Using the original Lorenz rear sight

1Shooting the muzzleloading military rifle muskets is a real delight today. It is one of the most demanding and most popular disciplines. However it is not well known what challenges the armies faced when they changed from smooth bore to rifled arms.

Shooting the military muzzleloading rifle-muskets today is getting more and more popular. If you ever tried one you know that they are capable of extreme accuracy, even putting hole-in-hole at 100 m distance. The Pedersoli military rifles proved to be real tack drivers. With the 1857 Mauser rifles, and the recent novelties the Civil War Silver line guns Pedersoli is offering professional arms for the target shooters and collectors. Guns that not only look great, but also deliver excellent results at the shooting range.

2The introduction of rifled long arms in the armies of Europe and the United States was a great step forward in the mid 19th century. They dramatically increased the effective firearms tactics ranges but also raised some important challenges. The accuracy improved compared to the smooth bore muskets but the trajectory of the heavy conical bullet became much more curved. The round ball weighting 24-28 grams fired from a smooth bore musket left the bore with 400-450 m/s (1200-1350 feet/sec) muzzle velocity while the heavier skirted Minié was capable of only 290 m/s (870 feet/sec) velocity. The Austro-Hungarian compression type Lorenz bullet performed better with 375 m/s, but the trajectory was curved as well.

sightsetThe smooth bore musket tactics were simple: the firing started from maximum 250 paces and the most effective range was within 100 paces. In theory the rifle musket could be used effectively up to 900 paces against massed infantry and up to 500 paces against individual infantry soldiers. But to utilize this advantage the soldier had to learn how to judge the distance accurately and how to set the sights, how to aim. This required much more training than the smooth bore muskets.

The sight of the Lorenz rifle was an accurate instrument. The rifle fired a 28 gram compression bullet propelled by 55 grains of fine blackpowder. The sight was graduated from 300 to 900 paces and the infantryman had to learn nine different aiming methods to hit accurately up to the maximum range.

standvisierThe first job was to understand the position of the front sight in the notch of the rear sight. There were three ways to use them:

–      “gestrichenem Korn”: The level of the front sight is under the level of the rear sight.

–      “feinem Korn”: Both levels are the same.

–      “vollem Korn”: The level of the front sight is over the level of the rear sight.

Here is a brief description how it was done in the heat of the battle:

 

 

Distance (schritt or paces)

Sight setting

Sight positioning

Aiming point

150

300

feinem

posterior

200

300

feinem

breast

300

300

vollem

breast

400

400-500

feinem

posterior

500

400-500

vollem

head

600

600-700

feinem

posterior

700

600-700

vollem

head

800

800-900

feinem

posterior

900

800-900

vollem

head

 

Not every soldier received a rifle musket with adjustable sights. The simpler block sight was set to 300 paces and these rifles were issued to companies intended for short range combat.