Russian 1870 Berdan II Rifle

  • Country: Russia
  • Ignition System: Centrefire
  • Calibre: 10,75 x 58R Berdan

Why Berdan II? Simply because it is the second rifle adopted by the Russians which was designed by the Amercian Hiram Berdan. The first rifle had a trapdoor mechanism quite similar to the Belgian Albini-Braedlin but not using a side percussion lock. The Berdan II is in many ways a plain single shot bolt action rifle with very clean lines, you can even see a certain resemblance to its successor, the Mosin-Nagant.

The bolt is very long and has a very distinctive short teardrop shaped bolt handle which only needs to be turned down by roughly 45° to lock the bolt, a little like the Dreyse rifle. On the end is a very large cocking button. Above the bolt face is a passage in which the extractor claw is housed. This claw is spring biased in an forward position by a coil spring on its stem and it is retained in the passage by a screw. The upper surface of the extractor claw stem has a camming surface against which the screw tip presses to give the extractor claw a particular motion when the bolt is worked.
When the bolt is closed, the claw is pushed into its passage by the sloping surface of the chamber lip, which causes the claw to rid up, radially away, from the cartridge rim due to the above mentioned camming interaction. When the bolt is opened and retracted, the extractor claw is free to move forward due to its coil spring, and the camming surface is shaped such that the claw also moves down, radially inwards, to grab the cartridge rim and thus extract the cartridge.

The ejector is mounted in a slot under the bolt which also houses the trigger and sear assembly. When the bolt is drawn almost fully back, the ejector rises into the bolt channel, which causes the cartridge to flip out of the receiver. A clever feature of the rifle is that pushing down the ejector releases the bolt from the receiver.

The calibre is 10,75 x 58R which at the time was a powerful cartridge and appreciated for its accuracy . The bullet was paper patched as was common for many military cartridges at the time. The rifle is set up such that the rim of the cartridge is not enshrouded by the chamber, but is instead sandwiched between the bolt face and the chamber rim when the bolt is closed, much like the model 1873 Winchester.

This is a standard infantry rifle, a shorter Dragoon rifle, a Cossack rifle and a cavalry rifle were also produced. The imperial eagle is stamped on the chamber and the barrel is marked with the rifle serial number and the Cyrillic inscription “императорскiй Тульский оружейный завод” , meaning “”Imperial Tula Arms Factory” and manufacturing date of 1889. Marking for Sestroresk, Izhevsk and Birmingham (early production) can also be found.

The sights are calibrated in arshin (1 arshin = 71.1cm) and can be adjusted between 200 arshin (142m) and 1200 arshin (853m), this rifle is also fitted with the fashionable volley sights on the rear sight and front barrel band.

The bayonet has a cruciform cross-section and has a flat screwdriver type tip.