POTD: Pins and Needles! – Dreyse Needle Fire Revolver
Welcome to today’s Photo of the Day! In the transitional period of time between loose muzzle loading and self-contained cartridges were paper cartridges. And just after paper cartridges came onto the scene Mr. Dreyse developed one that did not have to be ripped open and poured into the barrel or cylinder of a firearm. He invented “needle fire” which used a self-contained paper cartridge that was detonated by a needle puncturing it. If you are unfamiliar with this then please hear me out before anything else. The cartridge was set up so a lead bullet had a primer hidden in its base and behind that was powder. When the needle punctures through the powder it would strike the primer and set it all off. These were adopted by many militaries for a hot second but their main downfall was that the needles are present for the ignition and explosion of powder leaving them to be slowly eroded and damaged. The revolver in our Photo of the Day was not made by Dreyse but it used the same mechanism and idea. This came on top of the scene just a year after Dreyse released a breech-loading pistol version of his rifle.
“Most famous for it’s use in the Dreyse Rifle, this revolver applies the needle-fire concept on a smaller scale. Blade front and notch rear sights, with “v. DREYSE SOMMERDA.” on the top strap, “cal: 0,39″- 4 1/2 Cent Pulv:” on the right side of the frame, light scroll engraving on the sides and bottom, and silver wire scroll inlay on the bolt housing. The cylinder is not completely bored through, instead having a small hole in the rear face for each chamber, and would be front loaded with a combustible paper cartridge using a detachable ramming tool (not included). When fired, the needle extends pass through the hole, puncture the cartridge and strike an enclosed mercury primer, igniting the charge and incinerating the cartridge. Fitted with a contoured one-piece checkered grip with a lanyard ring on the butt.”
Lot 1391: Dreyse Needle Fire Revolver 39. (n.d.). Rock Island Auction Company. photograph. Retrieved February 22, 2022, from https://www.rockislandauction.com/detail/67/1391/dreyse-needle-fire-revolver-39.