Accuracy of Land Pattern/Brown Bess musket
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Old 09-14-2008, 05:57 AM   #1
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Default Accuracy of Land Pattern/Brown Bess musket

Hello, all, I wanted to know what the actual accuracy of the British Land Pattern musket of the revolutionary/napoleonic era was/is. I've heard and read different figures running from "you can't hit crap at 50 yds" to maximum effective range shooting at a man-sized target was around 100 yds. So can anybody here who has actually fired one, replica or historical, tell me what is actually achievable with this musket?

Thanks

CR

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Old 09-16-2008, 06:44 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by CRob View Post
Hello, all, I wanted to know what the actual accuracy of the British Land Pattern musket of the revolutionary/napoleonic era was/is. I've heard and read different figures running from "you can't hit crap at 50 yds" to maximum effective range shooting at a man-sized target was around 100 yds. So can anybody here who has actually fired one, replica or historical, tell me what is actually achievable with this musket?

Thanks

CR
It was used 50/60 yards maximun but usually very effective at volley fire. If the British line held firm it could be awsome. Not much good when sneaky Colonials are creeping about ambushing you with rifled muskets....
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Old 09-16-2008, 03:10 PM   #3
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"Accuracy of Land Pattern/Brown Bess musket"

"Land pattern" of a Brown Bess musket was lousy. In fact, it didn't exist! Brown Bess muskets were smooth bore arms and the bullets were unpatched. Accuracy was somewhat like what we used to get from our Red Ryder BB carbines. That is, pretty good at 6 feet, pretty poor beyond that. The only way muskets were effective was from mass volley fire into massed targets and rapid reloading to repeat the fussilade, three or four times a minute.

The British infantry "line" was effective against Napoleans massed French battalions because all the Brits could bring fire on the French but only the first 2-3 ranks of the French could return that fire. The English won with fire power, the French won with masses of men concentrated on a small front. Battles were often a toss up between them.

Only a fool plays by his enemy's rules, few of our officers attempted mass attacks against the Redcoats and then rarely again! But, the English continued to use European tactics against our irregular tactics and they lost.

If the Brown Bess had been more accurate, things would likely have worked out differently.

Some time after the advent of the Minie ball, many muskets were modified with riflling to take advantage of the new ammuniton but, at least in my mind, they were rifles, not muskets any longer. Lethal range was extended to as much as 300 yards, occasionally more, with the new rifling.

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Old 09-16-2008, 03:27 PM   #4
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Did pretty good at the Alamo though....Ooooh I bet there will be reponse from the boys from Texas............

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Old 09-16-2008, 09:41 PM   #5
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"Land Pattern" is the actual name of the "Brown Bess" musket, Brown Bess was an informal nickname, not the weapons actual official name. Contrary to popular belief and what is taught in High school history courses, both Americans and British used primarily smooth bore muskets. Only a few specialized units (such as Minutemen,Militia and other irregular forces) were equipped with rifles. The majority of Americans , fought and won the revolution equipped with muskets very similiar to those used by the British. Later in the revolution American troops would increasingly use French muskets as the supply increased . And no we americans did not win with irregular tactics, American forces learned close-order drill and volley fire just like any other 18th century army did (with obviously some supplemental asymetric warfare), as this was the most effective way to use the weapons of the time. I'm looking specifically for people who have actually fired this musket so please respond only if you have some actual experience with it, thanks.

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Old 09-17-2008, 06:28 AM   #6
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As a matter of fact I have two original 39" Land Pattern Muskets (one has a covering of tar over the woodwork which I believe to be a Royal marine issue) and at one time regulary fired a replica musket from World Wide Arms. At the time smooth bore muskets of modern manufacture where considered a shotgun under the then British Firearms Law..............

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Old 09-18-2008, 01:23 AM   #7
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Ok thanks Boris.

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Old 05-27-2009, 07:30 PM   #8
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Only just stumbled across this discussion... I shoot Brown Bess muskets, and as far as accuracy goes it's practice practice practice. Remember, smoothbores were used for hunting, and I'm pretty sure the average deer would not let the hunter close to within 6 feet in order to be sure of a hit. With sufficient experience, 50 yards had a good enough chance of a hit, highly trained individuals would have had a good enough chance up to 100 yards. BUT, as the whole point was to simply throw out a wall of lead the training was geared towards firing as fast as possible without taking the time to properly aim, which is why there is the impression that muskets are terribly inaccurate (then again, compared to modern-day rifles they really are bad). However, the Light Companies (you know, the companies each British reg't had that skirmished along the flanks, in front, sniped from behind trees, etc. and provided a lot of the training the minute + militia companies had... do you really think Britain learned NOTHING from the French & Indian war?) would have had extra training in accuracy as they would have been spread out in a skirmish line and could not rely on the heavy firepower of a compact volley. Hope that helps.

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Old 06-27-2009, 10:16 PM   #9
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As to the Alamo, don't forget the Kentucky rifle was there, too. I found an interesting item about a British officer who became interested in the "American rifle" (the Kentucky rifle) after he personally witnessed a bugler's horse shot out from under him at a distance he says he measured himself "several times" to be "a full 400 yards."

The officer, whose name was Col. George Hanger, said he often asked American backswoodsmen what was the best one of their top marksmen could do, and was told that if a man could draw a "good and true sight", he could "hit the head of a man at 200 yards."

A horse, of course, being considerably larger than the head of a man, might make an easier target. .

Many thanks for this info to FrontierFolk.org, where I found it.

Historybug.

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Old 10-13-2010, 12:15 AM   #10
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Well, CRob I have two sources of information. For modern made Brown Bess replicas, look over Davide-Pedersoli.com site for the various M.L.A.I.C. Championships won by their Short Land (a.k.a. 2nd model) Brown Bess. I have a kit on order with Dixie, hope to modify the appearance slightly to approximate an American Committee of Safety musket. Have shot .62 cal trade guns, never the .75.
Data regarding actual 18th century experience is hard to come by. In Small Arms of the British Forces in America 1664 - 1815, by De Witt Bailey there is a quote from a guy in 1759: "A Company of about sixty will in five rounds hit a target of about 2-1/2 feet in diameter at 300 yards eight or ten times (i.e., 8 or 10 hits out of 300 rounds fired) and throw forty or fifty ball close enough about it to do execution if a Platoon was before them . . ."
In modern competitive matches guys with .75 cal smoothbores can do tolerably well out to 100 yards, so I have read elsewhere.

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