Austrian M1842 Kammerbuchse

  • Country: Austria
  • Ignition System: Tubelock
  • Calibre: 18mm (.69

The Austrian 1842 Kammerbuchse is one of a long line of short rifles used by skirmishers in the Austrian army. It is a relatively heavy rifle which sports a 18mm (.69″) calibre rifled barrel with 12 deep grooves and also a Delvigne stepped breech as found on the French 1833 cavalry officer’s pistol.

An immediatly recognisable feature of the rifle is the lock. Unlike most european countries, the Austrian army did not make a clean transition from flintlock to percussion lock. They instead took an intermediate step by adopting the Augustin tube lock. This lock used a sealed copper cylinder filled with fulminant for ignition which was pushed into the flash tube of the lock pan, the pan top which incorporates an anvil element was then flipped shut and the lock was ready to fire. When the hammer struck the anvil the copper cylinder was crushed, igniting the fulminant and thus firing the rifle. The cylinders had a wire loop on one end which would stick out of the slot seen on the end of the lock pan so that the used cylinder could be quickly tugged out of the lock for the next shot. The cylinders were also pretty much waterproof. The Augustin lock was used on muskets, rifles, and pistols.

To fire these locks today one can simply use a musket cap upside down in the lock pan such that the anvil will strike the inside of the cap. One of the wings of the cap must be torn off and the cap placed such that the opening in the cap side faces the barrel. If the cap is not hot enough for ignition, a small amount of fine grade black powder can be injected into the flash tube to boost ignition.

The rifle has a few refinements which indicate its use by skilled troops, namely the heavy brass trigger guard spur for a more comfortable grip, the raised cheek rest on the right side of the stock, the multiple leaf sight, and the butt compartment for tools. Clearly this rifle was not for the common soldier. The few other rifles I have seen do not always have the butt compartment.

The ramrod design is also of interest since it has a brass band at its widest point to avoid damaging the rifling when loading. These rifles first shot ball ammunition before changing to a conical bullet. By observing the shape of the ramrod tip you can tell which ammunition the rifle was intended to fire. In this case the tip of the rod as a shallow dish, thus the rifle was intended to fire ball ammunition.

The bayonet fitting uses the Laukart spring lock. The bayonet for this rifle is a socket bayonet sporting a massive sword blade. Many of these rifles were imported to the Unites States during the civil war where they were converted to conventional percussion. As such, these rifles are quite rare in original condition.