Musket Ball.jpg

Musket balls are the types of projectiles that are fired from muskets. Before they were loaded down the muzzle, they were usually wrapped in paper or cloth, to keep excess gas behind the barrel. They were usually made of lead. Musket balls were made by pouring molten lead into a musket ball mould and trimming off surplus lead once it had cooled. At times stone musket balls were used. The lead musket balls expanded upon entering a body, often causing a large exit wound. If the musket ball was not wrapped in the linen patch, it could bounce from side to side inside the musket barrel and would leave the barrel in an unpredictable direction. This is one of the reasons why muskets were inaccurate. Musket balls where generally anywhere from .30-.75 calibre, but some exceeded these guidelines. The musket ball was loaded into the smooth bore by first pouring a powder charge down the barrel, wrapping a linen patch around the ball, starting it off with a short ramrod or 'starter' then using the longer ramrod (usually seated underneath the barrel) to push it all the way down the barrel. After tapping the ball a few times to check that it was seated firmly on top of the powder charge the ramrod was withdrawn. Musket balls could also be used in rifled muskets - guns that were originally smooth-bored but rifled at a later date - or in rifles. Musket balls are often confused with balls for muzzle-loading pistols, as some pistols were of a larger bore than some muskets.

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