Civil War Rifle Accuracy
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Civil War Rifle Accuracy


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Old 07-05-2015, 03:32 PM   #1
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Default Civil War Rifle Accuracy

Watching a program on the History channel about the Civil War when the moderator made the statement that the rifle's shooting mini balls were accurate up to 600 yds. I find this hard to believe. I think that even modern iron sight rifles would have a hard time hitting a man at 600 yds. Would like to hear from an expert about this. True or false?


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Old 07-05-2015, 04:09 PM   #2
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You were not shooting at a man. You were shooting at a COMPANY of men. Area target, not point target. If I miss you, I'll get the guy to your left.

Modern iron sights at 600 yards? Yes, can be done. Not every shot, but can be done. The old "Automatic Rifle" course of fire for the M-16 had one target at 750 meters, and I have hit it. Prone, bipod, target skylined. But it IS damn tiny!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Springfield_Model_1861


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Old 07-05-2015, 05:40 PM   #3
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Actual rifled bore long guns could be capable of minute of man accuracy to thes ranges. Sharps and remington rolling block guns with careful loading would be capable. Buffalo guns were quite accurate.

Now if we're talking civil war era muskets or smooth bores, then they were area weapons for massing volleys of mass fire into an area concentration of soldiers as C3 already stated. Muskets were more common for general issue because it made loading faster.
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Old 07-05-2015, 06:47 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by c3shooter View Post
You were not shooting at a man. You were shooting at a COMPANY of men. Area target, not point target. If I miss you, I'll get the guy to your left.

Modern iron sights at 600 yards? Yes, can be done. Not every shot, but can be done. The old "Automatic Rifle" course of fire for the M-16 had one target at 750 meters, and I have hit it. Prone, bipod, target skylined. But it IS damn tiny!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Springfield_Model_1861
The auto rifle reaches out with a pattern, not a pinpoint. The semi-auto rifle designed originally to be full auto, often makes its owner struggle for accuracy.
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Old 07-05-2015, 11:25 PM   #5
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Civil war muskets---no

Civil war rifles? Yes, capable of hitting a man size target at 600 yds. Some more capable than others--the Whitworth
and Sharps' may have had a bit of an edge over the Springfield and Enfield.

600 yd iron sight man size target hit with a modern rifle? Fairly easy with the right equipment. Good bolt gun
with a target aperture sight should hold under 6". Heck--a 100+ year old 1903 Springfield 30-06 will do
man size hits at 600 with the issue sights.

I believe they have been shooting "Service Rifle" matches at Camp Perry for quite some time. Iron sights,
as issued rifles, 10" X ring at 1000 yds. Do a search for "Farr Trophy". George Farr set
his record in 1921 with a iron sighted gun. 70 consecutive 1000 yd bullseyes!
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Old 07-05-2015, 11:46 PM   #6
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C-3 and Bill were exactly right! If you would be shooting the old smoothbore Civil War Rifles at 600 yards you could certainly hit someone in the Skirmish Line as the picture below depicts. As far as the AR Rifles in 223/5.56 doing 600 yards they do it all the time at the Camp Perry National Matches. At 600 yards the X Ring is only 6" and the 10 Ring is 12". A lot of competitors have no problem hitting these areas at 600 yards. So the history is correct! Shoot at one guy and hit a guy next to him or the second guy over. As C-3 and them stated was not a precision shot like with rifles today! They did the same with the Cannons. Shoot in the general direction and let what happened happen. There may be some civil war reenactors here on the Forum that can give you some good prospective on civil war rifles and weapons. Also the smooth bores were not the only rifles used in the later years of the civil way. They had riflings which were much more accurate!

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Old 07-06-2015, 12:41 AM   #7
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Ask the ghost of Union General John Sedgwick. At the battle of Spotsylvania Court House in 1864, his staff was ducking from Confederate sniper fire approx. 1000yds off. His comment - 'They could not hit an elephant at this distance'. Seconds later he was hit in the face and fell dead. That was not volley fire, it was aimed sniper fire.
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Old 07-06-2015, 12:57 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RKB View Post
Ask the ghost of Union General John Sedgwick. At the battle of Spotsylvania Court House in 1864, his staff was ducking from Confederate sniper fire approx. 1000yds off. His comment - 'They could not hit an elephant at this distance'. Seconds later he was hit in the face and fell dead. That was not volley fire, it was aimed sniper fire.
The ghost agrees. What was the question, again?
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Old 07-06-2015, 01:01 AM   #9
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Don't forget that innocent girl who became impregnated by a minie ball that passed through a soldier's testicle and lodged in her abdomen.
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Old 07-06-2015, 01:19 AM   #10
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Last edited by RKB; 07-06-2015 at 01:23 AM.
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