Many of you will have looked at the last Mad Monday post and thought… How did it take someone so long to invent the cartridge? Surely it would have made faster to reload/repeating firearms advance massively.
Well, somebody did. Someone at least as early as 1537. Henry VIII of England possessed this ‘carbine’ in his collection, which is breech loading using a re-fillable steel shell. In fact the breech of this is very similar to Georgian and Victorian early cartridge guns and musket breech-loading conversions of that era.
Sadly this seems not to have been caught on by industrial designers for about another two hundred years. A similar system was used in some canon, but no-one seemed to click that much the same technique could be used for individual firearms.
One can only suppose that the fairly close tolerances required to make a gun like this work would make them cost-prohibitive to produce on the large scale required for military issue, not to mention the impossibility of interchangeable or standardised parts when made by hand.
You can see this piece in the Royal Armouries Collection here.