Collette Gravity Guns: A 60-Shot Rifle in 1854

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.


  1. Looking at this firearm I an convinced that the loading procedure is a little more complex than described. If you look at the length of the hinged bullet guide it is at least two bullets long. Therefore if you tilt the barrel up to load there ill be one if not two bullets left under this guide which will foul it and prevent the loaded breach block from descending to the firing position.
    I would suggest the loading system is as follows.
    Raise breach block and lift barrel till cartridge slides down to the breach.
    Engage ramming leaver, lower barrel and ram bullet into the breach block.
    Close breach and drop the feed guide to close the magazine.
    Raise barrel, aim and fire.
    Repeat till magazine is Empty

  2. Have shot inside with .22 quiet rounds (Aquila) and it is not loud at all. Used a rifle and you could probably do it with out hearing protection. Not recommended, but possible.
    But even a bullet trap made me leery. Makes you wonder what they were doing a century ago shooting inside a “parlor” even if the gun was very low power. Gotta be some of those slugs buried in walls of houses in older cities.

  3. “(…)rocket ball type self-contained cartridges(…)”
    municion is aware of 3 different types of “rockets” associated with Collette weapons
    6 mm Loron Self propelled for Gravity pistol from 1854
    10 mm Collette Self propelled also from 1854
    10 mm Fusnot Self-propelled 1867 from 1867

  4. A year or so ago I came across a gentleman on YouTube who had constructed a similar gallery type repeating black powder gun, with an electrical ignition system. The pistol had a powder magazine & a ball or bullet magazine, and to load, one would tip the gun up and perform various operations to load the powder and ball in the breech. He used it to practice shooting in his garden.

  5. Stupid question: Would such a cumbersome system today be considered illegal to own in America, even though the high-capacity tube magazine is not detachable? Some idiot-lawyer might claim that the tube is merely a “disguise” to make the “assault weapon” look outdated. And to try and prove the thing isn’t an antique, he’d SAW IT IN HALF.

    • Cherndog, I think it would come under the provisions of being a “Curio and Relic”, but indealing with ATF, who knows?

      • Yeah, and the ATF was once forced to apologize to an antique collector after they had vandalized his stuff and trashed his house while claiming he had been smuggling “gangster guns.” The judge demanded the evidence be brought before him, saw the horribly mangled muzzle-loading rifled-muskets (labelled by the ATF as sawed-off shotguns, despite not being able to load a darn thing as their ram-rods had been tossed away and because the agents chopped down the barrels), and ordered the offending agents to compensate the antique collector with money out of their paychecks for the next ten years. OUCH.

        • “OUCH”(C)

          Even if these idiots were hanged, it would not fix anything.
          This is a common problem of the “advanced” countries.
          When such difficult tasks as determining the technical properties and historical and cultural value of an object are delegated to people who have a very rough idea of ​​both.

    • Unlikely, assault weapon seems to pertain to self-loading fire-arms, Collete Gravity is repeater, needs cocking before firing akin to older revolver. Which as far as I know were never accused of being assault weapon.

  6. Denex in Spain made a nonfiring repliqe of the pistol for years.Somebody in CIBLES(french gun mag.) a few years ago wrote an article about making cartriges for the pistol by sealing 6mm blank cartriges into the back of a lead bullet

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