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Justin Pasternak




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PostPosted: Mon 07 May, 2007 12:15 am    Post subject: Single-Shot Firearms vs. Multi-Shot Firearms         Reply with quote

The question that I have is what was more reliable, accurate, faster to reload, etc. A Single-Shot Firearms or Multi-Shot Firearms (breech loading)? And if you had to choose one of the types, what would it be? Question

Last edited by Justin Pasternak on Mon 07 May, 2007 4:17 pm; edited 1 time in total
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M. Eversberg II




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PostPosted: Mon 07 May, 2007 12:24 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Could you be more ambiguous, please?

You're going to have to be more specific. By multi-shot, do you mean something like a revolver, a weapon with a magazine (Simiautomatic, bolt action, fully automatic, lever action...), or something like a double barreled musket, or even an organ gun?

M.

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Thomas Watt




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PostPosted: Mon 07 May, 2007 2:28 am    Post subject: Re: Single-Shot Firearms vs. Multi-Shot Firearms         Reply with quote

Justin Pasternak wrote:
The question that I have is what was more reliable, accurate, faster to reload, etc. A Single-Shot Firearms or Multi-Shot Firearms (either muzzle or breech loading)? And if you had to choose one of the types, what would it be? Question

To point to a historical example, the closing hours of the Battle of Chickamauga (U.S. Civil War) featured a large force of Confederate troops (infantry and cavalry) pursuing the Union Army... this pursuit was held off by a relatively small force of Union troops armed with repeating rifles. The volume of fire was enough to force the Confederates to break off pursuit. Since these were battle-hardened and very experienced troops, the key factor is considered to have been the multi-shot weapon.
The only instance in which I can recall any superiority being offered by single shot weapons involves those with longer ranges... the "buffalo" gun (usually the Sharps Rifle) had accurate ranges out to a mile or so... but anything that far away is a pretty tiny target to hit anyway.

Have 11 swords, 2 dirks, half a dozen tomahawks and 2 Jeeps - seem to be a magnet for more of all.
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Lin Robinson




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PostPosted: Mon 07 May, 2007 9:16 am    Post subject: Re: Single-Shot Firearms vs. Multi-Shot Firearms         Reply with quote

Justin Pasternak wrote:
The question that I have is what was more reliable, accurate, faster to reload, etc. A Single-Shot Firearms or Multi-Shot Firearms (either muzzle or breech loading)? And if you had to choose one of the types, what would it be? Question


You definitely need to narrow the question down to something more specific. For example, a breech loading single shot will be quicker to load than a muzzle loader. However, it is not quicker to reload than a breech loading firearm with fixed ammunition loaded from a magazine. Your question is entirely too vague.

Lin Robinson

"The best thing in life is to crush your enemies, see them driven before you and hear the lamentation of their women." Conan the Barbarian, 1982
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Bram Verbeek





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PostPosted: Mon 07 May, 2007 9:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I know what I would choose, breech loaded has made such a difference in the austro prussian wars that muzzle loading was almost instantly outdated, and multi shot has proven its worth as well. I think this is a moot point however, it is quite clear that tactical options favour the most modern guns.

reliable: single shot breech loaded best
accurate: single shot breech loaded best
fast reload (per shot) multi shot breech loaded best
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Justin Pasternak




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PostPosted: Mon 07 May, 2007 10:55 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sorry about that! When I was speaking about Breech Loading Multi-Shot Firearms, I meant firearms with 2 or more barrels (not repeaters, semi or fully automatics). I should have said Multi-Barrelled Breech Loading Firearms instead. I hope that clears things up.
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Lin Robinson




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PostPosted: Mon 07 May, 2007 5:16 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Justin Pasternak wrote:
Sorry about that! When I was speaking about Breech Loading Multi-Shot Firearms, I meant firearms with 2 or more barrels (not repeaters, semi or fully automatics). I should have said Multi-Barrelled Breech Loading Firearms instead. I hope that clears things up.


OK...that's different.

Your question is still a bit ambiguous, but here is what I think.

If I were hunting dangerous game, then I would want the support of a second shot. So, if required to use only non-magazine fed breech loading singles or doubles, I would go for the double. Same for upland game bird or waterfowl hunting. A miss there with the ability to fire a second shot quickly comes in handy. In the case of self-defense two are always better than one, especially if it is a 12 gauge or bigger.

Now, there are drawbacks to using doubles or dirlllings - two shotgun barrels over a single rifle barrel. The first problem is weight. Doubles with two barrels and double the ammo when loaded are heavier. That especially true of a drilling. Second, I have a bit of trouble sighting down a double barrel shotgun when wing shooting. My eye is drawn to one barrel or the other. For that reason I have never owned a double. Many people do not have that problem, but I do. Double barreled shotguns are regulated to shoot to one particular spot within a certain distance of the muzzle. Otherwise you would have to shift your eye from one barrel to the other each time you shot. Regulation has a limited effect on the shot pattern but it does mean a bit shorter range than a single barrel. Double rifles are usually regulated in the same way.

Aside from weight, there is one other, fairly rare but potentially serious problem that can develop in doubles. If you are hunting with a double, there is sometimes a tendancy to use just one barrel, keeping the shell or cartridge in the other barrel ready to a follow up shot. That is not a big deal in most cases and most upland game bird hunters will use both barrels frequently. However, if you do not use the ammunition in your second barrel, the recoil from shooting can cause a shift in the components and a potentially dangerous situation. Peter Hathaway Capstick, a big game hunter and writer, told a story several years ago about something that happened to him while culling an elephant herd in Africa. Capstick was using a Winchester Model 70 bolt action rifle in .458 Winchester Magnum. Because he was surrounded by elephants he kept topping off the magazine of his rifle, with the result that the bottom round in the magazine was not fired. Finally the hunt reached the stage when he was forced to fire his last cartridge. Unfortunately the bullet bounced off the head of his target. Fortunately he was able to reload and kill with another shot. Later, at the range, he determined the problem. The last round in the magazine had been subjected to the heavy recoil of all the other cartridges fired, with the result that the bullet had struck the end of the box magazine so often that it had backed into the cartridge. This compressed the powder charge to the extent that there was improper ignition of the propellant when he fired the cartridge, causing the round to lose power. Rare event, but it can happen. That is especially true in muzzle loading doubles and it is wise to use the ramrod in the loaded chamber after the first shot is fired, which effectively negates the advantage of having the two barrels on one of those critters.

That's my two cents.

Lin Robinson

"The best thing in life is to crush your enemies, see them driven before you and hear the lamentation of their women." Conan the Barbarian, 1982
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David Martin




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PostPosted: Tue 08 May, 2007 6:33 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

That was a good $0.02, Lin.

I think the big question is how you plan to use the firearm. If you're planning to hunt dangerous game, then the double-barrel would be the logical choice between the two (single or double barrel breech-loading). For all other uses, the single-barrel would be my choice, primarily because I'm not fond of the idea of regulated sights. As Lin indicated, double-rifles are regulated at a specific range. The greater the variance between the distance you're shooting and the regulated range, the more lateral compensation you're going to have to incorporate into your sighting adjustments. This is hardly the recipe for accuracy. Wink

With a single barrel rifle, life is simpler. You'll have a much wider variety of sight options (from aperture to optical), easier adaptation to different ranges, and at the end of the day, only one barrel to clean. This is aside from the fact that for the price of a good double rifle, you could probably purchase several single-barrel models.

Good luck!


David

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Thomas Watt




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PostPosted: Wed 09 May, 2007 3:56 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Agreed Lin's 2 cents is pretty on target (sorry for the topical humor)...
although I've never used one, his comments about the standard double-barrel (side by side) arrangement caused me to pause and ponder the over/under arrangements I've seen on a few weapons. Perhaps those make better sense in light of the aim issues with side by side barrels? Never been a fan of either, but have to admit to a fondness for the Sharps rifles.

Have 11 swords, 2 dirks, half a dozen tomahawks and 2 Jeeps - seem to be a magnet for more of all.
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Lin Robinson




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PostPosted: Wed 09 May, 2007 5:17 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thomas Watt wrote:
Agreed Lin's 2 cents is pretty on target (sorry for the topical humor)...
although I've never used one, his comments about the standard double-barrel (side by side) arrangement caused me to pause and ponder the over/under arrangements I've seen on a few weapons. Perhaps those make better sense in light of the aim issues with side by side barrels? Never been a fan of either, but have to admit to a fondness for the Sharps rifles.


For me an over/under shotgun is fine. My eyes only have to contend with one barrel and one bead sight. I wish I could afford one, but the best are very expensive.

I have a Sharps myself and really like it.

Lin Robinson

"The best thing in life is to crush your enemies, see them driven before you and hear the lamentation of their women." Conan the Barbarian, 1982
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Peter Bosman




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PostPosted: Sun 13 May, 2007 12:50 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

During one period that grabs my interest, the first half of the 18th century gentleman riders had the option of three distinct pistols. Flintlock-, wheellock single barrels and flintlock double barrel.
The top of the range was without doubt the wheellock and more common by far the single barrel flintlock.The double barrel wás used but ever handled one? The are véry heavy and frontheavy too. No way you would want hat from the saddle.

What I find most striking is that the difference betwen militairy pistols (and rifles) and private ones is húge. The former ones can be called sprayguns compaired to the far more accurate private guns.

Apart from fast reloading thus fire-pówer hitting 'any' target, accuracy actually hitting 'the' target is a completely different strategy.

Peter
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Lin Robinson




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PostPosted: Sun 13 May, 2007 7:02 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Peter Bosman wrote:
During one period that grabs my interest, the first half of the 18th century gentleman riders had the option of three distinct pistols. Flintlock-, wheellock single barrels and flintlock double barrel.
The top of the range was without doubt the wheellock and more common by far the single barrel flintlock.The double barrel wás used but ever handled one? The are véry heavy and frontheavy too. No way you would want hat from the saddle.

What I find most striking is that the difference betwen militairy pistols (and rifles) and private ones is húge. The former ones can be called sprayguns compaired to the far more accurate private guns.

Apart from fast reloading thus fire-pówer hitting 'any' target, accuracy actually hitting 'the' target is a completely different strategy.

Peter


First of all Peter, take the wheel lock off your list. By the end of the 16th century new technology was in the works to replace them and they did not survive in general use as late as the early 18th century. The wheel lock, while it allowed the use of firearms from horseback for the first time, was a complicated and somewhat delicate mechanism. Loss of the spanner required to cock the mechanism rendered the gun useless.

Double barreled pistols were never standard issue of any military establishment that I know about. The single shot, flintlock horse pistol, carried in pairs in saddle holsters was reasonably accurate and powerful for close range work in the 18th century. For that reason it was the sidearm of choice for most cavalry and dragoon formations.

Incidentally, smoothbore pistols, whether "private" or military issue, were little different in terms of accuracy. Fit and finish might go to the civilian guns, but any smoothbore with a well-made and straight barrel will shoot pretty much the same as the next one.

Lin Robinson

"The best thing in life is to crush your enemies, see them driven before you and hear the lamentation of their women." Conan the Barbarian, 1982


Last edited by Lin Robinson on Mon 14 May, 2007 4:27 am; edited 1 time in total
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Peter Bosman




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PostPosted: Sun 13 May, 2007 10:51 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

True as far as cavalry use was concerned but you can find wheellock mechanisms manufactured up to the 19th century.
The mechanism may be more delicate and the loss of a key a problem but then I was not talking about a battlefield but the gentleman's options. Also a key was quite frequently incorporated in a powder flask or other tool.

I was not referring to double barrel as standard issue either, but as the gentleman's option.

More accurate tolerances increase accuracy enórmously and most definitely make for a marked difference between one tube and the next.

It simply is a matter of 'strategy' depending on what the gun needs to do.

A fine gentleman's blunderbuss may have been as nicely made as anything but still would have been a blunderbuss meant to do wide damage on short range as opposed to incredibly accurate hunting rifles and both a militairy blunderbuss and rifle were different tools meant to do a different job.

Peter
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Lin Robinson




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PostPosted: Sun 13 May, 2007 1:06 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Peter Bosman wrote:
True as far as cavalry use was concerned but you can find wheellock mechanisms manufactured up to the 19th century.
The mechanism may be more delicate and the loss of a key a problem but then I was not talking about a battlefield but the gentleman's options. Also a key was quite frequently incorporated in a powder flask or other tool.

I was not referring to double barrel as standard issue either, but as the gentleman's option.

More accurate tolerances increase accuracy enórmously and most definitely make for a marked difference between one tube and the next.

It simply is a matter of 'strategy' depending on what the gun needs to do.

A fine gentleman's blunderbuss may have been as nicely made as anything but still would have been a blunderbuss meant to do wide damage on short range as opposed to incredibly accurate hunting rifles and both a militairy blunderbuss and rifle were different tools meant to do a different job.

Peter


Peter...

To convince me that wheel locks were made - and used - as late as you say they were, you are going to have to cite some references because, in my opinion, you are incorrect. If you can provide the references then I will have learned something I did not know and will stand corrected. But, absent any citations I am going to have to continue to say that you are incorrect.

I stand by what I said. A smoothbore, well-made with a straight tube, properly loaded, will shoot with about the same accuracy as any other, regardless of its original manufacture or purpose, i.e. military or civilian. I have experience in that area with reproduction smoothbores, military and civilian and know of what I speak.

Regarding blunderbusses. The funnel shape of the muzzle is to facilitate ease of loading and has little or no effect on the shot column. That has been proved with hands on experiments. Blunderbusses were used extensively as "coach guns", by guards on stagecoaches. That was the reason for the flared muzzle, to make it easier to reload on a rough riding vehicle. This is not my idea. It is documented fact.

Regarding your question on another thread, I do not know of any production wheellocks being made today. One custom maker, Dale Shinn, produces very nice guns but they are bound to be very expensive.

Lin Robinson

"The best thing in life is to crush your enemies, see them driven before you and hear the lamentation of their women." Conan the Barbarian, 1982


Last edited by Lin Robinson on Mon 14 May, 2007 4:26 am; edited 2 times in total
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M. Eversberg II




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PostPosted: Sun 13 May, 2007 3:57 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Lin Robinson wrote:
Regarding blunderbusses. The funnel shape of the muzzle is to facilitate ease of loading and has little or no effect on the shot column. That has been proved with hands on experiments. Blunderbusses were used extensively as "coach guns", by guards on stagecoaches. That was the reason for the flared muzzle, to make it easier to reload on a rough riding vehicle. This is not my idea. It is documented fact.


So that's what they're for. Were they also used as civilian hunting weapons? I've known they where exclusively civilian (as far as I know anyways), but other than that the only thing I've known about them is that they're shot guns -- firing many small balls instead of one larger one.



As for the wheel-lock debate, I'm with Lin on this one. As far as I've been told, wheel locks where the shortest lived of the three main firing mechanisms because they're complex and somewhat fragile.

M.

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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Sun 13 May, 2007 8:58 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Here is a quote from the book " SMALL ARMS " by Frederick Wilkinson, © 1965. Page 96:

" By the mid-sixteenth century the wheelock had become fairly common among the wealthier members of society, but by the middle of the seventeenth it had been displaced by the cheaper, more robust, flintlock. In Germany, however, hunting and target rifles utilizing the wheelock continued to be made well into the eighteenth century. "

So maybe not into the 19th in any significant quantities or popularity but then one could say that they are still being made today, if rather rare and very hard to find. Early Victorian reproductions or very very late production might overlap ?

So one could ask when do wheelocks or any other weapon becomes the last of the period weapons or the first " modern "
reproduction of an obsolete weapon ? Just a grey zone question ? I would think it would depend on whether the two overlap in time or if there is a significant period of time of zero production.

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Lin Robinson




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PostPosted: Mon 14 May, 2007 3:35 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean Thibodeau wrote:
Here is a quote from the book " SMALL ARMS " by Frederick Wilkinson, © 1965. Page 96: " By the mid-sixteenth century the wheelock had become fairly common among the wealthier members of society, but by the middle of the seventeenth it had been displaced by the cheaper, more robust, flintlock. In Germany, however, hunting and target rifles utilizing the wheelock continued to be made well into the eighteenth century. "So maybe not into the 19th in any significant quantities or popularity but then one could say that they are still being made today, if rather rare and very hard to find. Early Victorian reproductions or very very late production might overlap ?So one could ask when do wheelocks or any other weapon becomes the last of the period weapons or the first " modern "reproduction of an obsolete weapon ? Just a grey zone question ? I would think it would depend on whether the two overlap in time or if there is a significant period of time of zero production.


Good point.  But I suspect that few people in the mid-18th century opted for a the scarce wheel lock when the flintlock was so readily available. It would not be my personal choice over a flintlock, if I had to choose.

Lin Robinson

"The best thing in life is to crush your enemies, see them driven before you and hear the lamentation of their women." Conan the Barbarian, 1982


Last edited by Lin Robinson on Mon 14 May, 2007 4:25 am; edited 1 time in total
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Mon 14 May, 2007 3:54 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I think Peter might actually be referring to certain rifled carbines and pistols that were privately procured by some 18th-century officers. These would have had significantly greater accuracy than the general-issue smoothbores. In this sense they were both "military" and "private" but definitely not "common."
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Lin Robinson




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PostPosted: Mon 14 May, 2007 4:24 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Lafayette C Curtis wrote:
I think Peter might actually be referring to certain rifled carbines and pistols that were privately procured by some 18th-century officers. These would have had significantly greater accuracy than the general-issue smoothbores. In this sense they were both "military" and "private" but definitely not "common."


I think you are right. And, after re-reading his first comment, I think his question revolved entirely around civilian use as opposed to military issue. So, I owe him an apology in that regard. Jean's comments about the longevity of the wheellock are well-taken and in one of my own reference books, "The History of Weapons of the American Revolution" by George C. Neumann, the author says, "Most wheel locks saw use as sporting arms among the noblemen, but by the late 1600's they also had given way to the new flintlock system." The book also shows a photo of a German wheel lock of c. 1680. However, I will continue to say that the idea that the wheel lock was a viable option in the mid-18th century is incorrect. By that time, based on Jean's references and my own, they were a specialty item, not something easily found or even desireable.

Lin Robinson

"The best thing in life is to crush your enemies, see them driven before you and hear the lamentation of their women." Conan the Barbarian, 1982
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Mon 14 May, 2007 4:30 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Specialty items? Definitely. If I'm allowed to make a conjecture, I'd even say that they might have lasted because they allowed certain forms of decoration that would have been difficult or impractical to do on a flintlock.

Just a conjecture, though. Wink
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