Pennsylvania rifles-- What is their real range?


July 26, 2003, 11:58 PM
I have read that they were used as "sniping" rifles during the F&I and Revolutionary wars. What was the realistic range for one of these beasts?

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Sir Galahad
July 27, 2003, 12:33 AM
I have read in various books that backwoodsmen with Pennsylvania rifles routinely picked off British soldiers at 200 yards. Many of these rifles were flatter shooting than the earlier predecessor, the Jaeger. For one thing, it had a longer barrel than the Jaeger. For another, it fired a smaller ball; that is, it was of a smaller caliber, usually .45 to .50 (this was a uniquely American advent---they were of smaller caliber to save on powder and lead in short supply in frontier communities and non-existant for the Long Hunter in the woods away from settlements, thusly, the Long Hunter needed to be able to carry plenty of powder and ball while minimizing weight.) The smaller ball fired flatter to some extent. The Jaeger rifles that came from Europe were usually bored from .52 to .62 caliber. Smoothbore muskets would usually be from .62 to .75 caliber. For a British soldier to be hit from well beyond what they considered effective musket range was a pretty impressive thing. So much so, that they began to develop their own rifles. Of course, they still had time to learn the hard way again at the Battle of New Orleans...

4v50 Gary
July 27, 2003, 12:44 AM
Longest range shot I know of with a flintlock rifle was about 600 yards. Look for article in Nov. 2003 edition of Muzzle Blasts Magazine. This is a rarity though and you'll learn more details when you read the article.

BTW, I know of several 300 or 400 yard shots. George Hanger talk of one during the Revolution. He was consulting with Lt. Col. Banastre Tarleton (the fellow "Tarlington" of "Patriot" was styled after) when an American rifleman was seen at a distance. The impudent fellow went supine and rested his gun on his foot and fired away. The bugleman's horse was behind that of Tarleton & Hanger. He suddenly dropped off and annouced to the two officers, "My horse is hit, sirs!" Sure enough, the horse then dropped and Hanger then suggested that he and Tarleton should retire before they provide more amusement to the riflemen. Hanger has paced the distance from where he and the rifleman were and swears that it was 400 yards.

During the Peninsular War one 5/60 Royal American was being harassed by a Frenchman at 400 yards. He got tired and asked an officer for permission to fire. Wearily and not thinking it possible, he consented and the German (with exception of the officers, most of 5/60 were actually Germans) fired away and his opponent was seen to fall.

If you want more of this type of stuff (with cites to sources, wait for my book). It's not academic but filled with "fun" little snippets of people blasting each other from afar. Inasmuch as I can, I try to quote directly from the source, complete with original spelling, punctuation and grammatical error, and leave the interpretation to the reader (Wallace Gusler of Williamsburg is doing the same thing with his book on the Virginia long rifle).

July 27, 2003, 07:55 PM
Not to get off subject, but when will your book be out 4v50 Gary.


4v50 Gary
July 27, 2003, 11:24 PM
Stoney - my target date is by year's end. Big problem right now is getting photographs or the right to reproduce same.

BTW, check out the "Beyond Friendship" column of the August 2003 edition Muzzle Blast. "The Lone Marksman revisited" has my research on the battle of New Orleans. I relied heavily on the accounts of two (British) 95th regiment men - Surtees & Sir Harry Smith - to explain how one American rifleman (E. Brank) was able to pull off his feat. He stood atop the parapet and waited for the British column to approach. Then he dealt out death from afar and continued to do so until he was masked by the sulphurous cloud. My article explains why he himself wasn't shot and gives the minimum distance from which he could have initiated combat.

Sir Galahad
July 27, 2003, 11:45 PM
Gary, can you post here when it comes out? I'd like to read it, too.

July 30, 2003, 08:19 PM
OK. You guys have succeeded in convincing me that I want one.
Now, where do I start? I would like a good working gun that will stand up to being used in real hunting. When I hunt, I hunt. I don't like pretty guns. I don't need intracate ornaments, and I don't really have the extra money for decorations like that either.
Where can I find one?
I would be open to possibly building one from a kit, but I am not overly skilled when it comes to mechanics.
All I really want is a good reliable shooter that is capable of the famed PA rifle accuracy. It also needs to have a twist that will stabilize round balls properly.

4v50 Gary
July 31, 2003, 11:35 AM
If you can get the time off, you may want to go to Canada to learn. There's a gunsmith who teaches there. Only $250 U.S. and you walk away with a complete gun (you pay parts and do all the work). Hey, I'm all thumbs but I've built some myself. Do a search under my name in this forum to find out more about the class.

If you go the store route, the cost will vary according to what you like/dislike. The Italian imitations (not really true to the original long rifles) can be as cheap as $250 (me thinks). The hand made ones here can go from $600 up. If you're near Friendship, IN, you may want to attend a match and see what you can buy. Either that or go to a Rendezvous (black powder shoot).

Mike Irwin
July 31, 2003, 12:06 PM
I watched my old boss at the newspaper, put 5 of 5 rounds into a 12" gong at 250 meters some years ago off a rest.

August 3, 2003, 12:10 AM
Is this an accurate repro?
I think I could manage this...

August 4, 2003, 09:20 AM
Not personally familiar with it, but Pedersoli is of good reputation. Would imagine you'll be happy with it. It should be a clear step above the Traditions and similar low-end type of muzzle-loaders. I put together a .50 cal Lyman pistol from kit, that was un-blued. Bought a cold-bluing kit and went after it with no previous experience. I'm still amazed that I was able to do it. Just take your time, follow directions, and read up about the stuff you'll be doing before you do it.

4v50 Gary
August 4, 2003, 06:01 PM
Most replicas are modernized for speed of production. Don't know if that kit has enough wood for relief carving. You can always add inlays. BBL looks kind of short (but a 30-32" barrel is optimal and the 40 plus inch barrels only real advantage is the longer sight radius). Hey, this is a starter gun and the price looks good to me.

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