The Dreyse Military Needle Ignition System

Antique Weapons
ISBN 978-1-84683-190-4
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Researched, written & illustrated by Leonard & Guy A-R-West FHBSA
This illustrated history follows the evolution of the Dreyse Zündnadelgewehr (needle-ignition rifle), one of the first breech-loading rifles with a distinctive needle-ignition mechanism.

This book, the second in a series by authors Guy and Leonard Alston-Roberts-West, is the culmination of decades of collecting, researching, and shooting antique guns.

It is the only book in English dedicated completely to this weapon, and it is an invaluable resource for collectors, dealers, and antique firearm aficionados.

It is jam-packed with extensive information about the weapon's history and inner workings, as well as information about maker's markings and other data that can be used to identify the manufacturers of the numerous rifle models produced in different 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 ignition element, propellant charge, and projectile were all included in one cartridge (sabot), which was ignited by the point of a needle passing through the paper casing and impacting a percussion pellet at the sabot's base.

After a lengthy development period beginning in 1827, manufacturing of the Dreyse Zündnadelgewehr began in 1841, making it the first mass-produced, bolt-action, breech-loading rifle for military usage, with a rate of fire of around 10 rounds per minute. It was adopted for service by the Prussians in 1848, and versions were used by the Prussian army until 1876.

Following Prussian victories in the Austro-German War of 1866, the French Fusil Modèle 1866 ‘Chassepot' (the subject of Guy & Leonard's first book) and other manufacturers adopted the principles of bolt-action, breech-loading, and needle-ignition, making the Dreyse Zündnadelgewehr the progenitor of all subsequent breech-loading bolt-action rifles.

With detailed drawings and cutaways depicting breech and ignition systems, distinctions between guns made by different manufacturers, numerous types of ammunition, and much more, this book will be of great interest to collectors and aficionados.

The authors finish by comparing the performance of this weapon to that of other vintage rifles from 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