Ever went to a reenactment, and tried to reload a musket while marching? Well... it's not easy, it's awkward as threading a needle in a strong wind.

The question is, could a snake with arms be better at it?

Note: By the advice of Green, I am posting two questions. One for Centaurs, and one for Naga. Here is the other question.

Can Humans reload while marching?

Yes, and seemingly in good time. This man managed to run at a good pace while reloading his musket in a reasonable time, 29 seconds to reload and shoot.

Note he is NOT using paper cartridges. His hope is to get his time down to under 20 seconds while running faster, which would put him well into the standard of 3 rounds a minute if he managed that.

Why would Naga be good at reloading while moving?

Surface contact with the ground. Snakes have many tiny legs under their scales, but effectively they have no legs. Their entire underside is always in contact with the ground, they don't have the jerky motion of a horse or human shifting their weight between steps. So, this sounds like a really stable position to work from?


Notably, when slithering, you do get some 90 degree turns periodically, forming the famous S-like shape of a slither. The naga likely will grow accustomed to these shifts in direction and naturally adapt to them, but it is a potential distraction. It is possible the greater length and girth of a naga over other snakes will make this process less frequent or more subtle.

Size and Weight of Naga

Naga might be anything from 9 feet long (including human torso) at the bare minimum, to 22 feet in length. They would also have substantial girth (probably two feet in diameter at the thickest point), so as to sufficiently move the human torso.

Based off those estimates, their weight is likely to be between 350 and 750 pounds, for a six-foot male turned naga.

Speed of Snakes

According to this BBC movie, Black Mamba snakes can travel with a third of their bodies raised at full speed (7mph long distance, with 14-20mph for short bursts of speed). Thanks to G0BLiN for finding this.

Naga, being larger, might be faster. However, they are not built purely for speed like the black mamba, and so will be slower than a comparably sized black mamba.

For speed in water, green anacondas move in the water at speeds up to 12mph. I could not find their land speed, as it seems there have been very poor and few attempts to record the speed of snakes.

What was the question, again?

Could Naga reload muskets while "marching" or "running"? And more specifically, could they do this more efficiently/effectively than humans?

The reason I am curious is if the answer is yes: then presumably this will be a key point in Naga military doctrine.

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    $\begingroup$ Why would a military using Nagas want them to reload muskets while marching or running? A typical firefight using muskets had the two sides standings still while loading and shooting. They might march forward between volleys, but the loading and firing was done standing still. It was considered a bad idea to stop and shoot while making a bayonet charge. $\endgroup$ Jan 15, 2018 at 22:55
  • $\begingroup$ @M.A.Golding Well, it's not really as simple as that. Some armies didn't even stop to reload, but just charged after the first volley. It was by no means predetermined that, "armies would just stand still and shoot each other" in a battle. Look up the battles the guy in the video is reenacting, if you want some examples of mobile warfare. $\endgroup$
    – Johnny
    Jan 15, 2018 at 23:18
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    $\begingroup$ Please make this question consistent. Are the Naga running or marching? Marching is something you do in formation. While reloading under this condition is likely trivial, it's also irrelevant unless you're doing it just for show. If they're running (e.g., in combat), that's another matter. Please edit your question to express just one (I'm voting for running, it makes more sense). $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Jan 16, 2018 at 17:48
  • $\begingroup$ You might check the speed of comparably sized anacondas. Strength increases with the square of size, but mass increases with the cube. You should probably plot some graphs to get a realistic idea of their speed $\endgroup$
    – pojo-guy
    Jan 16, 2018 at 17:59

3 Answers 3


From my somewhat limited experience with muzzle loading firearms, the issue isn't so much the stability while moving, it's that you often need a third point of contact (i.e. butt of rifle resting on the ground) while you secure something like a powder horn or ram rod and you need to focus on loading, not watching where you are going. So a naga isn't going to resolve either of those issues. Plus when you are marching in close formation the need to pay attention to marching increases dramatically. Historically muzzle loading rifles are inaccurate, due to a smaller ball than the barrel diameter (alleviated by the Minie ball), poor consistency of powder, and crude sights, so they relied on massed fire in order to be effective. Equip your naga with rifled muskets and loading becomes more difficult.

Of course nagas may not be able to move in a close a formation as bipeds, and since they "push" their vertical front body, they may be able to rig up a stirrup to hold the stock to free up their hands since there wouldn't be any legs to get in the way.

What you want are Kammerladers or something similar, a breech loading black powder rifle. These were more complex, but would allow for easier reloading while moving. Kinda depends on your overall tech though, black powder/muzzle loading covered centuries of technology.


Depending on the size of their muskets they might be faster than humans. Their movement pattern is more vertically stable than humans but the lateral motion of slithering might even this out. The point that potentially gives them an edge is their size. In the video the man takes up a good chunk of his time with the compacting of the gunpowder. Larger naga would have longer arms (i imagine) and could compact the powder in 3 motions rather than 6 (including retrieving the rod).


From what I have read it would not really make a difference if your Naga (if this is Human vs Naga) can reload fast, it would be a sitting duck to musket fire. A big long snake would not be the best unit to field in open combat, let alone as frontline troops. However, they are far from useless. You need to use them for different tactics (I would like to hear more on them to answer better). Naga are too big to fight in the open unless you are using them as a shock trooper (they are big). Place a pike or broadsword and amour them up then watch the mayhem, or use them as a cavalry unit (if they are fast). I would use them for hit and run tactics, a Naga can run fast (most likely low to the ground using their arms to push, rather than to hold things). If they are fighting in the desert or forest they would be a terrifying force to face. They have natural camouflage, so they would be hard to spot and they can change positions every time they fire. If they get cornered, you have a 200kg armed angry Naga so melee fighting would be good for their side too. To sum it up Naga should not be fielded in mid-range combat, close or long range would be best

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    $\begingroup$ Please! Parse this atrocity into proper sentences. The english language has fullstops and commata, that can be used to make this readable. $\endgroup$
    – Trish
    Jan 16, 2018 at 15:24
  • $\begingroup$ I fixed up some of the spelling and grammar, which were quite bad. If I mistranslated some of the worse parts, please fix it up. $\endgroup$
    – Gryphon
    Jan 16, 2018 at 17:26
  • $\begingroup$ sorry my grammar was always bad hence why i hired an editor long ago, best investment i ever made $\endgroup$ Jan 16, 2018 at 17:35
  • $\begingroup$ I just made a few more changes. I think the grammar is all good now. $\endgroup$
    – Gryphon
    Jan 16, 2018 at 17:44
  • $\begingroup$ Doesn't really answer the question? $\endgroup$
    – bendl
    Jan 16, 2018 at 18:07

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