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The Roman Candle Rifle


by NRA Staff

In an age of single-shot arms, repeaters tend to stand out. But few stood out as much as the unusual multishot flintlock rifle invented by Isaiah Jennings of New York City. The Jennings repeater, built around 1818, mustered an impressive 12-shot capacity, even if each combination of powder and ball had to be tamped down atop preceding loads.

To fire, the moveable lock mechanism, fitted with a priming reservoir, is slid into place starting at the front and working backwards over the separate touchholes, each fitted with a swiveling cover that aligns the lock and positions it for ignition. For a gun of that era, the Jennings had some novel features including a quick-detachable barrel and buttstock. Could this rifle have fired multiple charges simultaneously like a malfunctioning Roman candle firework? It is unknown whether this very rare example, which bears serial No. 1, ever had that issue.

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