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Discussion Starter #1
The reason for the title question is the movie Man in the wilderness. for those who have not seen it it starts something like this.

Someone gut-shoots a deer, someone else goes into the trees after it. A grizzly bear makes an appearance and makes a terrible mess of the man till his mates kill the bear. What you carry definitely makes a difference.

My answer to the question would be A Kentucky long rifle in 52 caliber and a 55 caliber good quality pistol with a 6" barrel. A rifled pistol loads slower with little extra accuracy out to about 30yds. The 52cal balls would work quite nicely in a 55 cal pistol.

Because I'm British I can't Know what the Muzzle Velocities are.

I estimate the pistol would make 750ft/sec with a 211grain ball + 26gr of powder, and the rifle 1950ft/sec with 130gr of powder and the same ball.

Does anyone know how to do the calculations more accurately or do you shoot similar guns.
 

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If big bears are a possibility I would prefer a Jeager rifle with a 31" barrel in 62 cal.
The Jeager is quicker handling than a long rifle and a larger caliber is a must when slinging patched round balls at critters that bite back.
Take away the big bears and my Southern long rifle in 45 cal work for me every thing from squirrels to deer and hogs.

Pat
 

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In the 1770's you would most likely be carrying a Hudson's Bay trade rifle in.69 caliber smoothbore [or one of it's copies] and one or two pistols in the same caliber. 130 grains would be a very stiff load in a
.52 and you would see at least 1950 fps. I use 85 grains in my .54 and see about 1800. A 55 cal. pistol would like closer to 35 or 40 grains to see 750 fps, but I think you would need closer to 8" of barrel to give the powder a chance to burn.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks

Thank you gentlemen for the replies. In case you didn't realize I'm British and most people over hear think Americans shoot Kentucky flint locks in 45 caliber. I have read it was good enough to take down a bear but i would rather not try it.

The Kentucky rifle was developed (so i read ) from the Yeager so It must have been available. I thought the Hudson bay rifle was available about 1800 so I will research that.

The 69 caliber is a French caliber the American musket being based on the French design which I feel was always superior to the British brown Bess. Can anyone tell me what was the most popular caliber for a Jaeger or Kentucky rifle, I know Track of the wolf sell replicas but they list nothing over 54 cal.

thanks again
Mik
 

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Mik most of the original Kentucky rifles I've seen were in smaller calibers 45 and less.
I have a feeling that most larger caliber Kentuckys are rebores.
Lighter bullets weigh less, which is critical when you carry your entire supply on your back, and take less powder to shoot, which is critical when you also carry your entire gunpowder supply in a horn. The typical caliber of a woodsman's KY rifle was in the .40-48 range, adequate for the small game that made up the usual explorer's dinner, but also optimized for weight. Smaller caliber bullets also resulted in much lighter barrels, making not only the ammunition, but the rifle itself, lighter.

Pat
 

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Discussion Starter #7
60 cal kentucky ?

My research has found this:

Perhaps the Jaeger never went away, after all If you go to a gunsmith he will sell you a gun. The guns he has to offer will be what most people are buying. If you want a gun for squirrels in 36 cal and he has nothing smaller than 50 cal he will make you one.

Everyone knew smaller calibers meant lead and powder would go further in the American wilderness where everything was hard to come by.

Quoting from a book "The great guns" about 1750 the average bore was 60 cal, it was down to about 50 cal by 1775. In tests a 137gr 45 cal ball backed by 56gr of FFFG powder gave an average of 1681ft/sec over ten shots.

Now if you were armed with a 50cal and your unit managed to captured some British cartridges and your share was 5, then you had 815gr of powder and 2500gr of lead. This is enough to make and fire 13 balls with a few grains of powder and lead left over.

Now the Jaeger is a good gun, but the longer barrel and sight radius, smaller bullets, higher muzzle velocities and flatter trajectories made dinner more certain. For a back up weapon any smooth bore pistol of from 58 to 62 cal would be a better choice than my original.
 

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I know what I would have carried, and I own an exmple of it. My Great X 5 Grandfather fought in the Revolution, including in the Battle of King's Mountain, and his rifle still exists. Mine is an exact modern-built copy. It is .58 caliber flintlock, with a 32" swamped barrel. The stock is very plain, heavier than the sterotypical "Kentucky Longrifle" stock but with excellent handling characteristics. "Very plain" pretty well describes the rifle overall -- nothing fancy, no decoration, but very well-built. It shows very strong influence from the German school that produced the Jaeger. This was a genuine yeoman farmer's piece of the 1770's-'80s.
 

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Thanks, I am allways wondering what the actual twist rates were in original rifles. I had heard that original Hawkens were 1/48 but that seems too fast, or at least faster than the ideal rate of 1/60.
 

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Thanks, I am allways wondering what the actual twist rates were in original rifles. I had heard that original Hawkens were 1/48 but that seems too fast, or at least faster than the ideal rate of 1/60.

Actually, I've closely examined a fair number of oldtimers, and something around 1:48 is surprisingly common. I really think that when it was a matter of individual gunsmiths turning them out one at a time that a lot of those fellows had rifling set-ups that allowed for one twist, period. One thing about firing patched balls -- a whole lot of less-than-ideal conditions can be conquered by varying ball size, patch thickness, lube, etc. While there may be a range of "ideal" rifling pitches for round ball, the exact twist is not as critical as it certainly can be with elongated projectiles.
 

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Original Hawkens were 1 in 48" twist. They shot round ball and conicals. They were made for western expansion and the fur trade. The game in the mid-west to the Rockies were a lot larger that in the east. In the east there was deer and black bears. Moving west there was bison, elk and grizzly bears. In the east, .45 caliber and smaller would do. Start moving west where the game is bigger and more dangerous, .50 caliber and larger was desired. In 1770, there was only the eastern states. The west wasn't expolred until after 1800's.
 

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I don't know about the US, but in Canada they had trading posts set up in Alberta in the 1770's. Fort McMurray was 1778.
 

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Hi.
Going back to the source of your inquiry, as I recall "Man in the Wilderness" is loosely based on the story of the mountain man Hugh Glass, an actual mountain man. It was based in the Rocky Mountain region. Hawken style rifles were the prefered weapon (.50 cal. being the standard, but .45-.58 being found)but most likely he would have had a more inexpensive "trade" gun. These were relatively inexpensive, frequently smooth bored guns used by recruited fur company employees or for trade to the natives. Look up the book on Hugh Glass. It is a great read.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Facts

I didn't know if the movie was fact or fiction I was in my twenties when I saw it along tin ago. I thought they used flint locks in the movie. Thanks for the info.
 

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I'm pretty sure that I would have been carrying a Pennsylvanian .50 caliber muzzleloader and a musket pistol.
I also would have had a horse where I could place my muzzleloader. I would have worn my coonskin hat slightly to the side, a thick Brown bear fur coat, and some seal skin boots. I also would have been carrying my bow and arrows. My musket pistol would have been in my belt, on the left and my Bowie knife on the right.

When not traveling nor in the city, my pistol would be tucked in my saddle bags and my knife would always be on my right hand side. My muzzleloader would always be at the ready, no further than just a few steps away.
 

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For bear I would want a Brown Bess with the hardest lead ball I could find, backed by whatever powder charge Benjamin Robbins used to reach 1700fps muzzle velocity...plus the longest, sharpest bayonet available.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Since I started this thread I have changed my mind a bit but I must point out that I feel the brown bess to be a poor choice.

If you can handle the recoil and get a hit great, but with the standard load of about 180 grains of FFG behind a .7 ball you have a poor chance of hitting a man at 100 yards. That is quite near enough to a bear for me. You could shoot a good quality pistol with more accuracy than a brown bess.

Never thought an American would pick a musket over a rifle.
 
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