- Weight: Variable (about 7-10 lb)
- Length: Over 65 in
- Barrel Length: 35 in to over 48 in
- Caliber: .50 inch ball (.40 to .48 was most common; but Calibers range from .25 to .62)
- Action: Flintlock
- Rate of Fire: 1 round/minute (user dependent) (58 seconds per round according to DW)
- Muzzle velocity: 1,235 fps
- Effective Range: 250 yards
- Maximum Range: Over 400 yards
- Feed System: Muzzle-loaded
The Pennsylvania Long Rifle was tested with the Brown Bess musket to eliminate 4 infantry targets and one commander on a horse. The George Washington Team was able to kill all 5 targets in 3 minutes 31 seconds with 6 hits, the horse killed, with an average reload time of 58 seconds for the Rifle. The edge was given to the Pennsylvania Long Rifle due to it's accuracy.
Rifling has existed since the 1400s; reflecting the concept that a spinning arrow could travel farther than an arrow that doesn't spin. To make a cannonball or musketball spin; metal groves would be carved inside the barrel of the gun. The ball would make contact with the groves, and the friction would force the ball to follow the spiral trail.
The use of rifles and sniping was limited before the American Revolution; as it took nearly twice as long to reload the rifle as it did a musket due to the groves creating friction when trying to ram the ammunition down the barrel, as well as black powder becoming trapped in the rifling and fouling the barrel.
The long rifle developed on the American frontier in the 1740's. Although European smoothbore muskets were the weapons of choice on the frontier, the rifle gradually became more popular with frontiersmen, Native American fighters, and professional market hunters due to its greater effective range. During the American Revolution it became an effective weapon of the minuteman militia as it's range and accuracy made it an ideal hit and run weapon for their guerrilla tactics, and showing the effectiveness of early modern sniping.
Snipers of the Continental Army and Minute Men frequently mentioned how easy it was to aim at a Redcoat; as the flashy contrasting colors of the coat made the Redcoat very visible even within dense forests or at night. Some snipers also mentioned that the overlapping chestbelts on a Redcoat uniform could be viewed as an X or a bullseye, especially since the overlap of the belts was over the center of the torso. This was especially effective in forested guerilla warfare: where snipers can slow or stop an enemy advance by sniping the clearly visible and dense Redcoat lines while the snipers hid behind trees, bushes, hills and other types of natural cover and concealment.
Most rifles used by the Continental Army were hunting rifles. Since only military muskets were designed to be fitted with the bayonet, most civilian rifles were not designed for it and so had no bayonet of them all.
George Washington was one of the first generals to use rifles in combat, as many armies believed that the slow reloading speed made the rifle useless against large armies. Even though it showed its effectiveness, smoothbore-muskets continued to dominate the battlefield thanks to their cheap costs and a faster reloading speed was essential for conventional and Napoleonic style warfare.
The Battle of New Orleans in 1815 (part of the War of 1812) saw Andrew Jackson conscript many local hunters into his army. While the British forces outnumbered him 8000 to 4000: Jackson's hunters were excellent sharpshooters and were able to overwhelm the advancing British forces.
Musket Sniping and Guerrilla Warfare reemerged in various revolutionary and civil wars; most noticeably the Peninsula War (most noticeably: the Baker Rifle) and the American Civil War (most noticably: the Whitworth Rifle). The Confederate Forces compensated for their inferior weapons compared to the Union by using skirmishing units. The Union eventually introduced skirmishers as well; including Pro-Union Native Americans tribes.
- Only 3% of Washington's army was made of riflemen. The majority of Minutemen refused or avoided to engage in a conventional battle or on a large battlefield.
- While it is true that British armies were cautious when trying to engage the Continental Army inland, this was due not only to Minutemen snipers but also to the fact that the British needed their navy to maintain logistics: since the colonial cities were unreliable due to unpredictable loyalties.