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Did the bell-shaped muzzle on a blunderbuss serve any function?

Discussion in 'Blackpowder' started by DickP, Aug 31, 2016.

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  1. DickP

    DickP Member

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    Such a strange design element - did it serve any purpose?
     
  2. csa77

    csa77 Member

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    id guess its to facilitate faster loading
     
  3. Captcurt

    Captcurt Member

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    Early shotgun.

    The flare was to serve two purposes. To make it easier to load while on horseback or in a battle and to help spread the shot.
     
  4. Arizona_Mike

    Arizona_Mike Member

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    Except it did not actually spread shot. It was a built in loading funnel.

    Mike
     
  5. zb338

    zb338 Member

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    I understand one of the reasons for the big muzzle was
    the fear factor.

    Zeke
     
  6. Redlg155

    Redlg155 Member

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    Cause it looks dashing with a Pilgrim Belt and buckle shoes!

    The above two...and. even my response would be the best answer.
     
  7. barnbwt

    barnbwt member

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    Loudener

    Simpsons-Gun-Loudener.jpg

    There is also a possible structural reason, at least for early cast iron or brass barrels; that rolled edge bead you see on cannon of the era was to add a little strength at the muzzle where cracking/splitting due to poor metallurgy tended to start, without adding lots of weight. The effect is similar on a flared bell (like the rolled hem on a brass instrument, which greatly stiffens the feature against damage & improves resonance) like the Blunderbuss, and has a bonus as functioning as a reloading funnel. I have my doubts the funnel aspect was all that crucial, since containers like powder horns were already in use to facilitate easy loading. One theory I've read is the funnel made it easier to shovel in assorted debris to use as shotgun projectiles, which makes more sense than for the adding of powder.

    TCB
     
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2016
  8. Curator

    Curator Member

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    Yup, funnel assisted in loading and strengthened the muzzle. Blunderbus were used by the Navy to repel boarders, also from high in the rigging to sweep the deck of a ship along side. They were popular with coachmen to repel highwaymen as well. The flared muzzle was a great assist in reloading from a bouncing stage coach. A study done years ago on he various types of flared muzzles (oval, round, flattened) did show some shot spread benefit, but not much.
     
  9. Bang!

    Bang! Member

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    Great question.
     
  10. woerm

    woerm Member

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    "speed" loading of loose powder/shot usually on horseback or carriage these were the close range trench brooms of their day used same way on naval boarding parties too
     
  11. DickP

    DickP Member

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    Thanks guys!
     
  12. Arizona_Mike

    Arizona_Mike Member

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    If you can locate this study I'd be interested in reading it.

    My understanding of the duckbill is that the vertical constriction is the only thing that allows the horizontal constriction to work and that a mere opening should not have more impact on shot than the same length of open air.

    Mike
     
  13. lysanderxiii

    lysanderxiii Member

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    They thought it did.

    Many of the later ones (circa 1740-1820) are really not all that flared at the muzzle.

    8-10-15%20091.jpg

    The standard RM blunderbuss was about a 1 inch bore flaring to around 2 inches at the muzzle. there is a lot of writings by prominent gun makers of the time espousing why their designs were better, and many are based on faulty assumptions and lack of knowledge of exterior ballistics. Such as curved bore to "prevent the action of gravity on the shot..."

    They actually did believe that a shallow increase in barrel bore helped spread the shot, a choke in reverse, if you will. We know better now, but they didn't.
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2016
  14. Hanshi

    Hanshi Member

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    Yes. It made reloading in a hurry rather easy compared to a non belled barrel.
     
  15. Fiv3r

    Fiv3r Member

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    It was done on accident. Why do you think it's called a blunderbus?:p
     
  16. barnbwt

    barnbwt member

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    I'll offer another theory, just hear me out for a sec on this wildly preposterous thought; maybe they just thought it looked cool? :p
     
  17. Carl N. Brown

    Carl N. Brown Member

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    The muzzle was flared to facilitate loading (a) if you were bouncing down the road on the seat of a stage coach or (b) swaying in a crows nest on the mast of a ship.

    I remember a guy took a replica blunderbuss and patterned it with shot, then cut the bell off where it began to flare and patterned it again as a regular cylinder bore shotgun. The patterns were were identical. The flared bell did not spread the shot.

    Sure, a crushed belled muzzle will spread shot horizontally, but true blunderbusses have an evenly flared bell that does not touch the shot once the shot exits the cylinder part of the bore.
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2016
  18. Slamfire

    Slamfire Member

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    When I was a kid, and the books I was reading showed cartoon pilgrims carrying blunderbusses, I assumed that the flare was there to expand the shot pattern.


    blunderbuss-pilgrim.jpg

    To the ignorant mind, the theory of curved impetus just seems natural. It just seems natural that a ball, launched down a spiral tube, would take path A after exiting the tube.

    Curved%20Impetus_zpsqi18timx.jpg

    Impetus theory was around for a long time, a number of famous people believed it, because, it was so intuitive. A ball going in a circle will continue going in a circle. Right?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theory_of_impetus
    http://www.vanderbilt.edu/AnS/physics/astrocourses/ast203/impetus_theory.html

    It was not until years later that I learned Newtonian physics which of course, gave the reason why the ball would follow path B on exiting the tube. The Pilgrims landed in Massachusetts in 1620 and Newton was born in 1640, so if the Pilgrims carried Blunderbusses, it is unlikely that anyone would have questioned impetus theory based on Newtonian physics.

    So, I am of the opinion that the shooting community then, followed intuitive beliefs, and that was incorporated into the design of the blunderbuss. A flared muzzle would appear very imposing if it was pointed at you, more imposing than a straight cylinder, and as stated earlier, it would be easy to load. A blunderbuss met expectations and followed the nonsense theories of the age.

    We of course are so much smarter, which is why the shooting community believes that Ackley improved cartridges reduce bolt thrust, because they are straight. Tapered cases look like wedges, and wedges split things, so a tapered case must therefore create bolt thrust. Removing that taper also must remove the bolt thrust, because the case is less wedge like, and this is all so intuitive. P.O. Ackley made a career claiming this, had a whole line of cartridges named after him in fact. Gunwriters for the last 70 years have been promoting this, and it is total nonsense. It is an intuitive belief that does not work in actual practice because cartridges are thin brass tubes, not solid wedges. They are also not designed to carry any load. Whenever there is friction between the case and chamber that tube stretches, and stressing a brass case to take load off steel bolt lugs is a very stupid idea. Whatever "tests" that P.O. Ackley ran are pseudo science nonsense, but accepted non critically by the shooting community.

    So, regardless of the nonsense theories about impetus theory and a flared muzzle creating a more lethal weapon, we are not so different from cartoon Pilgrims in our understanding of physics.
     
  19. MistWolf

    MistWolf Member

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    What evidence do you have that a a straight case does not reduce bolt thrust compared to a tapered case?
     
  20. mr wack

    mr wack Member

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    Ease of loading in awkward situations and a very cool intimidation factor,:evil:
     
  21. D. Buck Stopshere

    D. Buck Stopshere Member

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    The pilgrims landed in the early 1600's and the flintlock did not appear until late 1600's - early 1700's in America, so the cartoons and characters that have appeared in modern print are a bit off in their description of carried firearms.

    I suppose a pilgrim carrying a "period correct" matchlock fowler or musket isn't attractive enough to the reading public like a blunderbuss.

    As noted, the bell of the muzzle offered the fellow easier loading on a bouncing coach or carriage.
     
  22. Slamfire

    Slamfire Member

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    How can it?

    I would like to read your theory. Think about what would reduce bolt thrust. If P.O. Ackley had claimed pink cartridge cases reduced bolt thrust, would you accept that? Does color reduce bolt thrust, and why would the color pink reduce bolt thrust more than, lets say, blue?

    So, how does case shape reduce bolt thrust?

    And, what data did P.O. Ackley put out there to show that case shape reduced bolt thrust? Did he ever put bolt thrust data out into the public domain for his various cartridges? I would like to read that, data that shows by cartridge, by pressure, the bolt thrust.
     
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2016
  23. Carl N. Brown

    Carl N. Brown Member

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    OT OP, but: Most successful revolver cartridges are straight walled. The few attempts at tapered case revolver cartridges have not lasted long on the market. I have heard for years that the .22 Remington Jet, a highly tapered centerfire cartridge developed about 1961 for the Smith & Wesson Model 53, was a failure because the tapered case allowed the fired case to set back until after a few shots the cylinder would drag.
    Old discussion here: http://www.thehighroad.org/archive/index.php/t-363499.html
     
  24. Carl N. Brown

    Carl N. Brown Member

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    I believe the Pilgrims carried matchlock muskets with reinforced muzzles; over years of Thanksgiving cartoon art, they evolved into stereotypical blunderbusses. It's been awhile, but that's what I remember.
     
  25. 4v50 Gary

    4v50 Gary Moderator Staff Member

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    Loading from a bouncing carriage. That's why stages in England had them. The military had them for riot suppression (that is, military riots).
     
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