Is there a max velocity for black powder rifles in relation to the burn rate of the powder? What type of max range would that mean?
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May 30, 2007, 02:02 PM
you might try Goex at www.goexpowder.com.
May 30, 2007, 04:24 PM
Journee's rule states the maximum range in yards of lead round balls at the velocities achieved in muskets and shotguns is 2200 times the diameter of the ball in inches. A .545 round ball has a maximum range of 1200 yards, and a #8 shot will only travel 198 yards.
I can't address the velocity part of your question. I imagine the powder is only one of several factors involved.
May 30, 2007, 05:59 PM
I can only answer in a vague sort of way.
There is a maximum velocity and apparently it depends on the resistance of the bullet in the bore. Apparently, the more resistance, the faster the round for a given weight of charge.
Case #1: Lead bullets seem to peak out around 1350 fps. There are examples that go higher with very much lighter bullets and finer granulations of powder. This was one of the reasons that the black powder guns got bigger and bigger in bore size--so that the velocity limit could push more lead.
Case#2: The .303 British was originally a black powder cartridge with a jacketed bullet. The original loading was about 1800 fps and that was attributed to the greater resistance of the jacketed bullet.
Hope that helps some.
May 30, 2007, 06:10 PM
The most impressive sniper shot recorded in the black powder era was at the Battle of Spotsylvania, an 800-yard fatal head shot.
Union General John Sedgwick was chiding his troops for taking cover when the Confederate snipers were a half-mile away. He was the guy famous for these last words: "They couldn't hit an elephant at this dist. . . ."
This is the rifle used: http://johno.myiglou.com/whitworth.htm
I have a friend who hunts with a replica of one. It's sitting near his front door as we speak, under a bunch of mounts.
The problem with the rifle was not black powder's burn rate. The barrel is 36" long. The problem is with black powder's considerable fouling, making it difficult to load the very precise hexagonal-rifled barrel of a Whitworth, unless it is freshly-cleaned.
Black powder does have limitations. However, its effective range can be far greater than people think, when used in a rifle and with a bullet optimized for the old propellant.
Surely, an 800-yard head shot is still considered impressive with a modern rifle.
May 30, 2007, 06:21 PM
He unseated an Indian brave off his horse at a distance later measured to be 1,538 yards. Billy used a .50-90 caliber Sharps, a blackpowder cartridge rifle. ;)
May 30, 2007, 06:37 PM
I was thinking "muzzleloader era."
The Black Powder Era stretched on for a couple more decades.
Early bolt-action infantry rifles were fitted with "volley sights", which were additional side-mounted sights that were designed for long-distance ballistic arc shooting like long range artillery sights.
They were used to fire rifle bullets in volleys to rain them down on enemy positions 1500-2600 meters away.