American Rifleman - July 2011 - 53

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A
This pair of French pinfires (above) includes
a 10-shot 12 mm (top) and a 20-round 7 mm
double-barreled revolver. The 7 mm used
an over-under staggered firing cylinder
design with the external hammer striking the top chamber and then the second
inside row of staggered rounds. Both are
double-actions with folding triggers.

Pinfire cartridge guns were not as uncommon as one might think during the Civil
War. Thousands were imported from
England, France, Belgium and Germany.
Examples include (l. to r.): a Belgian
10 mm with gold and silver inlays and
ivory stocks; a French 8 mm with British
proofs; and a German 10 mm with folding
trigger, engraved receiver and cylinder. The
side lever on the latter releases the barrel
from the arbor for loading.
Photos by author. Guns courtesy of Mike Clark/
Collectors Firearms collection.

www.americanrifleman.org/
lematrevolver

s early as December 1861, it had become
clear to both Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson
Davis that the Union and the Confederacy
would need to import longarms and revolvers from Europe in order to equip the tens
of thousands of volunteers fighting on both sides of the
Mason-Dixon line. Although the need was far greater for
the Southern states, where armsmaking was not a widespread industry, even in the more industrialized North
the burden of war would soon outstrip production.
In 1862 President Lincoln commissioned Marcellus
Hartley, a partner in the New York firearm-importing
firm of Schuyler, Hartley & Graham, to supply the Union
with French Lefaucheux revolvers and ammunition. The
Lefaucheux was to become the fourth most commonly
used revolver in the American Civil War, surpassed only
by the Colt, Remington and Starr percussion pistols.

More Than A Decade Ahead Of American Makers

By the mid 1840s, rimfire cartridges were already in use
throughout Europe, and by 1854 the first center-fire ammunition had been developed-thus the Europeans were
more than a decade ahead of American armsmakers. There
was, however, a third type of metallic cartridge, the pinfire,
invented in 1843 by French gunmaker Casimir Lefaucheux.
His innovative design, which used a small brass pin protruding from the cartridge to ignite an internal primer cap,
was so well-received throughout Europe that by the late
1840s, armsmakers were manufacturing revolvers, rifles,
and even shotguns to work with a variety of Lefaucheux
pinfire ammunition. The pinfire was an ingenious design;
the spent cartridges could even be reloaded.
Although Lefaucheux died in 1852, his son Eugene
continued his father's work and in 1854 patented his
own invention: the bored-through cylinder. He received
his French patent on April 15, 1854, a full year before

Eugene Lefaucheux continued his father's work and made
improvements to the pinfire design, including the invention of the bored-through cylinder, which he patented
in France in 1854. Shown is an 1860 patent by Eugene
Lefaucheux for a pinfire revolver.
JULY 2011 AMERICAN RIFLEMAN

51


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American Rifleman - July 2011

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American Rifleman - July 2011 - 1
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