The Firearm Inventions of Edward Lindner

This article was written by a local member:

The Firearm Inventions of Edward Lindner


Click Images To Enlarge

Man is an inventive being, soon after the discovery of firearms, he recognised that the chief problem with the new, and still very primitive weapons, was the time consuming loading operation, which placed strict limits on the rapidity with which they could be fired. It was of course possible to accelerate the speed of firing by keeping a number of loaded weapons to hand or to place multi-charges in each barrel, or to increase the number of barrels, and those methods were used far into the 19th century. However with the large number of single shot military rifles round the most practical solution appeared to be a breech loading self obturating cartridge. – Such an inventor was an American of German decent who worked in conjunction with the Amoskeag Manufacturing Co. of Manchester, New Hampshire – This then is a brief report on the firearms of “EDWARD LINDNER”.

The first recorded mention of Lindner’s firearms was for a repeating percussion firearm, in May 1857 he obtained a patent for a “many shot repeating firearm” which had a 6 shot percussion cylinder: a tubular magazine under the barrel for externally primed combustible envelope cartridges: and an automatically feeding percussion cap magazine located between the recoil shield and the back of the cylinder.

U.S. patent 17382 was issued on the 26th May 1857, for an improvement in firearms. Although Lindners novel multi-shot was not mass produced anyone with an interest in repeating firearms of this period will be impressed by the ingenuity and mechanical skill. What appears at first to be the external hammer with a cocking spur, is not the hammer but the cocking piece only, the actual rod shaped hammer that strikes the nipples on the back of the cylinder is entirely concealed. The cocking piece performed 4 functions:
1] advanced the travelling rack of 8 cones joined in series which is located between the barrel and the tubular magazine.
2] retracts and cocks the internal hammer, which when fired snapped forward through the recoil shield and percussion cap magazine to strike the nipple on the back of the cylinder chamber.
3] retracts the cylinder stop from its recess to allow the cylinder to rotate.
4] rotates the cylinder 1/6 of a turn counter clockwise. Advancing the travelling rack by cocking causes the rack to engage the upward projecting stud of the cartridge follower inside the tubular magazine so that one combustible cartridge will be fed into the bottom of the cylinders when the travelling rack of cones moves backwards on firing the firearm.
In the only known sample of this firearm we find it had the following dimensions: barrel- .48 calibre, 15 3/8 inches long: cylinder length 1 1/4 inches long and 2 inches in diameter: total length 33 1/2 inches weight 5 pounds 12 ounces: cartridge length 1 inch with 6 in the cylinders and 9 in the tubular LindnerPlate5magazine. After 3 chambers of the fully loaded cylinders had been fired, the first fired chamber will have reached the bottom to be loaded when next cocked for the fourth shot, the first cartridge from the magazine will be delivered to the empty bottom chamber. Remarkable was the word to describe a 15 shot repeater in 1857 and had it been mass produced, might have ranked in public acceptance with that other contemporary magazine repeater the Volcanic. In the known sample there is only one magazine tube but there is provision for 2 more: one to he left and one to the right, each capable of holding 9 cartridges in turn, thus it would have contained 33 shots when fully loaded. Remember the barrel was just over 15 in. long and each cartridge 1 in. long, therefore say a 19 in. barrel would have contained 45 shots. There are also patents for Artillery pieces based on the same principle, for fortifications or Marine use or whenever its great weight is no objection. Lindner also pointed out that this mode of using more than one “charging barrel” is of great advantage to pistols of say 5 inches long so as to fire from 20 to 25 shots in succession. Thus the Lindner was a patented percussion weapon having the most firepower of the period and probably only the advent at the same time of the metallic cartridge stopped it from becoming better received.

LINDNERS SINGLE SHOT RIFLE. The claims of the patent read as follows:

  1. The method herein described for operating or closing the breech, and forming a tight joint at the junction of the barrel with the breech, by the employment of a screw ferrule or sleeve fitting an outer screw thread on the barrel, and provided with an annular flange [flat handle] for grasping and releasing the breech, and for drawing the same backwards and forwards in the direction of the barrel, to or from the rear end thereof upon said screw sleeve, being operated substantially as herein described [the breech block being lifted by a spring].
  2. In combination with a movable box within the breech, constructed and operating as described, the packing thereof by means of asbestos or its equivalent, in the manner and for the purposes described.
  3. Locking the screw threaded sleeve that operates the breech by forming the pivot lever, which serves to turn said sleeve, with a cam arranged to act upon a lock pin by pressing down said lever after the breech is drawn tight, as herein set forth.

This most renown type is that as was used in the American Civil war where 892 breech loading carbines were purchased on Lindner’s patent 22,378 dated March 29 1859, at a cost of $19,859.00 along with 100,000 cartridges at $2.262.00. The firearm itself being .58 calibre, bolt action, paper cartridge. Barrel length 20 inches, overall length 33 1/4 inches, light in weight, most with bright finish, hammer showing uneven surfaces. LindnerPatent1They were issued to the 1st Michigan Cavalry in late 1861 and used in 1862 against Stonewall Jackson in the Shenondoah Valley, and later at the second battle of Mannasas. The model 1842 regular rifle was changed to this type using all of the original arm, including the lock, and adding the chamber. The calibre of these being .54 indicating a great need at the time as the official calibre had been changed to .58, and the breech screws were stamped “patented March 29, 1859”. The number thus converted has not been recorded. Bolt action rifles were often designed according to the patent taken out by Lindner and from 1867 on Bavaria, for example adapted old muzzle- loaders [model 1858] using this system, over 100,000 were converted. Austria tested in 1867 a needle gun based on this principle but never adopted needle guns.[see cartridge drawings]

LindnerCartridgesGAS-OPERATED FIREARMS The development of the self loader was a slow process, starting in the mid 19th century with the invention of a gas under barrel piston which unlocked and raised the breech of a percussion breech loader. This principle was obtained on a U.S Patent in 1854 by EDWARD LINDNER. While the gas operated piston ejected the spent cartridge and loaded a new one in the chamber, the gun still had to be cocked and the primer installed by hand before each shot. This Lindner patent is only of interest because it was the first to use the gas from the gunpowder to operate the mechanism. The gun itself was not a great success but neither were the experiments of others between 1866 and 1874.

This article was compiled with help of the following works: [1] The gun report Nov.-Dec. 1966 and Jan. 1967. [2] Breech Loaders in the Civil Service-C.E.Fuller. [3] Firearms-Hamlyn. [4] One Hundred Great Guns-Merril Lindsay. [5] Carbines of the Civil War-J.D.McAulay.