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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With the technique called lead lapping pitted or damaged rifle or pistol barrels can have new life. In short, the process involves casting a lead slug into the barrel. Apply abrasive to the slug (or lap) and work it back and forth in the barrel until the bore is polished.
Published: 5 May 2019 by Øyvind Flatnes.
11mm Model 1864/98 Lefaucheux revolver made for the Norwegian Army by Lefaucheux in Paris in 1864. It was reinforced with a top-strap in 1898.
This is how the revolver looked like before it was reinforced with the top-strap in 1898.
Model 1864/98 Lefaucheux as seen from above.
The top-strap is marked with the last four digits of the serial number and the K marking of Kongsberg Våpenfabrikk (Kongsberg small-arms factory).
The barrel is marked with Eugène Lefaucheux' address: 'E. Lefaucheux Brte S.G.D.G. A Paris'.
All Norwegian-issue Lefaucheux revolvers are marked with a Norwegian lion.
Norwegian Lefaucheux revolvers
The first Lefaucheux revolver was patented in 1854, and when the French navy adopted a six-shot 12mm Lefaucheux revolver in 1858 France became the first country to officially adopt a metallic cartridge for military use. However, Norway was not far behind. In 1859 the Norwegian navy ordered 800 single-action 11mm revolvers from Lefaucheux in Paris. In 1864 the navy ordered 300 more, in addition to 200 double-action revolvers.
In 1864, the Norwegian army also ordered 1100 single-action revolvers for enlisted men, as well as 200 single-action revolvers and 200 double-action revolvers for officers. The enlisted men’s revolvers had round barrels, while the officers’ revolvers had octagonal barrels. In addition, the small-arms factory at Kongsberg produced 200 enlisted men’s revolvers in 1868. All the Lefaucheux revolvers used in Norway are marked with the Norwegian lion on right side of the barrel.
The enlisted men's revolvers were mainly issued to cavalry troopers and artillerymen.
The 1898 modification
In 1893 the Norwegian Army and Navy adopted the 7.5mm Nagant revolver. The old Lefaucheux revolvers had been obsolete for many years already, and the open frame was fragile. In 1898 many of the Army revolvers were modified with a top strap to make them sturdier. The Model 1864 revolvers modified in 1898 are designated Model 1864/98.
Originally, the revolvers had a wide rear sight filed into the hammer similar to the Colt percussion revolvers. Now a new and narrower V shaped sight was added on top of the top strap. This made sighting easier.
Even though Norway purchased over 12 000 of Nagant revolvers from Belgium between 1893 and 1899, the Lefaucheux revolvers were not pulled out of service. Some of them were still in use by the fortress artillery in the 1920s. In 1931 it was formally decided to retire them. The Navy’s Lefaucheux revolvers were sold out of service in 1904.
The pinfire cartridge
Original pinfire cartridges for Norwegian 11mm Lefaucheux revolvers (photo: Forsvarsmuseet).
The Norwegian Lefaucheux bullet.
The Norwegian Lefaucheux cartridge. Note the cardboard ring surrounding the percussion cap.
The Lefaucheux revolvers are pleasant to shoot. The light charges produce a mild recoil.
A pinfire cartridge consisted of a copper case, cap, powder, ball and pin. The cap was an ordinary percussion cap which was placed inside the case. A part of the integrated firing pin protruded outside the case and had to be placed in a slot in the barrel during loading. When the revolver hammer struck the pin the cartridge ignited.
The Norwegian cartridges are sometimes designated “12mm”, but the army’s cartridge boxes are labelled “11mm”. As far as it is known, there is no difference between 11 and 12mm pinfire ammunition, and it is not known why two different designations were used.
The pinfire system had two major drawbacks. As well as being expensive to manufacture, the protruding pin was sensitive to rough handling in the field. If, for example, the cartridges were carried in the pocket, the pin could bump into something and ignite.
The Norwegian pinfire cartridges were loaded with 7,7 grains of fine black powder – not very potent for a military revolver. The American .44 calibre percussion revolvers used in the American Civil War (1861–65) were loaded with almost four times as much powder. Many of the American revolvers were loaded with up to 30 grains of powder.
The Norwegian 11mm cartridges were loaded with a heel-base lead bullet with the following specifications:
- Weight: 190 grains
- Diameter: 11,452 mm/.450"
- Length: 15,766 mm/.621"
No lubrication was used on the bullets.
In 1867 it became evident that the load was too light, and tests were performed with a slightly increased charge of 9,4 grains. This load performed better. At 63 metres the bullets went through a 1" piece of wood.
The increased load was adopted on 2 January 1869. The same load was also used for the blank cartridges as the previous 7,7 grains load was so weak that it couldn’t be heard even at short distances.
Loading 11 pinfire cartridges
French company H & C Collection, offers reloading kits for 11 and 12 mm pinfire cartridges, but you can also make your own pinfire cases from spent .45 ACP cases. You simply saw off the rim, plug the primer hole and remains of the primer pocket with tin solder and drill a hole for a firing pin. The process is described in the video at the bottom of the article. Note that instead of using solder, you can also plug the hole with a copper or iron rivet and file it flush with the base.
Bullet moulds are not readily available, but roundballs for .44 calibre percussion revolvers work fine. .451" and .454" is close to the original diameter. The .45 ACP cases turn out about 20mm (.800") long. The original pinfire cases were only 14mm (.55") long, so you can safely trim the length about 5mm (.200") if you want to use longer conical bullets.
Shooting and accuracy
The revolver pictured in this article has a mirror bright bore and a tight mechanism. The ejector rod was missing, but gunsmith Runar Stava made a nice replacement. The barrel failed to rotate when the hammer was cocked, but Runar fixed that as well.
The cases made from .45 ACP was loaded with 11 grains of Swiss #2 (FFFg) and a .454" roundball. A lubricated felt wad was used between the powder and ball. A small amount of semolina between the wad and ball served as a filler.
The revolver was first tested at 25 metres. I added a small amount of soft black powder lubricant in the chamber mouth as well. The wind was quite strong, and the shots grouped high and to the left (one hand offhand). With the correct point of impact however, the shots would have grouped within a 20 cm circle.
The revolver has a comfortable grip and the recoil is not surprisingly quite mild.
The next test was carried out at approximately 20 metres, but now I used 11 grains of Wano PPP and omitted the lubricant in the chamber mouths. The first shots grouped nicely but the group opened up a bit after two barrels (12 shots). The last load looks promising and with some load development this revolver will probably shoot even better. The ignition was reliable and I did not encounter any misfires.
You can of course reuse spent cases. Simply remove the pins with a pair of pliers and was the cases and pins in hot soapy water.
The annual reports of the Norwegian artillery (1864–1884).