The longrifle is an early example of firearm utilizing rifling, or the spiral grooves in the bore. This gave the projectile, commonly a round lead ball at the time, a spiraling motion, increasing stability in flight trajectory. A more stable trajectory meant dramatically improved accuracy over more commonly available smooth bore muskets also used in the period. Rifled firearms saw their first major combat usage in the American colonies during the Seven Years war, and later the American Revolution in the eighteenth century. The weapon never fully replaced the musket until the development of the Minié ball, mainly due to slower reload times from a tighter fitting lead ball, and the fouling of the bore after prolonged usage, eventually preventing loading, and rendering the weapon useless until thorough cleaning. This type of firearm was made popular by German gunsmiths who immigrated to America, bringing with them the technology of rifling from where it originated. The accuracy achieved by the longrifle made it an ideal tool for hunting wildlife as food in colonial America.
The American longrifle, more commonly but less correctly known as the Kentucky rifle, was described by Captain John G. W. Dillin in the dedication to his seminal 1924 book, The Kentucky Rifle:
"From a flat bar of soft iron, hand forged into a gun barrel; laboriously bored and rifled with crude tools; fitted with a stock hewn from a maple tree in the neighboring forest; and supplied with a lock hammered to shape on the anvil; an unknown smith, in a shop long since silent, fashioned a rifle which changed the whole course of world history; made possible the settlement of a continent; and ultimately Freed our country of foreign domination.
Light in weight; graceful in line; economical in consumption of powder and lead; fatally precise; distinctly American; it sprang into immediate popularity; and for a hundred years was a model often slightly varied but never radically changed."
Read more about Long Rifle: Origins, Characteristics, Decline and Rebirth, In Popular Culture
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