Rifles, most accurate in world Armies 1860-1870

Discussion in 'Firearms and Hunting' started by Aleksander Ulyanov, Aug 6, 2013.

  1. Aleksander Ulyanov

    Aleksander Ulyanov Well-Known Member

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    I need a book, or even better a website(s), that would give me a good picture of the state of the art in rifles made mainly for accuracy and range that commonly existed in the various world armies during those years. Anyone know of such or similar? I'm writing a Western where the protagonists are 4 deserters from the Mexican contingent of the French Foreign Legion who were themselves early versions of snipers. It is set in New Mexico in 1867.

    This is assuming the French Foreign Legion had any versions of snipers, formal or informal, at this time. If you know they didn't, let me know that too.
     
  2. Mushroom

    Mushroom Well-Known Member

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    I doubt you will find this, because accuracy and range is nowhere near as important as training, reliability, and effective rounds per minute.

    Most battlefield engagements occur at distances of 50-300 meters, well within the accurate range of pretty much any rifle made for the last 150 years.

    So you really can't compare the two, they have little bearing in reality.

    Compare the following weapons used in the US Civil War:

    Springfield Musket 1861/1863:
    Range: 800-1,000 meters
    Rate of fire: 2-3 rounds per minute

    Sharps Rifle:
    Range: 500 meters
    Rate of fire: 8-10 rounds per minute

    Spencer Repeating Rifle:
    Range: 500 meters
    Rate of fire: 14-20 rounds per minute

    Accuracy and range was not a major consideration until WWII, and even then it was mostly for snipers. That is where snipers really came into their own, and they started to really use specialized weapons for that role, not just modifying standard infantry weapons.

    In addition the time period you are discussing was where the armies of the world were still mostly using Napoleonic Tactics. Form your men into square and rectangular formations, get on line and volley fire together. In this kind of warfare range and accuracy means nothing, because you are not actually firing at an individual target, but at another similar formation.
     
  3. SFJEFF

    SFJEFF New Member

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    Look up sharpshooters- that was the term used during the civil war.

    The range of the Springfield looks off- muskets were notoriously inaccurate- that was probably maximum, but not effective range- the Sharps was far more accurate. Sharpshooters were used to attack officers, used as skirmishers- rather specialized and underappreciated specialty as I recall

    I see reference to the Henry Repeating rifle- and the Plains Rifle
     
  4. Mushroom

    Mushroom Well-Known Member

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    To me the American Civil War was really the first "Modern War".

    For the first half of the war, both sides (but most particularly the Union) tried to fight with Napoleonic Tactics. Tight formations, men all online, firing by volley. And the volley was largely done so that the ranks could alternate who fired and who reloaded. Typically first rank fires, takes a knee. They are reloading as second rank fires then takes a knee. Then second rank reloads as third fires. After third rank fires their volley, first rank is ready to fire again, rinse and repeat.

    So formations of densely packed soldiers were needed in order to be effective on a battlefield. The cartridge fire weapons changed all of that. The "Sharp Shooters" of the Civil War were not really snipers, but highly accurate marksmen who trained in tactics that were only possible because of their weapons. They were the bridge between the Napoleonic Tactics and modern ones.

    And I mentioned the Sharps and Spencer because they were the most well known, but there were many others. The Henry, the Burnside Carbine (third most common in the war, short range but favored by cavalry), the Colt Revolving (supersized revolver, favored by Dragoons), even some early model trapdoor prototypes (which became the Springfield 1865).

    While a blend of what we would now call Infantry and Snipers, they were able to develop these new tactics because their weapons allowed them to do it. Expert sharpshooters with muzzle loaders could not have done many of the things that these soldiers were able to do with cartridge weapons.
     
  5. SFJEFF

    SFJEFF New Member

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    No disagreement with any of what you said. I think the artillery also was greatly improved- the carnage by using Napoleanic tactics with modern weaponry I know I still cannot really comprehend.

    But speaking of sharpshooters and the Napoleanic Wars....if you haven't read any of the Sharpe's series by Cornwell, try one out.
     

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