It was decided that the powder charge of the Norwegian smoothbore 16 bore (lødig) percussion muskets should be 101.5 grains. Flintlock muskets were loaded with 180 grains. The 16 bore muskets used a 20 bore roundball. The original charges seem... Read more ...
Loads for Norwegian muskets
It was decided that the powder charge of the Norwegian smoothbore 16 bore (lødig) percussion muskets should be 101.5 grains. Flintlock muskets were loaded with 180 grains. The 16 bore muskets used a 20 bore roundball.
The original charges seem quite heavy compared to the powder charges most shooters use today, but back then the balls were quite undersized. That allowed some of the powder gases to escape, so that the recoil was actually quite light. If they had used a tight fitting patch and ball combo like we do today, the recoil would have been noticeably harder.
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Norway was one of the first countries in the world, perhaps even the first, which adopted a repeating bolt action rifle for the armed forces. The rifle was invented by the Norwegian engineer J. S. Jarmann, and was adopted in 1884. The rifle was modern in 1884, but already obsolete in 1894. This is the story of the Jarmann rifle.
Published: 17 May 2014 by Øyvind Flatnes.
Both the constitution and the union emerged in the wake of the Napoleonic Wars. At the outbreak of the war Norway had been united with Denmark for several hundred years. At first the Danish king remained neutral, but when a British fleet attacked the Danish capital in 1807 and sailed away with practically the entire Danish-Norwegian fleet, he was forced to side with Napoleon. The British navy retaliated by enforcing a maritime blockade that efficiently cut the Norwegian mainland off from vital grain supplies from Denmark.
In 1808 Swedish troops crossed the eastern borders and penetrated into Norwegian territory. The Swedes were repulsed in 1809, and at the same time they lost Finland to Russia. With Napoleon beaten and exiled on Elba in April 1814, Norway was given to Sweden as compensation for the loss of Finland. In the meantime however, the Norwegians had seceded from Denmark and wrote a constitution of their own which was signed on 17 May 1814 at Eidsvoll. Determined to repulse any Swedish troops that crossed the border, Norway nevertheless suffered defeat after a short war during the summer of 1814. As a consequence, Norway was forced into a union with Sweden – but with its own constitution and parliament.
Muzzle-loading flintlock muskets and rifles
Swedish Model 1815 musket.
Danish-Norwegian Model 1803/41/51 jaeger rifle.
Norwegian Model 1825 musket and percussion converted Model 1834.
The Swedish Crown on the other hand had a long tradition of military small-arms production and factories in cities such as Husqvarna and Norrtälje produced quality firearms. But in a rather poor deal, Sweden had sold large amounts of firearms to Russia prior to the outbreak of the Russian-Swedish War of 1808–1809 – without ever getting paid. To add insult to injury, Russia captured Finland from Sweden in the ensuing war. In the years following 1809, Sweden desperately needed to rearm. As well as receiving a large number of muskets as aid from their allies in Britain, they introduced a new model with a smaller 18.55mm (.73") calibre in 1811 which was further improved with a few minor changes in 1815.
After the war, the French-influenced smooth-bore Model 1815 flintlock musket became the general-issue musket for Swedish troops and also served as a pattern for future Norwegian muskets. In addition, Sweden also adopted two 18.55mm rifles in 1815 which do not seem to have been approved until 1820. Known as the Model 1815-20 rifle, it was made in two versions: one of which was issued to «fältjägare» (field jaegers) and the other for infantry jaegers. The latter used a socket type bayonet, while the field jaeger rifle utilised a sword bayonet.
After a slow start, the armoury at Kongsberg introduced a 22 bore (15.7mm/.62") flintlock jaeger rifle in 1821 which was heavily influenced by the Danish Model 1803. The first Norwegian musket was adopted in 1825 and was almost a blueprint of the Swedish Model 1815. However, the 16 bore (17.4mm/.685") calibre was slightly smaller compared to the Swedish muskets, the middle band was considerably wider on the Norwegian muskets, and the overall length of the Swedish 1815 was slightly longer (10–15mm). In addition, the Norwegian 1825 did not have the cheek cavity of the Swedish 1815, and the lock plates differed slightly.
The Norwegian soldiers complained about a somewhat weak design and heavy recoil of the Model 1825, and due to this a new model was adopted in 1829. The stock and bayonet was strengthened by increasing the dimensions, the angle of the butt was altered and the flash hole improved. In 1834 a model with a slightly altered lock was adopted. The new pattern had a rounded lock plate, increased distance between the cock and frizzen and weaker mainspring – the two latter changes were attributed to the English Brown Bess musket.
The Swedish 1815 remained relatively unchanged, but two more patterns were introduced in 1820 and 1838. In 1820 the iron flash pan was replaced with one of brass, but the iron pan was reintroduced two years later. A third pattern with a new dovetailed rear sight was adopted in 1838, in addition to two "reparation models" with either carbine or musket bore which was put together with locks and stocks from older Swedish and foreign muskets.
Muzzle-loading percussion muskets and rifles
Norwegian Model 1843 Naval musket.
Danish-Norwegian Model 1774/41/60 percussion converted musket for volunteers.
The Norwegian Army started experimenting with the percussion system in 1829. The Kongsberg Armoury built 200 percussion rifles designed by Lieutenant Colonel J. C. Blich between 1834 and 1835; half of which had locks designed by Swedish-born Armour Master Andreas Malmberg and the other half a lock designed by Armour Master Ivar Enger. The rifles were issued to jaeger companies for testing, but the models were never officially adopted.
Already in process of adopting a breech-loading percussion rifle the Norwegian army never adopted a new percussion muzzle-loading musket design (except for a cadet rifle), but the navy adopted a musket and rifle-musket with back-action lock in 1843.
The army started converting their existing stock of Danish and Kongsberg flintlock muskets and rifles to the percussion system in 1841. The conversions are usually designated with the original model year first, and then the year the conversion was adopted, for example: Norwegian Model 1825/41 or Swedish Model 1815-45 (Norwegians tend to separate the years with backslashes while Swedes use hyphens).
Like their flintlock counterparts, the smooth-bore muskets were loaded with undersized roundballs from a paper cartridge that contained both powder and ball. In 1851 however, the Norwegians began rifling the best specimens of their smooth-bore muskets and added a pointed stem or pillar to the face of the breech plug. During loading the undersized ball was whacked a couple of times with the ramrod until it expanded on the stem. The Norwegian Army now added the year 1851 to the model designation. Thus a flintlock musket that was adopted in 1834, converted to percussion after 1841 and again converted to pillar-breech rifle in after 1851 got the model designation '1834/41/51'.
Norway's flintlock jaeger rifles – both those left over from the Danish period and the rifles made at Kongsberg – received similar treatment and were converted to percussion and thereafter pillar-breech rifles.
Breech-loading percussion and small-bore rifles
The kammerlader was loaded with roundballs from the start, but selected sharpshooters were issued with a heavy conical ball. In 1855 a new conical bullet was adopted, together with a new sight.
In 1860, Norway adopted a small-bore version of the kammerlader rifle. The 4''' (11.77mm or .46 calibre) Model 1860 kammerlader was generally a scaled down version of the 18 bore rifles, but had a new barrel with Whitworth rifling. At the same time Sweden adopted a new small-bore 12.17mm (.48 calibre) muzzle-loading rifle known as the Wrede Model 1860 rifle, but it soon showed itself useless in the field due to heavy fouling after repeated firing.
Read in-depth articles about the different Norwegian kammerlader rifles and their ammunition.
Sweden experimented with breech-loaders too. Invented by Hagström, Sweden adopted a needle-fire (sometimes referred to as 'kammerlader') rifle in 1864 and although 16,000 were made, none seems to have entered military service. By now, both countries were awaiting the adoption of a new metallic cartridge rifle and a method of converting the breech-loading and muzzle-loading guns to a new metallic cartridge.
Metallic Cartridge Rifles
Norwegian and Swedish Remington rolling block rifles.
4''' Landmark kammerlader conversion.
Model 1876 Krag-Petersson rifle.
10.15mm Jarmann rifle.
The Remington rifles differed slightly as well. Read this article for more in-depth information about the Norwegian and Swedish rolling block rifles.
Ole Hermann Johannes Krag – later known for the Krag-Jørgensen rifle he invented with Erik Jørgensen – tried to convince the army about the advantages of a repeating rifle as early as 1867. He got his first repeating rifle adopted by the Norwegian Royal Navy in 1876. Constructed with the help of Swedish engineer Axel Petersson, only 975 rifles were made in total at the armoury at Carl Johans Vern in Horten, Norway and Carl Gustaf Stads gevärsfaktori in Eskilstuna, Sweden. The falling block action was clearly inspired by the Bavarian Model 1869 Werder rifle. It had a ten shot tubular magazine under the barrel, but the 12mm Remington cartridges identical to the ones used in the Remington rolling block had to be fed manually from the cartridge elevator and into the chamber. It never became the success Krag hoped for.
In 1877 a joint Norwegian and Swedish small-arms committee decided to reduce the calibre from 12 to 10.15mm (.40"). A new centrefire cartridge, later known as the 10.15 x 61 Jarmann, was adopted for a future military rifle that was not yet adopted. Both Norway and Sweden tested the Jarmann rifle adopted by Norwegian Jacob Smith Jarmann, but only Norway adopted it in substantial numbers. 1,500 Jarmann rifles were made for the Swedish Navy and approximately 30,000 rifles were made for the Norwegian Army and Navy. Officially adopted in 1884 by the Norwegian army, the Jarmann rifle had a bolt-action repeating mechanism with a tubular magazine under the barrel. Read more about the Jarmann rifle in this article.
Norway's first heavy machine gun, the Hotchkiss Model 1898 also utilised the 10.15 x 61 Jarmann cartridge, but it was now loaded with smokeless powder.
Sweden remained without a repeating rifle, but adopted an 8mm version of the rolling block rifle in 1889. Black powder was now a thing of the past, and the 8 x 58 cartridges were loaded with smokeless powder. In 1894 Norway followed the example of Denmark (1889) and the US (1892) and adopted the 6.5 x 55 calibre Krag-Jørgensen rifle. The Krag-Jørgensen remained in Norwegian service until the Second World War. Sweden adopted a German Mauser carbine the same year and a Mauser rifle two years later, also in 6.5mm.
Muzzle-loading pistols and revolvers
Norwegian Model 1848 Naval and Postal Services pistol.
Norwegian Model 1834/46 pistol.
Attaching the buttstock on a Norwegian Model 1834/46 pistol.
7.5mm Nagant revolver.
The first new Army model was adopted in 1829 for mounted jaegers. A copy of the Swedish Model 1820, production did not commence until a number of improvements have been made until 1831. The Model 1831 was issued in pairs in which one pistol was rifled (22 bore) and the other smooth-bored (21 bore). Both could be fitted with a detachable butt stock and shared a ramrod. Similar to the muskets, the lock plate of the pistols was rounded after 1834. In 1835 a similar pistol was adopted for the artillery, but without the shoulder stock. Most army pistols were converted to percussion after 1846.
In the late 1850s the metallic cartridge was beginning to gain foothold. The Norwegian Navy adopted the French Lefaucheux pinfire revolver in 1859. After testing both Kongsberg-made 4''' (11.77mm/.46") English Beaumont-Adams percussion revolvers and French revolver already adopted by the Navy, the Army found the Lefaucheux superior and adopted it in 1864. The pinfire revolver was used in Sweden as well, but in 1871 they adopted an 11mm centrefire revolver. Basically a centrefire version of the Lefaucheux revolver, the new revolver was designed by August Hagström.
The Norwegian army adopted both a single and double-action version of the 9mm Nagant revolver in 1883, but due to financial issues fewer than 200 revolvers were purchased. Sweden adopted the 7.5mm Nagant revolver in 1887 and the Norwegian army followed in 1893. The only difference between the Swedish and Norwegian revolver is the shape of the front sight.
From the above it's easy to conclude that the Norwegians did their best to stay ahead of Sweden and adopted several cutting edge designs for their time. Luckily, in 1905 when the Norway gained independence from Sweden after many internal disputes, it happened peacefully without a shot being fired. Unfortunately, the proactive thinking stopped with the independence, and when the modern German war machine invaded Norway in April 1940 the arms and equipment had not changed much since 1905. But that's another story.