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Old 11-19-2009, 01:16 PM

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At present I shoot a 30/06 Springfield target rifle. My next caliber will be a .260 or .243.
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Old 11-21-2009, 07:18 PM
William Harper

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Wink Dear Victory:

Sir Joseph Whitworth is one of the fathers of modern British precision manufacture in the mid-19th century. His revolutionary .45 hexagonal bored rifle with a 1 turn in 20" twist was designed as a replacement for the Pattern 1853 Enfield .577 and later models of the same minie-ball shooter. Although it surpassed them startlingly in accuracy and range in trials 1857-1859, the British Army judged it both slow in vollying, subject to unusual wear patterns, and a problem in logistics as well as expensive. They could not have missed the heavy recoil. The Snider Conversion which cheaply made a passable breachloader of the numerous Enfields under foreign pressure from the French adoption of the Chassepot and the Prussians their Dreyse "Needle Gun, served Britain better.
Arming itself, the Confederacy bought Enfields and full-kit Whitworths among other arms. Sir Joseph sold to Jeff Davis and the South without interference from the British Liberal government of Prime Minister Lord Palmerston despite protests from U.S. Ambassador Charles Francis Adams to Foreign Secretary Lord John Russell. Britain's government was neutral and did not interfere with private enterprise.
Some of these Whitworths were among the first true sniper rifles and equipped with telescopic sights. It was soon discovered by Confederate sharpshooters that a heavy round, cylindro-conical lead bullet could be loaded and the sheer pressure of fireing would swage it into hexagonal form enabling it to shoot as accurately as a Whitworth bolt.
I have fired a modern Whitworth replica loaded with 90 grains FFG Black Powder behind a 530 grain soft lead alloy round-cylindro-conical bullet at 200 meters into a hand-sized group using a tang style peep sight with no prior experience. I found the recoil annoyingly like that of a light 375 H&H.
Dear Victory, I don't deal in myth or misinformation having just spent four decades as a Professor of British History and sixty years with the rifle. I don't have much time left.
Find out for yourself what a Whitworth is and how well it can perform. The best source is Dixie Gunworks, which sells a Euro-arms version with a 21" twist for ca. $1,100. and a Parker Hale version of the rifle for $1,550.00. Dixie also sells bullets (580 grains) and moulds for a 475 grain bullet.
How well either would shoot would depend on many factors under the shooter's control: alloy hardness, bore cleanness, charge in relation to alloy hardness, paper patch quality.
I was sixty-one years old when I first fired a Whitworth and watched its seventy-four year old master shoot it and lecture on its qualities. As you see, the rifle itself is not inexpensive compared with some modern centerfires that could be used for long range practice. However, once you realize you can cast your own bullets and need no brass, the Whitworth begins to pay for itself these days.
Its tangent sights are adjustable and mechanically regulated to 1,000 yards. Tang peep sights can be had; mounting them on the Whitworth is a worthwhile but difficult chore, then you notice distances none but some of the latest specialized sniper rifles could reach. The Whitworth weighs ca 10-12 Lbs depending on its set-up and is quite moble. If you mount a traditional 4X scope sight on one of these rifles beware of the short eye relief and the rifle's savage recoil, which could give a nasty cut or black eye. It is a difficult school of the rifle in itself.
As for its effectiveness in any modern sense, its projectile will be subsonic for much of the flight time to, say, 1,500 yards, but it will arrive with the distant low pressure report. While its kinetic energy is not high out there, its momentum is prodigious and no personal armor would prevent one's giblets from being scrambled. Its trajectory is quite high, not entirely a disadvantage when the target is partly protected by sandbags, because you can loop 1.5 ounces of lead right over them. The Whitworth is, thus, strangely, aided by the most modern rangefinders.
My own long-range muzzle-loader is a replica of an English Officer's Purdey .54 with its tangent sight's longest indicated range to 2,000 yards. Since I have never hit a man-sized silhouette past 600 yards with regularity with its 425 grain minie bullet, I wondered what target its makers had in mind for a mile. Why something of that era: a regiment deploying, or a brigade of cavalry on the move probably.
As for using a muzzleloader as an introductory arm for long range shooting when you have a good deer rifle in .243, .25-06, 7mm Rem. Mag., .308, .30-06, or .300 Winc. Mag., I remember cheap brass, especially for the .308. And I remember cheap, excellent match bullets, too, a $5.-6.00 per hundred, which today would cost you $25.$-50.00 per hundred. Shoot a .338 Lapua a thousand rounds and see what it cost you, to say nothing of the brass and quality scope sight.
No wonder I shoot a lot of rimfires and muzzleloaders on the range these days using my best centerfire only for war against the feral hogs. Good luck, Victory.

Last edited by William Harper; 11-22-2009 at 12:09 PM. Reason: Information for readers
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