The Rifle

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The Rifle
Rifle cover.jpg
Author Gary Paulsen
Cover artist Jennifer Jackman (photograph © Stockbyte/Getty)
Country United States
Language English
Subject U.S. history, rifles
Genre historical fiction
Publisher Bantam Doubleday
Publication date
Pages 112
ISBN 0-440-21920-5

The Rifle is a 1995 novel by American writer Gary Paulsen.[1] The novel is a work of historical fiction, written for a young adult audience. The story focuses on the history of a rifle crafted prior to the American Revolution, and on the lives of its various owners until the present day. Although Paulsen romanticizes the creation and the uniqueness of the rifle, the novel provides a sober reminder the importance of handling guns responsibly.[2]


The novel begins prior to the American Revolution. A gunsmith named Cornish McManus, inspired by a piece of maple stock, crafts a rifle which turns out to be exceedingly accurate. Later, McManus is forced to sell the rifle, which comes into the ownership of a soldier in the Revolution named John Byam. After Byam's death, the rifle passes to a woman named Sarah, who stores it in an attic, where it is forgotten. The rifle passes through several owners, being lost, rediscovered, and sold as an antique. It ultimately comes to rest on the mantle of a mechanic named Harv, before it fires and kills a child.[1]


Kirkus Reviews described the novel as being "as shattering as the awful events it depicts", while holding appeal for readers on both sides of the gun control debate.[3]


  1. ^ a b Paulsen, Gary. The Rifle. Harcourt Books. ISBN 0-440-21920-5. 
  2. ^ ""The Rifle," by Gary Paulson". Inkweaver Review. Retrieved 2009-11-16. 
  3. ^ "The Rifle". Kirkus Reviews. September 1, 1995. Retrieved 2 December 2014. 

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