Bavarian 1858/67 Podewils-Lindner Rifle

  • Country: Germany - Bavaria
  • Ignition System: Percussion - Breechloader
  • Calibre: 13,7mm (.54) Podewils-Lindner combustible

The Bavarian 1858/67 Podewils-Lindner rifle is what is commonly called a capping breechloader, in other words, a percussion firearm which is loaded through the breech. The base rifle was the Bavarian 1858 Podewils rifle modified according to a design by Edward Lindner. It was very late in the day to adopt such a system considering what the surrounding nations were adopting and the main reason for doing so was of course mainly political (isn’t it always). The only conflict these saw use in was the Franco-Prussian 1870/71 war in which it was woefully inadequate compared to the Dreyse of the Prussians and the Chassepot of the French. The Bavarians did however make up for lost time by adopting the excellent Werder ‘Lightning’ rifle very shortly after the adoption of the Podewils-Lindner rifle. At the time of the Franco-Prussian war Bavaria was still independent from Prussia with unification occurring shortly after the war.

Technically as a capping breechloader I don’t think it is that bad, only historical context has ruined its reputation, namely if was a good idea, but it was adopted much too late. The conversion system comprises a receiver shoe, which has a loading port on the top and a bolt guide in the rear, screwed into the rear of the original barrel and a bolt featuring an interrupted thread along its length which mates with a corresponding interrupted thread in the receiver, the bolt also has a dust cover which runs in two parallel grooves on the receiver. The rifle was nicknamed the “coffee grinder” due to the shape of the bolt handle reminiscent of the manual coffee grinders in use at the time.

There is no real attempt at providing a seal between the bolt face and the chamber. Instead the bolt face is dished such that the edges dilate to hopefully seal against the chamber wall and I guess also to try to divert gas forward upon ignition, a system which was also used in the French experimental Manceaux-Vieillard carbine. The dust cover covers the loading port not only prevents dirt from getting into the receiver, it also prevents eventual gas leaks from the breech from singing the shooters eyebrows.

The ammunition comprised of combustible paper cartridges and as such the base of the cartridges would have also contributed to sealing to some degree. Ignition was done by a conventional percussion cap which was glued facing outwards in a recess at the base of the cartridge. To load you would push the base of the cartridge firmly on the nipple to seat the cap, and then load the cartridge in the chamber hoping the cap had detached and stayed on the nipple….

A nifty feature this rifle does have is that the trigger assembly has an internal safety which blocks it until the bolt is closed and turned down. This is done simply by having a rod connected to the trigger which rises vertically as the trigger is pulled, if the bolt is closed fully the rod will enter a recess in the underside of the bolt and the trigger will fire the lock as normal, if the bolt is not closed fully, the recess in the bolt is not lined up with the rod and the trigger is blocked from further movement.

Loading for this rifle is not too complicated, one just needs to make a paper tube open at one end, fill it with powder and push a bullet down over the powder. Nitrated paper or cigarette paper works nicely. To seal the breech I use a greased wad at the base of the cartridge, as used on the Westley Richards Monkey-tail rifle. The barrel calibre is 13.9mm (.547”) and has wide four grooved rifling, the original bullet was a Minié conical of 13.7mm (.54”).