Musket Barrel Rifling -


Read more about Does anyone know how Colonial gunsmiths made a musket barrel and later cut rifling grooves in them? I know that in places like the Appalachian Mountains that were pretty

Military Medals Store

  International Military Forums > >

User Name
Password

 
March 28th, 2007   #1
Missileer
 
 

Musket Barrel Rifling info


Does anyone know how Colonial gunsmiths made a musket barrel and later cut rifling grooves in them? I know that in places like the Appalachian Mountains that were pretty well isolated, accurate, rifled barrels were produced using fairly crude tools.





“War is an ugly thing but not the ugliest of things; the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feelings which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse.”
—John Stuart Mill
 
-
March 28th, 2007   #2
bulldogg
 
 
As far as I understood Missileer muskets of that era and particularly the ones we colonial had access to were NOT rifled but smooth bore hence the tactics on the field of marching in lockstep, closing to within spitting distance and firing as a unit. It wasn't until the American civil war that we had rifling in the barrels and the technology made the old tactics obsolete. The fact we still used them accounts in large part for the high casualty rates of that war. I could be wrong but this is what I was taught and have read.


"The purpose of fighting is to win. There is no possible victory in defense. The sword is more important than the shield and skill is more important than either. The final weapon is the brain. All else is supplemental." - John Steinbeck
 
March 30th, 2007   #3
Missileer
 
 
I wonder, mostly, what was the technique for making barrels? Even an accurate tube is pretty difficult to make without a good lathe and cutting tools. I know that some were straps that were wrapped helically around a mandrel and hammer welded into a tube. Still, the early rifling cutting method is not clear. Someone wrote an article about a gunmaker whittling a helical guide from a log and using the wood pattern for pulling a rod or wood dowel with a piece of file on the end while shimming the cutter for each pass. I don't remember where I read this but it sounds pretty strange to me.
 
May 14th, 2007   #4
Lightnme
 
Misselier - concerning Riflling of gun barrels; what you heard was correct. A gunsmith would hand forge a barrel as you described. And yes they did cut grooves into the bore of the barrel as you describe,but there were different type weapons for different uses. There is an old,but great video on VHS, and maybe DVD from 1969 of Master Gunsmith-Wallace Gusler of Williamsburg,VA gunshop hand forging not only a gun barrel and rifling it, but hand forging each part & all the hardware. The video is called,"Gunsmith of Williamsburg". If you can get a copy, watch it,as it shows everything you are asking about. Wallace Gusler uses period tools to construct the barrel exactly as they did in the colonial days. And if you were to order a colonial rifle built by them, it will cost between $20,000 & $40,000 according to a Virginia Gunsmith I once talked too, and with that said, there's even a 4 year waiting period once you order. But to finnish answering your questions;there were civilian guns, and military guns, and also there were civilian Rifles used in the Revolutionary War as I am a direct ancestor of a Revolutionary War Rifleman from Loudon County,VA. Although everyone is familiar with the battle formations of the time with companies of Musketmen lined up to fire at each other, due to the lack of accuacy of the smoothbore Musket; not many know that on each end of the front line were companies of Riflemen. Each Regiment had 10 companies, and 3 of those companies were Rifle Companies. My ancestor fought in the 3rd Company of the 3rd Virginia Regiment under Capt. Charles West. In order to be able to enlist in a Rifle Company, you had to prove your skills. The usual test was that they would set up a life size silloette of a British Officer and some say even King George himself, and one had to load their Rifle; shoot and hit it in the head or heart some say, at 100 yards the first shot. If you missed; you ended up enlisting in a Musket Company. And each Rifleman had to bring with him in Virginia 3 items. His best Rifle, a blanket and a tomahawk. The reason for the tomahawk was because civilian rifles had not bayonet lug on the end of the barrels being a civilian weapon, thus they used the tomahawk for close contact fighting. Also the civilian hunting weapons,which most comoner who lived away from cities had in order to both hunt for food on occasion, and also to ward off Indian attacks were the smooth bore long arm called the Fowler,perhaps because you used it to shoot fowl & small game. The Fowler could either be loaded with a solid round shot, or many small shot and shot much as todays shotgun, which made the Fowler a versitle hunting weapon. Then there was the hunting Rifle, which could hit game at loner ranges, or Indians, or during the Revolutionary War, British Officers. My ancestor; being a Rifleman had a slightly better chance of surviving the Revolutionary War since he was on the ends of each line in battle among other Riflemen who moved swiftly to out flank the British line hopefully, and could hit their targets/British Officers at much greater distances. And thus, my ancestor survived the first year of the Revolutionary War, then after fulfilling his 1 year obligation, married and moved to North Carolina and survived the war to old age.
Well, I hope this additional information helps you to understand that they did in fact have rifled long arms made in the way you describe and for specific purposes.
God bless,
Jim
 
May 15th, 2007   #5
Bugfatty
 
 
Quote:
As far as I understood Missileer muskets of that era and particularly the ones we colonial had access to were NOT rifled but smooth bore hence the tactics on the field of marching in lockstep, closing to within spitting distance and firing as a unit. It wasn't until the American civil war that we had rifling in the barrels and the technology made the old tactics obsolete. The fact we still used them accounts in large part for the high casualty rates of that war. I could be wrong but this is what I was taught and have read.
Actually "rifling" had been around for quite a while before the American Revolution. The problem was that rifling a barrel didn't lend easily to mass preduction hence why militaries still used muskets. Also the militaries were very conservative and choose to use muskets instead.

Colonials used a mixture of both hunting rifles and what ever military muskets they could get.

As for how they made rifling, gunsmiths simply used a turning lathe or a special version called a "rifling machine" to cut out the grooves in the barrel.
 
May 15th, 2007   #6
Missileer
 
 
I remember where I read about the settlers in the Appalachian mountains and their gunmaking skills. It was in a series of books "Foxfire" written by a professor and some students who traveled the isolated areas and recorded how the people were still using traditional skills. The part on gunmaking was interesting and if I can find the book, I'll scan some of the pages. As near as I can remember, the gunmaker whittled a spiral pattern from a limb or log and made a piece that would be pulled along the spiral and it pulled a stick with a piece of file in a slot at the end. To make deeper grooves, he added shims under the file. I'll try my best to find the book, it is much clearer than my memory of it.
 
October 22nd, 2007   #7
masterblaster
 

they used a machine called a rifling bench. It was all wood except for the hook rifler. EAch pull through the bore would cut one groove. they next pull would be ratcheted over to cut the next groove. Itt took many cuts to get the right depth.
the smoothbore musket only had a 50 yard accurate range but it could be rapidly loaded. The rifle would take a minute or more, especially if it had been fired a lot and was fouled. Black powder leaves a crudey mess in the bore when fired. 5 or 10 rounds and a rifle had to be cleaned. a musket could 50 fire times or more
It wasn't a matter of cost but speed of loading. When the minie ball was invented, all was solved and rifles became practile for everyone.
 



Tags
barrel, mountains, musket, pretty, rifling

Similar Topics
Bradley Barrel
Musket Loading
Scar
"metal storm"
Which barrel for the M4? The 14.5" or 16".