If you're heading to the Washington, D.C., area for a family vacation this summer, a trip to the NRA National Firearms Museum should absolutely be on your itinerary. With more than 2,400 historically-significant firearms on display, the museum does a masterful job of illustrating the critical role firearms have played throughout American history.
In that regard, the museum has just opened a new, albeit temporary, exhibit that pays homage to the Kentucky rifle, the common name for the American longrifle that helped to secure American independence and settle the frontier.
The exhibit, titled The Kentucky Rifle, A Complete Narrative 1750-1850, spans from the classic American longarm's pre-Revolutionary War origins to the onset of the American Civil War.
"Our new exhibit features twenty exceptional American longrifles thanks to a generous loan from the Kentucky Rifle Foundation," said NRA Museums Director Jim Supica. "The longrifle is an important part of our heritage, being both the first American firearm and an art form in its own right. This is truly a significant and welcome addition to the National Firearms Museum."
"Kentucky rifle" is the common name for the American longrifle produced during the 18th and 19th centuries. Originating in the 1740s from German "Jaeger" rifles, the Kentucky rifle was an essential tool for frontiersmen. By the 1760s, the rifle had evolved into a uniquely American firearm, possessing improved accuracy over contemporary rifles thanks to modified rifling and a long barrel. Although appearing in advertisements from the early 1800s, the name "Kentucky rifle" was popularized by the 1822 ballad "The Hunters of Kentucky" commemorating the final major battle of the War of 1812, the Battle of New Orleans.
The Kentucky Rifle, A Complete Narrative 1750-1850 is a continuation of the Kentucky Rifle Foundation's primary mission of preserving the heritage of the Kentucky rifle through educational displays open to the general public. Open now, the exhibit will be on display until May 15, 2015. The NRA National Firearms Museum is located inside NRA headquarters in Fairfax, Va. For more information, visit NRAmuseum.org.