1803 Harpers Ferry Rifle

1803 Harpers Ferry

NPS Photo


1803 Harpers Ferry Rifle

Caliber: .54

Barrel length: 33"

A flintlock rifle fires by striking a piece of flint against piece of steel. This weapon was the first rifle built the US Armory at Harpers Ferry. Before this weapon, the army focused primarily on muskets (smoothbore). Designed with rifling for accurate long distance shooting, this weapon could shoot 300 yards. However, due to the rifling and tight fitting of the bullet, it was difficult and slow to load. These were issued to the United States Regiment of Riflemen beginning in 1808. The soldiers would have carried this weapon at Fort Smith in 1817. By 1821, the US military abolished the Rifle Regiment and created a new rifle to be issued to special Infantry companies.

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Last updated: April 10, 2015

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