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Daniel Boone And The Kentucky Long Rifle

By Col. Carlis B. Wilson

Have you ever thought about how Daniel Boone and others survived the wilderness as frontiersmen? What weapons were used for survival and the ever day hunting and trapping events? In our study of the early exploration of the wilderness we find the rifle/s of the noted Daniel Boone to be the Kentucky Long Rifle. This rifle was about as noteworthy as Mr. Boone himself.

Early German immigrants brought with them the Jaeger rifle and from that firearm was developed the Kentucky rifle of the Revolutionary War. Rivaling the Brown Bess flintlock in the war of Independence was this legendary Kentucky rifle.

Somewhat smaller in caliber but concisely higher in accuracy, the Brown Bess was mostly a close range weapon. The Kentucky long rifle had a much longer range of accuracy, therefore making it a good weapon for greater distance from the enemy. This legendary flintlock rifle was made in Pennsylvania circa 1760 by skilled craftsman from Germany, Austria and possibly Switzerland.

The Kentucky long rifle was carried by Daniel Boone
It is possible that Daniel Boone could have owned the KLR when he was in his teens growing up in the Yadkin Valley before he married Rebecca Bryan. However when he made his first hunting trip to Kentucky is it almost certain that he had the so-called Kentucky rifle over his shoulder.

Boone and Findley
It was six years later that Daniel Boone, John Findley and friends set out for Kentucky from the Yadkin Valley in North Carolina where he had farmed, hunted and trapped for food, furs and deerskins. Daniel Boone and John Findley met up when they served as teamsters under General Edward Braddock in the year of 1775. Some time later on another hunting trip in the Appalachians. Daniel and Findley meet up again. At that meeting, Findley tells Daniel about Kentucky. Some time later John Findley pays a visit to the Boones at the family homestead. After a short stay with the Boones, Daniel and Findley set out for the Great Warriors Path. Finally some weeks later Boone and Findley reached the Cumberland Gap. Their horseback journey through the Cumberland Gap was a welcome site. Rolling hills, bluegrass, green forest with towering mountains, deer, elk, bear, beaver and turkey in abundance. Later they were to find herds of buffalo. Kentucky was all that John Findley had said.

Blazing The Trail
After a two years of hunting in the great wilderness of Kentucky and some other events, Daniel met another friend who was interested in Kentucky. That friend was Richard Henderson who was trying to strike a deal with the Indians for Kentucky. Henderson had hired Daniel Boone to clear a trail to the Kentucky River, which would become the Wilderness Road. When Daniel got word to start blazing the trail, he and 30 axe men began felling trees and clearing the trail. Most likely they followed the buffalo trace and Indian paths making the shortest and easiest way to what would become Boonesborough.

Why The Early Settlers Favored The Kentucky Long Rifle?
here were other accurate flint lock rifles available. However, the Kentucky Long Rifle was about half the weight of the other rifles, due to the smaller .40 caliber balls. The barrel and stock was much smaller because of the smaller caliber ball. The Kentucky Long Rifle weighed about 10 pounds. A pouch of .40 caliber balls and plenty of gun power was more desirable on a long hunting trip in Kentucky and westward. However, there were heavier caliber rifles use for hunting buffalo. This noted rifle was made in larger caliber for big game hunting. The 45 inch barrel was the average, although there was other lengths. The long rifle became the primary weapon of the frontiersmen, especially in the then remote and dangerous wilds of Kentucky. This extensive use in Kentucky led to the adoption of the name Kentucky. The Kentucky Long Rifle was produced for one century and has been copied by other gun makers. For more history of the Kentucky Long Rifle, visit my web site at:

This story was posted on 2004-07-19 13:28:40
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