Photo WV Legislative Services

Proposed state firearm on display at state capitol


The state Senate adopted a resolution on Friday which would create an official West Virginia State Firearm.   The choice is the Hall Model 1819 Flintlock Rifle.

Senator John Unger proposed the resolution and had one of the rare rifles on hand in the Senate Chamber Friday, loaned by the National Park Service in Harper’s Ferry. 

“The Hall Flintlock Model of 1819 was the first breechloaded rifle to be adopted by any nation’s military,”  said Unger. “Hall’s rifle had a block at the breech that could be lifted out and allow the operator to insert the powder and bullet.  It was faster and easier to load.”

The firearm was produced at the National Armory in Harper’s Ferry by John H. Hall.  It was adopted for use by the US Army in 1819 and was one of the standard firearms for US Army infantry all the way through the Civil War.

“John Hall’s rifle was the first entirely machine made weapon ever devised,” Unger told lawmakers in touting the resolution. “This is a very historic rifle and my understanding is there are only three known to be in existence.”

The rifle from the Harper’s Ferry National Historic Park is still fired at least once a year.   Unger said the rifle pictured on the state seal is believed to be a Hall Model 1819 Flintlock.

Members of the Senate unanimously approved the resolution.

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  • Sondra

    My gunsmith husband says that this rifle was a great choice ! WTG WV state legislature !There is at least one gun the Feds can't confiscate when/if they decide to.

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  • Stephen Ripley

    unger will do anything to garner a few votes!

  • Robert

    Oh i definitely agree with you that there is no such thing as "the best", but there is definitely a hierarchy. And I'm suggesting that the professors at the tippity top of the hierarchy expand their classrooms by extension of online lectures, and rid ourselves of the bottom of the hierarchy. And if the lecture seems to be moving too fast, you have the option of slowing it down, rewinding, etc. And there will still be a teacher/tutor in the room for Q&A session if needed. But if you check out the online discussion forums, basically any question you may have can be easily answered there.

    I had some wonderful teachers growing up, and I hate to think of this in terms of replacing them, but it is definitely possible and i would fully support it. And kids who cannot afford private schools would have the same educational experiences as their more fortunate peers in such a system. The financial savings would be TREMENDOUS for the state, and I think the education would be much better. And it is at our fingertips. We could start with a small trial in a struggling school, if successful expand that, and so forth. My guess is that the general public's fear of technology and resistance towards eliminating teaching positions would prevent this from ever happening. But it still excites me just thinking about it, haha.

  • Wowbagger

    I'll give this a try, but I have doubts as I have very little regard for someone featured as the "best teacher". Unfortunately I have about 50 years in as an impartial observer of the educational process from nearby, but not personally involved.

    Bottom line: Bureaucracies make determinations like "the best" based on less than objective criteria.

  • Robert

    I believe the real solution to the education problem lies in a little thing called Coursera. It was started by Stanford University, and now has nearly 50 more top universities involved. This can and will be extended down to high schools. It is best that we get on board earlier rather than later.

    Imagine having the best professors in the country teaching you, in every course that you take. Teachers will still be present for Q&A, but a very limited role actually teaching. But the kids will literally have the best teachers in the country, and everyone will be on an equal playing field. By the way, think of all the money saved by implementing this.

    I highly encourage everyone to check this site out right now while it is still free (free learning, yeah!). Just google search coursera. There are so many classes to chose from, there is bound to be something you are interested in.

  • Robert

    Should have chosen a Nerf gun.

  • Chris Lawrence

    I think you are correct. Senator Unger mentioned the use of the gun as pistol during his floor speech .

  • Wowbagger


    You have the wrong discussion but on the topic of the school system: West Virginia had a pretty good school system, at least in some counties, and these Bozos messed it up. Why do you think more or less the same Bozos will now fix it?

    None of these legislators have the political will to really fix the system. You need to get teachers out of the legislature and explore private school vouchers to create some real competition. Then give power back to the Boards of Education and school personnel. Finally see what is working and replicate it statewide.

    Oh, eliminate the very wasteful and obscenely well paid state Department of Education and staff.

  • Wowbagger

    The last time I checked Harpers Ferry is still in West Virginia. It was the Second National Armory after the Springfield Armory (not really related to the 1911, XD, XDM, and M1A manufacturer). Due to it's location more or less on the border during the Civil War and John Brown's Raid and subsequent execution Harper's Ferry Armory is a very well known facility by both military historians and others.

    The two best known products at the Harpers Ferry Amory were the Harper's Ferry M1803 rifle and (drum roll please) the M1918 Hall Flintlock Rifle! This rifle all by itself is an important part of West Virginia's history.

    I do understand that rough parts for this rifle are available, but you might need to finish it yourself and rare doesn't eliminate the possibility of finding more of these somewhere.

  • thornton

    The West Virginia state soil is the Monongahela is not found in every county.
    So, perhaps it should not be the state soil....or, it sets a precedent of sorts.

    Then again, they could have picked the Pennsylvania Long Rifle as the West Virginia state rifle.

  • tiredofallthestupidity

    Seems ok to pick a that we have, let's get some new college grads to take over for the teachers with 20 yrs experience.why doesn't someone look at the states with a proven track record of things that work in the education system. Its time the government stopped wasting money on dumb things and fixed the real problems. What else can they waste time on.

  • Ragweed

    This is all ok, but why not pick a rifle that was used as a bigger part of our state history? Pick one that is more easily found that people could purchase for their collection, not one that is so unique.

    By selecting this one, I'll probably never be able to find one for my collection. I'd like to know of three instances of where this rifle was used in our state history - the mine wars? The Hatfield - McCoy fued? Home defense? If a rifle is'nt common enough to have been used in situations like this, it shouldn't be picked as our state rifle.

  • thornton

    That may be the single oddest and saddest response I have ever read.

  • Wowbagger

    Every gun on the gun racks in the accompanying video is clearly a military "assault weapon" and should be on Feinstein's list!

  • Wowbagger


    So you would object to recognizing say Dr. Jonas Salk for his landmark work with Polio, Werner Von Braun for his work with rockets, or Henry Ford for developing the production line because this work was done in "days gone by"?

  • GW

    Leave it to WV to glorify a symbol of days gone by.

  • Wowbagger


    Frequently the guy who gets the most publicity gets credit in the history books. See Edwin L. Drake as a prime example. Based on brine wells and oil seeps several places in the region dating back to George Washington's observations Drake had a pretty good idea that if he drilled a well where he did black gooey stuff would come up and ultimately make him famous.

  • thornton

    Unless I am mistaken, the breech block supposedly could be removed as used as a poor imitation of a pocket pistol.
    An advanced design mostly lacking an effective gas seal.
    I would question the three known number but...perhaps...I think some 30K were made, flint and conversions to percussion.

    Yes, Mr.Whitney was late.

  • Wowbagger

    From what I read this rifle might well have been the first to be built with interchangable parts. If this is true this isn't just an interesting gun, but a landmark in the development of the entire modern manufacturing process!

  • Uncle Unctuous

    Miss Prissy! Miss Prissy! Ah feel faint! The guv'mint gon' come and take mah gun, Ah just know it! What'll Ah do, Rhett?

  • Teufel

    Awesome, but I worry that Feinstien and friends will head to Harpers Ferry and confiscate that gun

  • Rachel

    I believe this was done this year due to our state's 150th birthday and celebrating our history.

  • Matt

    Bout time WV glorified its heritage and our nations second amendment. Cool deal guys!

  • stophating

    It is great to see the WV State Senate taking up such important issues. They have clearly solved all of the state's problems if they are engaging in trivial matters such as this. Congrats to the WV State Senate on finishing work so early, now go home.