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The Afghan Long Rifle or Traditional Jezail

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The Afghan Long Rifle, or more commonly known in the West as a “Jezail” struck free into General Elphinstone’s combined British and Indian Army of 1841 and 1842 as soldiers were shot down from hundreds of meters beyond the effective range of their own smoothbore muskets. The Afghan Long Rifle was unlike many flintlock rifles at the time in that it had an extremely long barrel and a curved stock unlike many European designs. Although it didn’t originate in Afghanistan, it quickly became known as uniquely Afghan in the many conflicts with the British in the mid-1800s. Because of the weight, stock, and long barrel, the rifle was not meant to be fired from an offhand position and instead was essentially a benchrest gun. Rather than a detriment, this favored the Afghans who fired upon the British from the advantage of the hills where they could rest the rifle on rocks and other terrain features. Along with this method of employment, the Afghans were able to be sufficiently accurate out to 500 meters as some accounts explain. This put the British infantry with their 100-150 meter effective range smooth bore Brown Bess’s at a very distinct disadvantage, especially while in massed columns at the base of a mountain valley. In fact the only arm that the British could effectively fire back at the Afghans were their wheeled field guns. But these were almost useless against an entire hillside of Pashtun tribesmen scattered behind rocks for cover. 

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Afghan Long Rifle

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