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Thread: Musket Ball marks / ID Question

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  1. #1
    us
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ID:	744851Hello All. I found this musket ball over the weekend. I'm curious about the marks, are they from the rifling of the barrel (I assume)? There are14 marks around the perimeter. There is a sprue visible (not in this pic), I can upload more/better pics tonight if need be. Also- any ideas on the age of this? It was found in a field where I was looking for Native American artifacts. Any help or insight is always appreciated! Thanks & HH!Click image for larger version. 

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    Attached Images Attached Images        
    Last edited by mangum; Feb 21, 2013 at 09:47 AM.

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  3. #3
    us
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    Quote Originally Posted by Silver Searcher
    Could it be some type of gaming piece, made up be soldiers in camp

    SS
    I've seen a few in other MDing forums but seems no positive ID was given.

  4. #4
    us
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    It looks like a .69cal round ball but the indents are not going to be rifling or at least not from an old gun. The old ones didn't have that many groves in them.

  5. #5
    us
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    Just updated with more/better photos if it helps.

  6. #6
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    Duggap wrote:
    > It looks like a .69cal round ball but the indents are not going to be rifling or at
    > least not from an old gun. The old ones didn't have that many groves in them.

    Actually, the bullet book by McKee-&-Mason lists a civil war era "French Augustin Rifle & Carbine" which was .71-calibr and had 12 rifling-grooves. But Mangum's photo of the ball with a penny for scale shows the ball is smaller than .71-caliber size.

    Also, muzzleloader roundballs don't "take the rifling" like that ball did, because muzzleloader balls are smaller than the firearm's bore. So, I have to think that ball was fired from a breechloader. Perhaps that ball was in an early Pinfire breechloading Shotgun cartridge. Fourteen-gage would be about right for that ball's size.

    That being said... let me also state plainly that at this point, my Pinfire-cartridge theory is just speculation, because I don't know for certain that any Pinfire shotgun cartridges came with a roundball as the "slug." I'll have to go do some research about that.

    Meanwhile, here's a photo of some early Pinfire shotgun cartridges, made by Eley Brothers of London in the second half of the 1800s.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

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  7. #7
    us
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheCannonballGuy
    Duggap wrote:
    > It looks like a .69cal round ball but the indents are not going to be rifling or at
    > least not from an old gun. The old ones didn't have that many groves in them.

    Actually, the bullet book by McKee-&-Mason lists a civil war era "French Augustin Rifle & Carbine" which was .71-calibr and had 12 rifling-grooves. But Mangum's photo of the ball with a penny for scale shows the ball is smaller than .71-caliber size.

    Also, muzzleloader roundballs don't "take the rifling" like that ball did, because muzzleloader balls are smaller than the firearm's bore. So, I have to think that ball was fired from a breechloader. Perhaps that ball was in an early Pinfire breechloading Shotgun cartridge. Fourteen-gage would be about right for that ball's size.

    That being said... let me also state plainly that at this point, my Pinfire-cartridge theory is just speculation, because I don't know for certain that any Pinfire shotgun cartridges came with a roundball as the "slug." I'll have to go do some research about that.

    Meanwhile, here's a photo of some early Pinfire shotgun cartridges, made by Eley Brothers of London in the second half of the 1800s.
    Thanks Cannonball Guy, as always I appreciate the help. This does have 12 grooves. Let me know if you find out. Thanks!

  8. #8
    us
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    Those are definitely rifling marks. The patina on the bullet suggests that it's pretty old as well. Duggap is partially right, most of the old guns didn't have that many lands and grooves, but there were some that did. I'll try to find an example for you. In the meantime, an accurate measurement of the ball would help.
    Last edited by NOLA_Ken; Feb 19, 2013 at 11:04 AM.
    "That's me, on the beach side combing the sand, metal meter in my hand, sporting a pocket full of change"...... NOFX

    Now in the process of posting my antique photo collection at : http://forgottonimages.tumblr.com/

  9. #9
    us
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    Here are a couple of photos with measurements, hope this helps.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

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  10. #10
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    A muzzle loading firearm uses a greased patch on an undersized ball, so the rifling marks are taken up by the patch, and a lot of times the imprint from the cloth patch can be seen on the ball rather than rifling groves. So like CBG said it has to be fired from a breech loader. There was a breech loading rifle as far back as the revolutionary war. It was called a "Ferguson rifle," and it fired an over bore sized, not patched, round ball, but with no use of a cartridge, loose powder was poured in behind the ball and the breech closed. The rifle was a flintlock, and they were used by a regiment in the British army. The major fight they were involved in was at Kings Mountain or the Cow Pens, I don't remember which, perhaps both, but I also think those fight locations are in NC. All that said, I also don't remember the caliber, but it sticks in my mind they were around .65 caliber and the over sized ball would be a few 1/000's over that, but that's just a guess. You can get more information than you need by googling Ferguson rifle, and also google images might help you, they'll show how the breech worked, which was a screw thing hard to explain. So with any luck you might have found one of the more rare bullet finds. I have no idea how many lands and grooves the Ferguson had, but I'm thinking google will be able to tell you that also. But to pin it down to a Ferguson bullet, you need to know the number of lands and grooves, and use a mic on the bullet to get the exact size.
    Due to the high price of ammunition there will be no warning shot.

  11. #11
    us
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    I took a closer look at this. There are 14 marks around the perimeter of the bullet. There is also a ring below the sprue that possibly indicates use of a ramrod. The end opposite the sprue is also slightly flattened. Any additional info on this would be great, I appreciate the help so far! I'd love to get a positive ID on this. New pics below showing these angles. Click image for larger version. 

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    Last edited by mangum; Feb 20, 2013 at 11:00 AM.

  12. #12
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    I did a little googling on the Ferguson rifle, and there is information that the caliber was all the way from using the .615 carbine bullet to .68 caliber, so it looks like bore size will require some more in depth research. One source says only 100 rifles were ever made, and the other says 600, and any rate, if it's a Ferguson bullet, it's plenty rare. I found one place that said the rifle had 12 grooves. I'd like to be able to look at an original and do my own measurements. I have a number of firearms books, but I don't think any of them say much about the rifle, except just to say there were some made. The NRA would have the straight dope on the gun though, if someone wants to contact them.
    Due to the high price of ammunition there will be no warning shot.

  13. #13
    us
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    Quote Originally Posted by BosnMate
    I did a little googling on the Ferguson rifle, and there is information that the caliber was all the way from using the .615 carbine bullet to .68 caliber, so it looks like bore size will require some more in depth research. One source says only 100 rifles were ever made, and the other says 600, and any rate, if it's a Ferguson bullet, it's plenty rare. I found one place that said the rifle had 12 grooves. I'd like to be able to look at an original and do my own measurements. I have a number of firearms books, but I don't think any of them say much about the rifle, except just to say there were some made. The NRA would have the straight dope on the gun though, if someone wants to contact them.
    I'm getting it measured with calipers tonight and will post the results tomorrow

  14. #14
    us
    When the going gets wierd, the wierd turn pro....

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    I'm going to throw this out there....It's possible your round ball was fired from a Model 1819 Hall rifle, or one of the later carbine versions of that rifle.... The caliber and rifling seem right, so it's a possibility you might want to look into.
    M1819 Hall rifle - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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    note the rifling in the muzzle in the pic........
    Last edited by NOLA_Ken; Feb 20, 2013 at 03:32 PM.
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    Now in the process of posting my antique photo collection at : http://forgottonimages.tumblr.com/

  15. #15
    us
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    Here are the results, it's a 60 caliber. Hope this can help get some more info, doesn't look like it would be the M1819.Click image for larger version. 

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