The Kentucky Rifle
rifles top to bottom....Springfield M-1 A, Springfield 1861 Civil War musket, Kentucky rifle.
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Those were the days–of tales some true and some shrouded in myth, when our
nation had first begun, of a land where Indians walked in moccasins and
the jackboots of the Hessian soldier and British redcoat stomped. It was a
time when men hunted for their dinner and when enemies were both real and
imagined, such as Washington Irving’s dreaded Headless Horseman, looking
for his head that had been taken off by a cannon ball during the
American Revolution. Man needed his gun, to fight with, to shoot game or marauding
wolves, or for self protection. Those were times when men lived close to
nature, of our Nation’s earliest wars, and when ghosts stalked the land.
Between 1760 and 1820 two firearms on the front stage as Americans settled in to nation building were the British Brown Bess and the Kentucky rifle,which was more accurately called the Pennsylvania rifle. Had Amy, lived on the early Pennsylvania frontier at the turn of the 18th century, she would have had to choose between these two arms.
The Brown Bess was the shotgun of its day. A long barreled muzzle loader, the Brown Bess employed a flint lock ignition system utilizing a flash pan of powder which ignited when the flint struck and opened the pan on its downward arc once the trigger was pulled. The Brown Bess became the standard for all branches of the British Armed in 1720 and remained the prototypical infantry musket for over one hundred years. Firing a 75 caliber ball in combat, the Brown Bess’s bore was approximately the same diameter of today’s twelve gauge. It was the do everything firearm of its time. It could be loaded with a single ball for deer or the battlefield or with small shot for small game.
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