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Firearms in the Appalachian Artifacts Collections

Eight selected firearms described by Student Curator Matt Heil

Useful Specialized Firearm Terms

These terms are useful for understanding the descriptions in this guide.  


Breechloading: A firearm (usually single shot) made to load using a cartridge inserted into the back end of the barrel (breech). 

Carbine: A long-arm with a barrel shorter than 24 inches, typically meant for cavalry use.

Musket:  A military long-arm, typically smoothbore and muzzleloading, of large caliber (.58 and above) with a barrel usually at least 35” in length.

Muzzleloading: A firearm that loads from the muzzle (front of the barrel) using loose powder and bullet and is externally primed (fired).

Patent Cartridge:  An externally primed but otherwise self-contained (ie, has bullet, powder and cartridge case all in one package) cartridge patented for use in a specific, breechloading firearm. Patent cartridges are usually limited to the era of intense firearms experimentation from 1840 to 1865.

Trade Gun:  Economy-priced guns built to a generic (and usually somewhat older) pattern from commonly available parts, built in large numbers to be sold through mail order catalogs and local hardware stores, ie “the trade”.