Kentucky Long Rifle

Like powder needs a spark..."Hawkmoon"/U2

Simon Kenton Frontier Festival
Third Weekend in September!

The Kentucky (or Pennsylvania) Long Rifle was the most accuratelong-range gun for several decades.The first documented appearance of rifling was in Germany around 1460.The flintlockwas developed in the early 1600's. By the late 1600's gunsmiths wereexperimenting with longer barrels than the forerunner Yaeger. But it took the opening up of a newcontinent to bring out the best.

Circa 1725 the forerunner of the KYlong rifles were being designed and built by German craftsman inPennsylvania. After the French and Indian War brought new lands to theattention of the frontiersmen, the uniquely American long-range rifleswere carried into the frontier (at that time Kentucky) by the longhunters, trappers and explorers. The actual name "Kentucky Longrifle"was first used in an 1812 song The Hunters of Kentucky.

A typical rifle was .50 caliber, made of curly maple, full stock andsported a 42 to 46 inch barrel. A crescent-shaped buttplate, patchboxand cheekpiece were also common and are helpful in identifying a KY/PAlong rifle.

The long rifle was a prime factor in several Revolutionary erabattles, especially in the West. Perhaps due to this heritage,Kentuckians were known as sharpshooters from the revolutionary Warthrough WWII and even as late as Vietnam.

Col George Hanger, a British officer, became very interested in theAmerican rifle after he witnessed his bugler's horse shot out fromunder him at a distance, which he measured several times himself, of"full 400 yards", and he learned all he could of the weapon. Hewrites:

"I have many times asked the American backwoodsman what was the mosttheir best marksmen could do; they have constantly told me that anexpert marksman, provided he can draw good & true sight, can hit thehead of a man at 200 yards."

Quotations from M.L. Brown's, FIREARMS IN COLONIAL AMERICA

More on the KY Longrifle: Kentucky Rifles - How They Earned Their Name

In the early 1800's, the percussion or caplock wasinvented and the 200 year reign of the flintlock was a thing of the past.A lot of the old flintlocks were even converted to the new lock. Bythe end of the Civil War, even the muzzleloader was being challengedby the more reliable breechloaders. Soon black powder followed thedemise of the muzzle loader and the Kentucky Long Rifle became acollector's item.

How Flint Locks Work Flint and Percussion Locks

Antique Long Rifles

Antique Firearms Network
Dixie Antique Long Rifle List
Antique Long Rifle Classifieds

Longrifle Replica Manufacturers

Black Hart Long Arms
Jim Chambers Flintlocks, Ltd.
Connecticut Valley Arms (CVA)
Thompson Center Arms
Track of the Wolf
Dixie Gun Works
Traditions Muzzleloading

Black Powder/Muzzleloaders

GOEX Black Powder
American Shooting (Black Powder)
Coon 'n Crockett Muzzleloaders

Living History/Reenacting

Kentucky Trekking
Buckskinner books
On The Trail Magazine
Living History Portraits
Arrow Moccasins
Blue Heron Mercantile
Smoking Iron Alterations (Custom Clothes)
Oakhill Enterprises (Custom Clothes)
Townsend & Sons (Everything)
Great Northern Trade Co. (Most accessories)
G. Gedney Godwin (Everything)
October Country (Bags/Horns)
Northwest Traders (Wool Blankets)
Tentsmiths (Authentic Period Tentage)
Trader Listings
F&I Trader Listings
Another Kentucky Rifle page


Thoughts on Daniel Boone's Gun
Beginners Guide to Flintlock Shooting
Kentucky Deer/Small Game Hunting Guide

Rifle Associations

American Long Rifle Association (ALRA)
Contemporary Longrifle Association (CLA)
National Muzzle Loader Rifle Association (NMLRA)
National Rifle Association (NRA)
CLA Resources Page

Related Books

The Longrifles of Western Pennsylvania : Allegheny and Westmoreland Counties; by Richard F. Rosenberger, et al

Recreating the American Longrifle; by Buchele, Schumway, Alexander; Paperback

Guns and Gunmaking Tools of Southern Appalachia : The Story of the Kentucky Rifle; by John Rice Irwin; Paperback

Black Powder Hobby Gunsmithing ; by Sam Fadala, Dale Storey; Paperback

Thoughts on the Kentucky Rifle in Its Golden Age; by Joe, Jr. Kindig; Hardcover

The Bedford County rifle and its makers; by Calvin Hetrick

The Kentucky rifle; by Merrill Lindsay

The long rifle; by Robert Lagemann

Longrifles of note; by George Shumway

The Pennsylvania rifle; by Samuel E. Dyke

Recreating the Kentucky rifle; by William Buchele

Rifles of Colonial America; by George Shumway

Rifles of Colonial America Vol. 2; by George Shumway

Books by Allan Eckert

My KY long rifle is a F&I/American Revolutionary era
.50 calibre full-stock flintlock.

Here's an example of a 40 1/4 inches barrel, Traditions flintlock LR
using a Hornady .490 swaged ball, .015 Ox Yoke lubed patch, 3x Goex black
powder, 55 degree day at 20' from muzzle, average of 4 shots each load:

30 grain spout 1139 fps
75 grain spout 1785 fps
100 grain spout 2027 fps (This one left 3 stock pins slightly bent!)

My thanks toKevin Wilson for his input.

The classic Kentucky Frontiersman was Simon Kenton who was able
to reload on the run to the surprise of many an unfortunate pursuer.

Another fast reloader was LewisWetzel.

And of course, the most famous frontiersman of them all, Daniel Boone!

Read about these Frontiersmen and more in Allan Eckert's historical novels
The Frontiersman andThat Dark and Bloody River.

Join us in our Frontier Research Message Board!

Check out the MLML WebPage for more practical information on pioneer gun use.

Miniature KY/Penn L.R. model
by VA sculptor Terry Karselis

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