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Just how deadly were lead musket balls?

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Private Sanders

PostPosted: Tue Sep 27, 2011 2:49 pm
I need to know for my fiction writing work. I've got this idea that a sword and sorcery fantasy world (the magic level is very high, to the point where your average commoner owns multiple magic items) advanced to the point where firearms have been invented and brought into common use, and for that I need to know exactly what happens when a musket ball (say a lead .75 inch, which sounds about right for the 18th century) strikes a human body.

Furthermore, I had the idea that if there is all this magic around, perhaps it could be used to improve the muskets a bit. Perhaps it could magically seal the breach, allowing a hatch there to be lifted for rapid loading and then shut securely against escaping pressure. I also had the idea of some sort of spell that makes gunpowder clump it into a solid brick that can be manufactured in pre-measured charges. Add in percussion cap tech (with the cap impedded in the powder charge), and loading becomes even quicker. Finally, if these weapons are being loaded from the breach, rifling becomes pracrical, as a tight fit for the ball can be easily made, what with ramming the round down the barrel not being a concern. What kind of accuracy could be expected from a rifled musket firing cylindricle lead ammunition?

Finally, what is the difference in explosive power between black and smokeless powder? I'm debating making smokeless power common instead of black powder.  
PostPosted: Tue Sep 27, 2011 3:44 pm
biggest for the civil war was .69 cal springfield

there really is no surviving a hit from something that large in the torso.

and any limb that gets hit with one is as good as lost, there was no saving it.

the other most common projectile was .58cal conical ball used in enfields  

Recon_Ninja_985

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SpeedmanRC

Conservative Hunter

PostPosted: Tue Sep 27, 2011 7:48 pm
yeah, recon summed it up, if hit torso, your ******** in leg or arm...you lost it or died from blood loss.  
PostPosted: Tue Sep 27, 2011 8:06 pm
Lead sphere balls from the American Revolution era are pretty heavy so there is a lot of flesh damage. The mini ball from the civil war era were even heavier ********. The back of the bullet also included a cavity to seal any gaps in the barrel preventing leaking gasses and giving the bullet more velocity. The bullets were elongated as opposed to their spherical parents so more lead made them even heavier. More weight + more velocity = more damage on impact.  

Das Rabble Rouser

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 28, 2011 1:45 pm
Lead ball rounds don't have a point. They don't penetrate. They punch. They punch at mach one.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jo_5Yo0Etzc

Quote:
Finally, if these weapons are being loaded from the breach, rifling becomes pracrical, as a tight fit for the ball can be easily made, what with ramming the round down the barrel not being a concern.
The problem with rifling was twofold: One, it's hard to make. Two, a man can only afford one weapon, and it's hard to shoot ducks in flight with a rifle, but it's easy to shoot deer with a shotgun. It doesn't make it hard to punch the bullet down the barrel, not if you're using the correct-sized round UNLIKE ME HURR DURR.

Quote:
What kind of accuracy could be expected from a rifled musket firing cylindricle lead ammunition?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=97IGPQ7KaMY&feature=related

Half that spread for minie ball and you're close enough.

Quote:
Finally, what is the difference in explosive power between black and smokeless powder? I'm debating making smokeless power common instead of black powder.
Black powder is illegal to own in quantities greater than one pound without building a "magazine" to store them in, as it's classified as a low explosive. And by "magazine" I mean "bomb shelter". This is what the ATF uses as an example. You have to sign a form when you buy it so that the ATF can track sales. You can buy smokeless powder by the truckload and nobody gives a s**t.  
PostPosted: Wed Sep 28, 2011 4:11 pm
im glad that black powder is relatively easy to make. although the quality can be rather shitty if not done right  

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Das Rabble Rouser

Invisible Phantom

PostPosted: Thu Sep 29, 2011 8:15 am
Black powder is also somewhat unstable from what I hear and it doesn't have a shelf life anywhere near what you can get out of smokeless.  
PostPosted: Thu Sep 29, 2011 8:27 am
Das Rabble Rouser
Black powder is also somewhat unstable from what I hear and it doesn't have a shelf life anywhere near what you can get out of smokeless.
Yeah, it tends to suck moisture out of the air and go all inert and clumpy. Thank god for Arizona.

Also, if your house lights on fire, a pound keg of black powder will do a surprising amount of damage. I've got mine stored against the exterior wall, and I don't doubt it'd blow a hole through it.  

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Das Rabble Rouser

Invisible Phantom

PostPosted: Thu Sep 29, 2011 12:59 pm
Fresnel
Das Rabble Rouser
Black powder is also somewhat unstable from what I hear and it doesn't have a shelf life anywhere near what you can get out of smokeless.
Yeah, it tends to suck moisture out of the air and go all inert and clumpy. Thank god for Arizona.

Also, if your house lights on fire, a pound keg of black powder will do a surprising amount of damage. I've got mine stored against the exterior wall, and I don't doubt it'd blow a hole through it.
Yeah but think how much more damage smokeless would do. razz  
PostPosted: Thu Sep 29, 2011 2:08 pm
Das Rabble Rouser
Fresnel
Das Rabble Rouser
Black powder is also somewhat unstable from what I hear and it doesn't have a shelf life anywhere near what you can get out of smokeless.
Yeah, it tends to suck moisture out of the air and go all inert and clumpy. Thank god for Arizona.

Also, if your house lights on fire, a pound keg of black powder will do a surprising amount of damage. I've got mine stored against the exterior wall, and I don't doubt it'd blow a hole through it.
Yeah but think how much more damage smokeless would do. razz
Smokeless just kind of burns. Smokeless works on the same principle as dry ice bombs, it just builds pressure until it explodes, but without a decent pressure chamber, it just boils. Black powder is a true explosive.  

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Char-pun

Shadowy Rogue

PostPosted: Thu Sep 29, 2011 4:25 pm
Buck n' ball loads and loading a musket with alot of shot just makes whoever standing at the other end of the barrel will have a unlucky day.  
PostPosted: Thu Sep 29, 2011 6:40 pm
******** cordite, the other smokeless propellant  

Recon_Ninja_985

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Requiem ex Inferni

Eloquent Streaker

PostPosted: Tue Oct 04, 2011 6:41 pm
Sheer weight of the ball, plus the fact that it would mushroom inside the target due to being made of lead, pretty much ensured that a chest should would be lethal, and a shot to an extremity would result in you losing that limb. The only modern caliber that might leave a hole the size of what a musket ball can do is possibly .50 BMG (aka the round which has been known to rip men in two and tear limbs clean off due to it being designed for shooting down ******** AIRPLANES).

I believe they demonstrated this on a show, where they put an old .58 caliber musket up against a Mauser 98k. The Mauser round left a clean hole of moderate size in it's ballistic gel, whereas the musket practically blew the gel apart. The only real consolation is that due to their shape, musket balls are not very aerodynamic, and thus have s**t accuracy and range (if you want to see this effect, fire a paintball gun at a target more than fifty feet away. Half your paintballs will veer wildly off-course.) It's the reason modern ammo has it's look- better aerodynamics, and it's also why they had large numbers of musketeers stand side-by-side in battles during wars- they made up for the s**t accuracy with sheer volume of fire.  
PostPosted: Wed Oct 05, 2011 2:22 pm
Requiem in Mortis
Sheer weight of the ball, plus the fact that it would mushroom inside the target due to being made of lead, pretty much ensured that a chest should would be lethal, and a shot to an extremity would result in you losing that limb. The only modern caliber that might leave a hole the size of what a musket ball can do is possibly .50 BMG (aka the round which has been known to rip men in two and tear limbs clean off due to it being designed for shooting down ******** AIRPLANES).

I believe they demonstrated this on a show, where they put an old .58 caliber musket up against a Mauser 98k. The Mauser round left a clean hole of moderate size in it's ballistic gel, whereas the musket practically blew the gel apart. The only real consolation is that due to their shape, musket balls are not very aerodynamic, and thus have s**t accuracy and range (if you want to see this effect, fire a paintball gun at a target more than fifty feet away. Half your paintballs will veer wildly off-course.) It's the reason modern ammo has it's look- better aerodynamics, and it's also why they had large numbers of musketeers stand side-by-side in battles during wars- they made up for the s**t accuracy with sheer volume of fire.
Thanks.  

Private Sanders

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