16 Feb 21
“‘Impassable terrain’ is more a state of mind, than a state of nature”
John Whitman
More Gun History:
Fulminate of mercury, as an impact-detonated primer compound, was developed by a Scott, Alexander Forsyth, in the first decade of the 19th Century. Sam Pauly, in France, takes Forsyth’s idea and manufactures the first self-contained cartridge, with propellant, powder-charge, bullet, and primer, all in the same package.
The base was brass, the forward part was paper. Most shotgun shells still take that form today (although paper has be replaced with plastic).
Pauly’s self-contained cartridge represented the beginning of a startling revolution, rendering flintlocks instantly obsolete. In fact, rendering all muzzle-loading guns obsolete! Yet, it would take most of the balance of the 19th Century for it to universally catch-on!
For example, the idea of a self-contained cartridge received much initial push-back from war planners (including Napoleon himself), as they were concerned about a cartridge’s primer and propellant charge being so close to each other in the same package. They preferred, for safety’s sake, to keep powder and primer separated from each other, being brought in close proximity only when the weapon was being readied to fire.
Hence, during his lifetime most of Pauly’s gun designs were developed and intended for sporting, not military, purposes
Nicholas von Dreyse (inventor of the Dreyse Needle-Fire System) and Casimir Lefaucheux (along with his son, Eugene, inventors of the pin-fire system) were both employees of Pauly!
When Pauly died in London in 1829, Casimir Lefaucheux, bought-out the factory in France went-on to develop his famous line of pin-fire guns.
It was Dreyse-equipped Prussian soldiers who annihilated muzzle-loader-equipped Danish during the Second Schleswig War of 1864 (Schleswig was a disputed Provence),
Likewise, Dreyse Rifles produced the upset victory of Prussians over Austrians at the decisive Battle of Sadova during the Austro-Prussian War in the summer of 1866. Austrians had traditional muzzle-loaders. Prussians were armed with Dreyses, and the result, once again, was that Austrians were annihilated!
Pin-fire guns garnered a brief following in Europe, but never had much of a presence in the USA, as pin-fire was quickly superceded by rim-fire and ultimately center-fire, where the primer cup was in the center of the case head.
Mercury fulminate was replaced with more stable potassium perchlorate in the late 1800s, and with lead styphnate in the 1950s.
“Uncockable” revolvers, that can be fired only via the trigger-cocking mode (“DA-only”), were standard-issue with the NYPD, and a number of other PDs, starting in the 1980s (prior to revolvers being universally displaced by autoloaders)
There was no hammer spur, so the revolver could not be manually cocked conveniently, and there was no full-cock notch on the hammer anyway, so even when one pinched the hammer and pulled it backward, it would just fall back forward harmlessly (so long as the trigger was not simultaneously pressed).
NYPD made this change, because records revealed that virtually every police UD with revolvers occurred shortly after the revolver had been manually cocked. Sure enough, eliminating the officer’s option of manually cocking his revolver significantly reduced UDs!
However, the idea was not new. NYPD was hardly the first to use uncockable revolvers. We find trigger-cocking, but manually-uncockable, pin-fire revolvers being manufactured and used in Europe in the 1860s.
I’m sure it was for the same reason!
“Who makes few mistakes, makes little progress.”
Bryant McGill