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"Whitworth Rifle" Topic

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683 hits since 26 Sep 2017
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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP26 Sep 2017 10:22 p.m. PST

"The Whitworth rifle was, arguably, the first long-range sniper rifle in military history. This innovative rifle was designed by Sir Joseph Whitworth, a famed British engineer and inventor. In an effort to overcome the weaknesses of the British infantry rifle (the Pattern 1853 Enfield), Whitworth began working on his new design in 1854.

Up to that time, a rifle barrel simply had a grooved surface that would actually slightly cut into the bullet to be able to grip the round and put spin on it. This friction naturally slowed the velocity of a shot fired from such a barrel.

It was also known that tighter rifling (the Enfield's rifling made one turn in seventy-eight inches) could produce greater accuracy; but at the same time, it increased friction, which caused the bullet to slow, which reduced range…"
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VVV reply27 Sep 2017 4:25 a.m. PST

Sharpshooters in the ACW is indeed an interesting topic

Extrabio1947 Supporting Member of TMP27 Sep 2017 7:48 a.m. PST

Got to handle one at the Tennessee State Museum. I have never held a more barrel heavy rifle in my life, not even one with a sword bayonet attached.

There's no question that accuracy was dependent upon good rifle support.

138SquadronRAF Supporting Member of TMP27 Sep 2017 7:55 a.m. PST

Used the same principle in the Whitworth artillery.

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP27 Sep 2017 10:23 a.m. PST

Thanks for the link!.


Generalstoner49 Supporting Member of TMP27 Sep 2017 3:41 p.m. PST

Getting hit by any bullet is bad. Getting hit by a minor ball is worse. I imagine getting hit by a hexagonal bolt is just about the worst case scenario.

Personal logo Patrick R Supporting Member of TMP28 Sep 2017 3:21 a.m. PST

If the term anally retentive didn't exist in Joseph Whitworth's time it certainly could have been coined for him. His dictionary must have had the words "Close enough …" ripped out with his bare teeth and utterly obliterated.

Before Whitworth, reliably and consistently measuring something to a thousandth of an inch was the equivalent of a moonshot, generally a hundredth of an inch was considered a remarkable standard of manufacturing and most was much lower.

This drove Whitworth into fits of apoplexy and he set about to design a system that allowed anyone to make accurate measurements and build something with a tolerance of a millionth of an inch. The level of accuracy suddenly made possible made standardization, a MASSIVE part of our modern world, possible and launched the next step of the industrial revolution, mass production.

To his fans he's the rockstar of engineering.

Being one of the most lauded engineers of his day, he was asked to look into improving arsenal practice. At this point he realized that while the system was sound, the end product, in his eyes, was complete rubbish.

He made a weapon that from an engineering point of view was remarkably better than anything else. However it was not a practical rifle in every other sense of the word. The tolerances and cost means that it would at best remain a specialist weapon.

rmaker28 Sep 2017 4:23 p.m. PST

And, in the end, the rifling was too tight. The "right" twist depends on the weight, length, and diameter of the projectile and the expected initial velocity range. Too loose, the projectile doesn't properly stabilize. Too tight, the gyroscopic forces throw the projectile off target. Virtually all early sniper rifles had the latter problem. At least the deviation was predictable, so you could learn how to adjust the sights for it … if you had the range right.

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