Thursday, 23 December 2010

Rifles, Smoothbores & the use of Wadding.

Smoothbores, Rifles & Wadding.

Early to mid 18th century English guns did not use patch material for round ball shooting. Instead, wadding was used in the same manner as used when firing shot. The rifling in rifles was seen as a solution to the round ball moving from side to side in the barrel, which effected accuracy when shooting over long distances. Fortunately hunters using the fusil did not shoot over long distances, and had no problems shooting game at 50-60 paces. Rifles however required the ball to be driven into the muzzle “by means of an iron rammer, struck with a mallet”. So, rifles did not use a patched ball either, leastways not in England and not by an Englishman.

In Germany however “they sometimes charge them in the following manner: a piece of thin leather or fustian is cut of a circular shape, and so large as to cover a little more than one half of the ball; this piece is then greased on one side, and being placed over the muzzle, the ball is laid upon it, and both thrust down together”.

Smoothbores however; fusils, fowlers and muskets, did not use patched ball, only wadding. “In firing with ball it is observed that the better the ball fits the piece, or the less windage there is, the greater will be the force of the discharge-the wadding of hat (wool or beaver felt hat material cut to fit the bore) may be preferable to that of card or paper…..”.

“In countries where orchards abound, a very fine moss, of greenish grey colour, is found adhering to the apple trees, which is extremely proper for wadding….tow is also very good for this purpose”.

The above information is taken from “An Essay On Shooting 1789”, this book in turn uses “La Chasse au Fusil” as a basis for this work, so it is probably safe to assume that both the English and the French used the same manner of shooting the smoothbore. This in turn makes me question the use of so called “patch knives” by the French hunters which they carried round their necks. I suspect that this knife was instead simply a utility knife.

Waterproofing Leather.

“ Take of tallow, half a pound, Hogs lard, four ounces, Turpentine, two ounces, New bees wax, two ounces, Olive oil, tow ounces. Melt the whole together in an earthen pipkin over the fire, and stir it well while melting”.

I think I have also mentioned before that no mention of priming horns can be found in this period publication, and loading and shooting is covered within.


Smoothbore Fusil.

I used to use hat as wadding before I even read this book, then when I ran out of hat, I started using thes leather wads, cut to size with the wad cutter below.

Tow which I also use as wadding and for cleaning my gun.


Gorges Smythe said...

I guess that would make use of any old hats or shoes beyond use!

Le Loup said...

I guess so Gorges. It is interesting that it stated "hat" and not wool or beaver felt. But I guess that the material itself may not have been readily available to even the wealthy. Certainly now, I would find it easier to find old hats than I would to obtain wool felt material, and a second hand hat would be less expensive.