Dreyse needle fire revolver cartridges


Looking for information and or drawings/images of the needle fire cartridges used in Dreyse revolvers circa 1840-1860.
Specifically those about 9 or 10mm.

Unlike the Dreyse needle fire rifles which were breechloaders, the revolver cartridges were loaded into chambers in the cylinder the same way as with percussion cylinders, using a rammer lever to seat them from the front. A tiny hole at the rear of the chamber allowed the needle to penetrate the cartridge to activate the primer.

Were there design features in the cartridges to prevent flash over or chain fire multiple discharges?
What did the primer look like and how was it secured to the base of the bullet?

Any idea what the powder charges and bullet weight were? [Historical interest only, not planning on loading any!]


Hi John.
Dr. John Anderson is doing some research on Needle Fire cartridges and guns. I will send you a PM with his contact information. I don’t know if he is looking into the Dryse guns or not, but he tore a strip off me recently when I gave a speach about the developement of ammuntion and failed to mention Dryse.



There are several types, with minor differences and 3 major calibers.

.30, .35 and .39 - BUT prussian inches

That would be 7,85mm, 9,16mm and 10,2mm bore dia.

Here is a 1868 model in .35 cal. with loading leaver

The revolver was sold civil and only the .39 was used by the prussian police and border patrols.

The cartridge is a paper tube with a paper bottom; the powder was filled in and a rolled cylindrical paper sabot was set on the powder charge. The paper sabot has a pressed in primer charge into a pocket at the bottom and an semishperical cavity for a round ball in the top. The paper tube was foldet and tied over the round ball.
The sabot dia. for the .35mm cal was 9,4mm (.36) with 12 Gran powder (app. 11,5 grain)
The bigger .39 cartridge was loaded with 4,1/2 Cent powder, too ( app.11,5 grain)
The exact ball diameter need some more researches…

Hope this will help you out …


George Hoyem’s Volume 4, History And Development of Small arms Ammunition has a good section of needlefire cartridges