Sometimes the Universe provides enlightenment in the most peculiar ways!
While I have to admit that downrange velocity and foot-pound numbers don’t seem very impressive when it comes to big round balls, there is an element of the power equation that is sorely lacking from simple ballistics charts – one that is consistently overlooked by the crowd. A concept that, once understood, will forever change the way you think about big round ball projectiles. That missing element is momentum.
However, the facts of the matter are quite the opposite as we all know. But we tend, nevertheless, to continue to use simple two-element paper ballistics equations as we seemingly lack for a basis of comparison of performance between various loads, be they cartridge or loose powder and ball. Regardless of which, the point is that we continue to draw the wrong conclusions about their effectiveness on game when comparing by mere velocity and energy numbers.
He postulated that the missing element of the power equation was bullet diameter. Including the bullet diameter in the equation provides a three dimensional view of the power dynamic while providing insight to the big round ball's seemingly magical ability to take down big game like it had been struck by the hammer of Thor.
In order to more fairly compare bullets and their effectiveness on game (disregarding other variables, such as bullet design i.e. jackets, ogive, metal temper, etc.),
The application of
WARNING: Kids, do not try this at home. Do not attempt to load any other .62 caliber muzzleloader to achieve this velocity unless it is deemed to be safe by its manufacturer. I know it to be safe in Faeton rifles that I build utilizing Forsyth rifling. I refuse all liability for the experiments and misdeeds of others. If in doubt, buy a Faeton. (I know that’s a pretty blatant plug, but it is my blog, after all…)
Clicking on the chart will enlarge it for easier viewing. Then click the "back" arrow at the top left of your screen to return to the text.
If we are good hunters, a rifle capable of shooting sub-minute of angle groups isn’t going to put meat in the freezer any easier or with more efficiency than a rifle that shoots less than sub-minute of angle. Nor will that tack driver rifle make a good hunter out of an inexperienced hunter. As one old friend once told me in regard to all aspects of shooting, and certainly about putting meat in the freezer, “It’s the loose nut behind the trigger that makes the most difference.”
I don't wish to deprive anyone the joy of our sport. I just don’t want to see our newer muzzleloading brethren being duped into thinking that the old tried and true, easily loaded, sufficiently accurate, (big) round ball can't bring home the bacon in our marvelously modern world. And, that it doesn’t take surgically-accurate rifles to put meat in the freezer – just better hunters.
So, what does all this have to do with Forsyth rifling? It is Forsyth rifling which allows us to safely achieve those high velocities that elevate the lowly, unsophisticated round ball into the realm of performance of some of the most successful cartridges of all time.
One just cannot imagine how effective a big round ball, traveling at high velocity, is at anchoring game on the spot with a single well-placed shot. You have to experience it to believe it. Once you do, you'll be hooked. I have over ten years of feedback from Zephyr and Faeton owners who wholeheartedly agree.
For those open-minded folks who would like to read James Forsyth's wonderful book, The Sporting Rifle and Its Projectiles, the second edition is now in the public domain. If you're not able to locate it, feel free to e-mail me and I'll be happy to send it to you in e-book form.
As I said before, Forsyth had it all figured out 150 years ago!