François Prélat was a French gunsmith and inventor. He is thought to have invented the first fully contained cartridge in 1808, as well as the percussion cap in 1818.
In association with the Swiss gunsmith Jean Samuel Pauly, François Prélat invented from 1808 to 1812 the first totally contained cartridge, incorporating in one package a fulminate primer, black powder and a round bullet. A percussion pin would provoke ignition. This was a marked improvement over the invention of Jean Lepage, in which the fulminate was simply poured into a pan near the breech. The new cartridge was particularly considered useful for cavalry firearms, as the motion of the horse and the difficulty of movement rendered conventional loading extremely difficult. This center-fire design is today the most commonly used. The two men had set up a gunsmith shop together 4, rue des Trois-Frères, in Paris.
In 1818, Prélat took a patent, or Certificat d'addition, for the invention of the percussion cap (ignition copper cap) to be used in cartridges, thus replacing the magazine lock mechanism.