What we today call the Collette Gravity Gun was actually designed by a gunsmith named Jean Nicolas Herman in Liege between 1850 and 1854. He was an employee of Victor Collette (note: spellings vary), and licensed his patent for Collette to produce. The system was first shown at the 1855 Paris International Exposition, and both rifle and pistol versions of the gun would be produced by Collette until the early 1870s.
The name “Gravity Gun” is a bit more exciting than the reality of the gun; the name comes from the fact that the magazine tube is operated only by gravity. A channel above the barrel holds a stack of rocket ball type self-contained cartridges, and pointing the barrel upward when cycling the action allows gravity to pull rounds into the breechblock one at a time. These were guns intended for recreational parlor-type shooting, and their ammunition was extremely underpowered by military standards. However, the very short cartridge length meant that the standard pistol could hold 20 rounds, and the rifle approximately 60!
Collette Gravity Rifles are extremely rare today, and I didn’t want to miss this chance to show one of them on the channel. Thanks to Ader of Paris for the chance to film it!
Both the rifle and pistol are being sold in Ader’s September 28th auction, along with a bunch of other interesting antique arms.