DREYSE, serial # 5232, probably the only known cased revolver
DREYSE Needlefire Pistols

DREYSE & COLLENBUSCH ~ 1850's made needle fire pistol marked DC and the Prussian eagle on the breech of the 7¾" barrel. Serial # 359 on breech and under the right side lever, that one can swing around 180 degrees. Cal. .58 smooth bore. Double or set triggers. Fully stocked with varnished walnut, and grips is checkered with a for the time typical flared grip. This is one of Dreyse’s many tries to sell besides his successful rifle also handguns to the Prussian army.

Extremely rare pistol in excellent condition     $4,500.


Pellet Cartridge  pistol probably German by Dreyse & Collenbusch;
made according to the flared grip ~ 1840's Biedermaier-style. The 3½" octagonal Damascus barrel with four grove rifling in .28 caliber. Casehardened breech section with side lever opens the priming chamber and cocks the spring mounted firing pin. German silver furniture. Full walnut stock with checkered wrist and horn fore-cap. Right side of stock behind side lever fitted for uncommon hook safety. Length overall 10½". Left picture in carrying position, right picture in loading position, open on top for pellet Excellent condition, only ramrod missing. Butterfields 08/25/97, Lot 540        $3,375.


N. Dreyse, Sömmerda,
1850's needle fire salon pistol, # 7163,
cal. 0.34 Prussian inches and "Gran Pulver",
6¾" octagonal barrel with front sight. One the barrel are proof stamps M M in gothic letters. Half-stocked with channeled grip, furniture typical vine engraved. After pushing part of the lock backwards it is possible to lower the right hand side lever opening for loading a hole on top of the barrel. After closing and pushing the breech in position there is the holder of the needle looking out reminding of being loaded. With the pull of the trigger the needle hits the paper cartridge. The system is too complicated and expensive to built, and for this reason no success. Scarce. A similar pistol is pictured in Lugs' book Handfeuerwaffen, # 385.
Fine condition     $3,250.


Franz Dreyse, Sömmerda, 1860's Needle fire revolver,
serial # 1695, cal. 0.35 Prussian inches and "12 Gran Pulv.". 4" barrel, about 70% bright blue remaining. Frame and trigger guard with typical fine vine engraving, checkered walnut grip. A good description of the type of revolver is in Muster’s Revolver Lexicon, item 51. Scarce in excellent  condition like this revolver   The revolver is one of the few still having the needle in place.    $5,000.
early revolver with F. DREYSE, who was knighted in 1860 and then signed v. DREYSE.


Franz von Dreyse, Sömmerda, 1860's Needle fire revolver,
serial # 5064, cal. 0.35 Prussian inches and "12 Gran Pulv.". 4" barrel, about 70% bright blue remaining. Frame and trigger guard with typical fine vine engraving, checkered walnut grip, lanyard ring. A good description of the type of revolver is in
Muster’s Revolver Lexicon, item 51. Scarce in excellent  condition like this revolver       $4,500.


From Questions and Answers
Answered by: P. T. Kekkonen

The Dreyse revolver (SIC! Not a pistol) on the pictures is a rare collector's item even if it is a plain product, but your revolver is a De Luxe version with handmade engravings, and the condition seems to be very fine. Value of plain gun in good condition is about USD 5.000, but you may add at least thousand "bucks" more, because of existence of original engravings and stamps. Even the manufacturer's logo and "charge stamp" are clearly visible.

Charge weight "GRAN PULVER" means really "gran of powder", not gram or grains. (Gran was an old Prussian weight unit, used by pharmacists/ druggists for weighing doses of very strong drugs like morphine, aconitine or white arsenic). The Dreyse revolver is really designed by FRANZ von DREYSE in 1850. I don't know, whether it shot paper-cased cartridges, the "rocket bullets" or both of them, but it was a needle-fire handgun with a primer on the bullet base (cavity?), ignited with a needle-like firing pin thrusted through a powder charge by a long stroke of a striker. French LeFAUCHEUX pinfire revolvers were soon overwhelming competitors of Dreyse revolver.

First pinfire pistols were introduced in the Chrystal Palace Exhibition (London, 1851). They were designed by CASIMIR LeFAUCHEUX. Most of them were single-shot break-loader duelling pistols with a mechanism similar to a LeFaucheux shotgun. Just one was a six-barreled "pepperbox pistol" shooting, however, metal cartridges. Dreyse revolver was also introduced, but it was unable to attract any notice. "Battle proven" percussion revolvers of SAMUEL COLT and big double-action-only wheelguns of ROBERT ADAMS were just gaining popularity in 1851. EUGENE LeFAUCHEUX (son of Casimir?), get idea to combine mechanism of Colt "Navy" Model 1851 to the metal cartridges designed by his father and gunsmith HOULLIER, along with "triple action" trigger mechanism of Adams & BEAUMONT. This mechanism allowed cocking of the hammer with a thumb like hammer of Colt revolvers or simply by pull of the trigger like "bobbed" hammer of original Adams revolver.

Eugene LeFaucheux became a manager of his father's manufacture soon after Chrystal Palace Exhibition. Revolvers with just single barrel and six-shot cylinder, breechloaders, shooting all-metal cartridges, were adopted for mass-production in 1853. It continued until 1930s. Pinfire revolvers had never the power of heavy percussion revolvers, but they were cheap. Mass-produced cartridges were also inexpensive. Dreyse revolvers disappeared from production sometimes in mid-1850s. I presume that less than thousand of them were ever made. They lacked power for military use or even for self-defence (although ANY gun is better for self-defence or home protection than NO gun at all).

For target practice there were available single-shot Dreyse pistols and a large selection of handguns made by other manufactures in Prussia and other Continental European countries. Franz von Dreyse designed also another model of revolvers, with a very futuristic loading mechanism: Cylinder and barrel could be swung to right side of the frame for reloading. My available literature is, unfortunately, unable to tell when the 2nd model Dreyse revolver was designed and whether it shot metallic cartridges or still the "rocket bullets", if not cartridges with paper cases, ignited with a "needle sting". Presumably just a handful of these revolver prototypes were ever made.

Swinging cylinder was adopted in 1892 for French military revolver (incorrectly called as "LEBEL revolver"). It's cylinder swings also to the right side (= WRONG side) of the frame, but the barrel stays fastened to the frame. It is impossible to say, whether or not construction of French revolver M:le 1892 was copied from original idea of Franz von Dreyse.

PS: The "Big Pool" is pet-name of the Atlantic Ocean. In Finnish it is "Rapakko" (= pool, puddle or a mud hole). Finnish emigrants and sailors "seilasivat Rapakon taakse", when they sailed to American continent already hundred years ago, but that very term is still in commonplace use here.