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Prior to widespread military acceptance of rifled barrels shooting single projectiles in the 1850s, the use of buck-and-ball loads proved their deadly effectiveness on battlefields since the American War of Independence. When volley-fired at targets less than 100 yds. away, these loads delivered a withering blizzard of lead. They consisted of a single large projectile and anywhere from three to 12 smaller buckshot pellets. The advantage of smoothbore muskets was their fast reload rate compared to guns with rifled barrels. An average infantry soldier could shoot and reload a smoothbore two to three times in the amount of time a soldier with a rifled barrel could shoot and reload once. An ammunition invention in Europe during the early 1800s changed that situation.
Ball-shooting rifles required shooters to apply considerable force when loading a rifle so the projectile would engage the barrel's rifling in the process. Building on ideas from other inventors, French military officer Claude-Etienne Minie developed the minie ball conical bullet. It had a hollow base and pre-lubed grooves around the circumference. The minie ball could be loaded without a patch and was slightly smaller in diameter than lead balls. To load, all a shooter had to do was charge the barrel, push the minie ball down with much less force than a round ball, cap the ignition system and cock the gun. When fired, the pressure produced by the expanding gas in the barrel caused the minie ball's base to expand outward and engage the rifling. The cone-shaped projectile left the barrel in a tight spiral, resulting in longer, flatter trajectories and enhanced accuracy. The minie ball was approved for military service in the United States in the mid-1800s and saw widespread use in the Civil War.
Some Model 1842 Springfield muskets were made with extra-thick barrel metal in anticipation that they would eventually be rifled. Between 1856 and 1859 approximately 14,000 were rifled in order to shoot the minie ball. Cabela's has shooting replicas of the Model 1842 Springfield rifled musket available. Like the pre-Civil War originals, these have three-land and three-groove rifling, a machined-steel 900-yd. rear sight and an oil-finish walnut stock. All stamps and proof marks match the originals from Harper's Ferry and Springfield Armory. Caliber: .69. Barrel length: 42". Overall length: 58". Weight: 10.6 lbs.
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