Author Topic: The shooting of General Fraser  (Read 24523 times)

Offline Dphariss

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The shooting of General Fraser
« on: July 08, 2008, 04:52:01 AM »
I started thinking about the shots fired at Bristish officers during the Revolution and wondered just how hard 300 yard shots are. Using the killing of Fraser and Bemis Heights as my shot to reproduce. It is claimed that Murphy or one of Morgan's other riflemen killed Fraser at this distance.
Using a 50 caliber rifle I did some testing. First I consulted my ballistics program which seems to be in error with PRBs.
But anyway I fired 5 shots at 295 yards (laser) today and a "bad guy" target I buy at the local gunshop with 495 RB and 80 gr volume of FFFG Swiss.
I fired one shot with no hold over hoping to pick up the bullet strike. No luck so I fired another shot at a different spot and found the rifle was shooting several feet flatter than I thought it would. Guess I should have run it over the chronograph.
Holding 4 ft+- high and about 4 ft into the wind I fired 3 more shots. One would have killed or wounded his horse/hit the saddle or missed depending on stance. One was about 8" off the bad guy up wind at 10 o'clock and one was about 1.5" into the K-5 zone on the target at 2 o'clock from the center of the K-5.
I judged this a success, the shots fired aside from the 2 sighters were very much like that described for the shots fired at Fraser.  Some luck involved of course but it DID work as detailed. Had I known the rifle better no sighters would have been needed. But 300 yards is farther than I generally shoot.
This using a Suburban hood for a rest.

Dan


« Last Edit: July 08, 2008, 05:04:03 AM by Dphariss »
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Candle Snuffer

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Re: The shooting of General Fraser
« Reply #1 on: July 08, 2008, 05:59:59 AM »
Dan,

Thanks for the report.  I to enjoy doing test like this.  Sometimes we surprise ourself with the results, but then come to realize that, yes, why wouldn't these test be accurate to a degree of how history records they happened.

Perhaps after Rendezvous, our ALR Chunk Match, and this months local club match,,, maybe in August I can get back to some of my own testing.

Again, thanks for the report! :)

medbill

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Re: The shooting of General Fraser
« Reply #2 on: July 08, 2008, 06:00:46 AM »
You even painted him red, good show!!!

Daryl

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Re: The shooting of General Fraser
« Reply #3 on: July 08, 2008, 06:56:55 AM »
It was an easy 'feat' to consistantly hit a 2' diameter steel plate at 300 metrs with the .69. My third leaf was zero'd at that range with 165g.r 2F and a 480gr. round ball. I can tell you that 14 bore would have killed him and the guy behind him as well, probably.

Candle Snuffer

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Re: The shooting of General Fraser
« Reply #4 on: July 08, 2008, 07:04:48 AM »
Here is some back ground on the killing of Gen. Fraser...  We do know that targets can be hit out to 300 yards with the round ball.  Regardless if it is ever determined 12 rods or 300 to 500 yards,,, a shot was made as was history.  I thought this read was pretty interesting;

http://www.earlyamerica.com/review/2003_summer_fall/fraser.htm#_edn1

Offline Dphariss

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Re: The shooting of General Fraser
« Reply #5 on: July 08, 2008, 09:22:09 PM »
It was an easy 'feat' to consistantly hit a 2' diameter steel plate at 300 metrs with the .69. My third leaf was zero'd at that range with 165g.r 2F and a 480gr. round ball. I can tell you that 14 bore would have killed him and the guy behind him as well, probably.

The 16 bore shoots really well at 180-200 in "shoot the rock" testing. Easy to hit stuff at this distance with one leaf up on the sight.  Guess I should put it on paper. It will break  2"+ thick limestone at this distance with hardened balls. Its by far the most impressive RB rifle I have ever shot. Hitting a man sized silhouette at 200 with this rifle would be very easy.
Have not tried it at 300 though I have another leaf that should be on at 250-300.
The three shots at 300 with the 50 would have gone into about 30-36".
I may try my son's 45 at 300 just for fun.
May take a larger piece of plywood out for a target backing.

Dan
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Offline Dphariss

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Re: The shooting of General Fraser
« Reply #6 on: July 08, 2008, 09:41:46 PM »
Here is some back ground on the killing of Gen. Fraser...  We do know that targets can be hit out to 300 yards with the round ball.  Regardless if it is ever determined 12 rods or 300 to 500 yards,,, a shot was made as was history.  I thought this read was pretty interesting;

http://www.earlyamerica.com/review/2003_summer_fall/fraser.htm#_edn1

As with many such things 100-200 years out the legend often takes over.

Morgan's account of sending several men is probably the accurate one. He wanted Fraser taken out and sent a detachment to shoot him. I doubt even the men in the group knew who actually shot him if they shot together.

Dan
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J.D.

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Re: The shooting of General Fraser
« Reply #7 on: July 08, 2008, 10:36:15 PM »
The 16 bore shoots really well at 180-200 in "shoot the rock" testing. Easy to hit stuff at this distance with one leaf up on the sight.  Guess I should put it on paper. It will break  2"+ thick limestone at this distance with hardened balls. Its by far the most impressive RB rifle I have ever shot. Hitting a man sized silhouette at 200 with this rifle would be very easy.
Have not tried it at 300 though I have another leaf that should be on at 250-300.
The three shots at 300 with the 50 would have gone into about 30-36".
I may try my son's 45 at 300 just for fun.
May take a larger piece of plywood out for a target backing.
Dan


What style of flip up rear sight do you use? Can I assume it is similar to Daryl's English express sight?

Thanks,
J.D.

Candle Snuffer

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Re: The shooting of General Fraser
« Reply #8 on: July 09, 2008, 03:41:04 AM »
Here is some back ground on the killing of Gen. Fraser...  We do know that targets can be hit out to 300 yards with the round ball.  Regardless if it is ever determined 12 rods or 300 to 500 yards,,, a shot was made as was history.  I thought this read was pretty interesting;

http://www.earlyamerica.com/review/2003_summer_fall/fraser.htm#_edn1

As with many such things 100-200 years out the legend often takes over.

Morgan's account of sending several men is probably the accurate one. He wanted Fraser taken out and sent a detachment to shoot him. I doubt even the men in the group knew who actually shot him if they shot together.

Dan

I agree Dan.  I also believe the killing of Fraser was at that time a feat equal to the British sinking the Bismarck in WWII...  The effect it would have on morale for the Americans would have to be tremendous.

Testing the potential legend -vs- potential fact is what makes this part of muzzle loading very interesting, and I would urge everyone who has an interest in historical marksmanship to try these feats of both the potential legend and potential facts.  It's a great study! 

Offline Dphariss

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Re: The shooting of General Fraser
« Reply #9 on: July 09, 2008, 06:37:33 AM »
The 16 bore shoots really well at 180-200 in "shoot the rock" testing. Easy to hit stuff at this distance with one leaf up on the sight.  Guess I should put it on paper. It will break  2"+ thick limestone at this distance with hardened balls. Its by far the most impressive RB rifle I have ever shot. Hitting a man sized silhouette at 200 with this rifle would be very easy.
Have not tried it at 300 though I have another leaf that should be on at 250-300.
The three shots at 300 with the 50 would have gone into about 30-36".
I may try my son's 45 at 300 just for fun.
May take a larger piece of plywood out for a target backing.
Dan




What style of flip up rear sight do you use? Can I assume it is similar to Daryl's English express sight?

Thanks,
J.D.

Its an English style rifle. I built the sights. Standing bar rear with 2 leaves at the rear. Need to weld up the notch in the standing bar. The smaller notches in the leaves seem to work better for me. Front is fairly wide made of silver with an iron base. I wanted something I could pickup easy.

Dan
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northmn

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Re: The shooting of General Fraser
« Reply #10 on: July 09, 2008, 03:30:16 PM »
Long range hits with ML round balls have occurred.  People actually used to do so with other rifles before scopes came in. Hitting a clay pidgeon at 100 yards with iron sights amazed one of my firends sons.  At 500 meters my son preferred the iron sights over the military red dot.  What really messes things up is that if you have a sight or a hold over for a given range, even a little cross wind can blow off a round ball, especially the small bores.  British sportsmen have been recorded extolling the virtues of their big bores for western hunting.  Of course they had a contingent of servants that also set their silver and lace graced tables and lugged all that lead around that the American traders and hunters did not have. Where practical I think the bigger bores are better.  Revolutionary war rifles varied in bore diameter, but some were in the neighborhood of 60 caliber.  Also, if hit, the individual was apt to die as medicines back then were often counterproductive, as in leeching.  More losses occured from dysentary and dissertion than combat.

DP

Offline Long John

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Re: The shooting of General Fraser
« Reply #11 on: July 09, 2008, 04:17:57 PM »
We routinely shoot at 200 to 300 yards with our long rifles.  These are historically accurate recreations of rifles that would have been modern in 1770. 

For 100 yards I hold dead on.  For 150 yards I hold 1/2 of my front sight above the rear and then put the top of the front sight where I want to hit.  For 200 yards I put all of the front sight blade above the rear sight and put the top of the front sight where I want to hit.  For 300 yards I hold with the top of the rear sight below the base of the front sight by a distance equal to the height of the front sightand put the top of the front sight on what I want to hit.  Aiming is a two stage affair: get the sights properly alligned with a solid cheek-weld and then put the front sight on the target.  It is Elmer Kieth style shooting.  You will be amazed at what you can hit this way!  By the way, I am shooting a 47 inch long, 54 caliber Getz barrel, rifled with radius grooves one turn in 72 inches.  My load is a 520 swaged ball with an .020 patch lubed with bees wax/bear grease over 85 grains of GOEX FFFg.

I would not try shooting deer beyond 100 yards, but woodchucks and coyotes are a different matter!

Best Regards,

John Cholin

Daryl

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Re: The shooting of General Fraser
« Reply #12 on: July 09, 2008, 04:32:41 PM »
Long-John- that is the method Taylor and I used back in the 70's to present for long range shooting with fixed sights.  Taylor's .62 Hawken 1/2 stock had a wear bar on the top flat from rubbing on the wooden bench when loading, that when the gun was mounted in the shooting position, made a white bar appear across the barrel. Holding the rifle with the front sigth proud so the rear sight's top edge was touching this bright line and with the front sight on the target, gave a 325yard zero.  It was easier to do that to explain it.  Yes, this is Elmer's system and one I used to advantage with my .44 mag. for long range shooting at the same 325 yard target.  It was usually good for 5 out of 6 hits from Elmer's reclining-sitting-position, reveolver between the knees. The target was about 18" in diameter.  We routinely hit it with Taylor's .62 and my .50 Bauska barrel's 1/2 stock as well as Tracy's .36 Seneca with 128gr. slugs.
: Long range shooting is a blast with a muzzleloader.

Offline Dphariss

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Re: The shooting of General Fraser
« Reply #13 on: July 10, 2008, 04:37:36 AM »
Long range hits with ML round balls have occurred.  People actually used to do so with other rifles before scopes came in. Hitting a clay pidgeon at 100 yards with iron sights amazed one of my firends sons.  At 500 meters my son preferred the iron sights over the military red dot.  What really messes things up is that if you have a sight or a hold over for a given range, even a little cross wind can blow off a round ball, especially the small bores.  British sportsmen have been recorded extolling the virtues of their big bores for western hunting.  Of course they had a contingent of servants that also set their silver and lace graced tables and lugged all that lead around that the American traders and hunters did not have. Where practical I think the bigger bores are better.  Revolutionary war rifles varied in bore diameter, but some were in the neighborhood of 60 caliber.  Also, if hit, the individual was apt to die as medicines back then were often counterproductive, as in leeching.  More losses occured from dysentary and dissertion than combat.

DP

Ruxton had a 24 bore. I think Stewart had a 20. Some came west with larger bores. A 24 bore was not considered all that big by the British of the period, basically a deer stalking rifle. Both these men were apparently pretty good with a rifle. Stewart claimed his 20 bore killed more meat on less powder and lead than the American Rifles at one of the Rendezvous he attended in the 1830s.
I agree that Stewart did not hurt much for funding. But he was not overly equipped as I recall as some of the higher end europeans were. When he inherited he pretty much staid home.

I wonder what caliber the man was shooting to killed the "bugle man's" horse at 400 yards in Hangers account. Would need to be 54 or larger to pull off such a shot. Col Hanger was a rifleman and one of the best shots in England so his account is not that of a neophyte where rifles are concerned.

Dan
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Candle Snuffer

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Re: The shooting of General Fraser
« Reply #14 on: July 10, 2008, 07:10:05 AM »
I recall reading that account as well, Dan.  Now someone correct me if I'm wrong, but in Germany wasn't the riflemen there using Jaeger Rifles and routinely holding rifle matches out to 200 yards?

It does make one wonder what caliber and rifle was being employed when the "bugle man's" horse was shot?  Could very well have been a large bore Jaeger?

Offline Dphariss

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Re: The shooting of General Fraser
« Reply #15 on: July 10, 2008, 08:21:01 AM »
I recall reading that account as well, Dan.  Now someone correct me if I'm wrong, but in Germany wasn't the riflemen there using Jaeger Rifles and routinely holding rifle matches out to 200 yards?

It does make one wonder what caliber and rifle was being employed when the "bugle man's" horse was shot?  Could very well have been a large bore Jaeger?

The ball could just have hit some magic spot and got a major artery, but a 54 is getting pretty weak at this distance. I have read accounts of African Elephants being killed with 22rf. Don't know if it was TRUE but anything is possible.

Dan
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Daryl

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Re: The shooting of General Fraser
« Reply #16 on: July 10, 2008, 02:32:29 PM »
 We know for a fact, that a .54 RB, driven by 100gr. of RS Pyrodex, will penetrate to the off side of a big bull moose, piercing a rib on the off side, to come to rest under the hide.  If you've not seen a moose rib, it's about 3/8" in diameter and up to about 1 3/4" wide on a big bull, in the middle of the rib cage.  They have about 3/4" of muscle between them and are very springie, not ridgidly held in place. The range of the above mentioned shot was 170yards.  I saw it happen from about 800 yards away while we were 'dressing' another big bull this one had been fighting with.  I figured the foot pounds of energy at impact to be approximately 210. So much for needing 1,000 for a deer and 1,500FPE for moose or elk as most of the gun-writers like to quote.

 With enough weight, ie: a large diameter, a round ball could be lethal as long as it's in the air, depending on the recipient.

 The US military techy's of the 1880's found that as long as a military ball or bullet would make a  3/8" dent in pine, it would be lethal to a man.

northmn

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Re: The shooting of General Fraser
« Reply #17 on: July 10, 2008, 05:20:27 PM »
When I read Hangers acccount I believe somewhere there was a comment about it being a long rifle.  For some reason people seem to think that smallbores predominated in the East.  In my book on Kentucky Rifles by Johnson there are several pictures of large bore early rifles.  The JP Beck pictures I have been looking at closely include rifles of over 50 cal.  I had a blueprint of a 62 cal Southern rifle that included the comments that they were big bore because powder and shot were too expensive to waste on small game.  It was a Revolutionary war dated rifle.  You cannot generalize about the calibers shot during that time.  The smaller bores got more popular in the East as it became more settled, which it was in some areas and in others still pretty wild during the Revolution.
When I made the comment about medicine of the day I should have been more clear.  A round ball at 300 yards hitting vitals would kill him.  A round ball that did not hit vitals but still penetrated would likely kill him from infection.  Even if he was hit by a 45 at that range it would have been lethal.  A gut shot if you will would not have to go deep, just break open an intestine.  Even in the war between the states, more did not survive hits than did due to infection.
   
DP
« Last Edit: July 11, 2008, 12:51:51 AM by northmn »

Offline Dphariss

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Re: The shooting of General Fraser
« Reply #18 on: July 11, 2008, 01:29:14 AM »
When I read Hangers acccount I believe somewhere there was a comment about it being a long rifle.  For some reason people seem to think that smallbores predominated in the East.  In my book on Kentucky Rifles by Johnson there are several pictures of large bore early rifles.  The JP Beck pictures I have been looking at closely include rifles of over 50 cal.  I had a blueprint of a 62 cal Southern rifle that included the comments that they were big bore because powder and shot were too expensive to waste on small game.  It was a Revolutionary war dated rifle.  You cannot generalize about the calibers shot during that time.  The smaller bores got more popular in the East as it became more settled, which it was in some areas and in others still pretty wild during the Revolution.

DP

I can't find the exact quote but an English officer claimed that he never saw an American rifle larger than 30 to the pound.
Now we know this is not 100% correct. But it is accurate. I think it was Hanger since he claimed to have examined a great many rifles but cannot find the citation.
Why would someone of limited means shoot deer (for example) with a 62 when a 45 or 50 will kill just as well on 1/2 the lead??
Example. I have shot quite a number of deer sized animals with 50, 54 and 58 RB rifles. They typically run 30-50 yards when shot through the lungs. This also holds true to many cartridge guns both modern and archaic. While I have only shot one deer with it I have a rifle that shoots a .662 ball. This deer shot at the base of the throat at about 40 yards ran 55 long steps when the top of its heart gone. This falls into my "typical" run distance in fact just a little over.
I have shot deer through the lungs at 140 steps with a 50 caliber RB the deer made 40 yards+-. Thus from the standpoint of a hunter in the east where shots are generally under 100 there is no real advantage to a bore larger than 50 even for larger game with good shot placement.
We have numerous surviving rifles from the Colonial era in near new condition that are 42-48 caliber. We have a written account by John Joseph Henry in "Colonial Riflemen in the American Revolution" by Huddleston that details a rifle he bought to replace one lost in a river crossing while enroute to Quebec. It was a short barreled rifle of 45 to the pound (155 grains or about 47-48 caliber) and from how he wrote the account in his Journal it was larger than the one he lost.
We must think ECONOMICS. If a 50 caliber ball will kill any game you hunt you do not need a larger bore.
Then we have the "freshed barrel" factor. Freshing i.e. recutting rifling was very common. It will enlarge the barrel 1-2 calibers every time. if we have a rifle that was made in 1770, used until 1830+- then converted to percussion and used even more we can have a rifle that started out as a 44-50 and is now 54-58-60. If the barrel was too thin to re-rifle it was likely bored smooth so it could at least be used as a shotgun. Some of these rifles were in service for generations.

I think a lot of people over look this when looking into calibers of surviving rifles. Look in Kindig's book at the number of rifle  Reedy freshed.

I think there were more rifles originally made smaller than 50 than above.
Then as now it was a matter of choice so THERE IS NO RULE. Even today with the number of surviving guns that have been recut and bored cailbers over 54 are rare.
Look at the American frontier of 1870-1900. People did not buy the heaviest caliber they could get in a cartridge rifle. They generally bought what would get them by. Sharps sold mostly 44-75 (77) and 45-75 (70) rifles The next to smallest 44 and the smallest 45 they made. The bigger cartridges were rare. The 1886 Winchester was available in about 8 different cartridges. But you see a LOT of 40-65s and 45-70s. The ammo was cheap and they worked well enough.

If I were a long hunter going to Kentucky to kill deer for the hides I would not take a rifle over 50 (a caliber I really like) and probably would use a 45. Maybe a 40. I can carry FAR more shots in my horn and pouch than with a 62. The 16 bore rifle's pouch gets MUCH heavier when 20 balls are added. I really like this rifle but it is FAR more expensive to shoot than a 50 or 54 and it is off the scale compared to a 40-45.

Dan
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northmn

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Re: The shooting of General Fraser
« Reply #19 on: July 11, 2008, 02:05:48 AM »
It is interesting that a lot of Beck rifles were built at about 50 caliber.  Dickerts were shown at between 45 and 50.  there were also a few 54's thrown in.  An article I just reread about the guns carried by the mountain men were mostly about 54 something like about 2 out of 3 by one maker.  These calibers seem to predominate in areas where shot and powder was to be conserved.  Likely the vast majority of rifles in the Revolution were in that caliber range.  But since they were hand made there were also a few bigger and a few smaller.  Also your British officer may have been stationed in an area where the smaller bores were more popular.  How many guns were freshed?  Who knows?  I just did not think that the rifleman that Hanger was observing used a Jaeger.  It was most likely a longrifle of 50 cal. give or take.  It did kill or disable a horse at that range but where was the horse hit?

DP

DP

Offline Elnathan

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Re: The shooting of General Fraser
« Reply #20 on: July 11, 2008, 03:53:00 AM »
Since the subject of original ball size has come up, here are all the period quotes I have found so far:

Quote
In 1804 Captain Barber, commander of the Duke of Cumberlan's Corps of Sharp-Shooters, published "Instructions for the Formation and Exercise of Volunteer Sharp-Shooters", in London. In that book he comments on rifles, and marksmanship, as well as tactics. Barber was a veteran of the American Revolution, and although his work was published in 1804, his is a period source none the less. Here's what he wrote,...,

"The rifle guns of America and Germany were formerly considered superior to those of any other country; and it must be admitted, that the long rifles of the Americans throw a ball 100 or 150 yards with more truth [accuracy], than the military rifles of this country [England]...,"

"The advantage in the American rifles, for short ranges [150 yards or less] is derived from the length of the barrel, which by having a longer continuance of the spiral grooves, more completely ensures its [the bullet's] rotary motion; it's length also by extending the two sights further asunder, diminishes the angle of any deviation that may happen in taking aim, and the smallness of the balls (generally from thirty to forty to the pound) requiring but little explosive force, further contribute to the nice preservation of the level [moderate recoil]."

Col. George Hanger- "no larger than thirty-six to the pound: at least I never saw one of larger caliber, and I have seen many hundreds and hundreds."

Isaac Weld- "thirty to sixty to the pound"

Rev. Joseph Doddridge- "few carried more than forty-five to the pound, and bullets of less size were not thought sufficiently heavy for hunting or war."



Make of that what you will. Weld is describing rifles from the 1790s, so things may have changed in the interim. I think Barbar was writing earlier than Hanger, and sounds more reliable, though that may be my personal biases speaking (Hanger was not particularly bright, I believe, and his statement cannot be taken literally in any case.)
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northmn

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Re: The shooting of General Fraser
« Reply #21 on: July 11, 2008, 01:32:23 PM »
Two things stand out in those observations.  First the calibers ran between about 42 (60 to a pound to 55) .  Also the ranges normally shot were not all that far as Barber claims 150 yards as a distance of accuracy.  There is a picture of a rifle made by Beck that is now 60 caliber and it looks heavy as if it were meant to be built to a large barrel.  Most rifles he built were currently about 50 cal.  My deer hunting experience parrallels that of Dpariss in how far they run.  However, when the East was less settled they had larger game such as Elk.  Also further North you had moose.    That is why I think calibers may have also varied, in that the original 13 colonies were far more settled than those on the fringes.  Also the calibers did start to get smaller in later periods as to 50 caliber or less, down to 36 calibers  or so.  Lewis carried a 36 on his expedition.

DP

Offline Dr. Tim-Boone

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Re: The shooting of General Fraser
« Reply #22 on: July 11, 2008, 04:42:58 PM »
3 or 4 years ago I read a post by someone who had looked at a few hundred original guns that had data published about them and found the mean caliber to be .54   I don't remember the Date parameters, but it seemed that earlier guns and guns made/used in longer settled areas were smaller bore than those used on the frontiers.... 

This might be an intereesting research project for KRA.
« Last Edit: July 11, 2008, 04:43:17 PM by DrTimBoone »
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northmn

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Re: The shooting of General Fraser
« Reply #23 on: July 12, 2008, 04:48:55 AM »
Lets look at more recent times and the needs being met.  My father was not "into" guns and had what he needed on an Iowa farm.  He had a 12 gauge and a .22.  deer took too much effort to hunt (which is why people farmed and raised their own meat.)  The 22 was carried on his tractor as a gun of opportunity to use on fox and ground squirrels.  The shotgun for rabbits and an occaisional pheasant.  My uncles in Missouri hunted deer with shotguns (admittedly because they had to) and owned a 22.  Those of us "into" guns do not think like folks that keep one or two around for their needs.  While I draw my own conslusions from these experiences and look at settled areas in history I feel that this type of armament may have been pretty standard or its equivalent.  Western states are more rifle oriented as the needs are different.  There we see historically the old 30-30, 25-35 or whatever.  A friend used to talk about an old timer in Northern MN during the depression that even took his 32 special to the outhouse in case he saw a deer to supplement his larder.  Thats why I think looking at guns in the past is also very regional. 

DP

C. Cash

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Re: The shooting of General Fraser
« Reply #24 on: July 12, 2008, 06:15:23 AM »
This was a very interesting thread to read. Thanks Dphariss....great test/pics and comments by all.