Although you may not know its name, the Afghan Jezail rifle is instantly recognizable as an exotic firearm unique to Afghani cultural history.
The Afghan Jezail rifle is exotic in every respect, and is as much a cultural and historical marker as are turban-headed Arabs atop camels with scimitars poking through their waistbands.
Here, Ian from Forgotten Weapons gives a brief though thorough description and history of one such firearm.
Most noteworthy for its exaggerated curved butt-stock and long barrel, this muzzleloading weapon is immediately recognizable to most people. These firearms were mostly handmade affairs, with intricately and highly personalized adornment. They were largely built from the action or lock on up, with ornately engraved and embedded barrels and stocks.
The curved stock is, of course, its most distinguishing characteristic. The practical use of this stock is somewhat debated, as it is thought by some to offer a better sighting picture as its pistol-like application brings the head closer to the rear sight. However, that is debated as the shooter’s face is thought by others to be much too close to the matchlock or flintlock firing mechanism, which would have thrown sparks into the face.
Others believe that the crook of the stock made carrying the rifle easier by allowing it be comfortably folded under the arm while riding atop a camel. It may have also cut down on the overall weight of these very heavy black powder, large bore guns.
In any event, Afghan warriors used these firearms to great effect against the British in the Anglo-Afghan Wars of the 19th century. Afghan snipers were able to cause significant damage to British troops with the long range jezail rifle.
Tales of those wars were recounted in both literature and early films, and that is how they came to be much recognized, respected and feared by the broader public.
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