Lindner’s Improbable Tube-Fed Striker-Fired Caseless Ammo Revolver

Edward Lindner was a Bavarian-born gunsmith who spent much of his professional life in the United States. He was granted no less than 13 firearms patents, and was involved in some very forward-thinking designs. Among other things, he has the earliest patent I am aware of which uses the term “striker” (1865) and also the first patent I am aware of for a gas-operated action (1856). He is best known for some of his simplest work; conversions of muzzle loaders to breechloading – but he also designed this much more complex revolver system.

This is a proof-of-concept model of a fantastic revolver that used a tubular magazine and paper cartridges with separate primers. It used a roughly .48 caliber pistol cartridge, feeding from a tubular magazine under the barrel.With each cycling of the action, a new cartridge was fed into the bottom chamber of the cylinder, and the cylinder indexed one position and fired. Priming was done from a separate magazine of percussion caps, with the striker stripping one out, seating it, and immediately firing – essentially an open-bolt mechanism in a percussion revolver.

Only two examples of this system appear to have been made; this one and a slightly more refined proof of concept model.


  1. Really great job of explaining this fascinating design prototype. Today a complicated idea like this would have been done with CAD and never left the computer until it was deleted. Sometimes you lose when you make things “better”.

  2. Predecessor of the Henry and more importantly the Evans .44 Short and Long cartridges with a complex magazine system. Lindner was ahead of his time as a designer. With metallic cartridges like the .44 Henry, this gun could have been a serious game changer instead of a mechanical curiosity.

    • “(…)With metallic cartridges like the .44 Henry, this gun could have been a serious game changer instead of a mechanical curiosity.”
      I am wondering, how more practical it would become if MAYNARD primer tape would be used?

  3. Reminds me of how progressive reloading presses are built. Well, in a way this rifle is a (re)loading press with a barrel and trigger.

  4. that title is a mouthfull.

    sure he was german. look at it. who else would come up with something as complica… oh. a swiss. lol.

    henry was a gamechanger already. a henry with 3 tubes? ain’t we see such with shotguns the last decade or so?

  5. “(…)new cartridge was fed into the bottom chamber of the cylinder, and the cylinder indexed one position and fired.(…)”
    Frontally loading ammunition into cylinder? This sound something similar to operation of Rikther R-23 aviation cannon.

  6. Quite a remarkable life “…making it to the US in some time in the late 1950’s” – I had to play that back twice for the chuckle.
    Kidding aside Ian, fascinating and like nearly all caseless designs, the tech of the future and (thus far) always will be.

  7. Wow – what forward thinking. I wonder what he would make of modern firearms.

    Everyone stay safe and sane.

  8. The claim of being too expensive doesn’t hold water, IFFFFF it could fire repeatedly without black powder fouling. This thing could probably easily fire 10 times as fast, and more accurately, than the typical 1850s muzzle loader. Imagine an army 1/10 the size with the same fire power, more maneuverability, 1/10 the payroll and logistics cost, and much more motivated than 10 times the conscripts. Not only would the total cost be cheaper, it would be more effective.

    IFFFF it could be made to work with black powder.

    • Even ignoring the fact that it haven’t got the range, the same arguments (more killing power means you can reduce army size) was advanced after Gatling guns have appeared. What really happens is you get an elite core 1/10th the size + the same old army armed with whatever, because such combined force will surely overwhelm someone foolish enough to maintain only elite core.

      • My point is that the price of the gun is such a small part of the price of the soldier that it is foolish to reject a rifle which can make your force cheaper and more effective.

        Armies today are much smaller than armies of yesteryear. Budgets do appreciate smaller elite armies than large primitive armies. Battlefield management is easier with smaller elite armies.

  9. Indeed, the “gloomy Nordic genius”.
    Not really, technically, not that “difficult and expensive”.
    If this design were not fundamentally stillborn, the resulting improvement in the properties of the device justifies the double complication of the design.
    There are several “main” problems.
    Remaining paper will clog the structure.
    There is no isolation of adjacent nipples from “battery fire”, and if the cartridges are made sufficiently protected against this, there will be misfires.
    The fact that the hammer’s mainspring works like a magazine spring forces that spring to be made much stronger than it needs to simply break the primer. Which (especially with a triple magazine) will obviously deform the last cartridges.
    Or the first ones.
    Or all.

    Great plot.
    Very interesting for a couple of minutes.

  10. This is a fascinating piece of firearms history to be filed in the “good ideas that didn’t work” category. There were several issues with this concept, not the least of which was its inability to accept a metallic cartridge. Lacking structure, consumable cartridges do not feed smoothly into the cylinder and would tend to bunch up in the magazine tube, especially over a 40” length as Lindner had envisioned. Further, it is likely an accumulation of unburned powder and paper would cause fouling… or worse. Frequent cleaning would significantly hamper the theoretical firepower potential. Metallic cartridges were state of the art at the time of this patent, and might have been Lindner’s next step had he stayed with the project. The trick was finding a way to eject the cartridge case. The cylindrical percussion cap magazine behind the main cylinder could obviously be eliminated so it is possible that an automatic or hand ejection system could have been designed, but Lindner moved on to other projects. Fascinating.

  11. The feed system closely parallels that of the Needham repeating rifle;

    Joseph Needham first demonstrated this system at the 1851 Crystal palace exhibition.

    As can be seen, the metallic cartridge of the 1881 version resembles that of the Colt Thuer revolver conversion, in concept if not exactly in shape. The version shown in the woodcut would seem to have been even more like the Thuer cartridge.

    While W.W. Greener waxed enthusiastic about the Needham in The Gun and its Development (1877), by the time the Needham & Atkinson version reached limited production, the basic form of the metallic cartridge for breechloading had been finalized, and it was not the Thuer “front-loading” concept.

    Had Lindner’s patent been altered to metallic cartridge, the result would likely have resembled the Civil War Gallagher cartridge. Which was also not a particular success.

    As to the fouling problem, this bugaboo shows up every time anyone talks about repeating arms of that period. The fact is that it depends on what sort of black powder is used. Generally, the larger the grain, the less fouling, as combustion is more efficient. Musket powder (Fg or FFg) fouled less than priming powder (FFFFg). Pistol powder (FFFg) was somewhere in-between, something to think about when shooting percussion revolvers.

    When the Second Model Maynard carbine in .50 caliber separate-primed metallic cartridge was tested at the Springfield Armory in 1862, the official report states that one was fired “several hundred times” without cleaning in a test, and at the end only “a slight foulness” was present. This was an important factor for a combat rifle, especially considering what Civil War combat was like. The cartridges were loaded at the Armory, with standard U.S. Army Ordnance musket powder (FFg grind).

    The fact that the Lindner prototype was a .48 caliber (12mm)indicates that given the correct choice of powder grind, fouling should not have been much of a problem.



    • “Needham repeating rifle”(С)
      There have been many attempts to make the “multiply charged Sharps”.

      And if we talk about this Maynard,
      then you forget (or do not know) that his cartridge had a valve built into the brass, which passed the force from the primer but blocked the powder gases.
      These valves were only conditionally reusable, as they required thorough cleaning and assembly with each loading.
      I don’t think this can be applied in a revolver.

      • There were fundamental differences between the First Model Maynard and the Second Model. The cartridge (yes, I know about the valve) being just one.

        The First Model, introduced in 1857-58, was intended as a sporting arm;

        Note the elaborate buttplate assembly with the “patch box” (actually a waterproof container for Maynard tape primer rolls), cast from brass, the tape primer in the breech, and the tangent-type long-range sight on the stock wrist.

        The First Model was originally in a .30 and possibly .35 caliber, only being made in .50 in 1859-1861. It was intended as a hunting rifle, not a combat weapon. Most First Models used in the Civil War were in the hands of Confederate troops, having been purchased during the “cold war” period of 1859-early 1861.

        The Second Model Maynard introduced in 1862 was fundamentally different;

        The tape primer was gone, and the elaborate buttplate/box assembly with it. The buttplate was a simple wrought-iron stamping. The elaborate sporting rear sight was gone, replaced by a simple two-position “flip” rear sight on the barrel with leaves for 100 and 200 yards. This was probably a more realistic setup in view of the Maynard’s ballistics.

        (Eighty years later, several SMGS, notably the German MP38/40, would have similarly-simple rear sights for that exact reason.)

        The cartridge was also simplified. The rather complex one-way valve was replaced by…a disc of waxed paper that kept moisture out in storage and transport. The Second Model design was apparently altered on the basis that blowback fouling wasn’t a big enough problem to worry about.

        In short, while the First Model was a complex and almost luxurious “prestige” sporting arm, the Second Model was a plain, utilitarian “war emergency” arm, intended for the battlefield rather than the hunting field, and with ammunition redesigned for faster and more economical war production.

        It was the Second Model, with the revised and simplified ammunition, that was fired without cleaning at the Armory, with the results described.

        Choice of powder grind seems to be more important than complex design trickery when it comes to fouling.



        • “The cartridge (yes, I know about the valve) being just one.”(C)

          I’ve never seen these live cartridges, but there are two patents.
          The first, from 1856, for a cartridge with a “waterproof insert”.
          The second, from 1859, for a cartridge with a “valve insert”.

          • PS In addition (I’m not sure if this was exactly the case for Maynard), I heard about the use of both a steel plate and a lead pellet as a valve.

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