How Well Do You Know the Most Iconic Rifles in American History?


John Miller

6 Min Quiz

What sort of gun is the American Long Rifle?

The American Long Rifle refers to some of the earliest guns used for hunting and fighting in North America. They were all of the musket-loading variety.


What was one key distinction between American Long Rifles and related rifles from England?

American Long Rifles were aptly named, because they featured very long barrels, far longer than those from England. Some barrels were nearly 50 inches long.


True or false, were American Long Rifles mostly smoothbore guns?

The name of the guns should tell you that these firearms had rifled barrels, which added spin (and better flight characteristics) to the projectile.


American Long Rifles were accurate to what distance?

Thanks to its rifling, an experienced shooter could use one of these long rifles to nail targets about 200 yards away -- twice the distance of a smoothbore gun.


The M1819 Hall rifle was the first _____ to be adopted by any army.

The M1819 Hall rifle, made by John Hancock Hall, was the first breech-loading rifle ever to be adopted by a country's army in significant numbers.


The U.S. Model 1841 Rifle was better known by which nickname?

During the Mexican-American War, Jefferson Davis' men (from Mississippi) used the Model 1841. Among troops, it quickly became known as the "Mississippi Rifle."


The Mark V is an iconic rifle made by which company?

In the 1950s, Roy Weatherby set out to make a high-powered rifle that could shoot very large cartridges. He came up with the Mark V, which even decades later is still regarded as a masterpiece.


What sort of gun is the Weatherby Mark V?

The Mark V is a stout bolt-action rifle. The bolt action was necessary in order to make the gun safe for very high-powered loads.


What is a famous nickname for the Sharps Model 1853 Single Shot Breechloading Percussion Carbine?

In the 1850s, preacher Henry Ward Beecher shipped big boxes of "bibles" (actually Sharps rifles) to John Brown, an abolitionist in the area of Kansas. The idea was to keep the Midwest territories free of slavery.


Regarding the Sharps rifles he shipped to John Brown, what did preacher Henry Ward Beecher say? "There there was more moral power in one Sharps carbine than in ____."

Beecher might have been a man of God, but he realized the power of force in rectifying social ills. He said there was more moral power in one Sharps than in 100 bibles.


Which side officially adopted the Spencer repeating rifle during the Civil War?

The Union cavalry adopted the Spencer repeating rifle during the bloodiest war in American history. There was also a shorter version (the carbine) that was easier to swing around on a crowded battlefield.


The Spencer repeating rifle allowed Union troops to shoot ____ times for every single shot fired by Confederate troops armed with muskets.

The Spencer allowed Union troops to shoot about 20 times for every shot that a musket shooter managed. The dramatic increase in firepower offered major advantages in some battles.


The 1866 Winchester Rifle was originally often called the "improved _____."

The 1866 Winchester Rifle took the famed Henry repeating rifle design and set out to improve it. So when it finally hit the market, a lot of buyers simply called it the "improved Henry."


What sort of gun was the 1866 Winchester Rifle?

Like so many guns made famous in the Old West, the Winchester rifle was a lever-action legend. It also loaded on the breech end instead of the muzzle-style magazine that was so common at the time.


What was a common nickname for the 1866 Winchester Rifle?

The 1866 had a receiver made out of a brass/bronze alloy that lent a yellow color to the final product. It was frequently called the "Yellow Boy."


What sort of firearm was the "messenger's gun," which stagecoach drivers used in the Old West?

In the Old West, double-barrel shotguns were a common firearm. They were great for hunting … and also for fending off bandits who might attack you at any moment.


The 1874 Sharps Rifle is often called the ______ rifle.

The 1874 Sharps Rifle is often called the "buffalo rifle," as its large caliber was handy in taking down American bison. Hide hunters used these guns to decimate the bison population.


What sort of cartridge did the Sharps buffalo rifle fire?

The Sharps rifle fired a huge .50-90 cartridge for the express purpose of taking down large animals like the bison. In the right hands, these bullets could hit targets more than 1,500 yards away.


Which gun is often called "The Gun the Won the West"?

The Winchester Rifle was one of the first commercially successful repeating rifles. On the wild frontier, it excelled as a hunting weapon and for defense, too, one reason it was called "The Gun That Won the West."


Christopher Spencer, hoping to sell his repeating rifle to the Union Army, managed to demonstrate his weapon to which person?

Spencer managed to arrange a demonstration for Abraham Lincoln, after which the president greenlighted the project. The problem? Lincoln's subordinates disobeyed his orders and stuck with single-shot weapons.


Why did the North's war department initially deny purchases of Spencer repeating rifles, knowing these guns were much faster than older versions?

Old-timey thinking prevailed for a while in the war department, which anticipated that troops armed with Spencers would fritter away their bullets. Eventually, though, officials realized that they were missing out on war-changing technology.


The M1903 Springfield was a standard service rifle during which conflict?

The M1903 is a bolt-action rifle that saw major action during the First World War. It used a five-round magazine and weighed just under 9 pounds.


The M1903 Springfield was outdated by the time WWII rolled around, so why was it distributed to troops during that war?

The M1903 wasn't cut out for WWII combat … but there just weren't enough guns to arm American troops. So many of them were stuck with a WWI-era service rifle.


Which rifle supplanted the M1903 as the standard rifle during WWII?

The M1 Garand was the standard service rifle of choice for Americans during WWII. It had an 8-round clip and fired .30-caliber cartridges.


How was the M1 Garand perceived by troops during WWII?

The M1 was a very solid rifle that earned rave reviews. General Patton called it "the greatest battle implement ever devised."


True or false, was America's the only standing army in the world that had a semi-automatic service rifle in the late 1930s?

It's true, the M1 Garand was a fast semi-auto rifle in a world still hobbling along with bolt-action artifacts. When the U.S. finally made it to battle, the M1 was a star.


Which military rifle became a staple of U.S. troops in Vietnam?

The M16 was a newfangled, futuristic weapons when it arrived in Vietnam. It mostly performed well in spite of the horrendous jungle conditions.


Why did early variants of the M16 gain a poor reputation?

In a typical Army screwup, the M16 was designed for one kind of gunpowder, but Army orders specified another. The result? The M16 just didn't work properly until the problem was rectified.


How was the Winchester Model 1886 received by buyers?

The Winchester Model 1886 was a vast improvement on the lever-action category, capable of firing high-power Old West cartridges. It would be years before any company approached the 1886's quality and strength.


The 1895 Winchester Rifle used what?

The 1895 Winchester Rifle was the first large rifle meant for big game, one that also leveraged next-generation smokeless gunpowder. They were popular with lawmen of the Old West, as well as some soldiers.


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About This Quiz

If America is built on guns, then rifles are the I-beams that put the nation on world maps. Without rifles, early colonists would’ve struggled to feed and defend themselves. Sans rifles, conquering the Old West would’ve been an altogether different challenge. And without rifles, the country’s wars would’ve taken a very different turn.

Do you know what made the American Long Rifle so different from its brethren? And do you have any idea how important these distinctively American firearms were to the earliest Americans?

Some of the most famous names in manufacturing built the rifles that made America. We’re talking, of course, about companies like Winchester, Spencer and Springfield, all of which made significant contributions to rifles of the United States.

Can you pick the hunting rifles from the ones that made it into military service? And do you recall which of these famous rifles were distributed during the worst wars the world has ever witnessed?

American rifles weren’t just copycat models stolen from other countries. Homegrown designers tweaked and innovated to their hearts’ content, sometimes stumbling upon advances that turned the rifle-manufacturing industry upside down. Do you know which rifles captured the public’s imagination?

Rifles aren’t just guns. They’re symbols of independence and self-reliance. So take aim at our iconic American rifle quiz and see if you have what it takes to blast our questions to oblivion!

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