The Norwegian Kammerlader
Published: 11.24. 2007
Edited: Sunday 25 Nov. 2007, at 16:37 (GMT +1)
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 upcoming book From Musket to Metallic Cartridge: A Practical History of Black Powder Firearms.
Some counterfactual thoughts
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 Dreyses 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 First of all, the Civil War was largely fought with outdated battle tactics from the time of the smoothbore musket.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.
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.
To the left: Paper cartridges. To the right: Bullets cast from a custom mould.
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.