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Paper Cartdridges and Needle Guns

Discussion in 'Firearms Research' started by whm1974, May 17, 2020.

  1. whm1974

    whm1974 member

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    I was just reading about 19th Century Needle Guns and Paper Cartridges that used before Modern Ammunition was invented.

    The paper cartridges the user or soldier had to tear open the unit, pouring the powder and ram the bullet down the barrel. This lead to problems if tallow and/or lard was used to grease the paper as what caused the Hindi and Muslim Rebellion in British India.

    Later developments allowed for the entire cartridge to be insert into the chamber or barrel giving some advantages .

    Even now they are still are in fair used with papershot in extremely cold areas where plastic will become brittle with cold.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paper_cartridge
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paper_cartridge
     
  2. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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  3. whm1974

    whm1974 member

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    As I never used them, I really don't know anything about paper cartridges.
     
  4. NIGHTLORD40K

    NIGHTLORD40K Member

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    A big problem with needle guns was erosion and breakage of the long, fragile firing pin. Despite the effectiveness of the Dreyse in Prussian hands, many troops preffered captured French Chassepots when they could grab them. Although also referred to a needle type, the Chassepots needle was much shorter and more durable and used silk cartridges with the primer near the back end instead of in the center like the Dreyse.
     
    Last edited: May 17, 2020
  5. whm1974

    whm1974 member

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    Weren't the Prussian troops well trained and supplied with spare firing pins so they could fix the their guns in the field?
     
  6. NIGHTLORD40K

    NIGHTLORD40K Member

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    Sure, but you really want to try to perform such a task under fire? Not me.

    Hard to say how many spare parts got "lost" to lighten a troopers load too. Ounces count when you have to march cross country to your battlefield.
     
  7. whm1974

    whm1974 member

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    Firing pins for the Prussian Needles Gun weighed that much???
     
  8. Kleanbore

    Kleanbore Moderator Staff Member

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    Yes.
     
  9. CapnMac

    CapnMac Member

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    Paper cartridges came about as being far safer in military use than a powder horn or bottle. (Imagine what happens if there are still burning embers in the bore and you upend a powder horn over them.)
    They were also a side effect of better--more uniform--powder production.
    All of which is better when you are training troopies to fire as fast as they possibly can. Even more so with only rudimentary-trained conscripts.

    Your order of operations is slightly off, though. You pluck a cartridge from the box, and tear a corner to prime the pan, then close same. The rest of the powder goes down the bore. Depending upon the Nation, the paper might go over the powder as a wad, or it might be kept around the ball as patching. UK Royal Army practice was to bite the cartridge to prime the pan and barrel, then spit the bullet in, followed by the paper as a top wadding.

    When percussion caps and Mineé balls the thing, the steps changed a bit. The fit of the ball ammo was tighter in rifled muskets, so they needed no patching (generally). The paper was often just discarded.

    Now, the needle guns were different. You opened the breech and poked the entire cartridge in, and close the thing up. "Chap" over at the Bloke on the Range YT channel actually makes them for his Chassepot:

    (There's a shooting vid, too, but, durst if I can find it quickly--and I may be seraching badly, as it might have been a Dreyse.)
     
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  10. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    I guess changing a needle under fire would be in the same ballpark as replacing a flint or a split nipple for a muzzleloader.

    Has anybody here shot a Westley Richards Monkeytail Carbine? Seems to me like a good approach to the "capping breechloader".
     
  11. DocRock

    DocRock Member

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    I'm afraid there is some confusion here.

    Paper cartridges used with a needle gun were not torn open. They were placed in the breech of the rifle and fired, rather like a modern metallic cartridge. The purpose of the "needle" firing pin was that it pierced the paper, drove through the powder, and struck the primer situated on the back of the bullet, thereby igniting the powder form the top end.

    There were no needle guns in use in India at the time of the Mutiny. The rifle that gave rise to sepoy Pandy's mutiny was the 1853 Pattern Enfield Musket, which fired a Minie ball and used a paper cartridge (as well as percussion caps) to hold the powder. Standard drill was to tear the cartridge open with the teeth, pour it down the barrel and push remaining paper and ball down the barrel. Rumors began that the paper cartridge was variously greased with beef fat or pork fat, and thus objectionable to both Hindu and Muslim.
     
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  12. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    Well, wasn't it? Not much choice besides tallow and lard in those days.
     
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  13. whm1974

    whm1974 member

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    Beeswax perhaps, but don't if it will burn or not.
     
  14. whm1974

    whm1974 member

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    That needle gun looks to be brand new and well taken care of. Is there company that makes such replicas?
     
  15. CapnMac

    CapnMac Member

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    Not so far as I know.
    Now, because there is a low demand for needle-fire arms, apparently really excellent copies are readily available.
    IIRC The Chap has an equally gorgeous Gras rifle and a selection of Vetterlis, which are available for less than 300 Swiss Francs (and some under ChF200).

    (oh, and the Chap, being of French descent, has a number of French rifles, to include a FAMAS with fun switch, under Swiss law it can only be shot at a couple of national matches, but is otherwise legal.)
     
  16. whm1974

    whm1974 member

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    I thought that needle guns since there were not in use for that long and only adopted by few nations, are sort of rare...

    Are the paper cartridges for these guns considered to be "Fixed Ammunition" by the ATF?
     
  17. DocRock

    DocRock Member

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    Beeswax and mutton tallow (objectional to neither Muslim, nor Hindu - bar perhaps Jains who did not serve in the military in any event). The paper cartridge had been in use for decades, going back to the Brown Bess musket.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Causes_of_the_Indian_Rebellion_of_1857
     
  18. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    I should have thought of mutton, I liked 'The Peshawar Lancers' so well.
     
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  19. whm1974

    whm1974 member

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    I never had mutton before, lamb meat in curries and Greek gyros. In fact I just had a Greek Gyro from Abry's last time I went grocery shopping.
     
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  20. NIGHTLORD40K

    NIGHTLORD40K Member

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    Their Gyros are shockingly good! Their Ruebens arent too shabby either......:)

    And now, to keep this firearm related, some random gun porn-
    acu9w1.jpg
    Its may not use greased cartridges, but it IS Indian! Lol.

    *GunnyUSMC's picture, mine is just like it, but his camera is better.:D
     
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  21. whm1974

    whm1974 member

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    Is that India's version of the British Lee-Infield but chambered for 7.62x51 NATO? Where is the 12 round Magazine for it?
     
  22. NIGHTLORD40K

    NIGHTLORD40K Member

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    That is (or at least mine is), an Enfield No.1 Mk3 made at the Ishapore Arsenal in 1918, and as such was originally chambered for .303, but later converted into a single-shot .410 smoothbore for use by prison guards and foragers, hence no magazine. The mag. well is filled in with a wooden plug.

    They are a blast to shoot with just enough recoil to keep things interesting, and surprising accuracy with rifled slugs.

    The Enfield 2A was the 1950s version chambered for 7.62 Nato.
     
  23. whm1974

    whm1974 member

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    I'm not sure how well a .410 Gauge Shotgun would be for prison guards, especially s single shot one at that...
     
  24. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    I understand it was originally chambered for a shotshell based on .303 blown out straight. Cut for .410 when sold surplus.
    I wouldn't want to be peppered with birdshot on my way from gaol to jungle, especially in the pre-antibiotic era.
     
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  25. whm1974

    whm1974 member

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    Well true... But how much and what size birdshot can a .410 shotshell contain back in whatever year that Enfield was converted over?
     
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