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Old August 10, 2013, 06:15 PM   #1
TB9
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barrel length on a smoothbore

thinking of getting my first smooth bore musket and was wondering how much bbl. lenght effects accurracy with a smooth bore . i see that alot of the ones i looked at have long barrels 39"+ on alot of them i have kinda wanted a carbine length gun and wanted to know if i would loose any accuracy with the shorter barrel under 34" any advise from those who know would be greatly welcomed thank's TB9
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Old August 10, 2013, 07:07 PM   #2
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The thing about black powder is it needs barrel length to completely burn. The shorter the barrel the less velocity you get. This is true with smokeless as well but with bp it really makes a difference and when you're talking smooth bores that are usually .60 caliber or greater with huge heavy honkin chunks of lead that need a lot of powder burn it makes a lot of difference.
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Old August 10, 2013, 07:32 PM   #3
Old Iron
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What HH says is true.
I have several flintlock smoothbores with barrel lengths ranging from 30" to 46".
The longer barrels shoot more accurate partially because of the "better burn", AND also partially because of their longer "sighting radius".

When shooting "shot", the longer barrels will also give a tighter pattern a bit further out than the short barrels (everything else being equal).
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Old August 10, 2013, 07:48 PM   #4
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Myself I think the first thing to think about is at what range your going tobe shooting and at what .
My wife shoots a little 62 cal blanket gun which has a short little 24 inch barrel .
Its surprisingly accurate out to about 50 yards . Past that , when she shoots the smooth bore trails with the rest of us , she doesn’t seem to have a problem reaching out there even with light loads . But the accuracy does suffer . However its still to the point that I wouldn’t want her shooting at me with the thing even at 75 yards . Literally he is close enough that when she misses , she doesn’t miss by much and is close enough it would send you to cover very quick .
I shoot a Hudson Valley with a 52 inch barrel . With a shot load , the problem is getting the pattern to open up . With a RB if I do much shooting , the heat waves really make it difficult to sight through .
Then I have my flintlock SXS which does very well with 30 inch barrels
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Old August 11, 2013, 07:12 AM   #5
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thank you, the muskets im looking at are military replicas bbl.lenghts run from 24-39 inchs . ill be shooting from 25 to 50 yds right now no hunting i have a BP rifle for that . im realy liking the carbines for ease of handling but want accuracy and wonder if the shorter 24" bbl. would be a mistake. the farthest ill ever shoot would probably be 75 yds. this is going to be just a range toy. but i would like some accuracy. thank you for any and all advise on this . TB9
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Old August 11, 2013, 07:54 AM   #6
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75 yards is a stretch with a smoothie. Learning to hold and anchor your head without help of a rear sight is the key to accuracy.
Mine is a 30" barrel but I would have preferred at bit longer, like 36".
20 ga./.62 cal. is very popular because of the versatility.
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Old August 11, 2013, 10:37 AM   #7
4V50 Gary
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With practice, 75 yards against a man size target is feasible with a smoothbore. Lawrence Babits used his replica Brown Bess to hit man sized a target 5 out of 6 tries. The difference between Babits and the musket armed soldier is that Babits practiced a lot before attempting it for the record.
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Old August 11, 2013, 02:13 PM   #8
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Good comments by all . . .

Shooting a smoothbore is certainly different that a rifle. I have a .62/20 gauge Fusil de Chase with a 42 inch barrel. First off, there's nothing wrong with smoothbores . . . . yes, range is shorter but your accuracy is going to depend on you knowing your gun along with all that has been mentioned. Most smoothies just have a front sight of some sort - some are pretty crude. You have to learn you sight picture and where to hold for different ranges - and then there's no guarantee. A difference in ball weight is enough to throw you off.

The thing I like about a smoothbore is that you can shoot both RB and shot. In yearts past, I've taken ducks with my Fusil as well as small game utilizing shot. I would have to say that in shooting RB - my Fusil is probably better than I am as a result of my not shooting it all the time. Like anything, it takes practice but whether it's a Fusil, NW Trade Gun, shot-gun or a military musket - they are challenging to a person in regards to learning how the individual gun shoots and what your sight picture is. I admire a person, man or woman, who can shoot a smoothbore with skill - it speaks highly of them and the practice and dedication they've put in to it.

Let us know what you end up with and how it shoots! You'll love it!
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Old August 11, 2013, 06:21 PM   #9
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Smoothrifles were/are usually around 28 guage/.54. Fowlers a little bigger. The original guns were usually quite overlength to just burn all the powder in most guns but there was tradition, style, and misplaced beliefs.

So, will a short carbine Bess, officer's fusil, or a Northwest Trade Gun serve you well? Probably quite well if that's your preference.
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Old August 11, 2013, 06:21 PM   #10
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thank you all for your replys. right now im looking at an indian pattern brown bess and a brown bess carbine also a bess ships carbine. bbl.s run from 24" to 39". Ill most likely get one from mvtc as he is just down the road from me and has an excellent rep. he also has some French muskets a nice 1777 carbine . but I kinda got my heart set on a bess type musket . again thanks TB9
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Old August 11, 2013, 06:56 PM   #11
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The short Trade Gun or Canoe Gun would be most period correct... They are not India-made and not cheap, nor inexpensive!

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Old August 12, 2013, 03:42 PM   #12
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TB9 I'd be interested to hear about any gun you purchase from mvtc. I've read good and bad things about imported India made muskets. Mostly bad. A first hand review would be nice.
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Old August 12, 2013, 05:57 PM   #13
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Beautiful NWTG.
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Old August 12, 2013, 05:58 PM   #14
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well im still considering all my options i like the pedersoli's but kinda pricy for a range toy. im not a re-enactor though the fort at no.4 is just down the road from me also and ive watched them before looks like fun but not my thing . ive been reading every thing i can find and checking all the vids on you tube so the next step is a hands on with an actual gun. ill let you know when i get a chance to check them out.
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Old November 8, 2013, 05:47 PM   #15
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well im bringin this thread back to life as i finaly picked up a musket. after looking at three different models of brown bess and a fusil de chasse a 1777 cavalry carbine and 77 charleville & atrade gun .i went with the 1777 charleville musket from mvtc . i have to say that all the muskets i looked at had very good fit & finish . and the lock throws a lot of spark & my trigger pull is really what i would call pretty nice. as i said the fit and finish are very good the lock throws alot of spark and the trigger pull is nice for a military weapon . and i got to hand pick my gun from the shop as mvtc is local to me. havent fired it yet as time hasnt been on my side but hope to do some shooting soon. oh yeah the lock has a life time warranty on it too. im happy.....
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Old November 9, 2013, 09:36 AM   #16
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Im sorry I kinda lost track of this thread .
A few things I would like to bring up.
First is the non rear sight issue . Frankly this is something I wish we as a community would stop propitiating as frankly there are as many original examples of smooth bores with rear sights as there are without . This includes trade guns and fowlers . Im also not talking about whats refered to as a smooth rifle .Those are completely diffrently designed guns .

While it is true that most of the trade gun/smooth bore shoots have rules specifying no rear sight . However they are one of those rules IMO that frankly has very little base and nothing more then a "becouse i said so " type of rule .
Factualy the rear sights on smoothbores range from simple fence style sights . To V type sights both simple and highly ornate , to even channel type sights that ere molded into the tangs or breech areas .

In the case of those that do not have rear sights . First we have to understand what a rear sight actually is . A rear sight is simply put , nothing more then a rear reference used for alignment . As such even those of us that have no defined rear sight , still actually use a reference. In some cases it’s the tang screw . In still others it’s the barrel flat itself . Sometimes its even the width between the stock inlet and the tang . What you use will be up to you . But you will still end up with a reference of some sort .

The other issue I would like to bring up is one of accuracy . While I believe it is true that you probably wont , without a lot of practice , see the same pin point accuracy seen from a rifle , you should , with practice be able to hit pie plate size targets out to 75 yards and even hold groups in at least the 24 inch range at around 100 .
With a properly built smoothbore , and with practice even better .
a lot of the events I shoot at use the rifle trail as their smooth bore trail . Its not uncommon to see dedicated smoothbore shooters hitting with regularity oxygen cylinder size targets at and beyond ranges of 100 yards , without rear sights .
In fact this this year up at the Seneca Or , Voo a group of us got together and shot at a 6 ft X24 inch cylinder that was placed at 200 yards . Of the 5 of us shooting “from a rest” each was able to hit the target at least 1 time in 5 shots . two of us , Don Smith and Fred Wisner , hit the target 4 out of 5 times .
Don shoots a Fusil De Chase and Fred shoots a Type D fusil .

Now alittle note about Fred . I build the Type D he shoots and I still have his original targets from when I delivered the gun to him .
Let me also say that 3 years ago Fred had never shot a flintlock . While he had some smooth bore experience it was concerning SXS .
The gun carries a 42 inch , .618 bore and is stocked in burl cherry . Lock is a Davis .









first 3 shots at 25 yards



target shot off hand at 50 and 75 yards . 18 shots
top 10 are at 50 yards . lower center as well as bottom flier is at 75


Last edited by Captchee; November 9, 2013 at 09:46 AM.
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Old November 9, 2013, 12:09 PM   #17
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thats a very nice looking gun and some real good shooting . i chose the charleville mostly because i wanted a military type weapon and the 77 also is said to have an reputation for accuray and ease of maint. all things that appeal to me. i read youre post with great interest and enjoy the pictures . right now im still rounding up supplies and powder & ball and such and hope to gleen as much advise and wisdom as you and the rest of the more experienced hands will share. thank you TB9
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Old November 11, 2013, 10:29 AM   #18
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One of the issues I have seen pop up with the charleville is that the front sight is also the bayonet lug which is part of the Front barrel band. If the band becomes a little lose , the front sight will move in its placement. Keep an eye out for that happening
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