Jean Samuel Pauly

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Jean Samuel Pauly
Born (1766-04-13)April 13, 1766
Switzerland Vechigen
Died 1821 (aged 54–55)
Nationality Swiss
Other names Samuel Johann Pauli
Occupation gunsmith

Jean Samuel Pauly (April 13, 1766 – 1821), born Samuel Johann Pauli, was a famous gunsmith of the early 19th century. Pauly was born at Vechigen near Bern, Switzerland on 13 April 1766.[1]


In 1798, at 32, Pauly became an Artillery sergeant.[2] He fought as a member of the Swiss Army, together with the French, under Masséna. During his campaigns, in 1799, Pauly wrote a manual about the usage of firearms.

Pauly moved to Paris in 1802 where he worked on designing an airship and maintained contact with the weapon manufacturer of Saint-Étienne. In 1804 he designed an automatic bridge. Pauly used for himself the title "Colonel Jean Samuel Pauly".[2] He established a gunsmith worshop where he developed mercury fulminate platina. In 1809 he employed the German Johann Nikolaus von Dreyse who would later become the inventor of the famous Dreyse rifle.

Self-contained cartridge[edit]

In Paris in 1808, in association with French gunsmith François Prélat, Pauly created the first fully self-contained cartridges:[3] The cartridges incorporated a copper base with integrated potassium chlorate[4] primer powder (the major innovation of Pauly), a round bullet and either brass or paper casing.[2][5] Unlike later cartridges the case walls didn't provide obturation. The cartridge was loaded through the breech and fired with a needle or a pin. The needle-activated central-fire breech-loading gun would become a major feature of firearms thereafter.[6] The corresponding firearm was also developed by Pauly.[3] Pauly made an improved version which was protected by a patent on 29 September 1812.[3] The cartridge was further improved by the French gunsmith Casimir Lefaucheux in 1836.

Upon the fall of Paris to the allies on 5 April 1814, von Dreyse left for Prussia and Pauly left for London, where he continued developing various weapons under the sponsorship of Durs Egg.


  1. ^ Peterson, Harold Leslie. Encyclopedia of Firearms , p.225.
  2. ^ a b c Firearms by Roger Pauly p.94
  3. ^ a b c Chemical Analysis of Firearms, Ammunition, and Gunshot Residue by James Smyth Wallace Page 24 [1]
  4. ^ Pistols: an illustrated history of their impact by Jeff Kinard Page 106 [2]
  5. ^
  6. ^ A History of Firearms By W. Y. Carman p.121