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Old April 28th, 2012, 01:51 PM   #1

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Dreyse Needle Gun


Can someone fill me in on the history or development on the "Needle Gun"? or Zundnadelgewehr.

I came across a mention of the weapon developed by Johann von Dreyse.
Was the gun popular?
Was it used much?
Did it revolutionize more weapon development?
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Old April 28th, 2012, 04:01 PM   #2

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I know it enabled the Prussian victories over the comparatively primitively-armed Danes in the 1860s, during the Prussian annexation of Holstein and Schleswig.

It was considered antiquated by the Franco-Prussian War, however, though most Prussian infantry still carried it.
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Old April 28th, 2012, 11:34 PM   #3
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The first, the mother of all later bolt-action rifles. Yes, I would think it was a significant historical step.
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Old April 29th, 2012, 08:28 AM   #4

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It was outmatched by the newer french chassepot but the prussians on the other hand had the newer breech loading steel krupp artillery guns which prove dto be the decisive killing machines of the war.
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Old April 29th, 2012, 12:03 PM   #5

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I'm not sure when the Dreyse needle gun was first adopted by the Prussian military. It was invented long before German unification during I a time of relative peace in Europe. It was adopted by most German states under Prussian influence.

It was revolutionary in that it allowed infantrymen to fire not only much faster but also from the prone position.
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Old April 29th, 2012, 12:06 PM   #6

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cedar Brown View Post
I'm not sure when the Dreyse needle gun was first adopted by the Prussian military. It was invented long before German unification during I a time of relative peace in Europe. It was adopted by most German states under Prussian influence.

It was revolutionary in that it allowed infantrymen to fire not only much faster but also from the prone position.
The Prussian Army adopted it in 1841.
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Old April 29th, 2012, 03:11 PM   #7

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About the only thing i remember about the needle gun is that it was named for the long firing pin that penetrated into the cartidge and struck the primer that was at the front of the powder, a good first attempt at design but it had the drawback that the needle being inside the charge during combustion meant that they corroded and became brittle so that eventually the firing pin snapped during firing.

This is not a good thing!

Thats why as far as i know that sysytem was never used again in guns and a short firing pin striking the base of the cartridge was used instead, it was less efficient but far more reliable.
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Old April 29th, 2012, 03:39 PM   #8

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Keep'm coming. I'm learning bit by bit.
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Old April 30th, 2012, 01:00 AM   #9

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I am not a gun buff, but the breech loader, might just be another term for "Bolt Action". I will guess because the page on the wiki regarding bolt action mentions the Needle Gun that it perhaps was one of the first.

[ame="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bolt_action"]Bolt action - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia[/ame]

Quote:
Examples of this system date as far back as the early 19th century, notably in the Dreyse needle gun. From the late 19th century, all the way through both World Wars, the bolt-action rifle was the standard infantry firearm for most of the world's militaries.
Wiki claims the earliest models were muzzle loading. The style that is reminiscent of the civil war, where they pour powder down the muzzle, pack it, add buckshot, then fire.

Quote:
The rifle saw its heaviest use in the Austro-Prussian War of 1866. Because the breech-loader made it possible for a Prussian soldier to fire five (or more) shots, even while lying on the ground, in the time that it took his Austrian muzzle-loading counterpart to reload while standing, it was seen as allowing the Prussians to sweep the field. One observer proclaimed, "the needle-gun is the king."

Wiki also mentions it was smooth bore, meaning there were no grooves in the barrel, so the projectile has less spin, and some will say that means less accuracy. However, wiki claims "early models" were smooth bore, so that might suggest eventually the rifle had grooves. It also mentions a later model cartridge system.

[ame=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smoothbore]Smoothbore - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia[/ame]


The page on Johann Nicolaus Dreyse mentions there was a cartridge of sorts and the bullet was held in a sabot.

Johann_Nikolaus_von_Dreyse

Quote:
While the gun is thought of by some to be the first bolt-action rifle, in reality this rifle bears little resemblance to modern bolt-action rifles, except for the bolt principle itself which was applied to close the breech. Ammunition for the Dreyse rifle was made up of paper cartridges holding the bullet into a sabot.
It also mentions that "worn needles" could be changed without dismantling the gun. I don't know what a "Needle" is, but I would guess that's where it got it's name.

Quote:
For instance, worn needles could be quickly replaced without dismantling the bolt mechanism. The Dreyse rifle was a significant ordnance improvement for its time, since it permitted a much faster rate of fire than the muzzle-loading rifled muskets which were the standard of world's armies until the mid 1860's.

Pretty sure that anti-tank munitions are sabot rounds, and the purpose of it is to both stablize the round out of the barrel, and improve the velocity. I am not sure if the Needle gun used sabot rounds for those purposes, or just to overcome engineering challenges of the day regarding the quality of munitions.

[ame="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sabot"]Sabot - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia[/ame]

Quote:
Firing a small size projectile wrapped in a sabot raises the muzzle velocity of the projectile.

Last edited by MrKap; April 30th, 2012 at 01:15 AM.
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Old April 30th, 2012, 02:54 AM   #10
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Afaik breech loading systems were around before the bolt action system (back to the 17th or even 16th c.). And percussion cap cartridge systems were around before bolt action as well (at least French 1820's).

So the way I've understood it, the Dreyse needle-gun however was a cartridge, breech loading, bolt action firing pin system, and the firing pin was the really inventive part of it.
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