The Danish artillery was an early adopter of metallic-case handguns, taking on this pinfire 6-shot solid-frame revolver in 1865 – when most of the world was still using percussion firearms. The thousand guns made served well for many decades, until in 1897 they finally were recognized as obsolete and converted to use more modern centerfire ammunition. After that update, they continued to remain as issued sidearms until the end of World War 2!
The guns have a manual safety, an unusual (but not unheard of) element on a revolver. The centerfire ammunition they were converted to use is also an interesting subject, as it was a metal-jacketed but wood-cored projectile. Presumably, this was in an effort to get a high velocity and large diameter bullet simultaneously. The same type of bullet would be used in the .45 caliber Schouboe automatic pistols.
Link to the original M1865: https://www.arma-dania.dk/public/timeline/_AD_pistoler_view.php?editid1=39
The “A.B.” is most likely “artillery battery”, as you correctly guessed at. “T.R.” could easily be “Trænregiment”, which is the supply and logistics branch of the army. These are merely guesses, of course.
Your pronunciation of “Kronborg geværfabrik” is very good, by the way! Keep up the good work.
From my (limited)knowledge of Danish army terminology, which generally followed German patterns, “2 A.Ba.8” should mean “2nd Artillery (Regiment), Battalion 8”.
Similarly, “Tr.A 25” most likely means “Truppe (troop) A, Revolver # 25”.
Oh, BTW, “Schouboe” is properly pronounced “SHOO-bow”, “bow” as in “longbow”, not “ship’s bow”.
I fear you’re not entirely right. I was wrong to forget that the side of the gun reads “Tr.A”, but the gun says “Tr.A” and the “2 5.”, as well as “2.A.B.4 8.”. The next to last character is a 4, not an A – the A doesn’t have a 90 degree angle between the vertical and the horizontal lines like the 4 does.
Read the below: (from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Danish_Artillery_Regiment)
“Although the regiment was short lived, its history can be traced back to 1684 when The Royal Artillery Corps was established in Copenhagen. In 1803 the Artillery Corps divided into three brigades; referred to as “Danish Artillery Brigade”, “Holstein Artillery Brigade” and “Norwegian Artillery Brigade”. The latter was dissolved in 1814 with the loss of Norway. In 1842 the brigades changed to 1st Artillery Regiment (Danish) and 2nd Artillery Regiment (Holstein), respectively, but was overall called “The Royal Artillery Brigade”. In connection with the Second Schleswig War between Denmark and Prussia, the second Artillery Regiment (Holstein) was dissolved, in March 1848, when the regiment joined the rebels.
Following Hærloven of 1867, the Second Artillery Regiment was restored by taking 7th-9th Battery and 12. Reinforcement Battery and 2. Train Department from 1st Artillery Regiment.”
Of special note is that the Second Artillery Regiment was restored and contained the 7th-9th Battery (including the 8th) and the 2nd Train Department.
Now, the Danish wiki page adds something that the English doesn’t;
In 1880 an amendment was made to Hærloven of 1867. This decreed that the individual Batteries must be organized in Artillery Departments. The Artillery was thus organized as follows:
1. Artillery Regiment: 1. og 2. Artillery department.
2. Artillery Regiment: 3. og 4. Artillery department.
Now, the final piece of the puzzle: the Danish word for “department” is “afdeling”, and a “batteri” is the equivalent of a company.
Thus we look at the markings again.
“Tr.A 2 5.” will be “2nd trainafdeling, 5th unit(of some size)
“2.A.B.4 8.” will be “2nd Artilleriregiment, 4th artilleriafdeling, 8th battery”.
Unit nomenclature in the current Danish army denotes the parent unit before the individual unit. For example, the third squad(leader) of the second platoon will be called “2-3”. Thus the Battery number 4-8 could easily be the 8th Battery of the 4th artillery department, which was a real unit in the 2nd artillery regiment at the time.
Oh, BTW, Schoubou is old-timey spelling for Skovbo, meaning forest-dweller, and is pronounced more like Skou-Boh, with a very abrupt V and a very abrupt ending of the O.
Source: I was in the Danish artillery in 2009. Lived here all my life.
“high velocity and large diameter bullet simultaneously”
Now I wonder about accuracy – so far I know Schouboe .45 automatic pistol has rather low accuracy. Also big light fast bullet is rather bad idea, unless you will fire only at very short range – big light bullet losses velocity quickly with distance
Somebody linked these pages at Full30.com:
So, apparently the Schouboe type wooden core projectile was developed, because the muzzle velocity of the original lead bullet would have been really low at pressures suitable for the old 1860s vintage cylinder. My guess is that they wanted to use smokeless powder, although the page is ambiguous about the powder used. If they used black powder, they could have simply used the original pinfire loading. There is also a page for the lead bullet loading, by it has very little information:
Original pinfire cartridge, used also by the Army 1865 and Navy 1871 revolvers:
“muzzle velocity of the original lead bullet would have been really low at pressures suitable for the old 1860s vintage cylinder.”
This link give bullet weight 4,05g. = 62,5gr. which is incredibly light for its caliber* – for example first version of .32 S&W Long used 98 gr when other ~.32″ European service revolvers of late 19th century used 100-something gr bullets (7.5mm Swiss – 104, 8mm Gasser – 126gr, 8mm French – 120gr). Even the .25-20 Winchester can uses heavier bullets.
When using lighter bullet for more velocity might be generally good idea, this seems too extreme to me – can you name any other service revolver cartridge of ~.45″ caliber firing 62,5gr or similar bullet?
* – also notice that due to 3 dimensions of our world upscaling bullet two times will give 8 bigger mass (assuming both are made from same material)
I don’t know any details of why such a low mass bullet was chosen. Like you say, the bullet has a very low sectional density, which leads to very poor external ballistics. That was probably not an issue for self defense use, typically at ranges less than 21 ft or 7 m. A more questionable matter is that penetration into soft tissue depends mostly on momentum and sectional density¹ (soft tissues are mostly water), so the bullet was probably not very good at penetrating soft tissues, unless the velocity was really high.
¹ High momentum and sectional density is why arrows penetrate soft tissue very well despite having quite low kinetic energy by firearm standards.
In both cases, the objective was to keep breech pressure down.
The M1865/97 revolver, originally designed for a pinfire cartridge with a muzzle velocity in the 180m/s (590-600 F/S) range, simply would not tolerate the pressures of a centerfire round capable of launching a similar weight of lead bullet at 250m/s (890 F/S) or so.
The breechface behind the case had might hold, but the outer side of the chamber in the outer cylinder wall would almost certainly fail.
Similarly, the Schouboe automatic, a straight blowback built very much along the lines of a typical .22 rimfire auto of the early to mid 20th Century (see; Colt Woodsman), needed a lightweight bullet to keep breech pressures down simply because no matter how the designer fiddled with the mass of the breechblock and the poundage of the recoil spring, the breech was opening while there was still pressure in the chamber.
To avoid dangerous case ruptures, pressure had to be kept to blackpowder levels even with the smokeless powder loads, hence the extremely lightweight bullet.
The Schouboe was submitted to the U.S. Army trials in 1910, and was rejected on the grounds that even with its light powder charge and relatively high velocity (around 1100F/S IIRC),the breech was still opening prematurely; bulged cases indicated an unsafe pressure situation.
Also, reliability of feeding was questionable, and accuracy was poor; the super-light bullet simply was not properly stabilized by the rifling.
Keep in mind that it was up against such arms as the Luger .45 “test piece”, the Savage .45, and of course the Colt “Military Model” .45. All locked-breech or delayed-blowback (Savage) types.
To say it was outclassed would be an understatement.
As to “killing power” (since “stopping power” is pretty much a myth), the lightweight wooden cored bullet, assuming you could hit the target in the torso and not hit heavy clothing, the breastbone, etc., might turn over as pistol bullets do, and then mushroom as the flat base was spread due to the wooden core not offering much resistance to the pressure effect of passage through muscle tissue, etc.
Then again, it might not. A test of the M1865/97 revolver round or the Schouboe automatic pistol round in ballistic gelatin would be interesting, to say the least.
For one thing, I wouldn’t expect very deep penetration; 10-15cm (4″-6″) would seem about right.
That would reach a man’s vital from front or back. Whether it would have enough retained energy to do enough damage to “shut him down”, I wouldn’t care to speculate on.
¹ High momentum and sectional density is why arrows penetrate soft tissue very well despite having quite low kinetic energy by firearm standards.
I would disagree. Bullets penetrate by tearing, while arrowheads, like other blade weapons, penetrate by cutting, so their technical performance qualities really can’t even be compared to each other using the same metrics. (The “energy dump” theory, a gospel of firearm ballistics, is also completely meaningless when comparing blades (or blunt instruments) of greatly different sharpness)
Maybe if rounded blunt head (& perhaps unrealistically high velocity) arrows were used in “ballistic” tests, those might be somewhat comparible to bullets. But even then there would be another factor, though a comparatively smaller one, of the adhesion of the penetrated material against the long arrow shaft, acting to slow it down (think of slicing cheese).
Archers also discovered quite a few centuries ago that while bodkin points were effective against armored targets, unarmored targets were better defeated by broadheads — provided, of course, that they were kept as sharp as practical. It might be worth remembering that police-grade soft body armor (IIA-IIIA) capable of stopping all common handgun bullets can be penetrated by common arrows, both broadhead and bodkin point, traveling at far slower speeds and with far less kinetic energy.
“The M1865/97 revolver, originally designed for a pinfire cartridge with a muzzle velocity in the 180m/s (590-600 F/S) range, simply would not tolerate the pressures of a centerfire round capable of launching a similar weight of lead bullet at 250m/s (890 F/S) or so.”
If we retain same bullet how high velocity we might get, not exceeding pressure limits?
The original ballistics are probably as good as it’s going to get without risk of chamber failure. Which means you’d be dealing with a muzzle energy lower than either the 0.380in /.38 S&W (about 190 FPE) or 0.455in Government MK III (Webley) (265gr. @ 600 f/s= 211 fpe).
My SWAG would be 200 gr. at 550 for 135 FPE. That’s about .380 ACP performance, or .36 percussion level.
The distinguishing characteristic of most European “big bore” revolver loads of the 19th century was that they weren’t really very powerful. Large bore and relatively heavy bullets, but very low velocity.
The limiting factor, as with percussion arms, was the burning characteristics of black powder. In a revolver length barrel (6″ or less), BP just won’t get a bullet going much faster than 600 F/S, period. To do that, you need something with a different burning curve, i.e. smokeless powder.
The .44-40 WCF in certain loadings was supposed to achieve close to 1000 F/S in s revolver barrel, but I have my doubts. (see “.44-100 Long Range” WCF.)
To increase muzzle energy and thus killing power, with a “speed limit” of around 600-650 F/S, the only alternative was a heavier bullet. This necessitated a larger bore for purely practical reasons. (Bullet l/b ratio, stabilization by rifling, enough room in the chamber/cartridge case for powder, etc.)
This was the genesis of such monster handguns as the Webley and Tranter .577/600 revolvers, and the later belief in “big-bore stopping power” by the likes of Hatcher, Cooper, et al.
And they were correct. At blackpowder velocities, big bullets really did kill more consistently by delivering more kinetic energy to the target.
The operative phrase being, “at black powder velocities“. Once velocity went past Mach One (1,086 F/S under average circumstances- temp, air pressure, etc.), the faster bullet delivered more energy to the target (mass times square of velocity).
This is why the 9 x 19mm and 7.63 x 25mm aka 7.62 x 25mm hit just as hard as the .45 ACP. All three have roughly the same KE, in spite of achieving it by three different methods. (.45- big heavy bullet at black-powder subsonic velocity; 9mm- medium size/weight bullet at transonic velocity; 7.63-small, light bullet at full-on supersonic velocity.)
The European loads of the black powder era remained at the black powder velocity level out of necessity, regardless of bore size and bullet weight. So they ended up a bit short in the “killing power” department.
Incidentally, during the development of their intermediate cartridge, the 7.62 x 39, the Red Army determined that it takes about 250 FPE (340J)to kill or seriously injure a man with a single center chest hit. That is, hurt him badly enough to at least take him out of the fight.
The 7.62 x 39 round was designed to deliver that much energy at 400m, allowing for bullet deceleration after leaving the muzzle.
The American .38 Special 158gr. RNL, the original .38 “police” load, delivers about that energy level from the muzzle to about 60m, falling to about 220 FPE/300J at 100m.
None of the European black powder loads reach that energy level, and few American ones do, either. (.45 LC, .45 Schofield, .44-40 and .38-40 WCF, that’s about it.)
To get to that level, ideally you increase velocity. Failing that, you increase bullet mass.
As in the rest of physics, the TANSTAAFL rule prevails.
And the bottom line with firearm power is the same as it is with traffic safety;
“Incidentally, during the development of their intermediate cartridge, the 7.62 x 39, the Red Army determined that it takes about 250 FPE (340J)to kill or seriously injure a man with a single center chest hit. That is, hurt him badly enough to at least take him out of the fight.”
Source? http://coollib.com/b/195891/read states that:
“При этом длина баллистического ствола должна равняться 520 мм, а среднее давление — не более 3000 кг/см2. Пуля должна была иметь достаточную убойную силу для вывода живой силы противника из строя на дальности стрельбы не менее 1000 м.”
Ballistic barrel length should be 520 mm, average pressure – no more than 3000 kg/cm2. Bullet should have enough force to knocking enemy out of action at distance not less that 1000 m.
The range 400m was observed as biggest commonly encountered.
Eon; technically perhaps not strictly European by origin, but the German 10.6mm Reichsrevolver was almost a direct copy of the .44 Russian and launched a 262 grain bullet at 670 fps for 262 ft·lbf. The data is from your old post.
The original black powder loading of the 10.4mm Italian Ordance had a 180 grain bullet with 20 grains of black powder. I have not found muzzle velocity information for it, but judging from the charge and bullet weight probably at least 750 fps. Less energy than .44 Russian, but considerably more than the French Mle 1873.
About the Mle 1873: as late as 1908 the French Army planned to modernize the gun by modifying the cylinder to accept a newly designed longer cartridge case loaded with smokeless powder (Poudre B) and heavier bullet. The modified gun would have launched a 200 grain bullet at 750 fps for 250 ft·lbf. Municion.org even has a picture and some data:
The cylinder of the 1873 was apparently quite strong and overbuilt. CIP rates the 11mm 1873 cartridge for 1150 bars (approx. 16,500 psi), more than .44 Russian or even .45 Colt. WW1 ended the the modification plans and after it they were not brought up again, probably due to the age of the revolvers and the considerable losses their numbers suffered in WW1
Is it possible that the use of the wooden core bullet was part of a conversion to smokeless powder? A lighter bullet would put less stress on the cylinder and barrel while still being as effective at short range.
“lighter bullet would put less stress on the cylinder and barrel while still being as effective at short range”
Does anyone else gone that path? I.e. substantially lighter bullet of same diameter after introducing smokeless.
I wonder about those open ports in the cylinder that were leftover from the pinfire design, openings that could potentially cause the brass cases to bulge out at the side (or worse) when fired, making extraction more difficult, if higher pressures were reached. Could that have been another possible reason why ultralight bullets were used?
…and speaking of ammunition, was there any kind of name or specs for the cartridge used other than the given bore diameter? Something I often find myself doing on ‘Forgotten Weapons’ is looking up the cartridge and trying to see what kind of reloading kits might be for sale or what other information is available.
It’s also conceivable that with some of these pinfire-to-centerfire conversions, reloading kits for the original pinfire cartridges might be more readily available than the centerfire cartridges.
“It’s also conceivable that with some of these pinfire-to-centerfire conversions, reloading kits for the original pinfire cartridges might be more readily available than the centerfire cartridges.”
BTW IIRC French Navy also used pin-fire revolvers and has used percussion cylinder, which was useful in remote areas of worlds, where pin-fire cartridges were not available, but primers, bullets and loose powder were.
“BTW IIRC French Navy also used pin-fire revolvers and has used percussion cylinder, which was useful in remote areas of worlds, where pin-fire cartridges were not available, but primers, bullets and loose powder were.”
This was a revolver with a pinfire and a percussion changeable cyclinder, or the French navy used pinfire percussion adapters, which can be seen here (https://hu.pinterest.com/pin/523754631637571084/), for example?
Scouboe is probably an old spelling of the name “Skovbo”. (Pronounced something like “Scau – bo”).
Thanks for an excellent site.
/A reader in Denmark.
Hello, I read in the RIA description that the revolver was used by the Navy until the WWI and you write that the revolver was used by artilhary until WWII, what´s correct?
The 1865/97 was used by army until 1943. The 1871/81 Navy revolver, also originally pinfire, and converted to centerfire in 1881, was apparently used at least until WW1.
Hmm… It’s just like the case with the Colt M1911, which defies the saying that newer is always better as the design is well over a hundred years old. It’s so good that a whole bunch of stuffy conservatives want it reissued in the US Army as side arms because they claim that the Beretta M9 is a “f—–g piece of cheap, no-good, rip-off Italian TRASH purchased by f—–g stupid pacifists who want us to get killed by our own guns when we’re defending ourselves from suicidal maniacs.” Not that I want to defend the M9, which some idiots had bastardized with “governmental regulation” parts which made the gun more susceptible to jamming and catastrophic self-destruction than the parts purchased directly from Beretta (of the items best bought from Italy for the Beretta 92 series, the original magazine worked perfectly in desert unlike the “sand proof” magazines made in America).
Given a choice of “supposedly obsolete” side arms, which do you think would still do fine today?
1. M1917 Revolver (Colt or S&W)
2. Steyr-Hahn 1912
3. FB Vis
4. FEG 29M or 37M
5. CZ vz.27
6. FN Model 1922
7. Do whatever!!
My admittedly limited understanding has it that the post-Civil War navy kept the M1851 Colt Navy revolver for a very long while…And it passed through a “conversion stage” to metallic cartridges in the “spar torpedo era” of the USN. By the 1879 War of the Pacific, the fate of Chilean navy hero Arturo Prat aboard Perú’s _Huáscar_ sea-going monitor with gatling guns in the fighting tops demonstrated that the “boarders away” stage was right up there with bayonet charges… https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arturo_Prat
I’m still packing a Ruger Speed Six (*ahem* no wood bullets here…) built in 1985.
As for the whole obsession with a pistol in the U.S. armed forces, if Glocks cannot be bought outright, and the old Colt Scamp project cannot be revived, my ordnance proposal would be for resurrecting a.) the Finnish VKT 1944 prototype–i.e. a stamped, über-cheap 9mm Tokarev, or b.) the J. Podsenkowski-designed MCEM-2 in one of those new-fangled Russian 9mm cartridges…
The FB Vis 35 and/or the M1917 .45 acp revolver would still have a lot to offer, as would an M9, IMO.
“Ruger Speed Six”
But notice that since introduction of swing-out cylinder there was no other such big leap forward in revolver development. As reminder: swing-out were introduced in late 19th century (see French 1892 revolver for example of officially adopted handgun).
“my ordnance proposal would be for resurrecting a.) the Finnish VKT 1944 prototype–i.e. a stamped, über-cheap 9mm Tokarev, or b.) the J. Podsenkowski-designed MCEM-2 in one of those new-fangled Russian 9mm cartridges…”
MCEM-2 is sub-machine gun which is different category than automatic pistol.
VKT 1944 lacks double magazine, which is necessary in modern automatic pistol.
U.S. are searching for newer automatic pistol – codenamed XM17, but I do not have special knowledge, maybe someone more wise, will give info of current status.
is: “(…)double magazine(…)”
should be: “(…)double stack magazine(…)”
Any of your proposals would be good enough for normal military pistol use, although all of them are technologically obsolescent. The oldest ones that would still be viable today would be any double action revolver capable of firing a reasonably powerful smokeless powder loading and could be carried safely with all chambers loaded, i.e. rebounding hammer. I wouldn’t consider rapid ejection and reload by break-open or swing-out design absoletely necessary. Rapid combat reloads are not that important for sidearms in practice. Special forces etc. would of course be an exception.
And even the swing-out cylinder plus hand ejector was based on a patent William Mason filed in 1866 while working at Remington before he went to Colt.
Nobody really took any notice of it because it required the revolver to be built “from the ground up” as a swing-out cylinder type as opposed to a conversion.
Its major effect prior to the late 1880s was the ejection system on the Merwin & Hulburt/Forehand & Wadsworth revolvers, which didn’t infringe on either the Mason patent (held by Remington) or the S&W Dodge/King patent on the “break action” automatic ejection system.
“still do fine today”
“M1917 Revolver(…)S&W” – yes, it is heavier than more modern revolvers, but it holds 6 rounds and can be rapidly reloaded (swing-out). But in modern times, with high-capacity automatic pistol, revolvers are generally obsolete in general military application.
“Steyr-Hahn 1912” – will work if you can find loading clips and more importantly cartridges for it
“FB Vis(…)FEG 29M or 37M(…)CZ vz.27(…)FN Model 1922” – single stack and heavier than modern weapons firing same cartridges, but at least you should be able to find ammunition more easier than for Steyr-Hahn
“supposedly obsolete(…)7. Do whatever!!”
Webley Top-break revolver (dating back to 1880s) and S&W Model 3 (dating back to 1870s), can be fast reloaded, both with note: if you can find proper ammunition for it (.455 Webley and .44 Russian respectively)
“(…)want it [Colt 1911] reissued in the US Army as side arms because they claim that the Beretta M9 is(…)”
M9 as every automatic pistol has advantages and disadvantages, but replacing it with said Colt 1911, is simply not reasonable. It is heavier, need different cartridge (than all NATO uses), and magazine has smaller capacity.
Can that lanyard loop be slipped over the hammer when it is pulled back?
(new computer going online.)
Hey! It works!
If not that 🙂 it would sound like archetypical mad scientist from black-and-white movies.