Strong, front-line unit of the Industrial Era. Upgrades from a Musketman only (/). In the base game, a Longswordsman unit will also do, as without the expansions, these precursors are of equal strength.
The Rifleman is the result of a significant upgrade in small firearms technology during the late Renaissance/early Industrial Era. The invention of new loading systems allows a unit to shoot many more bullets per minute than with earlier weapons, and a new design of the barrel of the gun gives its projectile a much greater boring force. The soldiers that use these new rifles are substantially more powerful than Musketmen, giving the army of a civilization with Riflemen a big advantage over armies that don't have them yet.
Still, like earlier infantry units, the Riflemen remain vulnerable against ranged barrages, as well as hit-and-run cavalry attacks.
A rifle is a firearm designed to be fired from the shoulder. The inside of the barrel has "rifled" grooves designed to spin the projectile as it is fired, giving it greater range and accuracy than an unrifled projectile. The earliest attempts at rifled barrels in Europe occurred in the 15th century, but difficulties in manufacturing kept it from general use until the 19th. American frontiersmen had rifles in the American War of Independence. British and American skirmishers and scouts were equipped with rifled muskets during the Napoleonic Wars and the War of 1812, but the weapons' slower loading time kept them out of the hands of the regular infantry for some years further.
The invention of the "minie ball" greatly reduced loading time, and by the American Civil War rifled muskets were in use in all major European armies. By the end of the Civil War the rifled musket was rendered obsolete by the breech-loading repeating rifle, which had a firing rate of perhaps one shot a second (as fast as one could cock the lever and pull the trigger), compared to the muzzle-loading rifle's firing rate of perhaps 20 to 30 seconds per shot for a well-trained soldier.
The uniform of the Rifleman model appears to be based off the French Army uniform of the Second French Empire, given the blue uniform in the picture and the distinctive kepi. This uniform proved so popular that the United States Army adopted it as their official uniform for a time, and it is recognized for its use in the Crimean War, U.S. Civil War, French Intervention in Mexico, Indian Wars and many other conflicts. It remained in service with the French Army into World War I.