A Brief History
On August 17, 1914, the World War I Battle of Stallupönen was fought between the Imperial German army and the Imperial Russian army near Nesterov, Russia. The Germans were armed with the Mauser M98 chambered in 7.92 mm Mauser (sometimes called “8 mm Mauser”) and the Russians with the M1891 Mosin-Nagant rifle chambered in 7.62×54mmR. both rifles were 5 shot bolt action repeating rifles firing smokeless powder cartridges topped by copper jacketed pointy nosed bullets that were accurate and highly effective.
Bullets were originally merely lead round balls, and then were blunt tip hollow based Minie Ball types rammed down a muzzle loader barrel with a ram rod. When firearms makers started using metallic cased cartridges, they often had tubular magazines that precluded pointy projectiles so that the rear cartridge could not impact the primer on the cartridge ahead of it.
Once metal jacketed bullet technology became available and smokeless powder increased bullet velocity, the aerodynamic advantage of pointy, “spire shaped,” or “Spitzer” bullets became apparent, and the first of these were introduced in France in 1898, called the Balle D, an invention of Georges Raymond Desaleux for the 8 by 50 mm R Lebel rifle. Other militaries and ammunition manufacturers followed suit as the ballistic advantages allowed for higher retained velocity and longer effective range of rifles sporting Spitzer type ammunition.
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For more information, please see…
Cottesloe, Thomas. Evolution of guns & rifles. Pioneer Washington Restoration foundation, 1965.
Denny, Mark. Their Arrows Will Darken the Sun: The Evolution and Science of Ballistics. Johns Hopkins University Press, 2011.
The featured image in this article, a technical drawings of the “Balle D” Full Metal Jacket rifle bullet adopted in 1898 by the French military, is in the public domain in the United States. This applies to U.S. works where the copyright has expired, often because its first publication occurred prior to January 1, 1927, and if not then due to lack of notice or renewal. See this page for further explanation.
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