Mountain Men and Life in the Rocky

Subject Guide


Mountain West

Malachite’s Big Hole

Muskets and Scatterguns:

These are smoothbore long guns which could fire either a ball, capable of bringing down a deer or elk, or shot, either buckshot or birdshot for smaller game.  Because of poor accuracy beyond 50 to 60 yards, muskets loaded with ball were generally not preferred for large game.  Muskets comprised a significant portion of the firearms taken by Lewis and Clark on their Journey of Discovery.  In 1803 the standard U.S. military weapon was the flintlock model 1795, a smoothbore capable of firing both shot and round ball.  Lewis and Clark were able to obtain fifteen of the first rifles specifically designed for the U.S. Military, the Harpers Ferry Model 1803, .54 caliber and with a 33-inch barrel length.  

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