The first long-range sniper rifle, the Whitworth was designed by British inventor Sir Joseph Whitworth in 1854.
Sir Joseph set about designing a rifle barrel that would both instill greater spin on a bullet (in order to improve accuracy), and reduce friction (to improve range). His innovative solution was to manufacture a twisted, hexagonal barrel with a matching hexagonal bullet. The twist in the barrel provided the spin, while the hexagonal shape reduced the friction. The result was an amazingly accurate weapon.
Queen Victoria fired a Whitworth (using a string at a distance) at the first meeting of the British National Rifle Association in 1860.
The Whitworth was used primarily by the Confederacy in the American Civil War and by the French Army.