With the introduction of gunpowder and the development of the first rifles, warfare has been radically changed. Before, for the most part, battles with swords, axes or lances man-to-man were the basic principle of warfare, and this new weapon made the fight more remote. Due to the many developments of the past centuries, the rifle developed into a standard weapon of every infantry used to this day.





The rifle is now counted as a handgun to the firearms, which is to be operated with both hands. Within the category firearms the rifle is led as a long weapon.




Distinction of gun types:

The rifle is divided mainly into 2 main groups

Runner profile:
- Rifle
The rifle has a drawn barrel through which the projectile fired gets a spin
- shotgun
The shotgun uses a smooth barrel. For example, there are known Shotguns whose application is short distances
- Combined weapons
Both arms are used in these weapons. Especially with hunting weapons this type is used


Charging function:
- muzzle loader
In this type, the weapon is loaded from the front through the barrel. For this purpose, the gunpowder is usually first admitted and then the projectile. This guy was the first stage of development of the rifle
- single loader
With the single loader, the projectiles are individually inserted into the chamber by hand
- Loader or Repeater
This type has a cartridge magazine which holds several cartridges. The loading of the rifle with a new cartridge takes place here manually after each shot
- Self-loading
This type has an automatic mechanism that automatically recharges the weapon after a shot
- Machine gun
Machine guns are fully automatic weapons that fire a large number of cartridges in a short time. Unlike self-loading machines, machine guns do not have a single shot function




History of the rifle:

The first handgun was the hand tube. With the introduction of gunpowder to Europe (presumably from China), this weapon initially developed in Italy, from where it spread around 1300 across the rest of the continent.

At the beginning of the missions, the hand tubes were still cast in bronze, with the invention of steel, these weapons were made from the material. The ammunition was cast lead bullets.


Handbüchse aus Linz mit Dorn für Stangenschäftung und mit Zündlochmuschel, Ende des 14. Jahrhunderts

Manual rifle from Linz with spike for bar stock and with funnel cup, end of the 14th century


Handbüchsen mit Balkenschäftung, Ende 14. Jahrhundert

Manual bushes with bar stock, late 14th century



From the fifteenth century onwards, the development of the lock made it possible to replace the construction of the manual box and the muskets and arquebus were developed as handguns.

The principle of the matchlock is based on a fuse, which was attached to a Luntenhaken. This one lit and operated the trigger, so that the smoldering fuse drove into the pan mounted on the side of the chamber with gunpowder and thus ignited the gunpowder for the shot. The advantage of the shooter was that he was able to aim with the rifle and thus the accuracy could be significantly increased compared to the manual rifle.


Das Konzept des Luntenschloss

The concept of the matchlock

The 3 phases of ignition:
1. The gunpowder is poured into the side pan and ignited the fuse
2. By pressing the trigger the smoldering fuse is pressed into the pan with the gun powder. The projectile is fired by the explosion
3. After the shot, the Luntenhaken is pressed back into its starting position, the fuse can now continue to glow or be deleted

Luntenhahn äussere Anbringung, Mitte 15. Jahrhundert

Luntenhahn outer mounting, mid-15th century


Luntenhahn innere Anbringung, Mitte 15. Jahrhundert

Luntenhahn inner attachment, mid 15th century


Luntenschloss Ende 15. Jahrhundert

matchlock late 15th century


Luntenschloss Muskete, Anfang 17. Jahrhundert

matchlock Musket, early 17th century


Around the same time as the lock was introduced, Leonardo da Vinci developed a triggering mechanism called a wheel lock. The principle was similar to that of Luntenschloss, except that no fuse was attached to a Luntenhaken but the instead of pyrites was clamped in cheeks and grazing when triggered along a wheel. The resulting spark ignited the powder and it could be shot.


Aufbau eines Radschloss

Construction of a wheel lock

1 lock plate, 2 cock with jaws to hold the pyrite, 3 cock feather,
4 frying pan, 5 pan pans (pan lid), 6 closing spring for the pan lid,
7 pan pusher arm, 8 leaf spring holding back the open pan lid, 9 wheel, 10 hole, 11 wheel axle, 12 wheel cover, 13 link chain, 14 striker, 15 rod, 16 rod spring, 17 lugs, 18 trigger


Due to the negative experiences with the use of lock and wheel locks, which caused their failure in moisture, a better alternative was already researched in the 16th century. These led to the development of the flintlock, which should ensure the functioning of the rifle even in damp conditions. The first models with the new ignition mechanism, however, were quite susceptible to failure, until the late 16th century, the technology was mature enough to replace the old mechanisms. Already at the beginning of the 17th century, most European infantry weapons were equipped with it.

The principle of the flintlock was similar to that of the predecessor models. However, one used a flint instead of a fuse or a chimney. This is mounted on a tap, which is tensioned with a spring mechanism. When you pull the trigger, the tap dissolves and he hits with the flint on a metal flap along. This spark is triggered ignite the gunpowder.


Holländisches Steinschloss

Dutch flintlock

1 lock plate, 2 faucets, 3 faucet support, 4 fire shields, 5 pan pusher lids, 6 fire steel, 7 fire steel feathers


Steinschloss mit Feuerstein in Sicherheitsrast bzw. Laderast

Flintlock with flint in safety catch or loader


Aufbau eines Steinschloss Gewehres

Construction of a flintlock rifle

1 barrel, 2 muzzle, 3 bayonet, 4 grit, 5 upper ring, 6 tubes, 7 ring eyelet with ring spring hooks, 8 ring spring, 9 loading stick groove, 10 middle ring, 11 upper stirrup and strap eyelet, 12 shank, 13 lower ring, 14 tail screw with tailscrew , 15 visor (rear sight), 16 lock, 17 lower stirrup, 18 trigger, 19 trigger guard, 20 front blade of the trigger guard, 21 rear blade of the trigger guard, 22 piston neck, 23 piston comb, 24 piston, 25 piston flap, 26 nose of the piston flap, 27 piston flap screws


Phasen des Steinschlosses

Phases of the flintlock

The 3 phases of ignition:
1. The cock is in the rest position, the pan lid is folded up so that the gunpowder can be poured
2. The cock is cocked and the pan lid folded down
3. When the trigger is actuated, the tap shoots forward on the battery. This creates sparks that cause the gunpowder to explode. In addition, the pan lid is pushed up


A further development of the flintlock was introduced at the beginning of the 19th century with the percussion lock. The principle of spark development persisted, but instead of storing the gunpowder in pans, primers were used. The advantage with these was beside the renewed weather independence the missing lightning during the ignition. The shooters could now aim better.


Das Perkussionsschloss von Alexander Forsyth von 1807

The percussion lock of Alexander Forsyth from 1807


Das Perkussionsschloss für Zündhütchen

The percussion lock for primers


Pistole mit Perkussionsschloss von 1842

Pistol with percussion lock from 1842


A decisive development in the rifle technology made in 1827 Johann Nicholas of Dreyse with the invention of the Zündnadelgewehres and the novel ammunition, which united the 3 components of the firing (projectile, propellant charge and ignition element) in a cartridge. The development was based on designs by Samuel Johann Pauli, who laid the foundation for the Zündnadelgewehr already in 1810, after the French ruler Napoleon tenders for new rifles were carried out. At this time, however, the new weapon was technically still inadequate, so this was eliminated in the award of the contract.

Only years later could Pauli's pupil Dreyse develop the weapon and eliminate the initial problems. He tried to sell his first prototypes to the Prussian military. However, these were still muzzleloaders and thus there were multiple, unwanted ignitions when loading the weapons. It was not until 1836 Dreyse could develop a movable chamber or cylinder lock, which allowed the loading of the weapons from behind and thus eliminated the problem of unwanted ignitions.

From the 40s of the 19th century, the Zündnadelgewehr was delivered to the Prussian army. From 1849 in the suppression of riots was the first military use of the new rifle. The military leadership was then so enthusiastic that the Prussian ruler Wilhelm I ordered the equipment of his entire army with it.

A special side effect of the new rifle was also the application of new tactics, which the Prussian Field Marshal Moltke worked out and implemented in the Austro-Prussian War. In doing so, they moved away from the classic fight man against man, did not let the attack formation run close to the enemy, but relaxed it. Also, the usual volley shooting entire soldiers lines was waived, but every soldier should shoot as fast as he could reload. With the new rifle and new tactics, Prussia achieved overwhelming military success.


Darstellung des Zündnadelmechanismus von Nikolaus Dreyse

Illustration of the firing pin mechanism by Nikolaus Dreyse

1 sleeve head, 2 cartridge bearings, 3 cartridge, 4 squib, 5 firing pin, 6 air chamber, 7 chamber stems, 8 chamber stem button, 9 wart, 10 sleeve, 11 chamber, 12 needle tube, 13 pin bolts, 14 spiral spring, 15 locking spring with handle, 16 thumb studs, 17 Schlößchen, 18 trigger spring, 19 sear, 20 trigger, 21 trigger arm with pressure points


Zündnadelgewehr der preußischen Armee

Firing pin rifle of the Prussian army


Die ersten modernen Patronen

The first modern cartridges


Zündnadelkarabiner M/57

Firing pin carabiner M/57


After the first modern cartridges were still made of paper, one soon began with the production of metal cartridges. With the advent of the Firing pin rifle was already a major technical advance in weapons technology completed. Now engineers began to focus on storing more cartridges in the gun in a magazine, making reloading faster and more efficient.

Through this incentive developed the multi-loader rifles and repeating rifles. The cartridges were now lined up under the barrel or in the shoulder rest and, after a shot by manually pulling back the cap, could insert a new cartridge and fire again. With this construction, the reload time could be significantly reduced, thus increasing the firepower of the infantry.


Aufbau eines Mehrlade Gewehres

Construction of a multi-load rifle

1 barrel, 2 cartridges in the cartridge chamber, 3 magazine, 4 coil spring, 5 locking cylinders, 6 cock, 7 striker, 8 rails for attaching the piston, 9 trigger, 10 sear, 11 bow lever, 12 knee joint, 13 feeder, 14 feeder arm, 15 feeder spring , 16 brass case


Weitere Varianten eines Mehrlade Gewehres

Other variants of a multi-load rifle


The next step in the development of the rifle was the automatic reloading of cartridges. If each cartridge had to be manually pushed into the chamber of the multi-load rifle, now a possibility developed that after a shot the lock was pressed backwards and pushed a new cartridge into the chamber of the cartridge during the rash. The resulting rifles were called semi-automatic rifles because they only fired one shot per trigger. Already in the First World War these rifles were in use.

During the Second World War, the first gas-pressure boosters were developed, which were the first fully automatic rifles as assault rifles. The difference to the self-loaders was that fully automatic weapons could deliver a continuous series of shots while holding the trigger, ie continuous fire. This could be done until either the magazine was empty or the barrel was too hot and threatened to forgive. Examples of the first assault rifles are the German assault rifle 44 or the Kalashnikov (AK-47).

Today's rifles have received mainly improvements in handling and in the materials used since World War II. Particularly with the assault rifles like the German G-36 was put on lighter materials.


Deutsches Sturmgewehr 44

German assault rifle 44


AK-47 Sturmgewehr

AK-47 assault rifle


Deutsches G-36

German G-36



Manufacturers of weapons production:

At the beginning of the 18th century, the demand for rifles to equip the European armed forces steadily increased. The manufacture of weapons brought the craft enterprises to their limits and so founded the first manufactories.

The production process in these was the forerunner of later industrial assembly line production. Employees made only one part of the rifle during the entire shift. This allowed manufacturers to meet their needs.

To mark the manufactured rifles, the manufacturers attached their inspection or inspection marks to the weapons. so you could tell from which the weapon was made.

Among the largest in Europe at the time were the following:







You can find the right literature here:


The Scout Rifle Study: The History of the Scout Rifle and its place in the 21st Century

The Scout Rifle Study: The History of the Scout Rifle and its place in the 21st Century Paperback – February 21, 2018

This book is the definitive study of the enigma known as the Scout Rifle. The Scout Rifle, as conceived by Jeff Cooper, is one of the most misunderstood firearms of all time. The Scout Rifle Study examines the factors that influenced Cooper’s Scout Rifle Concept, examines the practicality of the Scout Rifle, looks at the various attempts to achieve Scout Rifle nirvana, and explores the feasibility of the Scout Rifle in the modern world. Whether you’re already a Scout Rifle enthusiast or if you’re considering a Scout Rifle for the first time, The Scout Rifle Study is the ultimate guide to what many believe is a rifle that can do everything well or possibly, the only rifle you will ever need.

Click here!



The Ultimate Optics Guide to Rifle Shooting: A Comprehensive Guide to Using Your Riflescope on the Range and in the Field

The Ultimate Optics Guide to Rifle Shooting: A Comprehensive Guide to Using Your Riflescope on the Range and in the Field Hardcover – December 7, 2015

The Ultimate Optics Guide to Rifle Shooting walks you through each step of the process on how to use your optical rifle scope to its maximum potential. A complete and comprehensive guide to using your rifle scope in the field or on the range. The optical rifle scope has been in use for more than one hundred years, but it's not until now that a book has come along to teach the shooter how to truly use it. Law Enforcement and Military Snipers, competition shooters and hunters, this book will raise your shooting skills to a whole new level of effectiveness.
With illustrations and full description of each facet of the operation of the rifle scope this book is a must for anyone who uses an optic on a firearm. The author speaks to you in a language that every shooter can understand and gives you real world examples of its uses....

Click here!



The Complete World Encyclopedia of Guns

The Complete World Encyclopedia of Guns Paperback – 2009

This comprehensive encyclopedia of firearms is both an authoritative reference work and a stunning visual directory, explaining the development of arms through the centuries, and showing the capabilities and individual specifications of the weapons. It presents a superb pictorial guide to the most significant pistols, revolvers, rifles, machine and submachine guns. Enthusiasts can quickly find specific guns, all with full information and color photography. Each gun's features are listed, as are the military, political and technological contexts in which the gun was developed.

Click here!



History of the Gun in 500 Photographs

History of the Gun in 500 Photographs Paperback – May 10, 2016

Few inventions have had more of a profound impact on the course of civilization than guns: The first hand-held versions were Chinese fire lances invented in the 10th century, though it was Europeans who were credited with creating the handheld weapons that we recognize today. Americans and their expansion westward were the ones who refined, and helped define innovation and the development of an industry. Starting with Samuel Colt and the "revolver revolution," Americans took the lead in moving gun development forward. Names now well-known including Wesson, Winchester, and Browning helped create weapons that helped move a nation forward and ushered in the industrialized warfare of World War I. Now, TIME-LIFE, in the next book in the success "500 Photographs" series, following World War II in 500 Photographs and The Civil War in 500 Photographs, brings readers The History of the Gun in 500 Photographs, which traces the fascinating evolution of firearms, not just as tools of security, but as ingenious feats of science and engineering.

This book contains over 500 photos that take readers on a historical and visual journey of the gun, not just as a weapon, but as a constantly-evolving artifact that has shaped America's culture and mindset.

Click here!






This post is also available in: Deutsch (German) Français (French) Italiano (Italian) 简体中文 (Chinese (Simplified)) Русский (Russian) Español (Spanish) العربية (Arabic)

Comments are closed.

error: Content is protected !!