I never liked it, even when I saw it back during the years before TNG. It looked much too primitive, akin to the hand lasers. The type II phaser that followed looked far more conventional and plausible in design.
The need for a rifle still existed, but we just weren't given scenarios where it made sense to use it. I have to admit, I never really liked the TNG rifle either. It looked too much like the dust buster hand phaser, which was a stupid design to begin with. A pistol grip with a chamber that rests across the wrist is the most practical design for a human held hand weapon. Sci-fi productions have tried to deviate from it purely for the attempt to look different and modern... but it's still silly nonsense.