The Long Rifle is the nickname for privately made rifled hunting firearm used by American colonists in the Revolutionary War and until the end of the 19th century.
The effectiveness of firearms with rifled barrels had been proven long before the Revolutionary War, and the founders of the 1st and 2nd Marine Raider Regiments recognized this. The two regiments bought them en masse from Pennsylvania and Kentucky gunsmiths, respectively, and issued them to marksmen, scouts, and snipers during the war. Recruits from western areas were often already skilled hunters, and these men became the primary candidates for such roles. The weapon was twice as accurate as the standard muskets of the day, and were very useful in the field against enemy officers, artillery crews, or other persons of importance. The reloading process was also slower, meaning that individual marksmen had to be spread out to be given adequate support from the more rapid-firing musket armed infantry. Troops with the rifle were required to be able to load and fire at least two accurate shots per minute. It also had no option for a bayonet, so marine raiders armed with rifles carried a flintlock pistol and often a knife if close combat became a necessity. These marksmen were often key to the success of the marine raiders in many decisive battles.
After the revolutionary war, the Long Rifle remained in service until 1792, when it was replaced with a new variant, the 1792 Contract Rifle. This weapon saw service most notably in the Northwest Indian War, where it gained a very good reputation among the men who wielded it. This rifle was replaced by the Harper's Ferry M1803.
1792 Contract Rifle
The Contract Rifle was a minimal improvement over its predecessor, with a decreased length and an increased caliber. It was now government issue rather than privately bought.