REPLY#3: [WarOf1812] Brown Bess Accuracy - Grapeshot
Thank you for the input regarding grapeshot. That is why I am still a NEW gunner. As my gun captain once told me, "Deans, the next time you heat a cannon ball cherry red hot to set fire to a ship, make sure that you use a smaller than normal cannon ball that will fit down the barrel".
Once again the anecdotal evidence comes back to the proverbial 100 yards. Are there any professional armourers out there with an opinion? Is there anything in the literature that will answer the question? Was accuracy a factor in the conjecture that British muskets killed more and American muskets wounded more in the War of 1812 or was this just another myth?
Gord Deans, Royal Navy (1812)
"Just an old sailor, but a new gunner."
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Tuesday, September 20, 2005 10:14 PM
Subject: Re: [WarOf1812] Brown Bess Accuracy
At events, when asked of the accuracy of the Bess by members of the
public, I am in the habit of replying in the same manner as I always
have when asked to quantify the accuracy of ANY firearm: "Generally,
a lot more accurate than anybody trying to shoot it in the field!".
Other members of this forum have pointed out, quite accurately, the
negative likelihood of actually achieving remarkable marksmanship in
a combat situation, especially given the standard operating
procedures of the time.
That said, I have heard an interesting story regarding the potential
accuracy of the Brown Bess. A friend of mine way, way up in northern
Ontario shoots with some other fellas who are into historical arms.
(His personal toy is a .45-70 Highwall.) He was telling me of one of
his fellow shooters up there who uses a Bess. This gent apparently
takes every possible step he can to achieve maximum accuracy... casts
his own balls, carefully measures his powder loads and primes from a
separate source, patches the ball very carefully to ensure that it is
centered in the barrel, shoots from a well supported (ie. prone)
position, and so on. My friend reports that this gentleman can ring
the 10" steel gong out at the hundred yard line with some degree of
That strikes me as being pretty fair accuracy.
By the way... Gord: if you're going to use a bronze piece, I would
suggest you stick to cannister and leave the grapeshot alone. Grape
does nasty things to the inside of that nice soft bronze barrel. A
scored barrel won't be much help in the accuracy department once you
switch back to roundshot.
Keep yer powder dry.
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