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Thread: Bess Users?

  1. #1

    Default Bess Users?

    Any Brown Bess users here in Alaska?

    I just picked up an early Pedersoli version with the shorter barrel, and I'm more than a little impressed with the quality of build, as well as the balance and function. It balances almost like a shotgun, and I'm already making plans to pick up some 11-gauge wads to give it a try with shot. Best of all, it seems to be really accurate with patched round balls at my normal 50 yard or less hunting range.

    I'm thinking that big 75 caliber ball at 550-grains would be dandy on big game. Anyone taken game with theirs?

  2. #2
    Member OffTheRecord's Avatar
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    Default owner

    I also own a brown bess reproduction but I have never planned to take it hunting.

    The fellow who traded it to me claimed that it was Japanese made and highly sanitized when he was an extra in Last of the Mohicans so I cannot be certain but that looks right. He was one of the Highlanders so this one has a nicely bobbed barrel too.

    http://www.mohicanpress.com/images/dvdsc_duncanfire.jpg maybe he is in the back here.

    He claimed that he had taken deer with it in North Carolina and was using a hacksawed shotgun shell loaded upside down. You can guess what the thought bubble over my head said when he explained that. I have no plans to try this myself. I have not even been able to find a period style ball mold.

    I was very prejudiced towards my longrifle before getting this musket and I have to admit that it is a handsome firearm that I have come to enjoy owning. It has functioned very reliably in reenactments down South.

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    Default More Bess Owners

    http://wyldewares.com/pistol4.aspx

    This fellow also has two types of Brown Besses on sale for $250. and $300. to help him make a minimum order. This is a chance to get a good deal on reproduction firelocks.

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by OffTheRecord View Post
    http://wyldewares.com/pistol4.aspx

    This fellow also has two types of Brown Besses on sale for $250. and $300. to help him make a minimum order. This is a chance to get a good deal on reproduction firelocks.
    I'm betting those are Indian imports, based on price. Indian imports have a very mixed reputation, based primarily on the importer's facilities and willingness to repair, modify or warranty the guns. Middlesex Village is one reputable importer that backs their particular Indian imports, but also at a slightly higher price. If I recall correctly there are at least one or two others. I don't know the Wylde Wares, but even at that great price, I'd steer clear of the deal unless he's going to back the guns 100%.

    I feel like I got a great deal on my Pedersoli Bess at $500. It's barely used and retails for somehting like $1k these days. Function is perfect and Pedersoli supplies parts readily, so I'm happy to have paid a little more for mine. Pedersoli deals pop up here and there, so if you're nervous about too good a deal, keep your eyes open for a used one with some assurance of reliable function along with a supply of parts.

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    Default Indian made

    I am reasonably sure that these are Indian made. I have a blunderbuss that came from Middlesex Village and after some work I am very pleased with it. It is very solid and even had nice wood under the nasty varnish.

    I have e-mailed this small business owner and he is not unfamiliar with black powder guns since he is a pirate reenactor but I do not expect much support on the wheellock that I just ordered.

    $500. for a bess is a very good price and someone would have to probably be a little bit of a gun smith to take advantage of these Indian prices. One of my old reenactor buddies said that he needed a "drop-in-the-mud" gun so this should fit the bill.

    One of these days we have to get together and shoot. I just do not have enough excuses to take my guns out and shoot.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by OffTheRecord View Post
    I am reasonably sure that these are Indian made. I have a blunderbuss that came from Middlesex Village and after some work I am very pleased with it. It is very solid and even had nice wood under the nasty varnish.

    I have e-mailed this small business owner and he is not unfamiliar with black powder guns since he is a pirate reenactor but I do not expect much support on the wheellock that I just ordered.

    $500. for a bess is a very good price and someone would have to probably be a little bit of a gun smith to take advantage of these Indian prices. One of my old reenactor buddies said that he needed a "drop-in-the-mud" gun so this should fit the bill.

    One of these days we have to get together and shoot. I just do not have enough excuses to take my guns out and shoot.
    Sounds right on the money. I'm hoping his Bess imports are good enough they won't burden him with repairs and adjustments while passing along a great deal to shooters. My own Bess is a joy to shoot and surprisingly accurate. Hopefully cheaper access will allow more folks to get the bug.

    And yeah, distance is a problem for gatherings up here, isn't it. I'm lucky in living well out of town with lots of places to shoot, along with half a dozen friends within 5 miles who share the muzzleloading bug. Kind of like having a "club" with no meetings, no officers, no dues and all the fun of frequent informal shoots. I know how good I've got it after many years in other places without the assets!

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    Member rimfirematt's Avatar
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    Default

    I dont know of anyone in out club that has a Bess.

    I've often thought about getting a carbine version Too.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by rimfirematt View Post
    I dont know of anyone in out club that has a Bess.

    I've often thought about getting a carbine version Too.
    Mine is the "carbine" version too, with the 30" barrel rather than 20 feet or so. ;-) It's surprisingly light and well balanced, too. With the bayonet lug for a front sight and no rear sight you wouldn't expect it to be accurate, but I can keep my shots on a 5 gallon bucket easily at 50 yards. With a change in sights, even a little filing to narrow that bayonet lug, I bet I could improve on that quite a bit.

    Put 120 grains of 2f behind the 75 caliber ball (actually 586 grains!) and you've got a real thumper on your hands. It definitely opens your eyes to light it off.

    I haven't tried the shot yet, but friends report great happiness with theirs.

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    Default swan shot

    BrownBear - have you, or anyone else here, made and tried "swan shot?"

    This is tear drop shaped shot made by dribbling hot lead through a screen or collander into a bucket of water. needless to say this is a slightly dangerous process and became fairly rare after shot towers were built in area.

    Apparently 18th century militia were allowed to use it and the point man usually loaded swan shot more to help put fresh meat in the pot than for noisy bushes. Red Coat "Light Infantry" also used it in the point man's musket.

    One source claims that the heavy teardrop shaped lead shot could reach out and take game at 140 yards. I doubt that much range but I am tempted to try it out of my blunderbuss if I get bored enough to make some.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by OffTheRecord View Post
    BrownBear - have you, or anyone else here, made and tried "swan shot?"

    This is tear drop shaped shot made by dribbling hot lead through a screen or collander into a bucket of water. needless to say this is a slightly dangerous process and became fairly rare after shot towers were built in area.

    Apparently 18th century militia were allowed to use it and the point man usually loaded swan shot more to help put fresh meat in the pot than for noisy bushes. Red Coat "Light Infantry" also used it in the point man's musket.

    One source claims that the heavy teardrop shaped lead shot could reach out and take game at 140 yards. I doubt that much range but I am tempted to try it out of my blunderbuss if I get bored enough to make some.
    I've read about it and seen it for sale somewhere IIRC. I've never considered making my own, but like you I'm pure Missouri on the 140 yard claim. I'd be interested to hear about what you learn!

  11. #11
    Member rimfirematt's Avatar
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    There was an article in Muzzle Blasts awhile back. These guys were trying to make their own shot using a process like what you describe. They said that the teardrop shaped shot was the worst shooting stuff. Wouldnt hold a pattern. In fact every wich way they tried to make the shot it would come out as a tear shape. OF all things, arsenic or some chemical like that was the magic ingredient to keep the lead in little spheres during the drop process.

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by OffTheRecord View Post
    BrownBear - have you, or anyone else here, made and tried "swan shot?"

    This is tear drop shaped shot made by dribbling hot lead through a screen or collander into a bucket of water. needless to say this is a slightly dangerous process and became fairly rare after shot towers were built in area.

    Apparently 18th century militia were allowed to use it and the point man usually loaded swan shot more to help put fresh meat in the pot than for noisy bushes. Red Coat "Light Infantry" also used it in the point man's musket.

    One source claims that the heavy teardrop shaped lead shot could reach out and take game at 140 yards. I doubt that much range but I am tempted to try it out of my blunderbuss if I get bored enough to make some.
    When I was young Dad showed us how to make swan shot we never shot game with it he said it was illeagal as far as the 140yrds Im with you youd have to show me.

    BWM
    "Spirituality is the ultimate survival skill. When one is primarily on a spiritual quest, the desire for material objects is effectively lessened. This can make an enormous difference to us in the coming trials since we stand a big chance of losing many of our goodies. We will be in states of shock and anguish. Yet if we learn to not mind losing them, there is no loss. Material goods are to Americans as alcohol is to a drunk. In both cases, losing the craving is a benefit." Mike Oehler

    "I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it. ~ Thomas Jefferson, to Archibald Stuart, 1791"

  13. #13
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    Default Brown bess user

    Brown Bear,

    I have been hunting with my bess carbine for over 10 years. I have taken 2 moose with it, both shots were broadside and less than 40 yards. I also use it for grouse and rabbits, it throws a mean pattern out to 30 yards.
    Mine is an older model pedersoli made gun, it has been modified for more practicle use, the front lug has been replaced with a tradegun front sight and i have installed a rear sight also. It shoots a very good groupat 50 yards all shots on a paper plate size target. Have you miked the bore?
    My gun is marked .75 cal but the bore measures .729 inch. I use a .705 RB with a heavy patch and 90gr of 3F. This lets the air out of moose real fast. You would not go wrong hunting anything that walks or flys with your gun. My shot loads use 90 gr of 3F, a .12ga 1/2" fiber wad over powder, 1 1/2oz of 7 1/2 shot and 1/2 a fiberwad on top. its a great load and will reach out a good distance. These guns are handy ballance well and come up fast, the only drawback is the weight they get heavy by the end of the day. My tradegun is much lighter to carry, but i realy like the feel of the Bess.

  14. #14

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    I haven't miked the bore yet, but have been using .715 balls from the mold that came with the gun. Using pillow ticking patches, they seem awfully loose though- no trouble to push them below the muzzle with thumb pressure alone, even after several firings. Accuracy is there, but I'm really surprised how easy it is to seat that ball.

    Interesting to me that you're using 12 gauge wads. I have been going to order 11 gauge, but just haven't gotten around to it. Another case of needing to mike the bore. I'm surprised that the 12 gauge overshot wad is enough to hold the shot in place during carry, but you've got my interest. It's certainly a lot easier to come up with 12 gauge components if those will work.

    I've been debating doing something about the sights, and thanks for the encouragement. Mine appears to be an early model too, but in absolutely cherry condition. While I'm reluctant to make modifications right now, more time in the field is likely to "adjust" the cherry finish, making it a little easier to think about mods.

    Thanks!

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    Default Bess Loads

    Brown Bear,

    I use the .12ga wads due to the bore size of .729 inch, this is the same as my pedersolli 12ga double shotgun. They fit just fine. A bigger bore size would need bigger wads, I know several people with standard model Bess;s that are a true .75 cal and they use .10ga wads and a .735 ball.

    I can shoot a .715 ball with a thin patch in mine if nessesary, I originally had the .705 mould made for my .72 double smooth rifle. When i bought the bess i bought .730 balls for it and they will not go down the barrel. so i tried the .705 i had and they work fine. Good luck with your gun you will like it for hunting big game at close range.

  16. #16

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    I miked mine and it just tops .742. Interesting range isn't it! Been meaning to mike it, so thanks for the spur. No wonder those .715 balls and ticking are so loose! Might have to track down a .730 mold, or use some thicker patching.

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    Just curious, I wonder if anyone has ever tried a rifled slug in a smoothbore musket?
    Louis Knapp

  18. #18

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    Do you mean a Forster-style, hollow based slug in modern shotshells? That's an interesting question. The "analog" is the Minie used in the civil war in slightly smaller calibers (58 or so), but I'm not aware of any old style hollow based Minies in 72 or 75 caliber (12 or 11 gauge). The patched round balls we've been talking about are surprisingly accurate out to 50 yards or so, maybe stretching that a bit with better sights.

    Whether the Minie style hollow base would increase accurate range in a smoothbore is certainly worth exploring. I know of some custom overweight conicals or or "slugs" for 12 gauge (far side of 700 grains, as I recall), but they're solids and intended for use in rifled guns. In a lightweight Bess like mine, recoil would be memorable, I'm sure. The .715 balls we're talking about weigh in at 550 grains and the .735 versions tip in right at 600 grains. They're ***** cats to shoot with 80 grain charges, but really start getting your attention on top of 120 grains of powder. Since you'd probably need to top that for longer range potential..... ouch!

  19. #19
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    Default Slugs in a Smoothbore

    Louis,

    I got ahold of some Muzzleloader slugs for a .12 ga. they look like BIG airgun Pellets, ie flat nose and hollow base, I loaded some up with 80 gr 3F a 1/2 inch fiber wad i filled the base with borebutter and it fit the bore very well, no room for a patch, and toped it with another wad. It tumbled at 25 yards, it still hit point of aim but left an intresting hole in the paper. at 50 yards they were all over the target. I also tried them in my double gun and got the same results. I would not recomend that type of round in a smoothbore. I have also tried the regular foster type from a broken down 12ga shotshell, same problem, they tumbled after firing. I believe they need a higher velocity to get any spin. I will stick to round ball in my smoothbores.

  20. #20

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    That's useful feedback Flintlock.

    Thanks!

    I just miked some salvaged 12 gauge Forsters I had laying around, and they're .690 on the base driving band. That's actually 16 gauge, so I'm assuming these I have are intended to fit inside a wad. A .05" smaller slug is sure going to rattle around in my .740 bore. Sounds weird, but I'd be tempted to patch it and see what happens!

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