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Shooting round balls at high speed

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • Smoothbore Diana 25
  • The $100 PCP
  • The best article
  • Smoothbore rifle
  • Birth of the smoothbore rifle
  • The results
  • All balls spin in flight
  • Consistency
  • What have I just said?
  • Summary

I don’t like to use myself or this blog as an authoritative source, but when I research shooting round balls at high speed I find that I have written more on the subject than any other source. Or maybe not more so much as more that has been verified.

Smoothbore Diana 25

To get you started, read this 5-part report on the Diana model 25 smoothbore. Reading that you will discover several things. First, that smoothbore airguns are accurate out to 10 meters when shooting pellets. Next — it takes the right loading technique to shoot a pellet accurately from that airgun at 10 meters. We also learned that the same gun fell apart when the range was increased to 25 yards and shot the same pellets that were accurate at 10 meters. Finally we saw that round balls in this gun were not accurate at all.

The $100 PCP

Next, you will find that I experimented with both pellets and BBs in the 6-part series on the $100 PCP. If you look at the velocity data for BBs that’s in Part 2 you will see that we got BBs up over 800 f.p.s. with some consistency when the gun was filled to 2,000 psi.

The best article

The best and most germane report I did on this subject was written way back in 2012. It was titled Round ball accuracy in smoothbores. In that report I addressed the idea of shooting round balls in muzzle loading smoothbores, where they can produce a muzzle velocity in excess of 1,400 f.p.s., if they are loaded for it. Between that, which we didn’t do and the smoothbore BB-shooting PCP that we did try, we have looked at round ball accuracy at higher speeds. I will address that subject now.

Smoothbore rifle

The title sounds like a contradiction, but don’t dismiss it. Smoothbore rifles exist — or they did. Around the middle of the 19th century a group of midwestern shooters decided to see how accurate a smoothbore can be when it shoots a round ball.

A smoothbore rifle was either made that way from the beginning, or it was once a rifle that someone reamed the rifling out of to make the barrel smooth. Since the newest of these guns are more than a century old it is next to impossible to tell which it was.

Smoothbore rifles have fine rifle sights, while smoothbore muskets may only have rudimentary sights and fowlers (ancient shotguns) might only have a bead at the front to align the bore. While we think of shotguns shooting birds on the wing today, that wasn’t always the case. Old-time fowlers were often shot at birds roosting in trees or floating on the water. So they did need to be aligned with the target, but not aimed in the conventional sense.

Very few writers really understand what a smoothbore rifle is. They think it’s used for hunting and they talk of “buck and ball” which is a load of buckshot (large lead shot) over a single bore-sized ball. That was a popular hunting load for game like deer at ranges os less than 50 yards. It is not a smoothbore rifle load, though.

I have seen a real smoothbore muzzle loading rifle — one that was either made that way intentionally or converted from a target rifle. The barrel was made by Remington and measured 1-7/8-inches across the flats of its octagonal barrel. The percussion gun weighed about 15 pounds and was made for one purpose — to shoot round lead balls into the tightest group possible at a range of about 50 yards. Lest you think someone must be anal to do that for fun, I remind you that several of our own blog readers tether a carbon fiber air tank to a PCP to shoot it from a benchrest. Anal is as anal does.

Birth of the smoothbore rifle

From my reading in sources that are as rare and hard to find as some antique guns, I learned that in Ohio around 1850 a group of men started shooting smoothbores at targets to see how accurate they could possibly be. They soon learned that the fit of the ball to the bore was very important, but there was more to it than just that. The fit of the patch to the ball and bore was also very important. The best results came from patches of dense material like pillow ticking that were actually slightly larger than the bore of the gun when wrapped around the ball.

Here’s how it works. Say the bore is 0.50-inches in diameter — it would probably shoot a 0.490-inch ball. The normal patch would be a thin one because there is just 0.010-inches of free space between the bore and ball, and that includes both sides of the ball (a ball is a sphere, so every point on one side has a point on the opposite “side”). The patch material for this ball needs to be 0.005-inches in diameter for the ball to fit snug, but you can forget that. You won’t find good patch material that’s as thin as that. Maybe parchment would work and I’m sure they tried it, but the little that’s written about them indicates they used cloth patches.

A good tough cloth patch of pillow ticking will measure 0.015 inches thick. That means it will add 0.030-inches to the ball size, which is slightly too much. You would have to fit 0.30-inches into a space that’s 0.010-inches wide. That would require 0.020-inches of compression, which is too much to allow smooth loading. The ball would probably be deformed if it was rammed down the bore against that much resistance.

That leaves you with a couple options. Use a smaller ball or use a thinner patch. Or, do both. If those guys back then were anything like us, you know they did both things and probably a lot of other stuff besides.

The results

I have read that they shot at lot at 50 yards because much farther and their accuracy started breaking up. That sounds like the results I was getting with the $100 PCP, doesn’t it? I got good groups at 10 meters and horrible groups at 25 yards.

What that leads to is my prediction that the Daisy 499 will not shoot at tight at 10 meters as the Haenel model 310 ball shooter, since the Haenel is rifled. That’s just a prediction. I have not done the test yet. But if that is correct it tells us that exploring the accuracy of a round ball at any distance is probably not going to end well.

All balls spin in flight

Reader GunFun1 said in a comment that he didn’t think a ball had to spin to be accurate. I don’t know if that is correct or not because, short of a high-speed slow motion camera, there is no good way to test it. Like it or not all balls in flight spin a little. When fired from a BB gun they spin from contact with the walls of the shot tube on their way out. That means the Red Ryder BBs all spin, and so do the BBs shot from a 499. So here is a question — if both guns have a smooth bore, why are the BBs shot from a 499 so much more accurate than Red Ryder BBs? I think the answer is the consistency of spin.


Consistency of spin means that all BBs spin the same way, and at nearly the same RPM. You get that kind of consistency (I think) when the shot tube bore is very close to the diameter of the BB. I can’t prove that but I can and have proven that Avanti Precision Ground Shot is more accurate in a 499 that any other brand of BB.

If I am right about the consistency of the spin, then a tight-fitting ball probably spins more consistently when shot from a smoothbore than one that’s looser. I know that holds true for a patched ball in a rifle.

What have I just said?
I’ve said several things, and they boil down to just a few important points.

1. The tighter a ball fits a smoothbore, gun the more accurate it will be. But there is a limit to how tight it can be.

2. As distance increases, smoothbore accuracy falls away rapidly. At some distance from the muzzle the accuracy becomes very poor.



Smoothbore accuracy with a round ball has already been tested several different ways. We may not have reached the limits of what can be accomplished, but I think we are in that part of the normal curve where enormous investments will be required for small returns.

Or, I could be completely wrong. If someone could figure out a way to consistently spin a BB like they spin plastic airsoft balls with Hop Up, maybe there is more accuracy to be gained. Or, if the uniformly dimpled BB — think golf balls — could be made maybe there is a quantum improvement in accuracy lurking around the corner.

author avatar
Tom Gaylord (B.B. Pelletier)
Tom Gaylord, also known as B.B. Pelletier, provides expert insights to airgunners all over the world on behalf of Pyramyd AIR. He has earned the title The Godfather of Airguns™ for his contributions to the industry, spending many years with AirForce Airguns and starting magazines dedicated to the sport such as Airgun Illustrated.

68 thoughts on “Shooting round balls at high speed”

  1. B.B.,
    I thought “Hop Up” was hype…till I bought a few airsoft guns without it and a 1911 clone with it.
    Then I found out it really does make a difference.
    It would be cool to see some creative individual try and apply it to metal spheres,
    like steel BBs or .22 round balls.
    Thanks for another interesting report!
    take care & God bless,

  2. I just posted pictures of the aidrsoft rifle that I put a Crosman 2100 Barrel in yesterday’s blog. I’ll have to find another scope and mount it and see how it shoots.

  3. A, “hop up” for steel BBs should certainly be doable. A deform-able plug (tire rubber?) that goes into the barrel with its insertion depth adjusted by a screw should have the proper effect.

    • Sean
      It was some time back that a couple of us readers on the blog was going drill a hole and thread it in a 760 barrel and use rubber or something and shoot bb’s.

      Why. Just to see what happens.

      • GF1 I am sure many have thought of it, and someone must have tried it. It is impossible to have a world where, “hop up” has such an effect in airsoft, without it being tried on BBs.

        • Sean
          I wonder if since the steel bb’s weigh more than air soft balls. Would hop up have less effect.

          Ever play ping pong. You can get some nice spin on the balls with the paddle.

          • GF1 I think ping pong bat rubber would be perfect to spin BBs 🙂 I don’t have even the vaguest understanding of why adjusting the amount of, “hop up” helps with airsoft so I couldn’t even hazard a guess if the greater weight and slickness of a bb would make a difference.

            • Sean
              All I know is from the air soft guns I had. The harder the pressure is on the ball the longer it will carry it’s distance. You can put so much on it that the ball will actually rise at the end of it’s trajectory.

              But I still have to say the reason the 499 is so accurate compared to other bb guns is the sizing of the barrel bore and bb’s. There’s no rifling so what else could it be. And would still like to know if the bb spins any kind of way and how fast it spins when it comes out of a 499 barrel.

  4. B.B.,

    For proof that balls have to have some spin for accuracy look to the behavior of the knuckleball when pitched towards the batter. As for the dimpled BB, maybe the Air Venturi Dust Devil (as seen in this close up /blog/2018/01/air-venturi-dust-devil-bbs-part-1/ ) might qualify especially if the band produced during manufacture were removed.

    Will you still be reporting on Chunk guns?


    • Siraniko
      I thought more about the knuckle ball and curve ball.

      When you throw those pitches they need to be done as consistent to each other as possible to make it across the plate. Sort of

      And another thing is to change up the pitches. In other words throw different style pitches to change up the pitching pattern. Basically a way to decive the batter. So maybe even if those knuckle balls or curve balls or sliders aren’t accurate it makes the batter wonder what’s coming next. Even if the pitcher throws a ball instead of a strike it don’t matter. Why? As long as you make the batter swing and miss the ball to get the strike.

      So a bit different when talking baseball and air gun balls. We want to be accurate shooting air guns. Pithers want to surprise the batters. Definitely no professional baseball player here. But for sure done some pitching when we was kids getting together to play some baseball as kids. And to make it more interesting. I’m left handed and throw that way. See what that does when a batter is use to a right hand pitcher.

    • Siraniko,

      Thank you for the link you posted below. (out of reply room) Yes, that would work well,.. assuming the you could feel the rifling of the pre-rifled pellet re-engage. That is a very interesting gun. Being an article from 2007, that is one I have missed.

      On common,…. no. I would have to say something like that is pretty rare over here. It is very interesting that you say that fixed barrel, exposed rear breech guns are popular over there. I do remember you saying that there is a lot of hand made air guns and people doing custom stuff from bits and pieces of other air guns.

      Thank you again. Once again,… you come through on hard to find/obscure stuff! 😉 Chris

  5. BB
    And why would anyone want to tether a benchrest gun? 😉

    And I remember pretty much all the examples you brought up today.

    But none about a 499 barrel on a PCP. We can speculate all day long what could happen. But we will never know for sure until it’s actually tryed.

  6. I have done the hop up on a 880, or 760,.. maybe the 499, not sure which now. Silicone plug inserted at different depths. I have also put small, strong magnets on the outside of the 499 barrel in various configurations and distances, including 10 in a spiral, 3 at front and on top (induced hop up) as well as others. The magnets did work as the bb would stop at whatever point the magnet was. bb had to be pushed down. On the 499, nothing seemed to matter. It was accurate no matter what. If there was a perceived improvement, it was too small, or not repeatable.

    Finally, the added 150 fps which raised the POI and kept the same accuracy, or bettered, at 24′ and 41′. Beyond that, I have not done much else. While on a smaller scale, that test involved accuracy/speed increase.

    A bb shot from a PCP/499 barreled gun at 1500 fps++, or something, would be interesting. You shoot something like a bb and even though it is light, you push that little bb fast enough and I think that you would see some pretty good results even at 25 yards ++.

    Good article. Out of time as it is a work day. 🙁

    Good Day to one and all,….. Chris

    • Chris
      I remember when you did the magnets on the 499.

      But don’t remember you doing silicone plugs inserted at different depths with a 880 or 760. Matter of fact I don’t remember you haveing a 760. Was that a mis type at the beginning of your comment? You have or haven’t.

      • GF1,

        I for sure had the 880. That is the one that I cut the shroud off of for alum. arrow shaft (over) barrel testing. The other one I got because it was rifled (or not?) for another type of testing. Darts maybe. I swear I did the hop up but do not remember on what and how. Perhaps I am wrong. I will have to look back at notes this weekend.

        Just looked. I did have both and did magnet testing on all both as well as the 499. I gave the 880 and 760 to a fellow at work that has kids, but not much to buy the fun stuff. A couple of the kids were at a good age. He was very grateful. It was the same day we both got laid off and he brought my tool box home in his truck. Remember the story?

        What I may not have shared was that he did not secure the boxes and the big one smacked his back window on the cap and shattered it. He is super easy going and he said that he had plexi (from work), and no big deal. He left with 20$, 2 guns for the kids and plenty of ammo.

        As of now, I can find nothing on the hop-up and perhaps we just talked about it? Just being honest.

        • Chris
          Ok yep remember the story now about the 760 and 880 giving them to the guy.

          And remember you doing the arrow stuff too. And the 499. But don’t remember you doing the 760 or 880 with the hop up.

          So since you do have the notes. How did the 880 and 760 do with the hop up. And the 880 has a rifled barrel. The 760 is a smooth bore if you bought a new one.

          But would like to know what your results were.

  7. G’day BB
    What rotational direction would the spin be BB? If you let a BB run down a barrel it has a forward spin assuming it has traction …is this what you mean?
    If like other ball sports this top spin will keep the BB lower?
    Cheers Bob

  8. BB,

    Good write up. I myself had never heard of a smoothbore rifle. They do sound like a bunch who would be reading this blog, do they not? Very likely one of the gang here is going try it with a bb gun. It will be interesting to see just how fast and far they will go.

    I myself have thought that a barrel similar to the new FX Smooth Twist X might work well. They apply the rifling from the outside along the entire length of the barrel producing a polygonal bore. I know you can also get Lothar Walther barrels with a polygonal bore. The varying size of the bb does present a problem but since not much twist would be required it may be doable.

  9. RE: dimpled round projectiles. An acquaintance decades ago worked on a project to dimple lead shotgun pellets. He spent quite a lot of time and money on engineering, computer simulation and prototype field testing. The research results were very convincing. He claimed, but I never witnessed, tight groups and effective impact on geese at 100 yards. Last I spoke with him, he was certain his principle worked but the best surface pattern, cost of implementing on a commercial scale and marketing stymied his progress. He chased another dream to Nevada, and the pellet project withered. I still wonder if it was a scam. I’ll never know.

  10. B.B.

    As an old artillery man, I would think that the first thing that comes to mind with round balls and smooth bore would be the cannons of old. Were they not smooth bore and round ball? How accurate were they, at what ranges?

    PS with the new rules for HFT, up to 16X magnification for scopes, could you do a series on scopes for this discipline?
    Maybe, up to the $500 threshold?

    • Yogi,

      Are you saying that you are al old artilleryman? Because I was a tanker. Big difference. But it does bring up something interesting.

      A lot of people are wondering why the M1 tank cannon is smoothbore. They assume that a rifled barrel is better. They don’t understand fin-stabilized ammunition.

      I need more to go on than just a 16-power scope. I need to understand the sport of Hunter Field Target. Here in the U.S. it means getting as comfortable as possible while still shooting. Internationally it means something different. I don’t know the rules, plus I have never competed this way. We need someone who has.


    • Yogi,

      I have a utg 6-24 x with a wire reticle that is okay at 16 power but don’t have anything else to compare it with . I shoot with a guy who has a $400 plus Hawke 4- 16 scope that he swears by. You might also do some research on the Field Target page of the Airgun Warriors site.

    • Yogi,

      The UTG etched are hard to beat. I am real happy with the 8-34×56 Athlon FFP that I bought awhile back. The Athlon has a nice Christmas tree reticle for windage and hold over and I think would be ideal. Plus, the FFP would be nice too, which it is. Got it at PA.


  11. BB

    Interesting theory that spin consistency of the bb is key to 499 accuracy. Makes me wonder if this is why the old Whitworths had exceptional accuracy. Both the rifle barrel and the projectile (bullet) had deep precut octagonal lands and grooves that match each other until the bullet leaves the barrel.


    • Decksniper
      I didn’t know the 499 bb spins. Oh and you mentioned theroy. Maybe it does spin.

      And you say Witworth. You say bullet.

      The original reason this blog came about was can a (steel bb) be shot accurately at a higher velocity out of a non rifled barrel.

      The question is. What can make that happen? And can it happen. It seems that question hasn’t been answered yet.

      A 499 shoots at a very low velocity. As it goes it’s been bumped up to higher velocity’s and the accuracy stayed and distance increased. But not high velocity’s like a PCP pellet gun can shoot at.

      And as I said in the beginning. A steel bb shooting out of a precision barrel like a 499 barrel at a speed that a PCP can produce.

      I don’t care about rifling in this case. I’m interested in a smooth bore shooting a steel bb at high velocity with steel bb that’s that are available today.

      Not saying this directed towards you. Just explaining what I’m after. In other words some groups showing results with that set up.

      What distance can that gun described be accurate at. Not similar guns. And as it goes nobody can say if it hasn’t been tryed. All speculation.

      • GF1,

        The absolute bottom line? Until it’s tested this is just a guess, but I will guess that a steel BB can’t be accurate any farther than 25 yards, no matter what you do.

        If I’m right, is that worth the effort?

        If course if I’m not right all bets are off.


        • BB
          And thinking about the odds I would almost have to bet between you or me trying we might not never know. 😉

          But wouldn’t it be nice to make something work that others haven’t made happen yet.

          Got to keep dream’n. How else will it at least have a chance. I think you see where I’m going with this conversation. You got to try it to achieve it. My point is it hasn’t been tryed yet that I have seen.

          Whatever the results may be someone smarter might prove it wrong.

          Not trying to argue. But I like to think that things are possible until proven not. It’s just my DNA. What can I say.

      • Gunfun1

        I understood what you wanted the answer to. BB said he had not proved that spin was a key in smoothbore accuracy. I went down a different limb on the tree in case spin consistency is critical. The Whitworth which was a beast to load has fascinated me for years. I have held one and the bullet too. It seems possible to me that spin consistency may have been nearly perfect with the Whitworth. But maybe not.


    • Decksniper,

      That is (fascinating) that a bullet would have pre-cut grooves and lands to match the barrel grooves and lands. The ultimate in spin control with the minimum of resistance.


      What of a 12 groove pellet to (exactly match) and 12 groove barrel? Or 10, or 8, or whatever #.

        • Decksniper,

          Well,… I do suppose that one could take a pellet,.. or bullet shaped pellet (as some are now made) and shove it down the bore (breech to muzzle) and then re-load it. A break barrel would be ideal for this.

          That would be a very quick test for a pellet gun. VERY key would be to (re-align) the new grooves in the pellet with the rifling in the barrel.

          Given the right pellet, the right gun with a fairly short leade,… this seems completely do-able and maybe something that B.B. should give a go at? Just,…. sayin’. 😉


          • Chris

            Creative thinking. The loading from muzzle and realignment would be time consuming. Other variables may raise their heads. Would the pellet (bullet) get bent out of shape? BB can speak for himself but I’m guessing someone with lots of time on their hands for this one.


            • Decksniper,

              If I had a springer, break barrel,… the test would be done this weekend. I do not. A powerful PCP would be ideal,… but difficult to re-match the rifling. A short leade would be a must I would think.

              Just a guess,… but I will bet that Ol’ B.B. is pondering the testing/theory.

              For me,.. I would weigh and head sort (all 10) and then do 5 pre-rifled and the 5 not pre-rifled,… as a start. 2 targets, 5 shots each.


              • B.B.,

                How quickly indeed!!! 😉 So,.. what is your thoughts on my idea of pre-rifling a pellet (from breech to muzzle) and then trying a batch? With pellet skirts,… muzzle to breech seems a bit impractical. Although,.. a head first muzzle load may work for the pre-rifling step?


                • Chris
                  I would like to see how that goes. Time consuming. But if it makes the gun more accurate and one step farther. No flier’s than it may be worth taking the extra time to do.

                  • B.B.,

                    Ok. I was quite serious on pre-rifling a pellet. After further thought, a spare barrel, or gun, would be ideal. Jam a bunch down from breech to bore (1 at a time) and then you would have a stash. Jamming a pellet down the muzzle skirt first makes no sense. A bullet shaped pellet may be doable. No moderator, of course.

                    A break barrel with a shallow leade would be ideal, but then you have the hold sensitivity of the break barrel springer to maybe skew results. A PCP with the same would be ideal too, but difficult to re-align the grooves in the pellet to the barrel. A rotating bolt head and a light touch may be allow that on a PCP.

                    This may sound like a really stupid question and maybe I am too tired to think before asking,… but why is there no break barrel PCP? The barrel break would only be for loading,…. no spring compression. The pivot on the barrel would be mid point on the barrel. Or not?

                    At any rate,… I think that a pre-rifled pellet test would warrant a try. I forget the name of the bullet that was pre-rifled now, but from the way you guys talked,… the accuracy was pretty impressive. Impressive results get my interest. 😉


                    • Chris USA,

                      The closest thing I can think of to what you want is the external hammer with swinging rear chamber type of PCP found in the Mac 1 USFT (/blog/2007/08/usft-rifle-part-1/). There are probably other rifles over there built like it. This kind of action is rather popular over here though.


  12. I thought the reason baseballs could be thrown in ways that make them curve in different directions was because of the interaction of the stitching with the air, resulting in sort of a ” paddle-wheeling” of the ball in one direction or another. I didn’t think a perfectly smooth sphere used as the ball would work. And don’t golf balls get struck with a glancing blow that starts them spinning off the club face? Without that, would dimples have any influence over a spheres flight path? Do individual pieces of shot spin as they separate from a shot shell’s cup in flight? Is that why they scatter and can anything be extrapolated from that behavior to help answer the question of whether or not a fast moving (spinning or non-spinning) sphere can be accurate at long range? More food for thought and not many easy answers.


    • I was never that interested in baseball, but my understanding is that the must evasive pitch is a knuckleball which does not spin. This would argue against the stitching playing a large role in making the ball move laterally. I suspect that for more predictable paths like a curveball the key factor is the different rates of airflow over a ball based on its spin, sort of like the Magnus effect on spinning bullets. The stitching probably enhances this, but I doubt it is the whole story.

      That question about the dimples on the surface of the golf ball is tantalizing. I seem to recall hearing the answer to that somewhere, and I even think there was a discussion somewhere about dimpling the surface of pellets or projectiles. But I can’t recall what it was. I think the drift of it was that the dimples act to break up the laminar flow of air over a smooth surface that can distort the intended path of the projectile even though that seems unintuitive. You generally think of efficient flight in terms of smooth polished surfaces.

      Regarding your question about individual pieces of shot spinning when they separate, they surely do. But you need to take this in context. The only two possibilities for mechanical motion of an object are translation (linear motion) and rotation. Both are in play for the individual pieces of shot which are not only spinning but also moving and bashing into each other. The rotation and translation are inextricably linked in this process. For example, in the Challenger disaster, NASA could not figure out how the few pieces of foam that came loose during the launch could have caused so much damage to the heat tiles as to penetrate them. Their simulations conducted with an air cannon and a foam projectile did not bear that out. But then, they realized that the foam debris also had rotational energy, and when they added that factor to their model, the damage was much greater. Anyway for shot shells, the intuitive approach is probably best in thinking of the blast as a collective effect. The individual interactions of the parts are too complicated to follow and don’t change the overall picture.


      • Matt61,

        I was just musing.

        I have played a little golf and I remember that how you chop the club across the ball makes it spin in different directions which, in turn, determines whether the shot is a Slice, Draw, Fade, etc. I can’t recall what happens if the ball just rebounds square off the club face. I think that some balls are claimed to counter a bad hit by virtue of their dimple patterns. What happens when things travel through the air is mostly magic to me, ie an apartment sized object lifting into the air as it is push forward by a twisted board spinning in air on appendages sticking out of its sides.


  13. As the line says in “Karma Chameleon”: “I can’t sell the contradiction.” It sounds like a smoothbore rifle consists of a smoothbore with rifle sights and an especially careful fitting of the ball to the bore by means of patches. That makes sense since rifling in essence is an especially close fit of the projectile and bore by means of the cutting action of the rifling.

    jnjhess, no you would not want to mess with Sergeant Pavlichenko, and you wouldn’t want to defect to the German army either. The Forgotten Soldier tells the story about a German lieutenant who escapes encirclement by the Russians through superhuman efforts and staggers into camp. There he is greeted by the SS who say, “You have lost your issue Zeiss field glasses. The Reich does not issue property to have it lost. You are demoted two grades in rank and assigned to a penal battalion.”

    Half, you raise a good point about how camouflage is supposed to resemble grass stains. My camouflage outfits actually didn’t get any, and I wouldn’t have cared if they had. But my sage green USMC utilities did pick up grass and dirt discolorations. That raises another question. Surely, the Marines in the Pacific War encountered much worse than grass and dirt stains, so how did the Corps deal with them, especially for inspections where everyone is supposed to be clean? By throwing them away as one option. Or, as someone told me, they probably knew from experience not to throw the clothes in the drier before removing stains. If the stains can’t be removed, I can still use the trousers for play clothes, but I won’t be able to wear them at work which is unfortunate because they’re quite sharp.

    Michael, that’s quite a variety of martial arts to study and that makes you an ideal candidate to study the Russian martial art of Systema which purports to synthesize everything. Sambo, the better known martial art is distinctly different. Sambo was an invention of the Soviet Union to create a new martial art for their military. It synthesized a lot of indigenous Russian wrestling styles with Judo and is fairly acrobatic. Systema, on the other hand, is supposed to be a native Russian style going back to antiquity. The truth of this is anyone’s guess and there is plenty of speculation on the internet. For myself I will say that it is highly original and effective, so it does not look to be the work of frauds. Perhaps it is more accurate to say that it is not entirely original since the human body has only so many possibilities. But the usual elements are assembled in a different way and with a kind of Russian quirkiness that you see in their gun design. You can see for yourself by searching YouTube for “Vladimir Vasiliev Systema”. He is like a real-life Mission Impossible character. (By the way, the most recent 6th installment of the film is quite good.) And if you’re interested, don’t worry about age holding you back from participation. There was an elderly Russian man who kept stepping on my hand when I was on the ground because he said it was good training.

    There is another interesting passage from Lyudmila Pavlichenko’s memoirs. She talks about the right mind-set for snipers. This goes a bit beyond the mentality for pure marksmanship although no doubt they are related. Anyway, she says that one of the key traits is a natural calmness or a phlegmatic disposition where you do not overreact. This correlates what I’ve heard from the Navy SEALs. While people from all different circumstances can become SEALs, one of the few invariants is this calm disposition where they do not freak out. Lydumila, herself, demonstrates this when a mortar shell strikes so close to her that it demolishes her Mosin rifle and buries her alive. There is a similar incident in The Forgotten Soldier where the Germans are buried by Russian shellfire, and it is highly gruesome. The passage describes legs kicking spasmodically through the dirt and people pouring blood and screaming. While recovering in the hospital, Lyudmila writes a letter to her sister and makes only a passing reference to this incident saying, “The swine covered me in earth.”


  14. Matt61 and Half,

    The discussion of engraving the bore fingerprint in advance is interesting. I have the DAQ .575 and think the engraving process may be part of a process to allow air to build pressure to a maximal level prior to overcomming the resistance of engraving/inertia and may actually allow the ball to atain a higher muzzle velocity. That is speculation based on how the canelure on cartridges allows the pressure to build as the propellent burns prior to bullet casing separation. I grant you the propellent generated pressure is many times what my 3,700 PSI charge is let alone the actual PSI the ball ever sees in the breech. Hmmm…

    Laminar flow is possible even at multiple mach numbers on the SR-71 with large surface areas that are corregated.
    Bumblebees fly, F-104 wings have no camber but creat lift and other than at the leading edge of a high Renolds number wing roughness is not a flow killer if properly designed.

    I don’t believe the USMC had electric dryers in the island combat areas during WWII. I also believe they were in places with few lawns on the South Pacific Islands…mostly palm trees, palms and coral sand/volcanic pumice? Inspections other than health, weapon and gear were probably conducted in the rear areas only…I think in combat zones you would have had little beyond what you brought on your back. Logistics would have precluded throwing away servicable uniform items!

    The descriptor for the unflappable combatant you are looking for is: laconic. As a Naval Aviator I made it a habit to have wingmen that had a high degree of it along with a reasonable amount of stick & rudder competency.

    As far as the Shuttle liquid fuel tank they were painted originally for a reason. Then some engineer figured out how much that paint weighed (a lot) and lobbied to strip it and add the saved weight to the Shuttle payload. The unintended consequences we’re that woodpeckers found bugs to get out of the brown foam insulation causing damage and the high humidity condensed on it add the frequent Florida rain also absorbed by the foam and only one thing remained in the chain! Once the tank was fueled with very cold fuel (so it could hold more in the same volume) it froze the water in the foam solid. That and the foam’s linear/rotational energy took out Shuttle tiles.

    Unintended Consequences usually prove devestating!


  15. On the topic of shooting round balls, I live in New Zealand and have acquired a Crosman 1100 Trapmaster, with unfortunately no ammo.
    Eventually I want to reload the shotshells with
    .375 lead balls because it sounds like a hoot.In my search I found there was a company, Phox , who manufactured these shells. Does anyone know what became of this company? I’ve tried contacting but no reply. I cannot purchase original shells on eBay as it doesn’t allow the purchase of airgun ammunition from outside the US and Canada.
    Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

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