxexqx

From: jxexqx

14-Oct

Red7272 said...

Yeah, the British army was famous for letting their troops fire 5 rounds a year in training.

I bet you think they didn't aim too . . . 

Red7272

From: Red7272

14-Oct

jxexqx said:

I bet you think they didn't aim too . . . 

Prussians didn't. 

In reply toRe: msg 15
gatnerd

From: gatnerd

14-Oct

In terms of 'aiming' a musket, this article is pretty fascinating:

https://allthingsliberty.com/2013/07/the-inaccuracy-of-muskets/

The best target rifle in the world is not accurate if it has poor sights.  The Brown Bess, Charleville and other muskets of the period have no sights at all.  The Brown Bess does have a bayonet lug to secure the bayonet.  The bayonet lug is not an ideal sight but it is on the top of the barrel; so we will consider that a front sight.

Normally, the shooter would look down the barrel and align his rear sight (the sight closest to his face) with the front sight and with the target.  This cannot be done with the musket since there is no rear sight.  Without a rear sight the shooter’s eyeball acts as the rear sight.  That would not be a problem if the eyeball could always be placed exactly in the same place each time the musket was fired.  But, it cannot be done.

No matter how carefully the shooter places his cheek to the stock his eyeball will not be in the exact place each time.  And here small variances make a big difference.  All things being equal if the eyeball is placed a mere 1/4 inch above, below, left or right of the ideal sighting position the impact of the roundball will be over 9 inches off the desired point of impact at a target only 50 yards away.[3]  In the heat, chaos, and stress of battle, the shooter’s eyeball may be far more than 1/4 inch from the ideal position.

RifleShooter has a modern testing of the accuracy:

https://www.rifleshootermag.com/editorial/featured_rifles_bess_092407/83445

At 100yds, only 3/5 shots hit a 4'x4' board, and at 50 yards, 5/5 hit the 4'x4' board, but only 2/5 hit the full torso target. 

Given both the short range tactics of the time, and poor inherent accuracy of the standard Musket, I'm actually quite surprised the Blunderbuss wasn't a more dominant weapon of the era. Even having 1 in 4 men on the line armed with a Blunderbuss would have likely dramatically improved hit probability; at 50 yards its possible the spread might have hit 2 men standing abreast.

  • Edited 14 October 2020 3:59  by  gatnerd
Farmplinker

From: Farmplinker

14-Oct

And got off 6 shots a minute. OK, that sometimes caused self-inflicted casualties, but the most infantry firepower in the world always has a price.

Red7272

From: Red7272

14-Oct

Farmplinker said:

And got off 6 shots a minute. OK, that sometimes caused self-inflicted casualties, but the most infantry firepower in the world always has a price.

Yeah, the Prussians with their drill, the French with their iron musket balls and the British with their 5 rounds a year are all memes. I expect that the individual regiments included a lot more variation, That said the US were the ones who loaded buckshot over ball. I remember reading a medical report from Lundy's Lane that the buck did in fact do little damage, but there was a chance that the wound would result in a trip to the medical tent so it really seems to have been an overall good addition without a downside. 

As noted above, musket fighting with bayonets and the reduced rate of fire is why no one adopted the blunderbuss.

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