The Norwegian Kammerlader

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Author: Øyvind Flatnes
Category: Kammerlader
Published: 11.24. 2007
Edited: Sunday 25 Nov. 2007, at 16:37 (GMT +1)
Views: 23656

Kammerlader

18 bore kammerlader with open chamber.

The first Norwegian breech-loader was the 18 bore (.69 cal.) Chamber-loading Rifle (Kammerladningsgever), adopted in 1842. The Model 1842 was succeeded by several models, each with more or less minor changescompared to the original model. The most extensive change was made in 1860 when the calibre was reduced to 11.77mm (.46 cal.). The breech-block, containing the chamber, was pivoted at the rear; a side lever, mounted on an eccentric cam, opened the action and provided an effectual breech-seal when the action was shut. An under-hammer cap lock originally lay ahead of the trigger guard. After the Norwegian army had adopted the Remington Rolling Block, in 1867, many old chamber-loaders were altered to fire the same rim fire cartridge. Conversions were known as Landmark's and Lund's. The Navy adopted the Landmark, which was slower to load compared to the Lund's that the Army adopted. The new calibre was 12,17mm (.48 cal.) and the cartridge was named 12,17x44R. It was built on the US 50-70 cartridge, but it is not quite as powerful.

Click here to see my drawings of how the first models were loaded with the paper cartridge.

Find out more!
You can read more about the Norwegian chamber-loading 'kammerlader' rifles and other capping breech-loading rifles and carbines, as well as needle guns such as the Dreyse and Chassepot in the brand new book From Musket to Metallic Cartridge: A Practical History of Black Powder Firearms.

Some counterfactual thoughts

Kammerlader As the chamber-loading rifles never saw any combat in its service timeframe, we actually have to imagine what had happened if it was used in the hands of soldiers in a war. If we look to other nations and their armies, Norway was far ahead of most others. One exception is Prussia which adopted von Dreyse’s 15.4 mm (.60”) needle-gun in 1841. The needle-gun, or Zündnadelgewehr as it was called in Prussia, fired a self-contained cartridge, while the chamber-loader had to be loaded with paper cartridge and loose caps. However, the needle-gun had its limitations.

In the rest of the world the muzzleloader was still extensively used. At the outbreak of the American Civil War 19 years after the adoption of the chamber-loader Norway had already improved their first chamber-loader and reduced the calibre. The Civil War was largely fought with muzzleloading rifle muskets. Would the outcome of the war have been different if one or both of the opposing parties had been armed with the Norwegian chamber-loader? Probably not. First of all, the Civil War was largely fought with outdated battle tactics from the time of the smoothbore musket. Secondly, the troops lacked marksman training.

However, an army that was trained both with the kammerlader rifle and more appropriate battle tactics would probably have had some impact in the wars that were fought with muzzleloaders. One example is the battle of Königsgrätz in 1866 when Bismarck's Prussians armed with von Dreyse's needle-guns completely overrand the Austrians that were armed with muzzleloaders.

Accuracy

Kammerlader

Shooting an M/1855.

During an military competition in Belgium in 1861, 47 target shooting guns were tested. Norway had two guns in the competition, a 3-band and a 2-band model 1860 chamber loading target shooting rifle. The distance they were shot began at 50 yds, and then increased to 100, 150, 225 and 300 yds, and from 300 yds each 100 yds. out to 1100 yds. As the distance increased, more and more guns fell out of the competition. At the end the two Norwegian guns were left, along with seven foreign ones. The tests in Belgium showed that the model 1860 there was among the most accurate weapons in Europe in its time.

Bullets

It can be a bit difficult to get hold of a proper bullet mould for a kammerlader. I have made my own drawings and made a bullet mould that casts a replica of the Model 1855 bullet.

Kammerlader Kammerlader

To the left: Paper cartridges. To the right: Bullets cast from a custom mould.

Kammerlader Kammerlader

To the left: A good group shot with a M/1849/55/59 two band kammerlader. Right: Shooting a M/1849/55/59 two band kammerlader.



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