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When did rifled barrels first appear? After that, when did they become a common feature on rifles?
A very difficult question to answer, due to the vast amount of myth and legend surrounding the development of twisted rifling, rather than straight grooves. Looking through my books it is generally agreed to be a German development in the late 15th century, but was not widespread until maybe at least a hundred years later, again in Germany, Switzerland and the Low Countries.When did rifled barrels first appear? After that, when did they become a common feature on rifles?
You may be right, but don't overlook the fact that the Germans, Austrians and Swiss, with their long shooting traditions, were not in the business of making inaccurate weapons. One of the targets in a Schutzenfest I went to many years ago was a dove-sized target on a pole about 90 feet high - it was first shot at in 1603 with the then available weapons - usually high-grade wheellock sporting arms.That's what I have read, too. I have seen some old woodcuts reproduced in a book (I can't remember where or when) that were of Germanic origin; said woodcuts showing the rifleman using a wooden mallet and a stout ramrod to drive the ball down the barrel. I guess that patching hadn't come into use at the time. If the black powder of that era was at all consistent, I would speculate that they may have achieved decent accuracy. Although, I would wager that the barrel tolerances were rather poor.