New Systems (XIX)

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As the 19th century wore on, the lack of orders for military hardware from the State obliged Basque gun makers to cater for the civil market instead, making commercial arms, such as hunting rifles, pistols and revolvers.

Defining a market

It is at this time that the first breech-loading arms appear, as a result of the technological advances made in the iron and steel industry which led to new kinds of bullets. These new projectiles in turn brought about the development of different ignition systems which led to the first breech-loading weapons, the forebears of repeating weapons and semiautomatic pistols.

This room will show single-shot weapons, together with references to the evolution of projectiles which permit different breech-loading systems.

Repeating weapons with centre-fire percussion

In 1861, during the American Civil War (1861-1865), the first tests with repeating rifles and centre-fire percussion cartridges were carried out, using metal cartridges and nitrocellulose smokeless powder instead of black gunpowder. The arms were developed between 1860 and 1866 and later produced by Remington, Grass, Beaumont, etc.

The creation of the centre-fire percussion cartridge paved the way for the transformation of firearms into modern weapons.

The new repeating systems that used this cartridge allowed the weapon to carry several bullets in a magazine which could then be fired in quick succession.