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Girandoni ''Air Rifle''

  • General History
  • 1 min

By Crusader1307

The first true “Air Rifle” designed, the unique and innovative Girandoni Air Rifle was designed by Austrian Bartholomaus Girandoni in 1779. The weapon was also known as “Windbuchse” or “Wind Rifle”. Purchased by The Austrian Army, they used it until 1815. The Girandoni weighed 9-pounds and was 4-feet long. Made of iron and wood as a traditionally shaped and manufactured Period Firearm, it was chambered to fire a .46 Caliber round Lead Ball – to a maximum range of 250-yards. Low velocity, The Rifle had no smoke or report (flash). An iron sealed reservoir was installed in the Rear Stock. Much as today’s Air Rifles, a spring activated pump lever, drew Air into the tank. Once the desired pressure was achieved, an installed steel tube held up to 80 Lead Balls. Tilting the barrel upwards “loaded” a round into the Breech. 

 

Pulling back on the top installed Locking Lever  (much like a traditional Musket Hammer, would cock The Rifle. One simply had to aim and fire. Subsequent rounds were fired the same. The common issue me with this “breakthrough” technology was of course, the pumping action. It took 1,500 such actions to get The Girandoni to the appropriate pressure similar to  that of a traditional Musket shot. Another were the many leather gaskets located throughout the interior of The Rifle to maintain “air tightness”. If these gaskets were wet, The Rifle would malfunction. By 1815, The Austrian Army went back to it’s traditional Blackpowder Flintlocks. The Girandoni still occupies a place in American History, however. The Girandoni Rifle was chosen by Explorers Lewis and Clark during their epic Explorations of The American Midwest.