1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Needle-Gun

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NEEDLE-GUN (Zündnadelgewehr), a military breech-loading rifle, famous as the arm of the Prussians in 1866 and of the Germans in 1870-1871. It was the invention of the gunsmith Johann Nicholas von Dreyse (1787-1867), who, beginning in 1824, had made many experiments, and in 1836 produced the complete needle-gun. From 1841 onwards the new arm was gradually introduced into the Prussian service, and later into the military forces of many other German states. Dreyse was ennobled in 1864. The principal details of the arm (pattern 1841) are as follows:—

Breech
Calibre
Weight without bayonet
Charge (black powder)
Bullet (lead)
Muzzle velocity
Sighted to
Bolt system
.607 in.
10 lb. 4 oz.
74.15 grains
478 grains
1000 f.s.
800 paces (656 yds.)

In practice the needle-gun proved to have numerous defects; the effective range was very short compared to that of the muzzle-loading rifle of the day, and conspicuously so as against the chassepot: the escape of gas at the breech was, moreover, very great. A paper cartridge was used. An improved model, giving greater muzzle velocity and increased speed in loading, was introduced later, but this was soon replaced by the Mauser rifle.