The Dreyse Military Needle Ignition System

  • Description
  • Specifications

Researched, written & illustrated by Leonard & Guy A-R-West FHBSA
An illustrated history of the Dreyse Zündnadelgewehr (needle-ignition rifle)  – one of the first breech-loading firearms  featuring an innovative needle-ignition mechanism.

The second in a series by authors Guy & Leonard Alston-Roberts-West this book represents the accumulation of several decades of collecting, researching and shooting antique firearms.

It is the first book solely about this weapon to be published in English and is a valuable resource for collectors, dealers and antique firearm enthusiasts.

It is packed with detailed information describing the history and inner workings of the weapon plus details about the maker's marks, etc which can be used to identify the manufacturers of the different versions of the rifle made in various countries.

Featuring the Dreyse Zündnadelgewehr (‘needle-ignition rifle’) this is the second book in a series by authors Leonard & Guy A-R-West and contains knowledge accumulated over several decades of collecting, researching and shooting antique firearms. It is also the first book about this historic weapon to be published in English.

Invented by Johann Nikolaus Dreyse and developed at his works in Sömmerda in the central German state of Thuringia, the Dreyse Zündnadelgewehr was a historically significant weapon, being the first breech-loading rifle to use a bolt-action to open and close the chamber.

The Dreyse system also used a cartridge (sabot) containing the ignition element, propellant charge and projectile all-in-one, ignited by the point of a needle which passed through the paper case to impact a percussion pellet at the sabot’s base. These innovations marked a major turning-point in rifle design.

After a long period of development from 1827, production of the Dreyse Zündnadelgewehr began in 1841, making it the first mass-produced, bolt-action, breech-loading rifle for military use, boasting a rate of fire of about 10 rounds per minute. The Prussians adopted it for service in 1848 and variants were used by the Prussian army until 1876.

Prussian successes, significantly in the Austro-German War of 1866 led to the principles of bolt-action, breech-loading and needle-ignition being adopted by the French Fusil Modèle 1866 ‘Chassepot’ (the subject of Guy & Leonard’s first book) and thereafter by manufacturers word-wide, making the Dreyse Zündnadelgewehr the progenitor of all subsequent breech-loading bolt-action rifles.

This book contains a wealth of in-depth information that will be of particular interest to collectors and enthusiasts with detailed drawings and cutaways illustrating breech and ignition mechanisms, distinctions between weapons made by different manufacturers, various kinds of ammunition, and much more.

The authors conclude by providing their evaluation of firing this weapon in comparison to other vintage firearms of the same era.


Many high quality illustrations.

Cutaways and diagrams.

Close-up details.


Guy & Leo's Youtube Channel shows them live firing the Dreyse...


Youtube Channel Forgotten Weapons from the USA has a video review of the book...
format softback | 186 pages | text plus many colour photos & illustrations
genre military history | arms & armaments
themes The Franco-Prussian War 1870-71 | the evolution of breech-loading firearms
readership military historians | vintage weapon enthusiasts | gun collectors | antique dealers | educational establishments
Antique Weapons
ISBN 978-1-84683-190-4
    Delivery time:5-7 Days
Add to cart
Related Products