Breech loader

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Breech-loading gun from 1410
Lefaucheux rifle with clip lock (single and breech-loading)
Animation of a gun turret with breech-loading principle

Breech loaders are firearms with an open barrel at both ends and in which the projectile and propellant charge are brought into the chamber through the rear opening. Usually a cartridge is used for this. The loading side of the barrel is sealed by the breech of the weapon, which typically also contains the triggering device.

advantages and disadvantages

The main advantages of the breech loader in handguns and guns , in contrast to the muzzle loader , are the significantly increased rate of fire and the easier cover when using a cartridge . While the gunner has to load the propellant charge and projectile through the muzzle of the muzzle loader, the rear loader can easily track the propellant charge and projectile, which simplifies handling behind cover. In principle, the charge feed of a firearm from the normal shooter position behind the barrel is advantageous because the simplification speeds up operation. At the same time, the assembly of prefabricated cargoes offers the security of constant ballistic properties and logistical advantages for the provision of various cargoes and projectile combinations. It is easier to protect the shooter behind the barrel.

The general disadvantage is the higher effort required to manufacture and operate the necessary locking and ammunition supply systems.

With firearms the charge and projectile are loaded, with compressed air weapons only the projectile is loaded and the projectile is driven through the barrel by means of compressed cold gases. This also applies to most spring pressure guns . Spring-powered weapons, on the other hand, transfer the force directly to the projectile. If the projectile is loaded from behind, all of the above weapons are breech-loaders, even if they are not firearms.


There is evidence that the first breech-loading guns on ships existed as early as the early 15th century. The first attempts with breech-loading hand rifles can also be traced back to the late 15th century , but due to numerous technical problems they were not yet widely used. The first practical breech-loading rifle , the Dreysesche needle gun , was built in 1836. It is the development base for bolt-action rifles and self-loaders .

The first use by the Prussian army took place in 1849 when the uprisings during the German Revolution and the Schleswig-Holstein War were put down . The victory of the Prussian army over the Danish army at the Düppeler Schanzen in the German-Danish War in 1864 is at least partly due to the use of breech loading rifles by the Prussians; the Danish army used muzzle loading rifles. After the Prussian success in the Battle of Königgrätz in the German War in 1866, breech-loading rifles finally prevailed.

Breech loaders are now state of the art for all firearms (with the exception of some grenade launchers / light mortars). A wide variety of systems were developed for this purpose, depending on the application and size of the weapons.


Breech loader is a coarse and derogatory expression for male homosexuals .

Web links

Commons : Backloader  - collection of images, videos, and audio files
Wiktionary: Hinterlader  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Hans-Dieter Götz: Arms knowledge for collectors. From matchlock to assault rifle. 8th edition. Stuttgart, Motorbuchverlag 1994, ISBN 3-87943-303-8 .
  2. ^ The cannons of the "Lisa von Lübeck" (viewed on Aug. 17, 2009) ( Memento of March 13, 2009 in the Internet Archive ).
  3. ↑ Pole rifle for rear loading, inventory no. W 3348. In: Object database. German Historical Museum , accessed on May 26, 2019 . From the time around 1500, which followed the principle of chamber guns, which was already widespread at the time .
  4. Ortenburg: Arms of the Wars of Unification 1848–1871 , 1990, p. 60
  5. Loebell: History of the Zündnadelgewehrs and Competitors , 1867, p. 42
  6. History Center Dybbøl Banke, guided tour, [1]
  7. Terry Gander, Peter Chamberlain: Encyclopedia of German weapons. 1939–1945 Hand weapons, artillery, captured weapons, special weapons. Special edition, 2nd edition. Stuttgart, Motorbuchverlag 2008, ISBN 978-3-613-02481-6 .
  8. TRUE SYNONYMIC DICTIONARY: Homosexual . In: , accessed on July 17, 2019.