The M1819 Hall rifle was an early breechloading rifle created by gun inventor John Hall. The rifle was designed in 1811 and production began in 1819.
The rifle is famous for being one of the first percussion rifles adopted for service by the US army. It is also notable for being one the first guns to have fully interchangable parts.
In the early 1800's the rifle were mainly flintlock muzzleloading rifles which were cumbersome to load as the shooter had to go through several steps to load a bullet through the rifle muzzle. In 1811 John Hall invented a new rifle, which could be loaded through the breech making it faster and easier to load than muzzleloaders. The powder and bullet would be loaded in from the breech giving it the name breechloader. Hall's rifle was not the first breechloader, the Ferguson beechloading rifle was made in the 1770's by the British, it could be loaded by pulling down a breechplug allowing powder and a bullet to be inserted in. Henry the 8th had two breechloaders for hunting in 1537 but they were very unpractical.
In 1819 the first Hall rifles were produced in Harpers ferry Virginia. While other gun inventors such as Samual Colt and Whitney are creditted for making guns with interchangable parts it was really John Hall who came up with the idea of interchangable parts first.
The rifle could be loaded by pushing a small lever pushing the breech up and load in a paper cartridge, cap the nipple and the rifle could be fired, it was a improvement over the musket.By the 1820's the percussion cap was introduced making flintlock mechanism's which had been state of the art for two hundred years became obsolete. In 1833 the Hall's rifle carbine was introduced, it was shorter than the rifle version and was in caplock making it more efficient. Whlie a well trained soldier could fire 3 shots a minute with a muzzleloading musket, the Hall's rifle was capable of firing 8 to 10 shots a minute. Originally manufactured in .58 caliber, a .52 caliber version was introduced in 1836. Over 7,000 Hall-North carbines were manufactured between 1834 and 1839. In 1834, North received a contract to produce 1,000 of these carbines for use by Dragoons. These were the first percussion arms in the world to be adopted for military use. Additional Dragoon regiments would also be armed with the Hall-North carbine. These carbines would be the first percussion rifle adopted by the United states army.
Despite its advantages the Hall rifle was not perfect. The breech did not have a tight seal and hot gases would escape. It was also an expensive gun to make when compared to muzzleoaders, despite its problems the US Army purchased many Hall rifles and carbines, using them in the Mexican American war of the 1840's. Although the Springfield model 1842 musket was used in greater numbers compared to the Hall rifle.
When production ceased in the late 1840's many good conditioned Hall rifles and carbines lay in storage in Harpers ferry's armory and many others armories across Southern states.
In 1861 as the American civil war started, both the Union and the Confedaracy used some Hall rifles at the start of the conflict but only in small numbers until superior weapons were at their disposal. Although some were used by Union snipers.
During the war a new breechloading rifle was designed by John Hall's former assistent, Christian Sharps made his own breechloader. It became known as the Sharps rifle and was a major improvement over the old Hall rifle and it became one of the most widely used rifles of the war.