Musket balls are one of the earliest creates of bullets that space fired from muskets and rifles. Their origins date back to the 15th century, when “handgonnes” were an initial being used. Archaeologists and metal-detecting enthusiasts have discovered them almost everywhere the world. In the U.S., musket balls are most often associated with the Revolutionary War but are discovered on sites varying from the first Spanish explorations to the American civil War.

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These beforehand bullets frequently were do of lead or lead-tin alloys, adhering to this traditional process: The command is melted and poured into a two-part mold, down a channel in the mold referred to as a sprue. After the lead solidifies and also the ball is removed from the mold, the sprue is cut from the musket round with a cut tool, i beg your pardon leaves some of the spreading sprue and a snip heat in the lead, called a medial ridge, resulted in by the cutter. Commonly the mold also leaves traces that the mold seam around the one of the ball.



host the sphere in your hand. Lead is a an extremely dense metal, and also a musket round will feel heavy for its dimension when compared to something like a glass or clay marble.


Look for proof of a mold seam. Since of the crudeness of part 18th-century molds, the seam of an really musket ball might be slightly counter like the one in the photograph above. Look at for proof of a spreading sprue made from the inlet channel that the mold. The command from the channel is usually clipped off making use of a sprue cutter and leaves a medial ridge top top the sprue. Note: no all musket balls have an apparent casting sprue mark.


Examine the ball for a patina. Authentic musket balls space not shiny gray lead. Musket balls buried underground because that years develop a coating of lead carbonates, sulfides and oxides. This coating is usually white or light tan. However, the visibility of tannic acid from tree or high level of steel oxide in the soil can darken the shade of an yes, really musket ball to a deep reddish-brown.


If the sphere is round, measure its diameter in inches with a collection of calipers, but do not take the measure on the mold seam. Typically, musket balls selection in diameter native 0.39 inches to 0.80 inches. The british Brown Bess musket had a 0.75 customs bore however took a 0.693-inch-diameter ball. Charleville-style French muskets, i m sorry were offered to the continental Army, had a 0.69-inch bore yet took a 0.63-inch ball. Rifles took smaller balls, measuring much less than 0.60 customs in diameter but usually no smaller than 0.39 inch. Command balls v diameters of much less than 0.39 inch space usually buckshot.


If a musket ball is not spherical, measure up its weight in grams utilizing a scale with at least 0.1-gram accuracy. Calculation the ball"s diameter through the Sivilich Formula:

Diameter in inches = 0.2228 x (Weight in grams)1/3

(This is the cube source of the load in grams.)

The an outcome will productivity a reasonable approximation that the original diameter of the musket ball. Alternatively, you can download the Sivilich Formula calculator (in a can be downloaded Excel file) to find the approximated original diameter that a musket sphere using its weight.

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Musket sphere and little Shot Identification: A guide by Daniel Sivilich

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Daniel Sivilich is author of "Musket round and tiny Shot Identification: A Guide" and also has an ext than 30 years of field experience in prehistoric and historic archaeology. He is one of the founders of electronic battlefield archaeology and has occurred a widely used formula for determining the diameter the a non-spherical musket ball.






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