Ammunition

During the era of muzzle loading pistols, the powder charge with lead bullet were loaded through the open end of the barrel. This was a lengthy process which took some time and experience loading it properly. While the early target pistols had hand-loaded flintlock systems, the development of better chemicals led to the introduction of percussion pistols which in turn led to the development of early rimfire and later centerfire cartridges. During the progression from the flintlock system to the  percussion systems, pistols in general became more reliable. Even more so with the introduction of the modern cartridges, which we still use today. During the late 19th and early 20th century, the cartridge powered target pistol evolved into many breech systems. Think of the Dreyse needlefire system, the Lefaucheaux pinfire cartridges to the basically two cartridge options: either rimfire or centrefire cartridges.

 

CENTERFIRE AMMUNITION

L-R: .32 S&W, 5,3x22R (5 mm Scheibenpistole), K20,-25,-30 (7mm Schiebenpistole), 8,15x 24R (8mm Scheibenpistole). 9,8 x30,5R (9mm Scheibenpistole), .44 Mock dual

 

.22 RIMFIRE AMMUNITION

L-R: .22 Win. Mag, .22 LR Tracer, .22 LR, .22 Long, .22 Short

With increasing ability to draw metal cases, length and diameter grew. The bigger and more powerful cartridges afforded a solid head and needed primers for for their ignition.Today the most common caliber in target pistols is the .22 Long Rifle (LR) or 5.6 mm lfB (metric) cartridge. Before, calibres up to 12 mm were to be found. Although many different calibres were used, a lot depended on the availability and cost of ammo for the shooter. The .22 Long Rifle cartridge became readily available and (still is!) affordable to shoot. The cartridge is consistent in performance and allows the shooter to fire his pistol more often during practise.

It took some time till pistol shooting was considered as an accepted and serious discipline. The art of revolver shooting by men like Walter Winans and the modern Olympic Games helped to accept pistol shooting as a sport, while duelling, being its former main discipline, became obsolete.

 

In 1845-49 a Frenchman named Louis A. FLOBERT introduced an invention: the Flobert cartridge, which was basically a percussion cap with a small round lead pellet mounted on it. By making a small rim to the cartridge, it formed to basis for the modern rimfire cartridge. Flobert cartridges are low-powered cartridges which only use the explosive force of the ignition compound to power the pellet (BB or CB, round or conical) through the barrel. No powder charge is used.

This type of ammunition did not produce smoke – in an era where blackpowder was the standard – and was ideally suited for indoor shooting at targets up to a few yards. When indoor shooting became popular during the 1850-60s, it caused many gunsmiths to design new pistol models. These types of target pistols became known as the ‘salon-pistol’ (le salon = living room in French) as they were often used indoors or inside the living room of the home, sometimes using the fireplace as a bullet stop!

FLOBERT AMMUNITION (BB &CB)

L-R: 9mm Flobert (BB), 9mm Flobert (CB), 6mm Flobert (CB), 4mm Flobert zimmer (BB)