This is a story told to me by a retired FBI agent, who swears this actually happened in Quantico VA.
Back in the 1890s, there was fort in Adobe Walls, in the panhandle of Texas. This fort was a trading post, mainly for professional buffalo hunters.
Sometime in the early 1890s, this fort was attacked by a combined force of Kiowa and Cherokee warriors.
The Kiowa and Cherokee managed to break in and catch the occupants (mainly buffalo hunters) unawares. This led to a very vicious shootout, with the
hunters driving the warriors out with their Colts, Remingtons, and Schofields. Once they managed to push the raiders outside the protective walls, the
hunters turned their long range buffalo rifles (largely comprised of Sharps rifles, with some Remington rolling blocks thrown in) on the enemy force.
Being accustomed to firing on moving targets at long range, the experienced buffalo hunters fairly decimated t he Kiowa and Cherokee forces.
One of the buffalo hunters, a young rookie by the name of Billy Dixon, reportedly knocked a Kiowa warrior from his horse on a far distant butte. This
shot was widely reported, and later was investigated by land surveyors, who found the distance to the butte to be in excess of 1500 yards. (Keep in
mind, this is far before the advent of telescopic sights, this shot was taken with open ìironî sights.) This incident became a subject of controversy
for historians for years, as it was unknown if it ever really happened.
Fast forward to the FBI academy at Quantico VA, 1997. Some of the high tech counter terrorism group at Quantico were working on a new type of radar,
designed to track a bullet in flight, from the time it left the muzzle until it hit the ground. (The idea was to design a counter sniper system to
automatically track back to point of origin in the event of a terroristic sniper attack). One of the techie guys working on the project also wrote for
a technical news letter that circulated in law enforcement circles. He had at the time written an article about the ìBilly Dixon shotî and claimed it
to be physically impossible, that the old Sharps rifles simply couldnt get a bullet that far. My aquaintance, a history buff, challenged him on it,
and proceeded to get into quite an argument with him.
They decided to settle the matter. A call was made to Shiloh Sharps (who still makes Sharps rifles virtually identicle to the 1800s), and requested
one of their reps bring a sample of production firearms to Quantico. They specified a Sharps with a 32í barrel chambered in .50-90 (the same caliber
and configuration that Billy Dixon had used).
The rep arrived with the requested rifle. It was put into a machine rest, elevated to 45 degrees, loaded, and fired. According to the new radar, the
bullet (barely making 1200 fps at the muzzle) was in the air for over 30 seconds, exceeded 4000 feet in altitude (almost a mile!), and landed more
than 4300 yards downrange (that is about 2 ‡ miles!) and was still moving 3 times as fast as was needed to be lethal when it hit the ground. The
techie got very quiet and very red in the face.
Moral of the story, just because something is new, high tech, and has lots of bells and whistles doesnt mean that it is any better than something 100+