Dreyse Needle Gun

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The Dreyse Needle Gun was a military breechloading rifle used primarily by Prussia, who adopted it for service in 1841 as the Dreyse Zündnadelgewehr (roughly "needle ignition rifle"): it was more widely known as the Prussian Model 1841. It was developed by Johann Nikolaus von Dreyse in Sömmerda over a period from 1827 to 1840. The Dreyse was the first breechloading bolt-action rifle adopted by a major military. Production began in 1840: the gun proved slow to manufacture, with only 30,000 produced per year, and the low funding of the Prussian army meant that only 90 battalions had been issued the weapon by 1855. It was not able to completely replace the Model 1839 Potsdam caplock musket until the introduction of cast steel gun barrels in the 1860s. Other powers were skeptical of the new design, regarding a cartridge that was "always primed" as inherently dangerous, an attitude which had largely prevented military interest in the earlier pinfire cartridge. However, Prussian successes in the Austro-Prussian War of 1866 led to interest in the system from other states: the French incorporated the technology into their Chassepot 1866. Even when the metallic cartridge was largely accepted, the paper cartridge's fragility kept this concern alive, making it impossible to ship cartridges trans-Atlantic when the rifles were surplussed and rendering them unable to be shot. This led to enough scams of rifles being sold with claims that cartridges could be obtained elsewhere that the Bannerman company printed a warning about such practices in their catalog.

Its name comes from the needle-like steel firing pin, 1mm thick and several inches long, which passed through the base of the waxed paper cartridge to impact a percussion cap attached to the base of the bullet. The operating method was a single-shot bolt action, with the cartridge placed into the open action manually. There are various quoted rates of fire for the weapon: one common figure is 10-12 rounds per minute, though British testing gave a rate of only 6. The system was functional but finicky, as the long firing pin and its small driving spring were prone to damage, the pin especially since it was surrounded by powder at the moment of detonation. Another result of this was the needle was inevitably heavily fouled with black powder and burned paper residue (requiring frequent replacement to prevent misfires, and careful cleaning to avoid locking up of the action). In addition, the paper cartridges were too fragile for mechanical loading, preventing the use of them with any kind of integral magazine.

The Dreyse was gradually replaced by the Mauser Gewehr 1871 as the standard service rifle for the German Army in the 1870s.

Contents


Specifications

(1841 - 1876)

  • Type: Bolt-action rifle
  • Caliber: 15.4 mm (M/41, M/62), 15.2 mm (M/60, M/65), 15.3 mm (M/54), 15.1 mm (M/57)
  • Weight: 4.7 kg (M/41), 4.69 kg ((M/62)
  • Length: 56.1 in (142.5 cm) (M/41), 53 in (134.5 cm) (M/62)
  • Barrel length: 35.7 in (90.7 cm) (M/41), 33.1 in (84.2 cm) (M/62)
  • Variants: Model 41, Model 54, Model 57 Cavalry Carbine, Model 60 Fusilier Rifle, Model 65 Jäger Rifle
  • Rate of fire: 6–12 rounds/min
  • Muzzle velocity: 305 m/s (1,000 ft/s)
  • Effective range: 600 m (650 yd)
  • Feed system: Single-shot bolt-action
  • Sights: V-notch and front post

The Dreyse Needle Gun and variants can be seen in the following films, television series, video games, and anime used by the following actors:

Dreyse Model M/41

Dreyse Infanteriegewehr M1841 - 15.4mm

As early as 1827, Dreyse presented a muzzle-loader with needle ignition and developed in a unit cartridge in 1828, which contained for the first time detonator, propellant and bullet. Consistent development and construction work with the system of needle ignition finally led to a military breech-loading rifle, which was tested from 1839 to 1840 at various Prussian units. Finally, on 4 December 1840, the Prussian king ordered the production of initially 60,000 Dreyse needle guns with appropriate ammunition. The production of these rifles were declared state secrets and received the designation of leichtes Perkussionsgewehr M/41" ("light percussion rifle") to disguise their nature. Production of the weapons began in the fall of 1841 in the newly-built factory Dreyse in Sömmerda. The finished rifles were initially stored in the Berlin arsenal but because of the revolutionary events in 1848 in Baden and Saxony, were moved to the Füsilierbataillone of the Prussian regiments. This model was first used in the First Schleswig War between Prussia and Denmark in 1848 with little success. It was employed with far more success during the Second Schleswig War of 1864.

Relatively large quantities were produced; at the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War in 1870, there were 359,951 M/41s in the troop and 88,559 in the artillery depots. After mobilization was completed (end of July 1870), there were still 65,999 rifles in the artillery depots. The M/41 was gradually replaced by the improved M/62.

Film

Title Actor Character Note Date
Paths of Glory French soldier 1957
Hui Buh Ghost Police 2006
Ludwig II Tom Schilling Prince Otto of Bavaria 2012
Bavarian soldiers

Television

Show Title Actor Character Notes / Episode Date
1864 Ludwig Trepte Heinz 2014
Roland Schreglmann Ludwig
Prussian soldiers
Oktoberfest: Beer & Blood Actors in a parade 2020

Dreyse Model M/62

Dreyse Infanteriegewehr M1862 - 15.4mm

This model was introduced in 1862, while the production of the M/41 expired at the same time. The changes of the M/62 against the old M/41 included, inter alia, technical improvements, a reduced overall length (approx. 70-80 mm, almost consistent weight), another cleaning and discharging rod, and an improved bayonet fixing.

In order to ensure a simultaneous and above all uniform armament of the troops, the M/62s finished in the rifle factories were first delivered to the depots. It was only in 1867 that the new rifles were first issued to the Füsilierbataillone of the 32 infantry regiments, while the other battalions of the regiments received the new weapons only one year later. At the time of the mobilization against France in 1870, the troops had 137,339 M/62s, while another 254,474 were waiting to be used as a reserve in the Prussian depots.

Film

Title Actor Character Note Date
Mark of Cain (Kainovo znamení) Prussian soldiers 1989

Television

Show Title Actor Character Notes / Episode Date
Lock 'n Load With R. Lee Ermey R. Lee Ermey Himself 2009
1864 Ludwig Trepte Heinz 2014
Prussian soldiers

Dreyse Ö/M

Dreyse Zündnadel-Defensionsgewehr Ö/M (Österreichisches Modell) - 15.4mm

This model is the Austrian M1854 / II system Lorenz infantry rifle, which was captured by the Prussian troops in the war in 1866 in large numbers and was rebuilt in the years 1867-1869 using modified Zündnadelkarabiner M/57 locks. The original 13.9 mm barrel was drilled to the Prussian caliber and redrawn. To the right and left below the sleeve, the shaft was reinforced with carefully adapted, glued wooden panels. Two wooden dowels go in the holes of the previous wood screws across the shaft and the two attached wood panels. These defensive rifles were used mainly by the Prussian Landwehr Regiments, Gardegarnisons, and Provinzialgarnisons-Bataillonen. The conversions were made by Simson & Luck in Suhl and the rifle factory in Herzberg.

Relatively large quantities were rebuilt; at the outbreak of the Franco-German War on July 15, 1870, there were 425 Ö/M rifles in the troop and 35,174 in the artillery depots. At the end of the mobilization (at the end of July 1870) there were still 21,784 rifles in the artillery depots.

Film

Title Actor Character Note Date
The Captain from Köpenick German soldiers 1956

Dreyse Model 1835 Pistol

Dreyse Model 1835 needle pistol - .38

The Dreyse Model 1835 Needlefire Breechloading Pistol is a single-shot breechloader, using the same concept of a needle-firing mechanism and paper cartridges as Dreyse rifles. The pistol wasn't issued to any military but found some commercial success, especially as a dueling gun.


The Dreyse Model 1835 and variants can be seen in the following films, television series, video games, and anime used by the following actors:

Film

Title Actor Character Note Date
The Duelist (Duelyant) Pyotr Fyodorov Pyotr Yakovlev 2016
Martin Wuttke Baron Staroeh
Pavel Tabakov Prince Tuchkov
Pierre Bourel Prince Rayn
Igor Khripunov The second of Prince Rayn
Anton Kuznetsov The owner of gun store


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