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Gevelot 11mm Sliding-Chamber Pinfire Rifle


hi guys thanks for tuning in to another video on Forgotten weapons comm I’m Ian and I am here today at the Institute of military technology taking a look at some of the really cool examples of firearms technology that they have in particular today we’re going to take a look at this early French sort of a pin fire rifle this is a rifle design that was patented in 1866 by two Parisian gunsmiths by the name of pedo and legaia SH and the design was bought up by a man who ran a company both called Chevy Lowe you may recognize that name they were a cartridge manufacturer primarily until I think they ultimately went out of business in 1980 but for a very long time Sheva Lowe was one of the main ammunition providers and manufacturers in France well jellow bought this patent in 1867 because he thought it might be a competitive design to the shop oh so the French army had just adopted the shah’s bow which was a needle fire rifle kind of an interesting idea where the firing pin is actually this very thin pointed well needle that penetrated into the back of a paper cartridge and the idea was you actually had a paper cartridge with a bullet at the front and powder and then a primer actually located inside the cartridge itself and the firing pin like literally a pin in this case would puncture the back of the paper cartridge hit that primer detonate the cartridge and fire it and this was basically caseless ammunition because the the paper wrapping of the cartridge would either be combusted or would blow out the end of the barrel every time you fired it this was a pretty cool novel concept it was one of the early the transitional cartridge ideas before the the self-contained metallic cartridge as we know it today was developed and it was pretty revolutionary it was a lot better than the German dry si needle gun that was available at during that same period and it really proved it’s worth during the franco-prussian war however in 1866 1867 still that was up in the air the needle fire shafts PO was a brand-new rifle and no one necessarily knew how effective it would turn out to be so Chuvalo thought he had a better thing going with this patent now what this is is it’s got some inch or very interesting technical features that we’ll take a look at in just a moment when we can look at it up close but the cartridge was a cardboard cartridge or a compressed paper cartridge same kind of idea had your bullet seated in the front and then powder inside and then it actually had a priming compound and a little striker sort of built into the cartridge base very much like a pin fire round except the pin was directly in line with the bore typically when we think pin fires we think of revolver cartridges where the bullets pointing that way and the pin is perpendicular to it in this case the pin was located horizontally right at the back of the cartridge and so when you fired the rifle here the hammer hit firing pin the firing pin went forward hit the pin in the cartridge which went forward just slightly more hit the primer in the cartridge detonated the whole thing so in this case there was some residual debris there was a cartridge case that you would eject after firing now what makes this interesting is it has a solid breech face and a moving chamber most of the time we’re used to thinking of the chamber being up in the very back end of the barrel and you slide the bolt forward and you run the cartridge into the chamber and the breech closes behind it and locks in this case the breech is fixed back here and what we’re actually doing is closing a chamber around the cartridge firing it and then opening the chamber without the cartridge ever moving let’s take a look at that up close all right so here’s our breech mechanism it’s already cocked there’s the chamber and I have a locking catch here and when I pull this lever down the chamber opens up so that looks like a bolt from this perspective but it is actually hollow as you can see we have a solid breech faced with a rather large firing pin hole remember this isn’t a traditional modern style of primer this is more like a pin fire design so that’s our breech face it doesn’t go anywhere and what we do to load is drop a cartridge into that and then when I close the lever this hollow cylinder which is fairly thick closes around the cartridge the nose of the cartridge is going to drop right there into the back of the barrel that cylinder runs all the way closed once it is closed the lever locks in place and then one further cool element you can see that hook on the back of the trigger when I pull the trigger to fire the trigger actually locks the lever so I cannot open the lever with the trigger back which means I cannot open the chamber with the trigger back that ensures that this stays closed and locked and then the last step is extraction andrey cocking the action so when I open the lever the firing pin is pushed out the back just like that that reak ox the hammer and then the action is ready to fire again so once you have it open you have your fired spent cartridge sitting here remember that’s basically somewhere between heavy paper and thick cardboard and so there is no particular extractor because you don’t have to pull this out of the chamber it’s just still sitting here now charred and empty so you just flip it over drop the empty out and then place a new cartridge in there you will notice the cartridge if you just drop it in there it’s gonna sit on the bottom of this tray and then it has to be lifted up slightly to be in line with the center of this chamber sleeve that’s done by a little bit of a bevel right here and then the front of the bullet is rounded like most bullets and that helps it slide up into the back end of the barrel when you close the action looking at a few of the other elements here we have a rear sight very reminiscent of the the SHA SPO or Gras rear sights pretty simple you have a battle sight and then this flips up if you want to shoot it longer range at the muzzle we have a typical front sight and then we have the side mounted bayonet lug and I expect this probably takes the same bayonet as the shelfs Poe or the later gras although I don’t have one here to actually demonstrate with thank you for watching guys I hope you enjoyed the video these are extremely cool guns and extremely scarce as well as best I have been able to determine there are only four of these that still exist and it seems like they didn’t make more than a little over 100 maybe 150 120 originally something in that range of course while the idea was this might compete with the shots Poe turned out the shots Poe is actually pretty good the French military was quite happy with it and this was never adopted by the military and never really took off on a commercial scale ja voll oh did produce ammunition for it for several decades in fact we have a cartridge diagram dated in 1901 so we know there were at least producing ammunition until then but really cool to get to see an example of this still around so of course the place where I was able to see this is the Institute of military technology they have a mission statement very much like that of forgotten weapons to preserve firearms history to educate people about it and it is an extremely cool collection it is open by appointment only but if you are interested and would like to take a look at some of the material that they have by all means contact them and arrange a visit no thanks for watching if you enjoyed this sort of content please do also consider checking out my patreon page it’s support from the folks there that makes it possible for me to travel to places like the IMT and bring you guys cool guns like this thanks for watching you

100 thoughts on “Gevelot 11mm Sliding-Chamber Pinfire Rifle

  1. That's a lot of design work and beautiful machining in order to once again carry out the age-old process of firing a single shot. Makes one appreciate just how far outside the box for their era the multi-shot lever-action rifle developers were thinking.

  2. I know your channel isn't necessarily about politics or gun laws and such, but I would be very interested, as I'm sure other viewers would be, if you could possibly do a video on the evolution of firearm laws through Europe and the Americas from the conception of firearms to present day and how/why some laws arose and changed from others.

  3. Well being a french resident, i applaud the difference, typically french also typically complicated…no wonder the french army stuck with the Chaspot…mai vive la difference tous les jour! Tres manufique!

  4. Been a good week. ARES institute, IMT, and the Dutch museum. Keep em coming Ian, you're doing God's work out there.

  5. The sliding chamber would have been of adequate strength for black powder, but with the advent of smokeless powder it seems kind of thin. Interesting design, though.

  6. Paradoxical weapon. A mobile chamber to fire a cartridge, which in concept is central fire. It is also paradoxical that the weakest and least reinforced piece of the weapon is precisely the chamber.

  7. So, since you are so knowledgable, I have to ask:
    Was there ever a rifle/Submachinegun with a variable RPM?
    As in, adjustable on the fly.

  8. I noticed that the design of the trigger/lever interlock is such that it would not only prevent the lever from being opened after the trigger has been pulled, but it also appears that it would prevent the trigger from being pulled if the lever isn’t fully closed and locked (unless the lever has been swung down far enough that the firing pin would no longer reach the primer). Sort of an out-of-battery safety…

  9. Hey Ian, don't know if you'll ever see this, but have you considered reviewing a punt gun? I know they're rare and hard to find, I just thought that it'd be interesting to hear your two cents on the subject.

  10. Hey Ian, do you have any information on what kind of power that 11mm cartridge had?

    This thing is so cool. I usually have little interest in rifles from that in between age of experimental cartridges, but this one seems just speaks to me. Love the action

  11. The way you describe the cartridge sounds very similar to modern firewroks: A disposable cardboard tube filled with explosive.

  12. I only discovered Forgotten Weapons a few months ago, and have been watching 3 or 4, sometimes more videos a day, as time allows.
    It's a fascinating subject, and I can't think of a better way to present it than the way Ian does it, and as I learn* more I'm amazed at the sheer number & variety of solutions that gunmakers have come up with in order to achieve their aims.
    Particularly in the late 19th / early 20th century.
    *I say learn, but I mean that in it's broadest sense – I'm completely clueless, but Ian makes it easily digestible for a newbie like myself.

  13. A quick burst of research suggests that Gevelot was manufacturing ammo via their Canadian subsidiary through the 1960s, and at home in France until as late as 1997. The company still exists, but they do commercial machining and extruded parts now.

  14. Looking at the diagramI see the the base of the cartridge is a 'culot laiton' or brass cap. this suggests the ammo was very much like a modern shotgun shell with an inverted primer.

  15. Wish you had the patent scans available for these.
    Loved how you used to included patents and manual scans etc…. With the interesting guns.

  16. Cool gun and beautifully engineered. Every time you bring a weapon to the table with a strange and unusual design feature like this one it brings joy to my heart. Without doubt the late 1800's was the time to be in for truly innovative design solutions.

  17. At the same time Gevelot were making Boxeresque centre fire cartridges for the Tabatier muzzle loader conversions so they were familiar with the more conventional cartridge (Gevelot Modele 1867).

  18. I love going into these videos thinking the gun can't be all they interesting, then you go ahead and prove me wrong. Love it.

  19. Who needs rifles if you have KRUPP Artillery-Pieces 😀 ^^ (that's what won the Germans (Prussians are Germans after all!) the Franco-Prussian war, at least as far as I know, because frankly the French rifles were better than the German ones (longer range for example!) – but our artillery more than cancelled that out!)

    ps: The Dig Hill 80 thing still needs more money 🙁 – Ian? Don't you have contacts to other gun-channels on Youtube who might raise awareness of this (so that the goal is reached in time!)?

  20. I really wish Ian would do a video on French arms just for once…. 🙂
    Actually his Level video really makes me really want one of those for the collection. Cheers

  21. When you say "paper cartridge" I can't help but wonder whether or not the sliding chamber would risk crushing the cartridge. It's quite a steep looking bevel and it also looks offset from the floor of the little well the cartridge is placed into.

    I don't know how durable the cartridges were having never seen one but what are your thoughts on that? I suppose it would really depend on how precise the manufacturing was on the cartridges and how well they were kept/whether they softened or bent in storage.

  22. That trigger hook is a nifty little safety mechanism. Very clever.

    Ian, are you aware of the planned changes for Patreon regarding their fees? What's your thoughts on that?

  23. I’d love to get my hands on it and have a go at making up some cartridges! Doesn’t look as if it would be too difficult to get a basic cartridge going.

  24. Patreon are causing bother – upping their income by deciding to charge an extra 2.9% + $0.35 per pledge to the patron
    It's not so much the actual amount, but the bare-faced cheek of it !

  25. Ian has this voice of relaxation and calmness that really makes these videos so much more interesting. The guns are already so cool but Ian makes it so much more intriguing. Thanks a lot, Ian!

  26. This doesn't look like a very hard design to modernize: say, a scaled down one in .30 Carbine (bc of the rounded bullet and rimless nature) would be a nice little varmint rifle, ESPECIALLY if an internal magazine could be fiddled into it.

  27. I've wondered if somebody in the era this rifle is from had tried a paper cartridge similar to the old paper hulled shotgun shells. given some of the problems with early copper cased and brass foil cartridges. Well it seems some one did.

  28. Your great but I grew up with Lee Enfields , Springfields and Brownings but my favorite was a 1925 Herstal FN A5 16 – Find one and do something with it

  29. When cocked , that exposed firing pin could be bent if the rifle was dropped upside down . Say while dumping out the spent cardboard . Then it's time to lob grenades or fix bayonette.

  30. I hope IMT has more crazy unicorns like this Gevelot 11mm oddity, nice video Ian.
    Any chance for field and mud testing with full disassembly afterwards? 😀

    Was just joking about testing that antique!

  31. FWIW, that cartridge patent diagram shows much more than just paper and cardboard. It has a brass end cup (kinda like a modern plastic shotshell) plus a bunch of brass and even steel parts inside around the firing pin. Quite a bit more complicated than a modern centerfire with primer actually. Must have been darn expensive. (Check for "laiton" = brass and "acier" = steel on the drawing.)

  32. So the only locking of the mechanism is done by the hook on the trigger? I know it's black powder, but that's REALLY sketchy

  33. They were so close to what we use today. Just a couple really small design tweaks to the ammunition and a way to make sure you could pull the chamber off the brass if needed.

  34. There must be some gasses blowing out of the action while firing. I guess there is on revolvers as well though. I wonder if the gasses would bother the shooter though.

  35. Ian, I'm betting you know this already, but you have the greatest job in the world!
    I have been watching your videos,and, loving them for three years now….
    Your channel is the only one my wife enjoys as much as I do…
    Thank you for doing what you do…..as well as you do it…
    From British Columbia, Canada. ..

  36. How do you perform the impossible in putting out around a video per day? Your template seems like it would take A LOT of work.

  37. Interesting idea. I always have to remind myself that 140-160 years ago, before certain things became standard, there were various ways to get from A to B to C. It is amazing to think that in 18 or 19 years, they went from ammo like this to a self contained metallic cartridge with smokeless powder. Yes, i know the Lebel came out in 1886; i am allowing for development time. I am still waiting for practical caseless ammo. After that will be energy weapons, certainly, but probably for military only (plasma rifle, 40 megawatt range, lol). Great video as always. Thank you

  38. What a novel concept, completely shortens the OAL of a reciprocating action.
    Shame it can only work on exactly straight walled cases.

  39. Interesting. I suppose the pinfire sort of cartridge could have been a better solution because it eliminated the problem of needle erosion. I wonder how different the strength of the action and the obturation effectiveness are between this and the Chassepot.

  40. Mr.McCollum, would you finally get off that idea that the chassepot was a "much better rifle", just because it looks like made in 1866, and not 1841?
    The Chassepot had pressed into service with severe mistakes. One was the cartridge, which at some circumstances had a misfire rate up to 30%.
    The cartridge was much more volatile to moisture and, since it was longer and thinner, bending and breakage. Another reason was that the primer was put in the rear, instead of the front. That led to more misfires, and the chassepot leaving more remains in the chamber after a shot. The idea of putting the primer at the base was to secure ignitian, and to burn the powder from the front to the rear, so that powder wouldn't just get blown out.
    During the pacific war in south america the missfire rate would climb up to 53%, which made all parties involved deserately trying to buy any metallic cartidge gun they could get their hands on.
    To change the needle, in case it broke, you needed tools for the Chassepot, while in the Dreyse you could just screw it out by hand. On top to that the Chassepot had problems with the rubber obturator, which would become a problem by both strong heat and frost.

    The Chassepot on the outside and in theory comprised all new rifle developments, and inspired many following bolt action rifles. But the rifle itself was a mistake and a one off.
    After 1871 the remainder were sold to third world countries, or changed to training rifles.

  41. That does seem like a superior system. Not all that different from the later paper shotshells, really. Of course the chamber is different, but I was referring to the cartridge. I wonder how much thrust that large diameter firing pin has to handle.

  42. This style of Sliding-Chamber action would later find commercial success after being adopted by Hasbro in 2006.
    (Seriously, it's kinda weird seeing it being used on a legit firearm. Doesn't seem like it'd stand up to much in way of chamber pressure.)

  43. I feel like this guy was onto something in terms of black powder, you could potentially have a fantastic gas seal with proper machining and extraction and ejection are all but done away with. So long as you can pull the receiver back there’s nothing else that can go wrong. I like it.

  44. I wouldn't mind having a reproduction of one of these modified for modern ammo for deer hunting

  45. Educating french people to their own history of weaponry. Merci beaucoup. bravo pour la prononciation du français.

  46. Are there other rifles with similar operating mechanisms?

    I found one that worked just like this at a gun show in South Dakota years ago. Nobody there knew what it was, how it worked, or what ammunition it took, not even the seller (who was selling dozens and dozens of old military rifles) this one was all rusted and crusted, but the strange operating mechanism really threw me, and I've been trying to find out what it was ever since. It had no discernible markings of any kind. It was really so similar that I'd be tempted to think it was a Gavelot, except that with Gavelots being so rare, that's extremely unlikely, isn't it?

    Is there a more common older military rifle that uses a similar operating mechanism? Or does anyone at least know that this operating mechanism is called, so I might have more luck looking it up?

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