SOLD FOR: $1,065
Make: This rifle was either made by Dreyse or by the Prussian Armory at Spandau. Dreyse made the first 60,000 Model 1841 rifles before production shifted to Spandau.
Model: This is a Prussian Model 1841 Dreyse Saddle Ring Carbine
Serial Number: NSN
Year of Manufacture: 1841-1857
Caliber: 15mm Dreyse (This is a paper wrapped cartridge with the primer located at the base of a 15.4mm acorn shaped bullet, rather than at the base of the cartridge, as with metallic cartridges. )
Action Type: This is a single shot bolt action rifle.
Markings: There are no markings visible.
Barrel Length: The round barrel is 19” in length.
Sights / Optics: The front sight is a rounded brass blade fixed to the top of the barrel. The rear sight is a flat-topped tiny “V” notch that is dovetailed into the barrel. There is a large rectangular folding leaf in front of the rear sight, but the top of the leaf is flat, so we are not quite sure what this is for – perhaps so one could modify it for shooting at whatever range they were interested in that was within range of the sight height.
Stock Configuration & Condition: The stock is one-piece hardwood straight grip and a cheekpiece on the left side. The buttstock has a flat brass buttplate, the forend has a brass combination nosecap/barrel band and there is an “S” shaped piece of steel screwed to the left side of the receiver and forend with a saddle ring attached. The underside of the stock has a brass trigger guard that extends to the back of the wrist and a long strip of metal running up the underside of the forend from the forend bolt to the nosecap. There is a hole in the belly for a sling swivel stud. In addition to the cheekpiece, the stock has a unique look with the long flats on either side of the receiver, unusual for a bolt action rifle. The stock is dark with oil staining and shows numerous handling marks, dings and bruises with a few deeper marks on the underside of the stock at the left side of the trigger guard. There are no cracks or chips noted, but the wood is shy of the metal at the left side of the buttplate tang that extends over the top of the heel. The LOP measures 13 ½” from the front of the trigger to the back of the buttplate. The buttplate shows light wear at the heel and toe, numerous light handling marks and a few dings. The buttplate has developed a deep reddish-brown colored patina, and is in about Good condition. The stock rates in about Good condition.
Type of Finish: The barrel and receiver are blued, and the nosecap and trigger guard are brass. We think the bar holding the saddle ring was originally blued as well.
Finish Originality: There surface patina on the metal parts is too thick to determine if the finish is original positively, but since it is so thick, it is obvious that the finish has been untouched for many years. We believe the finish to be original.
Bore Condition: The bore is bright in areas, tending to gray. The rifling shows moderate wear and there is moderate erosion from the muzzle back a few inches.
Overall Condition: This rifle retains about 0% of its metal finish. The balance of the finish shows a thick dark patina on the barrel and receiver, a mottled plum colored patina on the nosecap and a mottled mustard colored patina on the trigger guard. There are two strips of tan paint near the front of the barrel. The barrel and receiver show an even coating of solid erosion and the dark mottling in the brass is also erosion. The trigger guard also shows several light handling marks with a few dings in its rear tang. The screw heads are disfigured and there are no markings visible. Overall, this rifle rates in about Fair to Good condition.
Mechanics: The action functions except that the bolt handle is broken-off inside its lug. The bolt can still be manipulated manually. After the bolt is closed, the cocking piece must be pushed forwards and locked into the slot at the back of the receiver before the gun can be fired. Once fired, the cocking piece must be pulled back before the bolt is opened. If the bolt is closed, and the shooter wants to render the gun safe, pulling back slightly on the front of the cocking piece causes it to move backwards, out of the receiver’s notch. We have not fired this rifle. As with all used firearms, a thorough cleaning may be necessary to meet your maintenance standards.
Box, Paperwork & Accessories: None
Our Assessment: The Dreyse needle-gun was a military breechloading rifle, famous as the main infantry weapon of the Prussians, who accepted it for service in 1841 as the “leichtes Perkussionsgewehr Model 1841” (“light percussion rifle Model 1841”), with the name chosen to hide the revolutionary nature of the new weapon. The name “Zündnadelgewehr”/”needle-gun” comes from its needle-like firing pin, which passed through the paper cartridge case to strike a percussion cap at the bullet base. The Dreyse rifle was also the first breech-loading rifle to use a bolt to open and close the chamber, executed by turning and pulling a bolt handle. The Prussians continued to use needle guns up until about 1871, with various improvements resulting in the M1857, M1860, M1862 and M1865 models. The Prussians used the needle guns to great effect during the Austro-Prussian War of 1866, with the Austrians still using muzzle-loaders. However, in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871, the French Chassepot rifle proved far more effective than the Dreyse. The Chassepot also used a paper cartridge with a needle type firing pin, but it was chambered in 11mm, which was flatter shooting and thus had better range than the 15mm Dreyse cartridges. Also, the Dreyse rifles would lose their ability to seal the chamber after several rounds, resulting in hot gases being blown backwards in the face of the shooter. This caused many of the Prussian riflemen to either start shooting from the hip or by holding the rifle away from their shoulder, seriously impacting accuracy. Although the design was obsolete by the mid 1870’s, Romania purchased 31,000 rifles and carbines from Prussia for use in the Russo-Turkish War, and used them successfully to win several battles and the war. This carbine has a thick dark patina covering the barrel and receiver, a mottled plum colored patina on the nosecap and a mottled mustard colored patina on the trigger guard. There are two strips of paint at the front of the barrel, light handling marks in the trigger guard and a few small dings in its rear tang. The wood is dark with oil staining and shows numerous handling marks, dings and bruises. The bore is bright in areas, tending to gray at the muzzle. There is moderate wear in the rifling and moderate erosion in the bore from the muzzle back a few inches. The action works correctly, but the bolt handle is broken off inside the lug on the bolt. This rifle has a very interesting action, so please see the paragraph on mechanics. With the erosion present and the broken bolt handle, the collectors may not show a lot of interest, but the design of this rifle was an important step towards the bolt action rifle development in the late 1800’s. The needle guns are all scare today and we think the collectors will want to obtain an example of such an import part in the development of martial and sporting arms, regardless of its condition.