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IanMorrison
02-03-2010, 12:26 PM
One of my characters is carrying a loaded rifle on his back, and I was thinking of including a scene where one of his travelling companions (who isn't known for her forethought) decides to sneak up behind him, turn off the safety and fire it with the barrel still next to his head as a prank. Since this is dangerous, juvenile bullshit at the best of times, he won't be taking kindly to it.

The weapon doesn't have a real world equivalent, but it's a blackpowder, bolt-action rifle of a caliber suitable for fighting off attackers ranging from human size to several times that. My intent is to have the victim momentarily stunned/disoriented with possible short term hearing loss. If some long-term hearing loss is involved that's also acceptable. Is this reasonable? If not, what would need to change to make it work?

Thanks!

threedogpeople
02-03-2010, 12:31 PM
I think it's reasonable. It might cause the ear drum to burst and cause life long tennitus.

Judy

PS - I've been around when someone fired a black power long gun - they are LOUD!

RJK
02-03-2010, 04:43 PM
Over forty years ago, while I was in the service, a knucklehead fired a .45 about 8 inches from my right ear. All I heard for the next half hour was a loud ringing. I've had tinnitus since.

Stanmiller
02-03-2010, 05:40 PM
:evil Evil Gun Geek here...

Large caliber rifle next to ear? Ruptured eardrum, bleeding from ear, definite tennitus, possible permanent deafness.

Possible result? One highly pissed off fictional character, one possible dead fictional character. Hope it's not your MC.

Stanmiller
02-03-2010, 06:24 PM
:evil Evil Gun Geek again.

Your description of the rifle itself sounds intriguing. I assume you have built an alternate world, where smokeless powder didn't get invented. The problem with big-bore bolt rifles is that metallurgy has to be advanced to the point that the receiver and bolt locking lugs can be made strong enough to handle the pressure. For example, big-bore breech loaders appeared in the middle of the 19th Century, but as strong, simple rolling block actions using a variety of cartridge designs (including paper cartridges, BION).

Bolt action rifles were around but didn't take off until the late 1800s. Two advances were required--the development of centerfire, drawn brass cartridge cases and steels stout enough that the bolt locking lugs could handle the pressure. By 1900, smokeless powder was in general usage, raising pressures. So bore sizes went down as bullet velocity increased.

IMO if your world has a fairly low level of technology, you might want to have your crew carry stout, single-shot rolling block action rifles or muzzleloaders instead of bolt guns.

hammerklavier
02-03-2010, 06:55 PM
He would also get powder burns.

justAnotherWriter
02-03-2010, 09:02 PM
There is such a thing today as a bolt action black power rifle (google it), however, not everyone is aware of this and it might confuse readers or worse, make you sound like you don't know what you're talking about.

Unless there's a specific reason it has to be bolt action AND black powder, I suggest you pick one or the other.

If this story is set somewhere other than the modern world, then this doesn't matter.

As to your question, as the other posters have said, it would be bad. However, operators on entry teams have guns going off near their ears often, as one of the common CQB entry positions has the person behind you resting his weapon on your shoulder. These people do not wear ear plugs. They do suffer permanent hearing damage.

Stanmiller
02-03-2010, 09:53 PM
JUST,
Good point. But I believe the modern black-powder bolt guns (Knight, Savage) are actually muzzleloaders. The bolt opens to allow the primer to be inserted. They are called in-line rifles, versus the percussion cap and flintlock muzzleloaders, which use an offset hammer. (And which are a hoot to shoot, BTW. Big clouds of blue smoke and that long-duration recoil that BP has.)

And good point about the entry teams too. My brother is in the SD of a big NC county. He has hearing aids in both ears now. He's ten years younger, but then I've always worn muff-type ear protectors when shooting. I don't do it for a living, though.

Many SW operators now wear the electronic muff-type ear protectors that muffle loud sounds while amplifying soft sounds. He reports they just got a batch in. He says they really work.

:evil

justAnotherWriter
02-04-2010, 01:16 AM
JUST,
Good point. But I believe the modern black-powder bolt guns (Knight, Savage) are actually muzzleloaders. The bolt opens to allow the primer to be inserted. They are called in-line rifles, versus the percussion cap and flintlock muzzleloaders, which use an offset hammer. (And which are a hoot to shoot, BTW. Big clouds of blue smoke and that long-duration recoil that BP has.)

Indeed they are. I thought l also ran into a black powder bolt action breech loader, but I can't be sure. They have ones now that are basically black powder for the sake of the law but modern in every other way.



And good point about the entry teams too. My brother is in the SD of a big NC county. He has hearing aids in both ears now. He's ten years younger, but then I've always worn muff-type ear protectors when shooting. I don't do it for a living, though.

Many SW operators now wear the electronic muff-type ear protectors that muffle loud sounds while amplifying soft sounds. He reports they just got a batch in. He says they really work.

:evil

The muff types are good, but bulky and don't always work with kevlars (helmets). I use these:

http://www.surefire.com/EP3-Sonic-Defenders

I use an FSC556 on my carbine, which is pretty loud, and I can use these with the stoppers open and it doesn't bother me. You can actually hear most things very well with them on...you won't miss much of anything. Yes, your naked ears hear better, but only until the first shot. With these you maintain like 60-70% of your hearing throughout the entire engagement.

Maybe your brother will like them. They're cheap enough that it won't hurt to try.

IanMorrison
02-04-2010, 06:54 AM
Thanks guys, this is great stuff. Very useful!

@StanMiller
Both of them are MCs. So it's "yes" to the former, and "very nearly" to the latter. :)

The setting here is a fantasy world. The idea is that the civilisation reached roughly WWII level technology before a significant cataclysm forced people to compensate for resources becoming extremely limited (or outright inaccessable) and infrastructure being lost. My story takes place about 150 years afterwards. Smokeless powder would still be produced in small quantities in locals that retained some of the pre-cataclysm infrastructure, but as I understand it, it doesn't keep too well over the decades. As a result, it would be rare and expensive. Consequently, most people would employ firearms that use black powder, which stores better (allowing long term stockpiling) and doesn't require as many resources and infrastructure to produce. Even then, the resource limitations are severe enough that even blackpowder ammunition would be costly. This provides yet another reason for the victim in this case (the leader of a small caravan) to be pissed off: she was wasting precious ammunition in a juvenile prank!

As for the weapon being bolt-action, firing cartridges, etc, this would be justified by the metallurgy and machining techniques surviving the apocalypse to a large extent. If I understand correctly, creating the percussion caps for the cartridges would be feasible even under severe resource constraints. I'm hardly dead set on it being bolt-action, though. Do you have suggestions for a weapon type that would work better?

justAnotherWriter
02-04-2010, 07:45 AM
I'm hardly dead set on it being bolt-action, though. Do you have suggestions for a weapon type that would work better?

How about a "revolver" rifle with interchangeble cylinders? The idea here is that you load the five or six shot cylinder with balls, powder and caps and place the cylinder in the rifle. Then you five or six fast shots, either double or single action, and then instead of pouring powder and stuffing balls, you could just replace the cylinder with another loaded one you keep in a pouch. You could carry a few, and essentially have an effective firearm with a high rate of fire.

Human beings are ingenious creatures and will seek to make the most out of what they have, so a single shot rifle 150 years after a cataclysm might not be ideal in your setting (nice setting, btw, I like it!).

Stanmiller
02-04-2010, 08:49 AM
:evil

JUST, Thanks for the info. I'll tell him about the Surefire protectors. I checked with him after I posted. He says they got the muffs for range use. The SW teams use in-ear plugs.

Re the revolving rifle, Colt's tried that. They built a rifle / carbine version of the 1855 percussion revolver. Like all percussion revolvers, they had the occasional chain fire. But in the rifle version, it not only ruined the gun, it tended to ruin the hand supporting the barrel.


IAN, The rolling block gets my vote. Simple to manufacture, without as much precision machining as required for the bolt action and far stronger than lever action repeaters. Easily strong enough for massive loads to take down those pesky large varmints you mentioned. An expert with a rolling block can get rounds downrange about as fast as a bolt gun. The lever action is faster, but inherently not as strong.

IanMorrison
02-04-2010, 11:50 AM
Just did a little digging, and I like the setup. The story is in a graphic novel format, so the aesthetics is a major concern, and the mechanism has an unique look to it. Rolling block it is!

Speaking of which, what size of round would I be wanting this rifle to fire to have the necessary stopping power? Potential targets would range from human sized assailants all the way up to an aggressive quadrupedal predator about the size of a large horse (though that would be a touch on the rare side). For the latter, it wouldn't need to actually put the thing down, but hopefully it would at least be enough to deterr it from pressing an attack.

Linda Adams
02-04-2010, 03:36 PM
When I was in high school, someone set off a fire cracker in the girls' room. I had the misfortune of walking out of the stall at the moment it went off (fortunately, I was not near it). I actually went deaf for about a minute or less. I remember having momentarily confusion because I suddenly couldn't hear and then it came back.

A possible longterm after effect. I have a friend who is an actor. During the 1960s, he was in an action TV show where he did the stunts. He fired a gun with blanks without any ear protection. Now he's in his eighties, and he's deaf in his right ear because of the stunts.

Stanmiller
02-04-2010, 05:11 PM
Just did a little digging, and I like the setup. The story is in a graphic novel format, so the aesthetics is a major concern, and the mechanism has an unique look to it. Rolling block it is!

Speaking of which, what size of round would I be wanting this rifle to fire to have the necessary stopping power? Potential targets would range from human sized assailants all the way up to an aggressive quadrupedal predator about the size of a large horse (though that would be a touch on the rare side). For the latter, it wouldn't need to actually put the thing down, but hopefully it would at least be enough to deterr it from pressing an attack.

:evil

IAN,


You could use something like the .500 Express or the .50-110. They both lob medium weight bullets at less than 2000fps. Either one would take care of most any thin-skinned predator with careful bullet placement.

Or...evil thought here...you could make the predator bigger and create a round to fit. Maybe a conversion of the .50 BMG round to black powder. A 700 grain bullet clipping along at around 2500 fps, dumping about 8K or so foot-pounds of energy into the critter would get the job done. It'd take a hefty rifle to handle the load, and the recoil would be substantial, so there wouldn't be many able to use it. It'd be an unusual gun, and your MC would need to be an unusual guy to handle it.

Hooah! as Gunny R. Lee Ermey says.

hammerklavier
02-05-2010, 06:33 AM
I have no problem with a bolt action black powder rifle. Some of the early revolvers and single shot or lever action rifles were black powder (black powder in a cartridge, not muzzle loaders), so a bolt action would certainly work.

hammerklavier
02-05-2010, 06:42 AM
Black powder has only about 1/5th the power of modern smokeless powder, maybe less.

The .45-70 government was an early black powder catridge rifle, with 70 grains of powder charge. It was favored by cavalry soldiers and buffalo hunters alike, so that should speak to it's effectiveness. Loaded with smokeless powder that 70 grains becomes just 12 grains with one type of popular powder.

IanMorrison
02-05-2010, 11:20 AM
@ Hammerklavier:
Thanks, I'll probably base the "standard" ammunition around the .45-70 or similar. :)

@ Stan:

My lord. You're talking about a man portable cannon! And the ammo would be ridiculously expensive in this setting. Still, given the type of predator I'm thinking of, something which is made of overkill like that might be the only way to down them reliably. The size of a big warhorse, and CERTAINLY not a "thin skinned" predator... I'm thinking that ordinary rifle shots would only be enough to give them pause if they weren't already charging.

They'd be an unlikely event (far more likely that primitive raiders would attack with bow, spear, or hatchet, if anything happens at all) but perhaps something that a high-value caravan, like the one my MCs are travelling in, might feel justified in keeping something in reserve. Perhaps they'd carry a single such rifle stored in one of the wagons, with one or two rounds of ammunition there... just in case. Two shots or more would be ideal, since these things hunt in pairs, but a caravan already hurting for supplies might skimp on the expense and hope to make up the rest with smaller weapons.

That actually gives me an idea. One of the caravan's members (in fact, the same one who's ill advised prank is about to put her in a world of hurt) is a sharpshooter, though she's a very small person. She'd need to prop it on something or fire prone, and the recoil would probably knock the wind out of her and do some serious damage to her shoulder. So, if you needed one of those shots downrange and you absolutely can't afford to miss, you'd give the gun to her, but it'd put her out of commission. That could make for an interesting scene... two of the creatures charging from separate sides, the rest of the group goes to try and take it down with volume of fire while she goes off on the other side with the artillery. And maybe it keeps stumbling towards her for a bit after taking the hit... :)

Stanmiller
02-05-2010, 03:56 PM
@ Hammerklavier:
Thanks, I'll probably base the "standard" ammunition around the .45-70 or similar. :)

@ Stan:

My lord. You're talking about a man portable cannon! And the ammo would be ridiculously expensive in this setting. Still, given the type of predator I'm thinking of, something which is made of overkill like that might be the only way to down them reliably. The size of a big warhorse, and CERTAINLY not a "thin skinned" predator... I'm thinking that ordinary rifle shots would only be enough to give them pause if they weren't already charging.

They'd be an unlikely event (far more likely that primitive raiders would attack with bow, spear, or hatchet, if anything happens at all) but perhaps something that a high-value caravan, like the one my MCs are travelling in, might feel justified in keeping something in reserve. Perhaps they'd carry a single such rifle stored in one of the wagons, with one or two rounds of ammunition there... just in case. Two shots or more would be ideal, since these things hunt in pairs, but a caravan already hurting for supplies might skimp on the expense and hope to make up the rest with smaller weapons.

That actually gives me an idea. One of the caravan's members (in fact, the same one who's ill advised prank is about to put her in a world of hurt) is a sharpshooter, though she's a very small person. She'd need to prop it on something or fire prone, and the recoil would probably knock the wind out of her and do some serious damage to her shoulder. So, if you needed one of those shots downrange and you absolutely can't afford to miss, you'd give the gun to her, but it'd put her out of commission. That could make for an interesting scene... two of the creatures charging from separate sides, the rest of the group goes to try and take it down with volume of fire while she goes off on the other side with the artillery. And maybe it keeps stumbling towards her for a bit after taking the hit... :)

IMO, that'll work.

I used thin-skinned without qualification there. let me elaborate.

The term thin-skinned applies to predators across the board. They are built lighter and smaller than the animals they prey on, for speed and acceleration. Here's an example: Lion and rhino.
Lion = thin-skinned, lighter, smaller, faster. 45-70 might be a bit weak. .50-110 better.
Rhino = thick skin, heavy boned, slower. Hit in the skull, a 45-70 or 50-110 may bounce off. 3 Inch Black Powder Express preferred.

When you describe your predator, I'm thinking of something like the (thankfully extinct) short-faced cave bear, maybe six feet high at the shoulder, 1500 pounds or so of mean. The .50 BMG would be a mighty comforting thing to have around.

Keep in mind too that predators evolve to be no larger than they have to be in relation to the prey animals they prefer most. So there must be some impressive herbivores running around your landscape.

It's not advisable to fire a big fifty (the .50 BMG specifically--there are other fifties out there not nearly as powerful) from prone unless it has an effective muzzle brake. It'll dislocate the shoulder. Even the Barretts and other modern fifty cals that weight 25-30 pounds or so with good muzzle brakes are uncomfortable to shoot prone. The bruise takes a while to go away. Been there, paid that price... And I don't even want to talk about the .500 S&W revolver with full-power loads that a couple idiots borrowed and took to the range once.

Anyway, firing from a sitting position off a bipod or brace allows the shooter's body to move, reducing felt recoil.

As always, Take what you want, leave the rest...
:evil

Chase
02-06-2010, 04:24 AM
Yep, not all black powder guns were muzzle-loaders. Early black powder rifle cartridges:

As stated, the .45-70 Government.

In addition, the .45-90, .45-110, and several more. The second number indicated grains of black powder.

.30-30 Winchester. 30/100 bore . . . 30 grains of black powder.

.25-35 Winchester. 25/100 bore . . . 35 grains of black powder.

.32-20 Winchester (also for revolvers) 32/100 bore . . . 20 grains of black powder. I had a Model 1892 Winchester and Colt SAA, both chambered to this cartridge.

You can easily make up your own cartridge for your alternate-universe bolt action (left-hand bolt, of course):

.34-39 Chase and Chase. You guessed it: 34/100 bore and 39 grains of Fg powder.

GeorgeK
02-07-2010, 05:24 PM
Ian, there was in the mid to late 1800's a lever action but single shot (so similar to a single shot bolt action in timing at least, probably a bit slower) black powder rifle in America. It took a paper cartrige and the lever sheared off the last bit of the paper to expose the powder to the breach so that the percussion cap, like a musket could ignite the powder. It came out not long before metal cartridges with inset caps so it didn't see much use. Unfortunately I can't remember the make, but I want to say it was made by the Sharps (or is it Sharpes) Company.

Stanmiller
02-07-2010, 06:38 PM
Ian, there was in the mid to late 1800's a lever action but single shot (so similar to a single shot bolt action in timing at least, probably a bit slower) black powder rifle in America. It took a paper cartrige and the lever sheared off the last bit of the paper to expose the powder to the breach so that the percussion cap, like a musket could ignite the powder. It came out not long before metal cartridges with inset caps so it didn't see much use. Unfortunately I can't remember the make, but I want to say it was made by the Sharps (or is it Sharpes) Company.


Chase,
Good list. And the .50-110 could handle about all North American game. For African game, even bigger rounds like the .500 BP Express were used. That's the predecessor for the .500 and .600 Nitro Express smokeless powder big-bores.

GeorgeK,
You got it. Sharps. Falling block action with an automatic priming mechanism. If you saw the movie Quigley Down Under, you saw one. Still made by Shiloh Sharps. The Remington Rolling Block was a similar action. Hell for strong and easy to build.

:evil

Chase
02-07-2010, 11:16 PM
Way, way off topic:

Indeed, fully operational Sharps rifles are made today . . . in my tiny home town.

http://i523.photobucket.com/albums/w355/chasenott/SGHS.jpg

Yes, we at SGHS were "The Sheepherders." Carrying that moniker made kids as tough as the hero in Johnny Cash's "A Boy Named Sue."

Almost everybody learned to shoot in Big Timber. As a pre-teen and teen, I shot postal matches one night a week on the range on the second floor above the Moose Lodge Bar and traps on Sunday afternoon down by the Yellowstone River.

Also once a week after school in the range below the high school gymnasium. In the 1950s, all of us boys and girls kept our rifles in our school lockers.

http://shilohrifle.com/ (http://shilohrifle.com/)

Wandering back to topic . . . yep, one of those big black powder cartridges going off next to you can rattle your teeth and make the world go silent for a while. Shooters with a lick of sense and even a bit of upbringing don't do such foolish things.

IanMorrison
02-08-2010, 07:08 AM
Shooters with a lick of sense and even a bit of upbringing don't do such foolish things.

Good thing neither of those things describe the protagonist in question. ;)

CoriSCapnSkip
02-09-2010, 10:30 AM
Stanmiller, so good to meet an evil gun geek! :evil I have a black powder question I've asked a couple of times and a guy who actually builds guns explained it but I still haven't worked out all the points.

I have several anecdotes: one, about a group of police training new recruits how to deal with a situation where the bad guys are barricaded in, with guns...I know there's a one-word description for it, which starts with an a, which I of course can't think of...not an ambush, of course...but like an armed standoff.

Anyhow, the cops playing the bad guys made the new recruits' lives hell, so finally when the new recruits, armed with blanks, got the bad guys out and handcuffed lying prone on the ground, one comes up and fires point blank at the back of one cop's head, and was told bad, baaaad cop! And the guy who was shot at said he was immensely grateful when the hearing in that ear came back, three days later.

I also happen to know a guy who was both a western actor and a big game hunter, a very social character. The guns just about destroyed his hearing, at least in the range of human voices. Particularly in a group where a voice is coming from a distance or may be mixed with other sounds, he only catches every ???th word, and of course it depends on the pitch of the voice--some he can hear more than others.

Also, the guy who builds guns of all descriptions told me he doesn't know when he'll ever fire a cannon again. He did at some event and a spectator wrote him a threatening letter trying to extort money for permanent hearing damage. He had to have a lawyer write them. Just an FYI for any reenactors out there.

Stanmiller
02-09-2010, 09:40 PM
Stanmiller, so good to meet an evil gun geek! :evil I have a black powder question I've asked a couple of times and a guy who actually builds guns explained it but I still haven't worked out all the points.

I have several anecdotes: one, about a group of police training new recruits how to deal with a situation where the bad guys are barricaded in, with guns...I know there's a one-word description for it, which starts with an a, which I of course can't think of...not an ambush, of course...but like an armed standoff.

Anyhow, the cops playing the bad guys made the new recruits' lives hell, so finally when the new recruits, armed with blanks, got the bad guys out and handcuffed lying prone on the ground, one comes up and fires point blank at the back of one cop's head, and was told bad, baaaad cop! And the guy who was shot at said he was immensely grateful when the hearing in that ear came back, three days later. Wow! That guy was seriously lucky. Blanks can be lethal at close range.


I also happen to know a guy who was both a western actor and a big game hunter, a very social character. The guns just about destroyed his hearing, at least in the range of human voices. Particularly in a group where a voice is coming from a distance or may be mixed with other sounds, he only catches every ???th word, and of course it depends on the pitch of the voice--some he can hear more than others.


Also, the guy who builds guns of all descriptions told me he doesn't know when he'll ever fire a cannon again. He did at some event and a spectator wrote him a threatening letter trying to extort money for permanent hearing damage. He had to have a lawyer write them. Just an FYI for any reenactors out there.

:evil

Good to meet you too. Just so we don't hijack this thread, if you want to open a new thread or PM me, go ahead. I'm not an expert BP shooter by any means, but I've thrown a few .577 balls out of various Enfield and Springfield muzzleloaders.