American Long Rifle (Pennsylvania/Kentucky Rifle)


The American Long Rifle is a uniquely American variation on the flintlock rifle.  Originally created by German gunsmiths living on the southeastern Pennsylvania frontiers in the early 1700’s, they created a gun that was fitting to the lifestyle of the area.  The barrels were longer than typical rifles at the time, and included rifiling, both which provided for more accuracy.  The caliber was smaller, both helping with accuracy and allowing a user to carry more shots on a per weight basis relative to heavier, larger caliber ball.  The rifles could also be made entirely with hand tools, a benefit to those living on the frontier and in the wilderness. 

Being strong, light, and accurate, the rifle fast became popular.  They were made by local gunsmiths so design was not akin to a military standard for mass production, so many variations exist.  They typically weight between 7-10 pounds, are 54 inches to 74 inches in length, and range in caliber from .25 to .75 (.40-.48 being the most common).  An estimated number of 73,000 were produced.

As some soldiers in the American Revolution brought their rifles from home, the American Long Rifle saw action throughout the war.  Areas of manufacture extended from Pennsylvania later to Ohio, North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, and Kentucky.  It was after the war of 1812 and more into the 1820’s popular culture where it got the nickname Kentucky Rifle, after a popular song “The Hunters of Kentucky” and a victory at the Battle of New Orleans.  For more details, cick here.


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