Rifles vs. Muskets

Muskets are smoothbore black powder firearms that are easily loaded through the barrel. This allows are fire rate of 3 to 4 rounds a minute. Effective range is about 100 yards. The musket is a short stocky weapon that can mount a bayonet and still be a very effective weapon. American troops liked to use the musket as a club in hand-to-hand combat and at a weight of 10 to 15 pounds it was a sturdy weapon as such.

Rifles are a lighter and about 8 to 12 inch longer black powder firearm. The rifle is too light to effectively mount a bayonet or be used as a club. The barrel of a rifle is grooved. The groves improve accuracy (by spinning the ball) and have a effective range 3 times that of the musket. The bullet of the rifle had to fit in tightly in the barrel (to use the groves) and the ramrod had to be hammered to get the bullet in contact with the black powder. Fire rates were 1 to 2 rounds per minute. Lacking a bayonet, US riflemen carried tomahawks for close in defense. Despite this short coming, the rifle was a favored weapon for light US skirmishing troops and sharpshooters.