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  #1  
Old 11-08-2011, 10:43 PM
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Default Is This a Fired Musket-ball?

Bullet experts: thank you for taking a look.

This was found in an area that had some Rev. war activity. No battles - more of a trade area. It almost looks to have some grooves, as if it went through a rifled barrel... Weren't round balls only used in smoothbores?

Yes, it is lead. The patina under the dirt is white.

Any help would be appreciated - I'm still not even sure it's a bullet.

Thanks!
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Old 11-08-2011, 10:56 PM
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Muskets were smoothbores. Most in this country were also .69cal (not all, but most).

Round ball loads were commonly used in rifled barrels right up to the advent of metalic cartridges. A tight cloth or thin leather patch was used to make a gas seal around the ball, so rifling marks on a ball would be shallow if at all visable.

I still shoot round balls on occasion out of my muzzle loaders. The ball itself is typically about .01" smaller in diameter than the bore size of the weapon used. I shoot .490 RB's out of my .50cal.

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Old 11-09-2011, 01:22 AM
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most probably yes but quite devastated to hit ....
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Old 11-09-2011, 01:59 AM
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I'd say yes. I shoot mostly black powder flintlock rifles and use round balls. I have a few that I recovered after deer hunting that resemble what you have. If from a military musket it would be around .69 to .75 caliber. Most civilian smoothbores ran from .54 to .60 caliber. The rifles tended to run .32 - .54 during the revolution. Rifle calibers before the AWI could run up to .62 and then after about 1820 they averaged about .50 - .54 as folks started moving west. Here's a pic of one I built.
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Old 11-09-2011, 08:09 AM
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Originally Posted by mark_painter View Post
I'd say yes. I shoot mostly black powder flintlock rifles and use round balls. I have a few that I recovered after deer hunting that resemble what you have. If from a military musket it would be around .69 to .75 caliber. Most civilian smoothbores ran from .54 to .60 caliber. The rifles tended to run .32 - .54 during the revolution. Rifle calibers before the AWI could run up to .62 and then after about 1820 they averaged about .50 - .54 as folks started moving west. Here's a pic of one I built.
BEAUTIFUL rifle, Mark! Thanks for all that info, that really helps.

I think that would make this a civilian round - looks to be between .54 and .60. Hard to tell after being fired.

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Old 11-09-2011, 12:11 PM
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BEAUTIFUL rifle, Mark! Thanks for all that info, that really helps.

I think that would make this a civilian round - looks to be between .54 and .60. Hard to tell after being fired.
It's really hard to say whether Civilian, Military, Indian or Militia. Militia were sometimes armed by the state but were known to use their own rifles. Most military were issued muskets, but there are instances where they used their own rifles. Indians primarily purchased smoothbores (the NorthWest trade gun was very popular among the natives), but we know they also had rifles.

Regardless, that's a great find!
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  #7  
Old 11-13-2011, 11:19 PM
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It's definitely not from a rifle. Rifle bullets had a thin leather patch wrapped around them, so I doubt the rifling would make any indents on the bullet. More than likely it is just a bullet that missed it's target and hit a tree or rock.
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Old 11-14-2011, 06:38 AM
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It's definitely not from a rifle. Rifle bullets had a thin leather patch wrapped around them, so I doubt the rifling would make any indents on the bullet. More than likely it is just a bullet that missed it's target and hit a tree or rock.
Bullet patches were made of cloth, usually pillow ticking. Rifling would still show through quite often. As a matter of fact, on a freshly fired patched round ball, you can often see the imprint of the fabric also. The cloth patches were generally lubed to ease loading, if only with saliva (spit patch). A piece of cloth was laid over the muzzle and a ball pressed just inside the muzzle. Excess patch material was trimmed flush to the muzzle with a patch knife and the ball rammed home. Patch material and lube were often stored under a hinged cover (patch box) in the rifle stock.
As a side note for those interested, black powder fouling was corrosive and would make reloading difficult after only a few shots so frequent cleaning was necessary. In the field water was not always available so urine was considered a viable substitute.

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Old 11-14-2011, 07:24 AM
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Rifled barreled muskets as well as smooth bores shot round balls. The balls were patched to seal the expanding gasses from escaping around the ball when fired. The round ball could have rifling groves from a rifled barrel but it may not if the patch is thick and the ball isn't a tight fit.
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Old 11-14-2011, 09:25 AM
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Rifled barreled muskets as well as smooth bores shot round balls. The balls were patched to seal the expanding gasses from escaping around the ball when fired. The round ball could have rifling groves from a rifled barrel but it may not if the patch is thick and the ball isn't a tight fit.
Attachment 124742
now THAT'S a great photo!!!!! looks like the flame that flys out of my cannons' barrel, lol.

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Old 11-14-2011, 09:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lochwes View Post
It's definitely not from a rifle. Rifle bullets had a thin leather patch wrapped around them, so I doubt the rifling would make any indents on the bullet. More than likely it is just a bullet that missed it's target and hit a tree or rock.
I've used leather a couple of times and it's a pain in the butt to work with as a patch. I know of only one historical reference to using leather as a patch, but it's during the Rocky Mountain Fur trade era (1810 - 1840). Cloth was much more common


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Bullet patches were made of cloth, usually pillow ticking. Rifling would still show through quite often. As a matter of fact, on a freshly fired patched round ball, you can often see the imprint of the fabric also. The cloth patches were generally lubed to ease loading, if only with saliva (spit patch).

Exactly, but let's not leave out linen. It was prevalent on the frontier as many folks spun their own flax.

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Old 11-14-2011, 10:39 AM
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now THAT'S a great photo!!!!! looks like the flame that flys out of my cannons' barrel, lol.
Like from my cannon:

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Old 11-14-2011, 11:34 AM
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I've used leather a couple of times and it's a pain in the butt to work with as a patch.
Try using doe skin. It's very soft, thin, and easy to work with. I've used it before, and it's not that difficult. And it provides the very best gas seal.

Start with the hide in a (relatively small) sheet. Tap the ball into the muzzle just enough to be flush, and cut it off with a patch knife (or any sharp knife). It's easier to carry in a sheet than trying to pre-make them as round patches, and less likely to be mistakenly lost or dropped.

I agree that muslin was more common, but leather wasn't uncommon.

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Old 11-14-2011, 12:12 PM
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Like from my cannon:

Attachment 124778


Voriax
Yeah, I have one of these! Not as large, made it from a .12 Gauge barrel, still gives off a heckuva show!! The Concussion from it alone, without a ball or shrapnel in it, will destroy a tin can sitting 6 inches in front of it. Can only imagine what yours could do!! Wow!
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Old 11-14-2011, 12:27 PM
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This one is 48mm, fires a 600 gram lead ball. I also have two smaller ones, .75 and .45 cal. Then I have couple mortars. Check my album for some pics: http://metaldetectingforum.com/album.php?albumid=60

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