Napoleon Series Archive 2004

Accuracy of muskets and rifles

Dear All

Unashamedly stolen from another web-site:

'Among my other pursuits besides Napoleonic Wargaming, I have more than 25 years of experience in loading and shooting muzzleloading firearms competitively. I have shot both rifled guns, and those of the smoothbore variety.

What follows are the results of my own tests which have been conducted repeatedly over time & a variety of conditions.

Rifled Guns of large bore:

Tests were conducted with a .54 caliber roundball rifle, open traditional sights, (similar to what one would have found on the Baker rifle, or a Jaeger rifle for that matter.) with a tightly fitting patch/ ball combination. All loading was carefully done. Under battle conditions I am inclined to think that loading would become a much more haphazard affair. Vary the loading procedure/ as a consequence the finest accuracy is lost also.

At 100 yards: Under the best of conditions, ie blue sky, sunshine, no wind, I can keep 5 shots within a circle measuring around 2" in diameter. Pretty deadly!

At 150 yards: Under same conditions, I can still keep 5 shots within a target measuring 8" in diameter. Still plenty deadly!

At 200 yards: Almost a complete loss of any dependable reasonable accuracy. On many occassions I've tried this. Often it is quite difficult to even hit the 4 foot square target board with any consistency. Can one still hit a man size target at this range? Of course, but not with any degree of consistency.


Tests were done using a .75 caliber Brown Bess

50 yards: Deadly! All shots placed inside a 6" circle.

100 yards: It's already getting pretty "iffy" On repeated ocassions I've witnessed skilled marksman fire as many as 10 carefully loaded & aimed shots at a target paper measuring 2 feet square. They do well if they can place 3 or 4 of these shots on paper at this range.'

I hope this is of interest to some of the Forum members.



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