Most gun enthusiasts and especially collectors enjoy the rich history of early firearms and how it led to the development of modern weapons. Typically, gun developments and improved manufacturing techniques led to more efficient ammunition, but certain ammunition upgrades likewise allowed for the weapons themselves to become more efficient.
Ammunition improvements over the years are an important part of the history of the gun, and is an aspect of weaponry worth reviewing when discussing the topic of how early guns considered primitive by today’s standards evolved into what is available in the modern world.
The first firearms were developed in Asia, and were little more than aimed fireworks with attached arrows which relied on gunpowder to use. Such weapons eventually developed into the more efficient lead musket ball to improve the weapon’s power, range, and accuracy. In America, the musket balls of the early Colonial period were typically about three quarters of an inch in diameter, and were used for both hunting and warfare.
Eventually, people began to realize the musket could be made more accurate with the introduction of rifling. Musket balls were used in the first rifles, but were made to tighter specifications which allowed for a more precise shot whiel the rifling itself made the ball take a spiral path increasing the range at which it was efficient.
Rifling and Tapered Bullets
The development of rifling led to the invention of the conical Minie Ball, which maximized the efficiency of the rifling with a shape which was more aerodynamic and kept the energy contained in the bullet. This was shown to be more efficient in a smaller diameter, and the balls were about a half inch wide. As they became more standardized, 0.58 inches became a common bore for the early flintlock rifles.
.30 Caliber and 7mm Rounds
Over time, as manufacturing improved, it became obvious to gun makers that a larger bullet did not necessarily cause more damage, and ammunition became smaller to provide a more efficient shot while being less expensive to produce and lighter to carry. Eventually, the .30 caliber bullet became a standard size, whether as a .36 in the early Colt Navy Revolvers, or the rifle calibers of .30-30, .308, or .30-06. In European metric terms, the 7 millimeter is the equivalent of .30 inch calibers, thus the use of 7.62×54 NATO round, essentially a .308 or the 7.62×39 ammunition used in the AK-47 and SKS, which is relatively equivalent to the American .30-30.
Into the Future
Modern rifle ammunition has a variety of sizes which each fills a particular purpose. Whether firing a 5.56 (.223) or a .50 caliber, the modern rifle is efficient and provides much better hunting or battle ranges than ever before. As gun makers and military forces continue to develop improvements and efficiency in the weapons they build and use, it goes without saying the future has even more efficient weapons in store which will change the way a battle is conducted along with the effectiveness of men and women who enjoy hunting for sport and food.
~ Ready to Fire News