Buck and ball: An age old military tactic meets modern self-defense loads
By Jason Wimbiscus
Winchester PDX1 Buck and Ball load, dissected. Three 0000, .380 diameter, buck pellets, a .718 inch diameter, 550 grain lead roundball, wad, Teflon sleeve and a three inch Fiocci hull. The Teflon wrapper was incorporated to reduce friction between the payload and the bore. (Photo: Jason Wimbiscus)
In the days when smoothbore flintlock muskets were the weapons of choice for armies worldwide, one of the tricks used by soldiers to increase the effectiveness of their less than accurate weapons was to add a few pellets of buckshot to the usual payload of a large diameter lead roundball. Known as a “Buck and Ball” load, the idea behind the configuration was to combine the decisive impact of a big, heavy lead ball with the potential for hits on multiple targets afforded by the buckshot. Such a load was reported to have been particularly effective in combat situations where tightly packed rows of troops were firing on each other at close ranges. In the Americas, buck and ball musket loads were used in conflicts as late as the Civil War.
The concept of a buck and ball load may be an old one but it is not forgotten. Two fairly well-known products that contain