Guns of the American Revolution

The American Revolution, an 18th century political upheaval, included thirteen colonies from North America who joined together to separate themselves from the established control of the British Empire. The 13-colony formation led to the establishment of the United States of America. After several attempts at rejecting overseas control, each colony united to defend their autonomy through violent conflict against the British. The States determined to resist and reject the tyrannical regime that demanded their allegiance by developing sovereignty through the Declaration of Independence in July of 1776. The American Revolutionary War lasted five years with the final victory declared in October of 1781. There are many different facets and historical memorabilia that intrigue those who follow the events of the American Revolutionary War, including popular sites where important conflicts took place, the uniforms that certain soldiers wore, and the guns and ammunition employed to fight off the British and German invaders.

What Kind of Guns Were Used?

There were four muskets employed by various nationalities during the American Revolutionary War, including the Brown Bess, Charleville, and the Pennsylvania Rifle. The Brown Bess was one of the most common and effective muskets used in during the American Revolution. It was used by the American and British because of its option to either deploy single or multiple shots when loaded to fire. However, this weapon was short range and inaccurate as most muskets used during this period. There were two main versions of the Brown Bess, including the Short Land Pattern and the Long Land Pattern. The Long Land Pattern was longer, heavier and bulkier than the Short Land Pattern.

The Charleville, a .69 French musket produced in 1766, was employed towards the end of the American Revolution after the French started to ship arms to the Americans in hopes of defeating the British. The Charleville possessed the same characteristics as the older muskets in that it was short range and inaccurate at reaching its targets. The Pennsylvania Rifle, a .50 caliber musket developed in Pennsylvania during the early 18th century, was one of the first American designs. The German colonists developed it after the Jaeger Rifle, and was used as a sniper rifle during the American Revolution because of its long range and accuracy. While it was one of the first muskets of its kind, the Pennsylvania Rifle could not be used during regular combat due to its long loading time.

Additionally, the Bayonet was one of the most deadliest weapons of their times that were directly attached to the chosen musket used during conflict. The Americans were scared of the bayonet because of their lack of experience in using the weapon aside from using it for roasting meals and pitching tents. In fact, most soldiers were scared of the opposition if they simply charged at them with brute force. This was because most of the bayonets were triangular in shape with a blunt shape that would tear the soft tissues and vital organs that it penetrated. These kinds of bayonets are outlawed today.

  • The Brown Bess: The Smithsonian Institute presents a profile of the Brown Bess, a short range and inaccurate musket used during the early years of the American Revolutionary War.

  • The French Charleville Musket: The Humanities and Social Sciences Online presents a profile on the French Charleville Musket, a lightweight, flintlock weapon used during the latter years of the American Revolution.

  • The Pennsylvania Long Rifle: The Pennsylvania Long Rifle was created by the German colonists, also known as the Pennsylvania Dutch, and was one of the first long range and accurate muskets designed by the Americans during the Revolutionary War.

  • Guns, Swords and Bayonets: A comprehensive source on the deployment of bayonets during the American Revolutionary War.

How Were These Weapons Made?

There were many variations and modifications of the main musket that were created over an extended period of time since its inception. In fact, the earliest version was the Long Land Pattern and Short Land Pattern of 1722. It incorporated a flintlock mechanism that caused it to misfire before being replaced by the percussion cap. Each of these muskets measured no shorter than 58.5 inches and no longer than 62.5 inches and weighed about 10.5 pounds. The muskets had a long blade attached to it called the bayonet that allowed the soldiers to pierce the opposition in close range. The body of the muskets were mostly made of brass with one ounce lead projectiles that launched from its barrels to injure or kill the target. The barrel and lock-work were generally made of iron. Each ammunition cartridge consisted of six to eight drams of gun powder and its single bullet. The projectile was loaded from the barrel and stuffed ready to fire.

  • Tactics and Weapons of the American Revolution: An extensive resource that discuss the interdependent relationship between the weapons of the American Revolution and the strategies of war to overcome the British.

  • American Made Muskets of the American Revolution: The National Rifle Association presents information on the various muskets employed during the American Revolution, including the Brown Bess, the French Charleville, the Pennsylvania Rifle, and the Bayonet attached to all of them.

  • The American Revolutionary War: Weapons: The National Park Service Museum covers a broad range of weapons used during the American Revolutionary War, including the muskets, bayonets, and other weapons often overlooked in favor of the aforementioned.

  • Weapons of the American Revolutionary War: An extensive resource that covers the various weapons used during the American Revolutionary War, including the muskets, bayonets, and howitzers used to defeat the British.

How Did They Work?

Muskets were designed to fire at about one hundred yards, although combat occurred with masses of troops colliding together, loading, and then firing at about fifty yards. Muskets did not have sights, a smooth-bore, and small size ammunition similar of modern rifles. In fact, most of the muskets were fairly inaccurate when fired at a specific target. Since firing the weapon did not always land on its target, the soldiers would lead with bayonet charges to finalize the conflict. The British army expected their troops to fire four rounds per minute, although the average exchange was two to three rounds per minute. The typical reloading procedure consisted of biting the cartridge, pushing and snapping the frizzen piece back and forth, holding the musket vertical, pouring the gunpowder into the barrel, inserting the projectile into the barrel, pushing the paper cartridge into the barrel, removing the ramrod in order to push the excess into the barrel, and then raising the musket before firing at the target.

What Made the Muskets of the American Revolution Different From Other Weapons?

The muskets were different from the howitzers, swords, swivel guns, and knives because they were mobile and could be shot at a distance, while also threatening at close range with the bayonet attached to it. The muskets of the American Revolution were muzzle loaders, which means they required the shooter to load the ammunition directly into the barrel, aim, and then fire. This process only allowed between two and four shots per minute, depending on the soldiers proficiency. Although these weapons were deadly, it still took a great deal of marksmanship to fatally wound a target. In fact, most soldiers could only fire a weapon in a short of amount of time before bringing on the bayonet charge. Bayonet charges were the most feared, because of the dull penetration and the triangular shape caused as it ruptured and destroyed all of the soft tissues and vital organs within a given target. The bayonet is still used by modern infantries, despite the evolving power and accuracy behind most modern rifles.

  • Outfitting an American Revolutoinary Soldier: A descriptive outlook on how each of the American Revolutionary soldiers prepared and fitted themselves for combat, including the muskets, rifles, small arms, artillery, uniforms, hunting equipment and food supply stored during winter months.

  • Amazing Women During the American Revolution: An extensive article that describes the important role that women played during the American Revolution, and what they contributed to breaking free from the British monarchy.

  • The War of the Revolution 1775 to 1783: A comprehensive article detailing the important events of the American Revolution with pictures of the weapons used during the quest for freedom.

  • Dutch Arms in the American Revolution: An extensive article covering the Dutch arms used in the American Revolution, including the Pennsylvania Rifle.

Which of the following is NOT one of the "Three Ws" that should be included in every hunting plan?

What firearm you are hunting with.
Who you are with.
When you are returning.
Where you are going.


What technique can be described as "slow, patient movement of the hunter into shooting position after game has been located"?

Stand Hunting
Still Hunting


Which species is there federal hunting laws for?

Wood Duck
Ring-knecked pheasant
Snowshoe hare
White-tailed Deer


Which field carry provides the most firearm control?



Which choice is NOT recommended when approaching downed wildlife?

Approach quietly from behind.
Poke animal gently with a stick.
Touch the eye gently, if there's no reaction, animal is usually dead.
Shoot it again before approaching to make sure it is dead.


What is the technique known as "driving"?

One hunter sitting in a blind waiting for game to come along.
One hunter moving slowly and patiently into shooting position after game has been located.
One or more pushers walk through an area trying to move game ahead of them into areas wehre blockers are waiting.
One hunter driving a vehicle and a second hunter in the back set shooting through the open window.


Scouting an area you want to hunt should include:

Walk around the area on opening day with your firearm or bow.
Walk around the area looking for animal movements and signs.
Look at maps and aerial photos of the area.
Answers B and C.


Which of the following is NOT a reason why you should develop a hunting plan for every hunt?

So friends and family know how to contact you in case of emergency.
So you can use your hunting plan to start a fire if you get lost.
So fellow hunters know where you are located.
So friends and family know where you can be found in case of a hunting accident.


Which of these items should be on every checklist included in your hunting plan?

Hunting license


Which of these does NOT violate a hunting safety rule?

Carrying a loaded firearm in a vehicle.
Keeping your finger on the trigger while stalking game.
Two hunters shooting at the same game.
Identifying what lies beyond an identified target.