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Military Guns and Ammunition

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This is intended for people interested in the subject of military guns and their ammunition, with emphasis on automatic weapons, particularly in larger calibres (12.7+mm).

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Blunderbuss Buckshot Patterning   Small Arms <20mm

Started 13-Oct by gatnerd; 1027 views.
gatnerd

From: gatnerd

13-Oct

InRangeTv has recently done a very nice video on the buckshot pattern of the classic flintlock blunderbuss:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gWbJPI6sNCU

Using 15x .32 caliber buckshot balls (a 12gauge is 9x 0.33) the pattern at 15 yards was actually quite impressive, very comparable to the pattern of a modern shotgun:

Based on Brassfetchers testing of shotguns, 00 buckshot is still penetrating 12" @ 700fps, and still a respectable 9" at as low as ~500fps. 

As such we could probably expect a Blunderbuss pellet to be still lethal out to 50+ yards.

If I was ever traveling back through time, I think I'd be inclined to choose the Blunderbuss over the traditional smooth bore musket. Shorter, handier, much higher hit probability, and still a high likelyhood of lethality at 50yds, with devastating effect at 15yd.

Farmplinker

From: Farmplinker

13-Oct

Or just load a smoothbore with buckshot. You also have the possibility for 1 or 2 shots of using a "tight ball" for longer range. 

taschoene

From: taschoene

13-Oct

Farmplinker said:

Or just load a smoothbore with buckshot.

You can split the difference. "Buck and Ball" -- consisting of a single full-caliber ball and typically three buckshot pellets loaded together -- was in use from smoothbore muskets as late as the American Civil War.  The pellets weren't as accurate as a single rifled musket Minne ball, but the chances of getting a hit with one of the projectiles was deal better at close combat ranges (say 100 meters).

gatnerd

From: gatnerd

13-Oct

I just found an fascinating buck n ball data:

Claud E. Fuller, in his book The Rifled Musket, shows tests of a rifled musket firing Minié ball, and a smoothbore musket firing round ball and buck rounds at various ranges against a 10 by 10 inches (25 cm × 25 cm) target. The firers consisted of several men in line shooting in volley. At ranges of 200 yards (180 m) and under, the buck and ball from the smoothbore musket, while less accurate than the rifled musket, produces a greater number of hits due to the greater number of projectiles. At 100 yards (91 m), 50 shots by smoothbore buck and ball against the 10 x 10 target result in 79 buckshot hits and 37 ball strikes, as opposed to 48 Minié ball hits in 50 shots. At 200 yards, 37 of 50 Minié bullets struck the target, vs. 18 of 50 smoothbore balls and 31 of 50 buckshot, for a total of 49 hits in 50 shots.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buck_and_ball#Purpose

That said, I'm a bit skeptical of those results; I fired 250rds of 12 gauge 00 buckshot at 100yds, and I hit a steel torso target at that range maybe 5 times. Going by the dust impacts against the berm, it seemed to be throwing a 9 pellet pattern about 6-8' wide. 

Hard to imagine a colonial era musket hitting a 10" square at 200yds with buckshot...

Farmplinker

From: Farmplinker

13-Oct

It's not like the ancestors weren't above cherry-picking data! Also, I seem to recall that for testing volly fire, targets were measured in feet, not inches. They were probably firing at a 10'x10' target, but it was accidentally written as 10"x10".

gatnerd

From: gatnerd

13-Oct

Thank you; 10'x10' makes much more sense as a target size for muskets and buckshot at 200yds.

In terms of traditional musket era combat, where the two sides lined up opposite one another, what was the typical engagement distance?

taschoene

From: taschoene

13-Oct

gatnerd said:

In terms of traditional musket era combat, where the two sides lined up opposite one another, what was the typical engagement distance?

In the American Civil War, probably around 200 yards.  That's the number several people have arrived at by looking at Gettysburg, which is probably the most closely studied battle of the war.  Might not be totally representative, but it's probably not far wrong.  

The typical engagement range in the Napoleonic era was more like 50 yards, as I understand it.

gatnerd

From: gatnerd

13-Oct

With the Civil War, they had the Minie Ball and rifled barrels, so a much more accurate ability at range.

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. 

Farmplinker

From: Farmplinker

13-Oct

40-70 yards for smooth bores is the range, I've usually read. In The War Of The Rebellion, it depended on the units involved. In the 1st year of the war, most units had smooth bores, so 100 yards and under. As rifle-muskets became more common, the range increased, but not as much as you would expect. Around 125 yards, iirc from The Rifle-Musket in Civil War Combat. Marksmanship wasn't what so people claim it was in the good old days! Most troops were still expected to aim using instinctive techniques.

taschoene

From: taschoene

13-Oct

Farmplinker said:

Around 125 yards, iirc from The Rifle-Musket in Civil War Combat. Marksmanship wasn't what so people claim it was in the good old days! Most troops were still expected to aim using instinctive techniques.

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.  

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