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"russian muskets bad as i have read it why?" Topic

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Sarge Joe28 Dec 2020 4:10 p.m. PST

i can't remember where but i did it for ,sure

79thPA Supporting Member of TMP28 Dec 2020 4:37 p.m. PST

Poor metallurgy, poor quality control, and poor gunpowder. Later muskets were better than early muskets. The Russians also purchased 100,000 Brown Bess muskets to supplement their own production of arms.

Dennis28 Dec 2020 9:46 p.m. PST

Muskets require some maintaining and care to stay in good operating condition, and black powder is very corrosive. I would't be at all surprised if many muskets during the period were in poor shape after the troops carrying them had been in the field for some time, and Russian troops, as I recall, aren't generally known for taking good care of equipment.

von Winterfeldt29 Dec 2020 3:55 a.m. PST

someone brings it up, no source stated and then everybody believes it.

I guess they would vary in quality, the French replaced in 1805 a lot of their muskets with Austrian ones, was the French musket bad?

42flanker Supporting Member of TMP29 Dec 2020 4:03 a.m. PST


stecal Supporting Member of TMP29 Dec 2020 6:04 a.m. PST

I've never heard that Russian muskets were of poor quality. I have heard that Russian MUSKETRY was poor. More a condition of training & doctrine perhaps, as the Russian in many eras preferred the bayonet assault over firing.

"The bullet is a fool, the bayonet is a fine chap."
-- Alexander Suvorov

Cuprum229 Dec 2020 6:57 a.m. PST

This saying is not that the Russian musket is bad. This is a saying that the Russians love hand-to-hand combat and achieve the best results in it.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP29 Dec 2020 8:06 a.m. PST

Brechtel is probably the man you want, but I have a hazy memory of Napoleonic Russia mixing types and possibly even calibers within regiments, which would add to the maintenance problems even if they were great fresh from the factory.

Frederick Supporting Member of TMP29 Dec 2020 9:02 a.m. PST

The bad musketry was in part just due to lack of practice – as I recall in the Napoleonic Wars some Russian infantry units only fired their weapons a couple of times a year and in peacetime the average Russian infantryman was allocated 6 bullets per year

Also as noted the different caliber issue was a problem – in 1812 all-in the Russians had (domestic and foreign purchased) muskets in 28 different calibers as well as the issues with variable quality gunpowder

14Bore29 Dec 2020 1:10 p.m. PST

Many contemporary writings tell us they were bad, the Bayonet is good fellow and the bullet is lazy or however it goes tells you they had not much faith in them.

Widowson29 Dec 2020 2:00 p.m. PST

I don't know about Russian muskets in particular, but I'd guess that having 28 different calibers would be as big a problem as anything else. And I have heard about the bad Russian powder.

But all muskets were pretty bad. Accuracy was poor, and an infantry vs infantry confrontation was usually decided by a bayonet charge, AFAIK.

rmaker29 Dec 2020 2:06 p.m. PST

poor gunpowder

Actually, Russian gunpowder was among the upper percentiles in the period. Better than French, in any case, though not as good as British.

Sho Boki Sponsoring Member of TMP29 Dec 2020 3:08 p.m. PST

Suvorov's words are often interpreted in totally wrong and opposite way.
As we can see here too.
"The bullet is fool.." wasn't confirmation of the fact, it was desperate call to the troops, who traditionally were poorly trained only for musketry and useless for handfighting.

After "The bullet is fool.." there are another misunderstanded one – "You must speak with soldiers in their own language." This does'nt mean, that with soldiers you must speak in simple or harsh way, but literally, as "Herr Russian Officers, learn russian language at last! One hundred years we forced our peasants to speak in this artificial language and now there are created the grammar for this language too, so learn this language by yourself also!"

14Bore31 Dec 2020 2:48 p.m. PST

If your not into Russian history reading the nobility often spoke French better than Russian

Sho Boki Sponsoring Member of TMP31 Dec 2020 4:05 p.m. PST

Not better. Nobility don't spoke Russian at all.

Steamingdave201 Jan 2021 4:38 a.m. PST

A few months ago I had a Facebook discussion with a gentleman from Eastern Europe about this very issue and the fact that wargame rules often penalise both Russian musketry and artillery. His line was that it was much exaggerated by Western observers, so has passed into the mythology of the Napoleonic era. He pointed me to a book by Dominic Lieven, a British academic and author, of Russian ancestry, who was able to access Russian language records. The result was a book called " Russia against Napoleon". Lieven considers the matter of musket supply. He agrees that without the 100000plus British muskets the army would have been hard pressed to supply the Reserve army from the three manufacturing sites in Russia and that there were "quality issues" with Russian muskets which influenced their tactics. The difference between Russian musketry and that of their opponents was not, however, as great as that which existed 40 years later during the Crimean War. Things had improved considerably between 1807 and 1812, largely as a result of Arakchev's energetic management of weapon production (both muskets and cannon). One issue that Lieven draws attention to was inconsistency in the manufacture of paper cartridges, this meant that the fit was sometimes loose, which resulted in inaccuracy in shooting.
It seems that while there are some factirs which made Russian musketry less effective than, for example, British, they were not as poor as is often assumed, especially from 1812 onward.

Sarge Joe01 Jan 2021 7:45 a.m. PST

maybe the steel problem

le Grande Quartier General Supporting Member of TMP27 Jan 2021 8:06 p.m. PST

Perhaps Russian doctrine did not value musketry over the bayonet, because the bayonet was the more effective weapon in their own tactical paradigm. "It is not enough to shoot a Russian, you have to knock him over as well." Perhaps they paid less attention to standardization and quality of cartridges and firearms because they did not consider them the margin of superiority in infantry combat. You could say Russian infantry was best in stubborn close-in fighting, and in bad weather, when volleys counted less, and tenacity more.

Personal logo 4th Cuirassier Supporting Member of TMP28 Jan 2021 2:59 a.m. PST

@ le Grande Quartier General

The funny thing is that, if you suggest that "Russian infantry was best in stubborn close-in fighting", that the French were best in the attack and that the British were best at musketry, and that a set of wargaming rules might reasonably reflect these differing doctrines as national characteristics, you'll get the usual suspects piping up insisting that all troops were the same.

Robert le Diable29 Jan 2021 5:43 p.m. PST

For some reason, I'm thinking of Paper, Scissors and Stone at this point.

Personal logo SHaT1984 Supporting Member of TMP31 Jan 2021 7:56 p.m. PST

The dissertation on Russian Jaeger and this subject is here:-

Russian Light Infantry.

You asked, they answered. To quote one segment of reply:

I will go so far as to say that man-for-man, the Russians jger were probably as good as the French lgre. So, a French superiority might arise from numbers early in the period, and a Russian advantage from the same late in theperiod. Any stuff about the Russian jger not skirmishing, not having light infantry tactics, having bad weapons, not firing at targets, not training or some such is all foolishness. The arm of service had been long standing in the Russian army and the principles for its operation were every bit equal to the French. Indeed, the principles were more or less identical, except that some Russian officers
-- Sasha

Found via the 'Redux Index'- see it does work!
cheers dave

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP01 Feb 2021 4:16 a.m. PST

the French replaced in 1805 a lot of their muskets with Austrian ones, was the French musket bad?

Did you bother to look why the muskets were replaced, if indeed they were? You offer no source material to support your allegation.

French muskets were '…excellent weapons, as good as those of other European nations, if not better…'-John Elting, Swords Around a Throne, 477.

'Large numbers of foreign weapons were also used, especially the very good Austrian musket, which greatly resembled the French weapon. In 1809, for example, the 13th Legere captured an Austrian magazine at Annaberg and traded in its old muskets for new. Napoleon told Eugene to consider them the equivalent of first-class muskets and not to issue them to local forces in Istria and Dalmatia.'-John Elting, Swords, 478.

'In Spain the 88th Ligne armed its sharpshooter company with captured English muskets.'-John Elting, Swords, 478.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP02 Feb 2021 6:32 a.m. PST

But all muskets were pretty bad.

Actually, no.

The French and Austrian muskets were of excellent quality as was the British Brown Bess. The American 1795 Springfield was also an excellent weapon.

When judging period firearms you have to take into consideration the technology of the period.

an infantry vs infantry confrontation was usually decided by a bayonet charge…

Not usually, but sometimes. Grawert's Prussian infantry division at Jena was defeated in a firefight as was Reynier's attack at Maida, for two examples of firefights. The British infantry was defeated by American infantry in a firefight supported by the excellent American artillery as another example.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP02 Feb 2021 6:48 a.m. PST

The production of Russian muskets was technologically behind France, Great Britain, and Austria. Specialist tools available in the Tula state arms factory, which had been founded by Peter the Great in 1812 was a definite problem, and most of the production was done by hand until 1813. Specialist tools, such as hammers and drills were usually not available and good steel machine tools were nearly impossible to find.

The result was that the Russian musket was usually inferior to those of the British, French, and Austrians.

The problems are discussed in some detail in Dominic Lieven's Russian Against Napoleon, 29-31.

Ammunition problems for muskets was also a problem, one of them being non-standard paper for cartridges. Russian technical labor was not up to western standards and there appears to have been a definite problem with quality control. See Lieven, 106.

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