Ivan Zamorano

Acupunture Treatment

Dreyse M60 Needle Rifle (Updated)

Dreyse M60 Needle Rifle (Updated)


Hi guys, thanks for tuning in to another
video episode on ForgottenWeapons.com. I’m Ian, I’m here today at the Rock Island
Auction House taking a look at some of the guns that are coming up for sale
here in the June of 2015 Regional auction. And I happened to stumble across, while I was
looking through rifles, one of the, in fact the very first, bolt-action military rifle. And I figured that
would be a pretty cool one to take a look at. A lot of people have probably heard the
name of this. This is a Dreyse needle-rifle. But a lot of people probably haven’t taken a close
look at how these things actually work on the inside. So as I said, this was the first bolt-action
rifle adopted by a major military power. These were adopted by Prussia in 1841. The inventor, Johann Nicolaus von Dreyse, had actually
been working on this concept since at least 1824. He had apprenticed as a gunsmith before that, and worked
with some other folks who had pioneered this concept as well. What Dreyse was able to do was actually put
this together into a functioning, very practical (well, for the day), rifle that he was able to
successfully sell to the Prussian military. Now … it was initially adopted in 1841. Its first real combat use was the Second Schleswig War
against Denmark, between Prussia and Denmark, Where it was, frankly, fantastically
effective. Much better than the Danish muzzle loading rifles that were being used.
And that’s when it really kind of hit it off. The Prussians made versions of this gun clear
up until 1869, and it was ultimately replaced formally by the 1871 single-shot
cartridge Mauser, in 1871. So that’s the basic overview of the history of these
things. What we have here is a model of 1860 rifle. The changes to these models didn’t
really affect the mechanics very much, it was much more about the length and the style of
the stock, and the style of the trigger guard, the sights, the type of bayonet, the length of
the barrel, those sorts of changes. So, why don’t we go ahead and bring
the camera right back right away and pull this thing apart and
look at how these actually work. Right to start with, just to point out this is a model
of 1860, it was manufactured at the Danzig Arsenal. Now this one is marked 1861 and 1862
on the other side of the receiver. To be honest, not entirely sure
what those markings indicate, but probably small sequential
updates or repairs to the rifle. So to explain how this works, I’m going to start from the very beginning
with the thing completely disassembled here. First off, what’s important to realise about the
needle-rifles is that they fired a paper cartridge. It was composed of a bullet at the front, and then there was
a primer actually sitting basically at the very base of the bullet, then you had a charge of gunpowder, and
the whole thing was wrapped in a paper case. So in order to fire you would have a
needle. This tube is hollow, it’s brass, and it would hold the needle. And the needle would
extend several inches beyond the end of this tube. And when you fired, this needle would poke
through the base of the paper cartridge, all the way through the gunpowder,
and hit the primer at the base of the bullet. That would detonate the cartridge and everything
would fire. Now that little 1mm steel needle was completely inside this exploding gunpowder with every
shot, and that tended to wear them out fairly quickly. Most people say that the needles would last a couple
hundred rounds before they needed to be replaced. So this is actually an easy to replace item,
which we’ll get to, in fact, right now. This is what you would call like a striker
body. So the needle runs inside this piece, it’s threaded at the back.
I can run it in there, screw it in. Now you can see the needle extends through
this face. We do have a little leather pad there, that’s to seal the … firing pin hole in the breech face.
Now this piece gets a spring, which sits back here. And the sear in the rifle grabs onto this surface right here, and when you cock the action this spring gets compressed,
the needle gets pulled back, when you fire it it’s released forward, the needle
enters the cartridge and fires it. Now this component goes inside of our inner bolt sleeve. It’s going to go in this direction, and springing like that. Not a whole lot going on here, except that we then have this spring, whose job is to hold this in place. So to put this in, I’m going to (so normally you would use a tool
and hold on to this and pull it back, because the needle is broken off, I can
just compress this against the table). There we go. So now the needle is held in place. Now this
spring we use to control the position of this inner tube in the main bolt sleeve, so let’s put it in, and it can only go in one direction, right there. And now we have our bolt fully assembled.
This is the fired position, and then this is the unfired position. This would
be cocked, that would be fired. Now if our needle was intact, in the fired
position you would have quite a bit of needle protruding through this firing pin hole. Of course
the needle on this one is gone, so we don’t. OK, so we now have the bolt in
the rifle, and in order to charge it I would stuff a paper cartridge into the
chamber here, I then push the bolt forward, lock it over, and now there’s still no
tension on my firing pin (or the needle). In order to prepare the gun to fire, I have to
push this spring down and push that forward. That’s acting against the firing pin spring,
that puts tension on it, and now it’s ready to fire. Now normally you probably wouldn’t want to dry fire
these, but this one has a missing needle, so not a big deal. That’s fired. You can see the needle itself
sprung forward. Now in order to open the bolt I actually have to release this. So I push
down on the spring, pull that back, then I can open the bolt, pull out any remnants
of the paper cartridge and repeat the process. One neat feature, soldiers were issued spare needles and
because everyone knew that the needles wore out, what’s interesting is the spring tension here is
not actually on the needle itself, it’s on the carrier. So if I need to replace the needle,
I don’t have to disassemble the gun at all. All I need to do is cock it, and then I can unscrew the needle
and pull it out of the gun and replace it. So making that possible was
rather clever on the part of Dreyse. So the sights on these rifles were
actually kind of surprisingly large. This can be adjusted out to 1,200
(there’s no spring tension left on this one), but it would be a typical notch and post sort of sight. Much more commonly, you would probably
use … this fixed sight or this much shorter leaf. In theory this thing has a very long effective
range, in practical use it really didn’t. Part of that was because soldiers didn’t tend to
actually aim them because of the gas blow by. And part of that is that they
weren’t actually all that accurate. These had a .61 calibre bore,
but they actually fired a .53 calibre ball with a, believe it or not, a paper mâché sabot. So the sabot would actually engage with the rifling and
spin, and then the bullet would be seated in the sabot, so it would also spin, and as soon as it left the
muzzle, wind resistance would pull the sabot away. I think the idea here is you avoid leading and you avoid
increasing pressure really as as the gun gets fouled, because the sabot, made out of paper mâché,
can very easily compress around fouling, where a solid lead bullet the size of the bore can develop high pressure fairly quickly
after the bore starts to get fouled. Anyway, … an interesting and reasonable idea, but in practical
terms it had a very negative effect on the gun’s accuracy. One of the typical issues associated with paper cartridges
is the need to somehow obturate, or seal the bore. What you had was kind of a cone on the face of the barrel, and then you had a recessed ring in the face of the bolt. The idea is this surface would sit inside here and you get
the beginnings of a decent seal just with metal to metal fit. And I think the notion was that once you have this in place, gas that does blow by is gonna go mostly forward. Now it should also be pointed out before
you get too critical of that, that this was still dramatically better technology than a standard muzzle
loader. When the Prussians and Austrians fought in 1866, the firepower of these rifles just overwhelmed Austrian
troops who were equipped with standard muzzle loaders. You could load this easily prone. You could
load it and fire it far faster than a muzzle loader. So these rifles were a huge formidable advance in
infantry firepower in 1866 against the Austrians. But by 1870 the Germans were fighting the French,
the French were armed with also a needle rifle actually, but a much better one that had a good breech
seal and was significantly more accurate. And this was not up to the challenge of
competing with the French Chassepot needle-rifle. And of course in 1871, the Mauser
single-shot cartridge rifle came on the market and was adopted by the new nation of
Germany to replace these needle-rifles entirely. So this went from being a marvel of
modern technology and a huge advance to being obsolete in the
period of really only a few years. Thanks for watching guys, I hope you enjoyed the video.
Definitely not something you get to see every day. And you know, what’s kind of cool is there
are people out there who shoot these guns. You can actually make your own new
paper cartridges, you can reproduce needles. It’s actually not that difficult, considering
the age and obscurity of these rifles today. And you know what? What would be cooler than be
the first guy on your block to actually go out and shoot the first bolt-action rifle used by a
military. The Dreyse needle-gun.

63 Replies to “Dreyse M60 Needle Rifle (Updated)”

  • This is not a complaint I was just wondering if there was a reason you pronounced dreyse differently when referring to the rifle than when referring to the inventor.

  • Actually the production started in 1841 but it was not adopted. It was secretly manufactured and stocked in warehouses with the plan to adopt it in use when they had fully armed the army. In 1848 during the mad year of Europe some of the warehouses were broken into and the secret was out so it was adopted. This is my understanding of the German source but then I almost flunked German in school.

    1200? Is that paces i.e. about 850 m.

  • The second date could be from a re count at the specific barracks of use, a lot of militaries re steered and revised the existing rifles from old in service to reproof them

  • I you get your chance happens upon another, remake the video, emphasizing on your fix here. It's important to put this kind of situation where it should be. Wikipedia is filled with such problems, and the fact that they can't be solved in some situations because of erroneous (and arrogance on some people's part) thinking and information is wrong.

    Kudos on to you for pointing this one out.

  • TO be fair, the gun does not obturate well and throws a heck of a puff of gas out the breech, so badly that it actually inhibits projectile performance due to loss of energy. The myth is that the gas is thrown in the face and causes special problems for it, which is silly because the gas is vented forward by design and the puff is hardly any worse than what you get from an flash in a flintlock or a percussion cap's detonation.

  • This is the most inpractical action I've seen so far.
    I'd rather even use a flint lock…
    But cool to see it anyway

  • I had wondered about the original video. Germans (Prussians) don't make junk. The Chassepot merely outranged the Dreyse and any attacks using the 19th Century tactics tended to be expensive in manpower: you're basically running unsupported into the face of the enemy. Ergo, the Chassepot was not a "super" rifle, it was just a very good rifle against a "fair" Dreyse. That said I'd love to own a Chassepot or a Dreyse. Of course the short comings of the Dreyse was more than made made up by excellent Krupp Artillery and the superlative Prussian Command structure.

  • Hello Ian! I have a question: have you heard about a forward-bolt action rifle, with the bolt on the barel and a fixed block ? I think that would be good for a compact bullpup rifle, with the and of the barel near the and of the stock.

  • Loved how you added in the second Schleswig war bit. Usually it’s overlooked, but some significant things came from that war. Highly recommend watching 1864. Good show about that war, couple misconceptions here and there but it’s a good view to say the least.

  • Oh Ian, didn’t you spot it is a modified Beck rifle? The conversions similar to the Chassepot bolt and involves a sliding breech face insert with a leather disc behind it. The insert is pressed inward under pressure which causes the leather disc to expand radially and seal around the barrel rim. The increased chamber pressure meant increased range, hence a new adjustable sight leaf. The conversions were done after the 70/71 war…. And don’t believe the myth of soldiers not aiming properly due to gas leakage 😉

  • So while the US was using muskets for at least 20 more years a country that's gone already had bolt action rifles.

  • 1864 is a fantastic series about the Second Holstein-Schlesvig war, it's so well made and period correcr I couldn't believe it. The scenery is jaw dropping.

  • Prussia 1841: WE NEED NEEDLES IN OUR GUNS!
    Germany 1941: WE NEED NEEDLES IN OUR SOLDIERS! (referring to the fascination of the Third Reich with medically assisted combat, up to and including giving out meth to tank troops during the invasion of Poland)

  • "had a negative effect on the guns avcuracy" out of curiosity, was it really negative compared to smooth bore or even a rifle with round ball?

  • Ian your ability to openly admit when you may have made a mistake is impressive to me. Esspecially in this day and age

  • Thanks for fixing the error! I've watched the video by CapandBall, and it always drove me up a wall that you accidentally had inaccurate information in one of your videos! Conflicting information from two of my most respected subscriptions! Who could bear it!?

  • We (I am a German) had Krupp Artillery, so the rifles weren't needed (we still won against those French back then!) 🙂

  • Updating a three year old video to remove a mistake is a pretty thorough and respectable thing to do. A lot of people would be too lazy.

  • The Dreyse was considered a terror weapon of its time. Cartoons depicted Dreyse himself as Death, leaving piles of dead bodies in his wake as he cut down scores of men with his needle rifle. Which is understandable if you're on the wrong end of one forming a square in the best Napoleonic fashion.
    Great video as always.

  • There is not a single video on the internet about the dreyse needle shotgun. I own one of these (serial nr.99) but its in rather bad condition.

  • Trivial but sabot is pronounced 'sabb-oh' not 'say-bo'. Well done to update and correct errors. I believe that the sabot was rolled paper strip rather than moulded papier mache ('pappy-eh mash-eh'). Who got them when they were sold off obsolete?

  • Hello Ian,Great to see an update on the Dreyse  Fusilier M/60 Beck converted rifle.The misconception that has been written regarding breech obturation of the mating cones leaking into the shooter's has been repeated so many times it has become a factoid.The breech does leak slightly as it is a metal to metal seal but does not blow back into the shooter's face.   We have been evaluating the military issue Dreyse system for thirty years without gas leaking back.  As for needles, as long as they are handled correctly do not break with monotonous regularity as claimed by some writers who have never fired a Dreyse.The Beck conversion (shown in your video) effectively  sealed the breech, thus increased velocity with that range which allowed for a more sophisticated rear sight arrangement altered from paces to metres. If you want to see the different models of the Dreyse system, plus Chassepot being evaluated with and without their respective bayonets fixed,  with facsimile  cartridges take a look on YouTube – 'Shooting Dreyse'  by G and L A-R-West.With best wishes to your ever expanding video channel.Guy and Leonard A-R-West

  • Very interresting Video. I'vee seen these weapons in museums but there was no explanation other than the name and date of manufacture.

  • Great video Ian! I think the best presentation you have ever made. Enough information to peak the curiosity. Excellent explanation of the mechanism and ammunition. I will be reading the rest of the night and have a book or two to buy. Thanks again.

  • In 1850 the Brazilian Empire decided to hire German mercenaries to serve in the southern frontier, facing the dictator Rosas and his smaller ally, Oribe. The Germans would be known as Brummers and would be training in Prussian style with Dreyse needle rifles. Of this Germans Legion composed of infantry, artillery and sappers, a small 100-men unit, armed with Dreyse rifles, took part in the Battle of Monte Caseros (1852) as snipers against Rosas artillerymen, keeping them from manning their guns. It was the first major battle for the Dreyse needle rifle.

  • Great video Ian. After several months of frustration (some of it self induced) I finally have my 1866 Chassepot needle rifle and ammo working as it should. A Dreyse would make a good companion.

  • It is easier for a classic firearm collector to pass through the eye of a dreyse needle rifle than a rich man into heaven

  • On dreyse guns the first date, here "1861" indicates the date of manufacturing, while the second date "1862" was marked when the gun was handed over to military units. That's the reason why the "1862" marking has not such a perfect style than the factory made "1861". If a gun misses the second date it was never released to fighting units, but was kept in arsenals (in that case troop markings were also missing).

  • This was the gun that allowed Prussia to win the wars against Denmark, Austria and France in order to unite all the german states to a nation.
    It was the technical superiority of this gun at its time that led to those victories.
    Without it, it is likely there would have never been a german nation and thus an entirely other outcome of history.

  • and after 1871, soon thereafter , we had the lebel 1886 and the first machine guns

    yep the victorian times basically can be summarized as "things are great today, might be outdated tomorrow though."

    especially ships, am i right royal navy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *