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Old January 2, 2017, 01:19 PM   #1
mapsjanhere
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Dreyse 1865?

In an upcoming auction they're identifying this rifle as a "Dreyse 1865 rifle". I can't find anything that matches this, so it has a bayonet mount so it's unlikely to be a civilian gun. But the barrel bands are steel, not brass like pre-1871 Prussian needle guns, there don't seem to be the usual spring-loaded retainers for the barrel bands either. Also the trigger guard is distinctly not the needle gun style. Any ideas where this belongs?

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File Type: jpg dreyse 1865 l.jpg (70.5 KB, 286 views)
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Old January 3, 2017, 11:41 PM   #2
James K
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It is a Dreyse "Zundnadel" carbine. Among the first military firearms to use a fixed cartridge, Niklaus von Dreyse's invention had a long, needle-like firing pin which penetrated the charge of the paper cartridge to strike a pellet of priming material in the base of the bullet. The system was adopted by Prussia in 1841 and was used for 30 years or so. The system was used in rifles, cavalry carbines and (IIRC) an engineer carbine. Very few were imported into the U.S. and none (AFAIK) was used in the U.S. Civil War.

In the American west, the "trapdoor" Springfield was sometimes called the "needle gun" from its long firing pin and also out of confusion with the actual Prussian rifle which was heard of but rarely seen this side of the Atlantic.

More information can be found by Googlind "needle gun" and also here:

http://www.ima-usa.com/original-prus...edle-fire.html

Jim
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Old January 4, 2017, 02:14 AM   #3
Model12Win
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Cool guns. Neat needle. They issued spare needles in case one snapped.

I wish they'd make a repro of this gun. Originals in shooting shape are astronomicaly expensive.
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Old January 4, 2017, 04:02 PM   #4
SIGSHR
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I read accounts by Buffalo Bill referring to his "needle gun", I wondered how he acquired a Dreyse, then I realized he was referring to his Trapdoor in 50-70
-"Lucretia Borgia" he called it.
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Old January 4, 2017, 10:36 PM   #5
James K
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"They issued spare needles in case one snapped."

The needle firing pin also became burned and weakened after a relatively few shots (it was entirely within the powder charge during firing, after all) so each soldier was issued several firing pins and they are easily removed and replaced. The gun was an advance over the muzzle loaders being used at the time by other armies, but it was not the only reason for Prussian military superiority in that era. Just as important were the intensive training, high morale, discipline, and determination to win that characterized Prussian military thinking of the time. (Ask any sports coach what the keys to victory are and you will get about the same answers!)

I ordinarily avoid silly "what ifs", but I was once involved in a discussion about whether it was the "needle gun" that made Prussia victorious. I replied that it certainly helped, but that IMHO if the Austrian army of 1866 had been somehow replaced by "Uncle Billy" Sherman's hard, battle-tested Union veterans from the year before, Sherman would have rolled right over the Prussians, "needle gun" or no "needle gun."

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Old January 5, 2017, 11:10 AM   #6
mapsjanhere
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Jim,

this is a typical Dreyse


Notice the brass barrel bands with retaining springs, the elaborate trigger guard and the bayonet mount. The gun I showed has none of these features.
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Old January 5, 2017, 01:18 PM   #7
Jim Watson
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Yes, and yours has a shorter receiver ring behind the bolt handle, too.
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Old January 5, 2017, 02:24 PM   #8
mapsjanhere
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The rings seem to come from a Mauser 1871. What makes me wonder if this is a Dreyse changed to 11 mm Mauser, wouldn't need the long rear ring to hold the long needle if it's changed to standard center fire. Might have to bid on that lot after all.
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