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The Pennsylvania Long Rifle (mistakenly referred as the Kentucky Long Rifle) is a flintlock rifle from colonial America, a weapon that dealt death from over 200 yards. It was one of the two Mid-Range weapons of George Washington along with the Brown Bess Musket.


  • 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.


History of the Rifle[]

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 being forced to clean the black powder residue trapped in the rifling and fouling the barrel (this is officially called 'Carbon Build Up'). Even the most basic hunting rifles were more expensive than the muskets used by the common soldier; primarily due to the rifling and other assets to improve accuracy.

Rifles in the American Revolution[]

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.

The first battle of the Revolution was also the first use of Minutemen snipers; The Battle of Lexington and Concord. The British retreat from Concord allowed Continental snipers to ambush the British multiple times during their march back to Boston.

Snipers of the Continental Army and Minutemen 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. A rifle designed for sniping needed the musketball to have a tight fit in order to be more precise by prevent the musketball from bouncing in the barrel, and would sometimes also apply cloth and wax to make the musketball even tighter in the barrel while still able to be loaded. Muskets in the 1700s had a paper cartridge that allow them to be loaded in a simpler and quicker manner than a rifle. [1]

Morgan's Riflemen was one of the most noticeable units of professional riflemen within the Continental Army.

Battle of Saratoga[]

On October 7th, 1777 the British Brigadier-General Simon Fraser was assassinated by a Continental sniper, allegedly Timothy Murphy. The British panicked after the loss of their general, which soon led to the Continental Army winning the battle. The Battle of Saratoga was a turning point for the war, as the success of this battle convinced France to assist the Continental Army against the British.

19th Century Rifles[]

The British created their own professional Rifle Brigade (informally called the Green Jackets) and fitted them with the Baker Rifle during the Napoleonic Wars; making it the first standard-use rifle created by the British Army. The British mimicked Continental sniping tactics, including using the rifle's superior range to assassinate officers (killing Brigadier General Auguste François-Marie de Colbert-Chabanais at an estimated 550 meters distance).

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.

The Anglo-Afghan Wars (1839–1842 & 1878–1880) saw the widespread use of the Jezail rifle by the Afghans. The Afghans had similar sniping and hit-and-run tactics with the Jezail that allowed them to force the British out of their nation. Similar tactics are still being used today by the Taliban and other terrorist and rebel factions in Afghanistan.

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 noticeably: 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.

Muzzle-Loading Rifles were introduced in the early 1800s but were not mass produced until the mid 1800s: with the Springfield Muskets being the most noticeable musket due to its use in the American Civil War. These were service rifles and so aren't considered sniper rifles, but did have significant range compared to the then obsolete smoothbores.

Modern Rifles[]

1841 introduced the Dreyse Needle Gun: one of the first bolt-action rifles. The bolt-action mechanism allowed a soldier to use large caliber rounds compared to lever action or semi-automatic rifles. The efficiency of these sniper rifles were infamously used in WWI and has stayed on the modern battlefield ever since. Noticeable WWI rifles still in use today include; the French Lebel, the British Lee-Enfield SMLE, and the American Springfield.

Germany would provide hunting rifles to its soldiers during the early months of WWII as improvised sniping rifles. Allied armies initially did not use any sniping rifles, giving the Germans a significant advantage, despite using hunting rifles not designed for combat. WWI would quickly see both sides equip their soldiers with professional sniping rifles; making trench warfare far deadlier. It was common for snipers to have a 40-1 kill ratio. [2]


  • 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.