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Book Review: Systeme Lefaucheux

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The pinfire system, as invented by Casimir Lefaucheux and expanded by his son Eugene, is one of the most significant corners of cartridge firearms development that has been thoroughly overlooked by collectors and firearms enthusiasts. This was probably the most widespread and relevant cartridge prior to the standardization of the centerfire brass cartridge, and yet it is generally dismissed as cheap junk. It can be hard to blame people too much for this, though, as there is precious little literature to help illuminate the history and significance of the lowly pinfire – with Chris Curtis’ book being the best option bar none.

Curtis’ work is really just an introduction to the subject, because it is really is such a broad topic to attempt to cover in one book. Curtis does a good job condensing all this information down to about 300 pages, including chapters on the work of both Casimir and Eugene, European and American military use of pinfire arms, commercial pinfire long guns and handguns, pinfire pepperbox pistols, pinfire oddities, pinfire cartridges and reloading, and a chapter specifically for those looking to collect pinfire arms. That chapter on collecting includes several pages of proof marks that can be found on these guns, which is often the only reliable way to document their date and place of origin.

Anyone who wishes to become a well-rounded firearms historian would be overlooking a major part of the subject if they did not have this book in their library, and Curtis is to be commended for dedicating so much effort to a topic so widely ignored and dismissed. Cover price is $44.95, but it is more typically found for $50.

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