Blog is back up! So lets start... at the beginning!

Blog is back up! So lets start... at the beginning!

July 15, 2020

Renaissance Firearms is beginning a Blog that will present articles of interest to our patrons. The articles will be short, averaging 1,000 words, and will explore the gamut of firearms and Americans’ rights to own them. Why an average length of 1,000 words? That is long enough to convey relevant, interesting information, and short enough to be read and digested in a period of two or three minutes. Hopefully, information presented here will encourage further, more in-depth reading on the subject matter. This Blog will not be a forum, nor will this Blog make appraisals of firearms—an area that requires very specialized knowledge—and a future article may deal with the appraisal process. This Blog welcomes readers’ input—and if you, our readers’, have particular firearms- related topics you would like Renaissance Firearms to research and report, we shall be happy to do so.

The first article concerns a person whose innovations contributed significantly to firearms and ammunition as we know them today—but a person you, in all likelihood, never knew existed.INTRODUCING JEAN SAMUEL PAULY

Jean Samuel Pauly Was an innovator in the early decades of the 19thCentury whose seminal contributions to firearms and ammunition developments are largely unknown and unheralded. But in truth, we salute Pauly every time we fire a cartridge, and had another of his innovations come to earlier fruition, we might today be using a vastly different ammunition ignition system.

Jean Samuel Pauly was born Samuel Johannes Pauli in the Swiss canton of Bern in April 1766. He died, in poverty and obscurity, in England in 1821. Pauly’s father was a wagon maker, and Pauly developed an interest in things mechanical: He was later described as a mécanicien, or “mechanic”, a term that at the time was synonymous with ingénieur, or engineer—respected professional titles.

The first definitive mention of Pauly came in 1798 when he was described as a sergeant-major of artillery in the Swiss Army fighting under General André Masséna, one of Napoleon’s must able field commanders. Pauly was obviously a very literate and observant man since toward the end of 1799, based on his frontline experiences, he wrote (in French) a well-received treatise on the employment of combined arms (infantry and artillery) on the battlefield. Sometime in 1802 Pauly relocated to Paris where with Gallic à sang froid he changed his name to conform to French usage and shamelessly promoted himself from the non-commissioned ranks to “Colonel Jean Samuel Pauly”.

In 1808, Pauly was associated with François Prélat, a well-known maker of firearms, the two of them sharing premises at Number 4, rue des Trois Frères, in Paris (street of the three friars). Prélat has been described as a gunsmith and inventor, but he was also a skilled “patent troll”, who during his perusal of British patents discovered the patent granted to Scottish clergyman Alexander John Forsyth on 11 April 1807 for a fulminating primer that was an “advantageous method of discharging firearms”—a significant advantage over the long-extant flintlock mechanism of igniting propellant charges.

Pauly intuitively grasped the advantages of a unitary self-contained package consisting of primer, primary propellant charge, and a projectile. But a firearm that could utilize his unitary cartridge concept did not exist, so Pauly simultaneously developed both the breech-loading firearm and the unitary cartridge, and was granted French patent number 843 dated 29 September 1812. Pauly’s firearm’s design consists of a wide and long mobile breech block rising from the back of the breech to the front and pivoting upward through 90 degrees on two large trunnions affixed to bosses on the exterior of the side-by-side barrels. This breech block somewhat resembles an inverted small basin, which gives the component its French name, bassinet.

Lifting the bassinet reveals a thin but sturdy steel “action plate” very precisely inletted into the stock, and which conceals the locks and mainsprings. With the bassinet in the open position the barrel chambers are easily accessed for loading of the unitary cartridges. In external appearance the unitary cartridge of Pauly’s design resembles today’s familiar shotshell. The cartridge has a rimmed circular metal base or disk; iron was the first metal Pauly used, though brass quickly followed. The metal base is pierced through its center and has a small recess in the base into which the priming compound of mercury fulminate, sulfur, and powdered charcoal formed into a small pellet is pressed and sealed with a small piece of gummed paper to retain the pellet in position. A tube of thin, combustible paper containing the powder charge and projective (ball or pellets) is attached to the metal base. After discharge, in which the paper is consumed, the metal base is easily removed and recharged with primer, propellant and projectile. The breech-loading in-line ignition design and its unitary cartridge can only be described as a revolutionary development.

Throughout his time in Paris Pauly, as much a promoter of his invention as a later self-styled “colonel” (one Samuel Colt), had assiduously cultivated influential people, and had a firearm made for presentation to Napoleon. Napoleon reportedly killed a number of birds with the Pauly firearm, but if Pauly had any thought that his inventions might be adopted for military use—that was not to be. Pauly’s breech-loading firearm was expensive to manufacture, and was much too fragile for military use.

Pauly was politically astute enough to understand that Napoleon’s Empire was crumbling, rendering Pauly’s continuing ability to earn his living in France problematic, and resolved to accept the invitation of his fellow countryman, Durs Egg, and relocated to Great Britain.

Pauly continued his interests in firearms innovation, but perhaps the most interesting claim involved the discharge of a firearm by condensed air. This last claim related to British patent, number 3833, received in 1814, that described a charge (of powder and projectile) ignited by means of compressed air. A piston and cylinder, and suitable apparatus and valves for effecting the discharge are let into the stock at the rear of the barrel, in the axis of which is the touch-hole”. What Pauly was describing was a method of igniting a charge of powder by the heat produced by the sudden compression of a specific volume of air—a total departure from the concept of powder ignition by flint or percussion—the principle of “combustion ignition” of course is used in diesel engines to ignite the fuel in the engines’ cylinders. But could hot, high pressure air actually ignite a propellant charge reliably?

In 1968 the American company, Daisy - Heddon, better known as the manufacturer of spring-powered air-rifles, formally introduced the Daily V/L rifle using caseless ammunition—a .224 caliber bullet weighing 29 grains with a tubular solid combustible nitrocellulose propellant approximately the size and shape of a lead pencil’s eraser affixed to the bullet’s base.

(The V/L system did not become more popular for several reasons: the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives held that the V/L rifle was a firearm, and Daisy – Heddon was not licensed to manufacture firearms; but there were also many aspects of caseless ammunition—such as how to extract misfires—that required further research and development. Still, the Daisy V/L system was a significant achievement in caseless ammunition and compressed air ignition technology.)

So, some century and a half after Pauly envisioned igniting propellant powder via superheated air, a rifle that could fire caseless ammunition by igniting the propellant with superheated air was sufficiently perfected to bring to market. Had Pauly been able to perfect such an ignition system in the early 19thcentury, it may well have offered an alternative ignition system to flint and percussion, perhaps even superseding flint and percussion. We shall never know. But we can credit another innovation in firearms and ammunition development to the remarkable but mostly unknown firearms and ammunition inventor who was Jean Samuel Pauly.

-Authored by a friend of Renaissance

A Primer on Primers

Behold the primer—like Rodney Dangerfield, the simple primer does not get the respect it deserves, but the primer is the most critical component of metallic cartridges or shotshells, for it is the primer that ignites the powder charge that sends the bullet or pellets toward their targets.

Women and Firearms - The More the Better

There are myriad reasons why more and more American women are demonstrating increased interest in firearms, with perhaps the most urgent reason being the dramatic increase in civil unrest, prolonged urban rioting and general lawlessness. Increasingly, women are participating in greater numbers in the shooting sports, particularly the shotgun sports.

223 vs 5.56

The answer to the above question is a resounding NO, though far too many shooters are confused over the difference. The parent cartridge of the.223 Remington is the .222 Remington introduced in 1950 as a completely new rimless center-fire cartridge in .22 caliber.


Lead is a heavy, malleable, durable elemental metal with a low melting point actively used by humans for thousands of years: It is both boon and bane to humankind. Like other metallic elements, lead has properties that, in excess, can cause physiological and neurological damage (plumbism) to humans and other mammals. There is scientific evidence that ancient Romans suffered neurological injury by drinking water and wine containing lead solutions leached out of pipes and vessels.

The Origins of the Second Amendment

Ponder the meaning and origin of these words: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” Though it has been criticized for poor syntax, this straightforward statement has generated millions of words in defense of, ridicule of, and opposition to the premise that people of a free State have the right to own firearms. We shall examine this statement closely.

Blog is back up! So lets start... at the beginning!

Jean Samuel Pauly Was an innovator in the early decades of the 19thCentury whose seminal contributions to firearms and ammunition developments are largely unknown and unheralded. But in truth, we salute Pauly every time we fire a cartridge, and had another of his innovations come to earlier fruition, we might today be using a vastly different ammunition ignition system.