Girardoni air Gun

The Girardoni air rifle was an airgun designed by Tyrolian inventor Bartholomäus Girardoni circa 1779. The weapon was also known as the Windbüchse (“wind rifle” in German). One of the rifle’s more famous associations is its use on the Lewis and Clark Expedition to explore and map the western part of North America in the early 1800s.
The Girardoni air rifle was in service with the Austrian army from 1780 to around 1815. The advantages of a high rate of fire, no smoke from propellants, and low muzzle report granted it initial acceptance, but it was eventually removed from service for several reasons. While the detachable air reservoir was capable of around 30 shots it took nearly 1,500 strokes of a hand pump to fill those reservoirs. Later, a wagon-mounted pump was provided. The reservoirs, made from hammered sheet iron held together with rivets and sealed by brazing, proved very difficult to manufacture using the techniques of the period and were always in short supply.

In addition, the weapon was very delicate and a small break in the reservoir could make it inoperable. Finally, it was very different from any other weapon of the time and any soldier using it needed to be highly trained.

The Lewis and Clark Expedition used the rifle in the demonstrations that they performed for nearly every Native American tribe they encountered on the expedition.[1][2]

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