Loading and shooting an original Whitworth

Discussion in 'Blackpowder' started by orpington, Jan 13, 2022 at 10:07 PM.

  1. orpington

    orpington Member

    Jan 17, 2014
    How would one go about doing this?
  2. hawg

    hawg Member

    Oct 19, 2011
    Drop 80 grains of 2F powder down the bore. Follow it with a .451 hexagonal bullet. Cap it, cock it, aim and fire.
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  3. shootemup58

    shootemup58 Member

    Feb 10, 2021
    Might want to have it checked by a competent black powder gunsmith first.
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  4. .38 Special

    .38 Special Member

    Sep 15, 2006
    It's kind of a big subject, though less so if you already have experience with "long range" percussion rifles. (If you don't, I'd start here: http://www.researchpress.co.uk/index.php/marksmanship/lrml/pedersoli-gibbs )

    The Whitworth itself will follow most of the advice given in that article. The hex rifling does present something of a unique circumstance, but most of the folks who are really making them work well are still using "round" bullets. These should be about .0005 smaller than the bore, with the idea that they will be run down to the breech with just the weight of the steel loading rod. I believe a wad of either vegetable fiber or cloth is always used, and apparently the powder charge should be 70 to 100 grains, depending upon distance. Swiss 1.5g is the nearly universal choice.

    Hexagonal bullets are the master class, historically correct but not nearly as common as cylindrical bullets. I know of no sources for pre-made bullets. Pedersoli occasionally offers a mold, but it apparently is of poor quality. Better quality molds are available here and there, from custom makers, at enormous cost. One example: https://www.castbulletengineering.com.au/new-products/product/3721-kal-hexagonal-whitworth-bullet-mould.

    The best source of info on the rifle, so far as I know, is gunwriter Ross Seyfried, who has explored the topic thoroughly. I am not aware of any online source for relevant articles, though. A determined researcher may do well to contact him directly.

    Beyond that, Research Press has a brief article at http://www.researchpress.co.uk/index.php/research/hexbore/loading-the-whitworth and "capandball.com" has an interesting but limited YouTube video here:

    Last edited: Jan 14, 2022 at 1:27 AM
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  5. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    Florence, Alabama
    DeWitt Bailey II did a series of articles in 1971, 1972, and 1973 Gun Digest on British muzzleloaders, including Whitworth and its successors. More historical than instructional, though.

    From a Research Press article, Mr Whitworth is quoted:
    “Accordingly a gallery, 500 yards in length, was erected in my grounds at Rusholme (Manchester), in the year 1855. Its height was 20 feet and width 16 feet; it was slated, and had openings on the south side only for the admission of light and for getting rid of the smoke.”

    I wish pictures of that gallery had been preserved.
  6. woodnbow
    • Contributing Member

    woodnbow Contributing Member

    Feb 19, 2007
    I’ve saved a bunch of Ross’s work over the years, sadly missed his writing on the whitworth. I used to run into him semi regularly at gun shows down in Denver. If you were looking for him, you’d start with the vendors showing double rifles and fine shotguns!
    .38 Special likes this.
  7. Zygodactyl

    Zygodactyl Member

    Dec 2, 2020
    I was looking through Small Arms and Ammunition in the United States Service by Lewis (1956). That had photos of original Whitworth Cartridges and bullets. They were provided both in hex and round versions. Photos of the bullets show both were paper patched.
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