Hiram Berdan

Hiram Berdan

Inventor of the rifle
Date of Birth: 06.09.1824
Country: USA

Biography of Hiram Berdan

Hiram Berdan was born in Phelps, New York. He obtained an engineering education in the 1840s and developed a passion for competitive shooting in the 1850s, earning the reputation as America's best marksman. During the Gold Rush, he invented a press for crushing gold-bearing quartz, receiving a substantial sum of two hundred thousand dollars. With this money, he married and settled in New York City, living in his own mansion.

Hiram Berdan

In 1861, the American Civil War began in the United States. Hiram Berdan proposed to President Abraham Lincoln's government to create a special unit, consisting of the best marksmen, at no cost to the state. On June 14, Lincoln approved the creation of a sniper unit under Berdan's command, granting him the rank of colonel. Berdan became famous, and advertisements for recruiting marksmen were posted all over the country. He armed his marksmen with the most modern weapons of the time, such as the Sharps rifle.

Hiram Berdan

The Sharps rifles used paper cartridges and conical bullets. "Berdan's snipers undoubtedly killed more enemy soldiers than any other unit in the Northern army," wrote the newspapers of that time. However, Berdan gained notoriety in the army for his cowardice; at the slightest sound of bullets, he immediately left the battlefield.

The colonel stood before a tribunal for his unworthy behavior as an officer. After his resignation, Berdan focused on firearms design. Despite his evident inventiveness, he did not receive any contracts from the American army.

In 1867, Hiram Berdan presented his rifle to the engineers of the Russian Imperial Army, Colonel Gorlov and Lieutenant Gunius. They had to choose the most modern rifle for the Russian army, and they selected Berdan's rifle.

The Russian government ordered Colt to manufacture 30,000 Berdan system rifles, along with 7.5 million cartridges.

In 1869, Berdan traveled to Russia, where he presented his new rifle, the "Berdan Type N2," to the Russian government in St. Petersburg. Soon after, Emperor Alexander II signed a decree accepting this rifle into the Russian Imperial Army.

It was this 10.67mm rifle that became the famous "Berdanka" and remained in service for twenty years until 1891, when it was replaced by the equally famous 7.62mm "Mosin-Nagant" rifle designed by S.I. Mosin.

Hiram Berdan stayed in Europe until 1886. His life came to an end in Washington on March 31, 1893.