Rifle Vs Musket

I read awhile back that the Minutemen often showed up with "rifles", which had a better range/accuracy than the British muskets. But I didn't understand why the British would have inferior weapons, unless it was some procurement scam.

Then I found out that the Americans were issuing muskets instead of rifles as the army became more established. So I was even more confused.

What I now understand

  • any reference to a rifle implies that it has a rifled barrel. This technology was developed in the 15th Century (Renaissance), although the precision required for its effective manufacture kept it out of the hands of infantrymen for another three and a half centuries.

  • the benefit of the musket was that it could be reloaded more quickly, allowing for more frequent firing

    • the reason for the reloading speed is that, to take advantage of the rifling, the ball would have to fit more tightly into the rifle barrel. The associated friction slows down the reloading. The original muzzle-loading rifle, with a closely fitting ball to take the rifling grooves, was loaded with difficulty, particularly when foul, and for this reason was not generally used for military purposes. Even with the advent of rifling the bullet itself didn't change, but was wrapped in a leather patch to grip the rifling grooves.

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