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Thread: Powder coated mini balls

  1. #21
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    but I am interested in the rational for introducing more modern technology in Skirmishing because I want to understand the general thinking in the organization about the trade-offs between historical authenticity and gaining a competitive edge.
    It's a valid concern. One of the criticisms I have heard for years about the N-SSA from Living History circles is, "Fantasy guns shooting fantasy bullets."

    I don't think any of the projectiles I currently use in N-SSA competition match a historical design, or, in the case of round ball in my smooth bore, are loaded the way they would have been historically (paper patched). Edit: Well, except now for my Sharps. I shoot a historical projectile in it.

    The RCBS-Hogdgon, with its massive grease groove, has no historical counterpart that I am aware of. Likewise, the Moose Wilkinson does not look like the actual historical Wilkinson bullet. Smoothbore round balls were not wrapped in aluminum foil, knurled with files, nor dipped in lube historically. Common N-SSA legal ammunition is so far removed from historical ammunition that at this point powder coating, while perhaps a bridge to far for some people, is not a big deal to me. Still, our bullets function, in general, with the same principles as period ammunition. Expanding balls still expand. Compression bullets still compress. Smoothbore round balls had mechanisms to consume windage. I think we are still there in spirit.

    The good news is the N-SSA is changing and using period ammunition is becoming more and more viable. Of course some people have always shot a conical expanding ball bullet that closely approximates historical ones. A couple of years ago the rules got changed so that you can use US 1855 and 1862 style paper cartridges, where the bullet is removed from the paper prior to shooting. And just recently the rules have been changed so you can now use combustible cartridges in revolvers, utilizing the different styles of authentic heeled bullets now available from places like Eras Gone Bullet Molds.

    Eras Gone has really revolutionized the market by providing people the opportunity to cast extremely close copies of historical bullet designs. I myself have switched to using the Eras Gone Richmond Sharps bullet in competition. I love the long heel as the bullet is far less likely to come away from the cartridge than with the Pedersoli "ringtail" bullet I was using previously, and it's a great shooter. Eras Gone also produces a historically-accurate Smith bullet. And a variety of historical revolver bullet designs.

    Of course, accuracy is king in our game, and so people are going to shoot that which gives them the best accuracy within the rules.

    Steve
    Steve Sheldon
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  2. #22
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    I could see powder coating as a means of increasing diameter without having to buy a larger (and possibly custom) mould.

    I don't see it as a substitute for lube. Yeah, if you shoot cast bullets in your 1911A1, then powder coating might get you out of lubing them. But as someone said earlier, for black powder, the "Lube" is for softening the fouling, to allow easier loading and easier cleaning. I see guys having to POUND balls down their barrel, then use a brush to get hard fouling out of their bore after the relay. Hey, whatever works for them, but I prefer to patch out soft fouling and MUCH prefer to load a ball past soft fouling. But that's just me.

  3. #23
    John Holland is offline Moderator
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    The N-SSA, its Executive Board, the Board Of Directors, and a Committee comprised of some of the best historians available in Civil War Arms, Ammunition, and Uniforms, successfully established a "Traditional Match" which was specifically created to embrace "Historic Civil War Authenticity and Shooting" in its purest form. This "Traditional Match" was designed to encourage the Re-enacting Community to finally have the desire to join the N-SSA, because they would now be able to compete on the terms they decried when they spoke so derisively about the N-SSA. In two years, we did not attract even one single re-enactor to shoot the Traditional Match in authentic uniforms, traditional paper wrapped ammunition, and with muskets that had no sight modifications whatsoever. I am of the belief that the re-enacting community would rather sit back and complain about us rather than step up to the plate and shoot authentically.

  4. #24
    Southron Sr. is offline
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    Dear John:

    I learned long ago that re-enactors are basically "actors" and to them, their muskets are "noise making and smoke producing props," nothing more.

    Around 25 years ago, I invited dozen re-enactors to a "live fire" shoot. I made up around 300 rounds of ammo for the shoot. This was to be in conjunction with a SCV picnic held on a farm two dozen or so miles outside of Savannah. At the time, I was recruiting for the 1st Georgia, N-SSA. I figured I might get a few recruits out of those re-enactors.

    I erected a target frame at 50 yards and we hung clay pots on the frame. I gathered every one around and gave them a course on how to safely load and fire rifle-musket N-SSA style. Then I passed out 10 rounds per man.

    I lined them up on the firing line, had them load and "come to the ready." Then I blew a whistle to start the "event."

    Minie Balls went everywhere, most did not fly into the frame but over it, around it and under it, but with just a few pots being broken.

    When the "event" was over, we cleared their muskets and I invited everyone to go down range to check on the pots they had fired at.

    Everyone walked down range, but nobody stopped at the target frame. Our "backstop" was a forest and everyone walked into the forest-mesmerized by the Minie's that hit the trunks of the trees and left a big bullet hole in the trunks. Low hanging branches had also been cut by the Minies. Like I said, the re-enactors were amazed and astounded by what the Minies had done to the forest.

    I walked back to the firing and one of the re-enactors, just back from the forest, was holding his musket at arms length, his hands trembling as if he were holding a live rattle snake and exclaiming to himself: "OH MY GOD!" "THESE ARE REAL GUNS!"

    Nope, we didn't get any recruits. My theory is that maybe only one out of 25-30 re-enactors would want to join the N-SSA.

    I like re-enactors, love going to re-enactments and enjoy watching them. I think that re-enactors and re-enactments are wonderful. I have been invited to join several re-enactment units, but due to a mis-spent youth in a brutal Southern military academy, have no desire to ever again march.

    So, salute re-enactors for what they do, but realize they are more into history and pageantry than marksmanship.

  5. #25
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    Steve I thought we still couldn't use the paper cartridges in revolvers?
    The rules have just recently changed to allow them.

    The N-SSA, its Executive Board, the Board Of Directors, and a Committee comprised of some of the best historians available in Civil War Arms, Ammunition, and Uniforms, successfully established a "Traditional Match" which was specifically created to embrace "Historic Civil War Authenticity and Shooting" in its purest form. This "Traditional Match" was designed to encourage the Re-enacting Community to finally have the desire to join the N-SSA, because they would now be able to compete on the terms they decried when they spoke so derisively about the N-SSA. In two years, we did not attract even one single re-enactor to shoot the Traditional Match in authentic uniforms, traditional paper wrapped ammunition, and with muskets that had no sight modifications whatsoever.
    I applauded the Traditional Match concept, but it was so limited in scope that it was no surprise to me that not many people participated. As I understood it, it was only for special matches and only at Fort Shenandoah. If you don't shoot at the Fort, or even if you did if you didn't have an authentic-minded team to shoot it on, it didn't do much for you, even if you were inclined. I also think that limiting the sights to "unmodified" at usual N-SSA distances and targets was a non-starter. My Pedersoli P53 with unmodified sights and the deepest hold in the V I could see still shot several inches high. In my opinion, it would be futile trying to do N-SSA competition with such a gun. Not to mention that I'd have to buy an untouched gun and leave it untouched just for the special matches. So, I'm not sure you can point to the failure of the Traditional Match to draw people in for much. But, I agree that the reenacting group is probably not ever going to be a gold mine for new recruits. I'm sure, thanks to the internet, that 95% of reenactors already know about the N-SSA and would be doing it if they were interested in competition shooting.

    Fortunately, since then, the rules have slowly evolved over time, and now you can use US-style paper cartridges anywhere, combustible revolver cartridges, and of course nothing ever was stopping people from having authentic clothing. That way those who want to do it can, and to whatever degree of authenticity suits them, anywhere, at any time. And you can be competitive at it, too. The best load for my Pedersoli P58 that I have found is an RCBS-500M minie ball with 60 grains 2F powder behind it. Essentially, the service load for the gun. I don't shoot it much because I have cheaper guns to shoot that shoot just as good.

    Steve
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  6. #26
    Stefan is offline
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    I appreciate the responses to my question. Just to clarify, I can be as competitive as anyone and I will use anything to gain an edge that is allowed by the rules. I know that the ammo for the original smoothbores was just a plain round ball, but it still doesn't bother me if a skirmisher uses two files to roughen up the surface. Files were available in the civil war so it is not out of the question that someone could have tried that, even if it maybe is unlikely that it ever happened. The shape of the lead projectiles for other guns may not be exact copies of the originals, but as Steve pointed out, the basic technology is the same. Our lubes may not always have the exact chemical composition as was used in the 19th century, but it looks and works the same way with real black powder, so who cares. If we were living in the 1800s, and we wanted to improve accuracy these are things we could have tinkered with.

    It is when you introduce a completely new technology that didn't exist until a 100 years later that I pause. I could see allowing black powder substitutes before I would feel comfortable with powder coating. I would love to be able to use an optical Aimpoint sight or similar. That would give my aging eyes a competitive edge, but then we would definitely deserve being accused of using "fantasy guns". So to the extent that we are an educational organization I think we need to think some more about what the rules should allow. (Again I don't shoot SB musket so I don't care what you folks do right now).

    About the recruitment aspect, I don't think we should worry about what reenactors think but I agree that we should treat each other with respect. (We have plenty of common enemies). From what I have gathered, the average reenactor is probably as proficient at target shooting as the average civil war infantry man was, so from a living history point of view there is nothing that needs improvement there, so to speak.

    Skirmishing/target shooting is a whole different game, so I don't think it makes sense to look among reenactors for people who are also competitive shooters. The number of people who have ever been introduced to marksmanship training, have enjoyed it and continued with it as a hobby is really very small. The country has a lot of gun owners, but extremely few people who are proficient at off-hand shooting. But it is that small group we need to focus on if we are looking for recruits: a person who is proud of their marksmanship skills and wants to challenge themselves with the extra complications of using outdated gun technologies. It is very unlikely that we will find that person at a reenactment. (Southron Sr's story is a good case in point). In fact I think it could even be counterproductive to ask a reenactor, who has never been taught to shoot, to try to hit a clay pigeon at 50 yards. He is most likely going to feel embarrassed and react by going away and saying "it is a silly game anyway".
    Last edited by Stefan; 4 Weeks Ago at 07:58 AM.
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  7. #27
    PoorJack is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stefan View Post
    I appreciate the responses to my question. Just to clarify, I can be as competitive as anyone and I will use anything to gain an edge that is allowed by the rules......... If we were living in the 1800s, and we wanted to improve accuracy these are things we could have tinkered with.
    So if I'm understanding you correctly, you're against glasses for those of us suffering from old eyes? They're pretty modern and quantum leaps over what was available then.

    Quote Originally Posted by Stefan View Post
    It is when you introduce a completely new technology that didn't exist until a 100 years later that I pause.
    Before you throw the baby out with the bathwater, make sure you really know what was actually available back then. Case in point, rimfire cartridges as we know them today were around starting with Flobert in 1845.

    Quote Originally Posted by Stefan View Post
    So to the extent that we are an educational organization I think we need to think some more about what the rules should allow. (Again I don't shoot SB musket so I don't care what you folks do right now).
    If you want to go the traditional route, by all means have at it IF it's within the rules. As for "educational" part, I really really wish our organization actually believed it. There are a large number who don't care, they just want to compete and they use the 501 status as a smoke screen for their shooting entertainment. I've talked to them, they are more numerous in the N-SSA than you would think. Just look at what happened recently with our Instructor project. If you want to know what the rules actually allow, take time to read them, they're posted on the main website.

    Quote Originally Posted by Stefan View Post
    Skirmishing/target shooting is a whole different game, so I don't think it makes sense to look among reenactors for people who are also competitive shooters. The number of people who have ever been introduced to marksmanship training, have enjoyed it and continued with it as a hobby is really very small. The country has a lot of gun owners, but extremely few people who are proficient at off-hand shooting. But it is that small group we need to focus on if we are looking for recruits: a person who is proud of their marksmanship skills and wants to challenge themselves with the extra complications of using outdated gun technologies. It is very unlikely that we will find that person at a reenactment. (Southron Sr's story is a good case in point). In fact I think it could even be counterproductive to ask a reenactor, who has never been taught to shoot, to try to hit a clay pigeon at 50 yards. He is most likely going to feel embarrassed and react by going away and saying "it is a silly game anyway".
    I spent quite a bit of time last summer teaching kids to shoot muskets offhand. The "cracker challenge" was the same target aspect as a pigeon at 50yd. Over the summer, of the nearly 80 kids I worked with, I got all but 3 to where they could hit a cracker hanging on a wire at 25yd offhand meaning if we had a 50yd range, they would have been hitting more pigeons than many skirmishers. And yes, I AM a NRA Certified Muzzleloading Instructor as are a number of my fellow skirmishers of like mind. We ARE actively engaged in looking to expand our instructional efforts at this time. YES it is very rewarding to help people improve their shooting skills. I just wish the N-SSA took the education mission seriously.

    As for reenactors, I was one AND I've always been a competitive shooter and have either dabbled in or heavily competed in 3Gun, IDPA, USPSA, IPSC, NRA HP, and IMHSA. My favorite though of all time is Skirmishing. I think writing off reenactors is wrong. Many may not be interested in actual marksmanship or competition, but if you don't ask, they'll never know. Of the reenactors I've met, I'll tell them how accurate a musket can be with a little bit of load development and show them pictures of groups I've shot and move from there to the competition aspect. If they don't want to play, fine, but they now know there are people out here who take these guns seriously and know how to make them every bit as accurate as a modern gun. The real problem facing the N-SSA is lack of growth. We are the "where's Waldo" of shooting sports. Nearly everybody I've told about the N-SSA have never heard of us and think we're a bunch of reenactors.

    Powder Coating- I'm still going to experiment cause it's pretty cheap to try. If you don't want to play, then don't. So far, it looks to be useful only in certain limited applications (see my Smith group) and I will work on that some more to get it figured out.
    Last edited by PoorJack; 4 Weeks Ago at 07:43 PM.
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  8. #28
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    PoorJack
    Did you ever find out how long you can fire a musket using a coated mini-ball before the musket gets fowled out and you are not able to reload it? Or does in never get fowled?
    Terry,
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  9. #29
    Ibgreen is offline
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    I played around with powder coating for my Spencer rifle. I found the process to powder coat was a pain in the rear. I also unfortunately used harbor freight yellow that apparently is the worst powder to use. I saw no improvement over lubed lead. I would surmise that the inability of powder coating to soften BP residue to be counterproductive to use in NSSA.

  10. #30
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    That is good to know but in all fariness I have rarely purchased anything from Harbor Freight that wooked well or was of high quality.
    Terry,
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