Collections › MESDA Collection › Long Rifle

Long Rifle

Place Made:
Wythe or Pulaski County Virginia United States of America
Date Made:
maple, iron
LOA: 63 1/4 ; L of barrel 42 7/8;
Accession Number:
DESCRIPTION: Full-length octagon barrel. Iron mounted. Iron patchbox with connected diamond head. Relief work on butt-stock. On right side, worn pin escutcheon nearest to muzzle. Missing all pin escutcheons on left except a worn pin in second position closest to side plate. One screw on barrel tang. Iron side plate. Iron trigger guard. Double-set triggers.

STYLE: The rifle is probably from Wythe County, Virginia. It is one of only a few known iron-mounted and carved American rifles. (Carving usually only occurred on brass-mounted rifles.) The iron-mounted rifles were popular in the mountain sections of the South from Tennessee to western North Carolina. Although this rifle relates most heavily to the Southwest Virginia School, it also has direct links to the central Valley and to Winchester, especially in the carving.

HONAKER RIFLES: Although this rifle is of an earlier period, the architecture and several other details are strongly linked to a nineteenth-century family of gunsmiths in the Wythe area by the name of Honaker. Honaker rifles, which are often superbly carved and inlaid, exhibit the same peculiar “stepped wrist” which would seem to be related initially to the same form in Europe. Also linked with the Honakers are the large side-plate, which takes the form of the lock-plate on the opposite sde of the stock, and the buttplate extension, which tapers from two angles.

RELATED WORKS: For two related works, see The Kentucky Rifle: A True American Heritage in Picture (The Kentucky Rifle Association: Washington, 1967), pages 39 and 59. The first illustration is a Honaker rifle, c. 1820-1825, the only other carved iron-mounted rifle known in the South. The second is a rifle signed “J. Montague” with carving that relates strongly to this iron-mount rifle, although the Montegue piece has a closer link with Winchester.

Barrel opening is 3/8″ (38 caliber)

HISTORY: According to a 1970 letter from Wallace Gusler, the rifle was originally aquired in Covington, Virginia from Howard Sites collected locally ca. 1960.

Credit Line:
MESDA Purchase Fund