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Swiss Prototype von Steiger Auto-Ejecting Revolvers

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In the 1870s, Switzerland was looking for a new military revolver, and they were particularly interested in finding a system which would allow faster reloading than the standard loading gate and manual ejection rod. A military veteran and gunsmith by the name of von Steiger in Thun submitted a design which automatically ejected an empty case each time the gun was fired. This did dramatically increase the rate of fire (one Swiss officer in the trials managed 10 rounds in 20 seconds), but at the price of complexity and durability.

The first series of von Steiger revolvers were in 9mm, followed a few years later by a redesign to the 10.4mm cartridge which would ultimately be adopted in 1878. We have six examples to look at today, form prototype #2 through one of the trials pistols in 10.4mm. Ultimately the Abadie system was chosen in favor of von Steiger’s guns. Abadie’s gun was not as fast as von Steiger’s to reload, but it was still faster than the traditional system and did not sacrifice as much cost or durability. It would prove to be quite successful, and was adopted by many European militaries in the late 1800s.

Thanks to Kessler Auktionen AG for letting me film some of their guns!

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