Muzzleldrs Does rifling work with round ball?

thomas aagaard

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 19, 2013
Location
Denmark
Saw a documentary about the battle of Waterloo recently. They had a Baker rifle on the show. It had a storage compartment on the butt for patches. This must be why.
Pretty sure that was for cleaning equipment. As was also the case with some other firearms.

Loose patches was held in a beltbag and use with loose roundballs.
But roundballs that was pre patched was also used.
(and so was un-patched balls, if needed at close range, since it effectively turned the baker into a smoothbore... so better rate of firing.. at the cost of accuracy)

If you are really interested in the topic and got 40 minuttes. watch the two youtube videos from British Muzzleloaders.
He is using he Baker rifle. Of 95th Rifles fame.

He also made one where he compare the Bress with the baker. Witht he 3 types of roundballs for the baker.
But it is only available for his Pantheon backers atm.
 

Kurt G

Sergeant Major
Joined
May 23, 2018
Generally speaking patched round balls are more accurate in a barrel with a slower twist such as 1 in 44. I don't know what the twist was in a typical Civil War rifled musket , but a patched round ball certainly could have been used . The rate of fire and accuracy would have been compromised .
 

thomas aagaard

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 19, 2013
Location
Denmark
AFAIK the baker was only issued to Rangers and not to the bulk of the British army.
What rangers?

The 95th had 3+ battalions by 1815. All with bakers.
The 5th battalion of the 60th infantry had rifles.
So did the light companies of the Portuguese Caçadores in the Light division. (in the peninsula war)
The light companies in the line battalions of Kings German Legion had them afaik by the later part of the war.

So there where a few thousands of them in use.
But yes, the bulk of the army had "brown Bress" muskets.
 

Booner

2nd Lieutenant
Forum Host
Joined
May 4, 2015
Location
Boonville, MO.
Of course!
The round ball was the first projectile; the conical bullet (I'm assuming you are talking about the Minie conical bullet), only lasted 40-50 years before it was replaced by breach loading weapons.
At first, straight rifling was cut into the bore of a muzzleloader as a way to prolong cleaning the fowling out of the bore between shots. It was found in the 14th or 15th century that imparting a spiral on the rifling of the bore on a round ball improved it's gyroscopic stability and accuracy.

Unlike in a conical, where the under-bore sized projectile must go through obturation, where the projectile gets squashed (the rear of the bullet begins moving before the front does, and it's "skirt" flares), thereby the bullet increases it's diameter so it fits into the rifling and provides a gas seal, a round ball is normally loaded enclosed in a lubricated patch of either cloth or leather. The patching provides at least three functions: 1. it mechanically cleans the bore as the round is shoved down into the breach of the rifle, and it's lube helps keep the residual fouling soft. 2. it takes up the "windage" between the diameter of the ball and the bore of the rifle so gas doesn't escape, 3. the lubed patch is what imparts the spin to the round ball.

If one is shooting a .36 caliber muzzleloader, the ball might be .35 caliber, and the patch would be at least .01 inch in thickness or thicker. One way to improve the accuracy of the round ball muzzleloader is to experiment with patch thickness to find what ball diameter/patch thickness the rifle likes.

If one is shooting a round ball out of a revolver, no patch is needed as the ball is nominally a little larger in caliber that the bore of the barrel, the forcing cone at the breach end of the barrel swages the ball down so it fits into the rifling.

Since a conical is longer (and heavier), than a round ball, the rifling inside the barrel must be of a faster twist in order to stabilize the projectile. A common twist rate for a round ball of .50 caliber might be one turn in 70 inches, whereas a .50 caliber conical might be one turn in 24 inches.
 

KianGaf

Sergeant
Joined
May 29, 2019
Location
Dublin, Ireland
What rangers?

The 95th had 3+ battalions by 1815. All with bakers.
The 5th battalion of the 60th infantry had rifles.
So did the light companies of the Portuguese Caçadores in the Light division. (in the peninsula war)
The light companies in the line battalions of Kings German Legion had them afaik by the later part of the war.

So there where a few thousands of them in use.
But yes, the bulk of the army had "brown Bress" muskets.

In the TV show Sharpe , it was issued to skirmishers who wore a green uniform.
 

La Tiger

Private
Joined
Jul 3, 2015
Location
Louisiana
Generally speaking patched round balls are more accurate in a barrel with a slower twist such as 1 in 44. I don't know what the twist was in a typical Civil War rifled musket , but a patched round ball certainly could have been used . The rate of fire and accuracy would have been compromised .


When ordering a barrel, the barrel maker will ask what your intended purpose is, hunting or target shooting. Hunting barrels with a larger powder charge usually like a slow twist like 1 in 72 or 1 in 96. A target barrel twist may be 1 in 60 and never shoot very accuractly with heavier hunting loads. It also depends on caliber and type of rifling, flat bottom or round bottom grooves.
 

KianGaf

Sergeant
Joined
May 29, 2019
Location
Dublin, Ireland
yes that is men from the 2nd battalion of the 95th... who for "plot reasons" spends 6 years as part of the light company of the 1st Battalion of the "South Essex"...
Normally men in the light companies had red uniforms and used muskets.

They had the Queens Rangers , in Turn: Washington’s Spies in green aswell not sure how accurate it was.
 

thomas aagaard

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 19, 2013
Location
Denmark
They had the Queens Rangers , in Turn: Washington’s Spies in green aswell not sure how accurate it was.
Militia.

But by the later part of the 18th century you can find jäger (light infantry) units who are armed with rifles and use green uniforms in most "German" armies, in the danish army and so on. And yes as colonial militia in north america.
(the british regular army was actually pretty slow in organizing "jagers" like this)
 

KianGaf

Sergeant
Joined
May 29, 2019
Location
Dublin, Ireland
Must read up more on the firearms of the european powers of the 19th century. I could name several American and British firearms of the period but not many from Prussia , France or the Austrian Hungarian Empire. I’m sure some found their way to the US like the Lorenz Rifle for example.
 

La Tiger

Private
Joined
Jul 3, 2015
Location
Louisiana
The British 1776 rifle was the forerunner of the Baker Rifle and used in the Revolution. It was based on a German Jaeger and was made in England and Germany. Rifles made in England looked like a short fowler, whereas German-made rifles looked like a Jaeger, very germanic.
 

Ara Oko

Private
Joined
Sep 28, 2019
The problem with round balls in a rifle is threefold as I see it.
First, a round ball is not aerodynamic in shape. Whether you spin it or not, this cannot be completely overcome. Parabellums like minieballs fixed that.
Secondly, there is no guarantee the patch will work as advertised. There would be a possibility, I would think, the ball being ejected like a musket leaving the wadding behind to foul the rifle. The ball shape does not have enough area in contact with the rifling to spin it, even if it was well fitted.
The rifling would become engrained with lead shavings, again fouling the gun, and the ball would be ejected with no useful spin.

Finally, I forgot point 3. I outthunk myself. I am not too well versed in archaeic weaponry, but I do know some physics and have some practical experience of building and testing weapon designs. I hope my points make some sense.

Oh. Point 3 metallurgy. Rifle (and rifled cannon) barrels ideally need to be a blend of soft and hard metals. Cannons were sometimes converted from smoothbores by reworking them with a hard rifled sleeve.
Metalworking at that time was good, but things did tend to self destruct a little more back then than now.

Why is this relavent? Well, those early rifled ball firing weapons evolved into the modern Parabellum firing rifles we have now.

Forgive me if I made errors in this, but Its just as it fell outta my head!
 

Booner

2nd Lieutenant
Forum Host
Joined
May 4, 2015
Location
Boonville, MO.
Sense we're talking about twist rates, the following is the Greenhill Formula, developed by Sir Greenhill in the 1870's for determining twist rates.

(C x D squared) /L=T

where:
C is the constant 150
D squared is the diameter of the projectile times itself
L is the length of the projectile.
T is the optimal twist rate

Example-- for a .36 caliber barrel shooting a round ball. ( if I knew the length of a minie ball I would have used that).

(150 x (.35x.35) / .36 = T

(150 x .1225 ) /.36 = 51.041 twist per inch.
 
Top