Blast From The Past: .58 Schubarth: An Egg of Brass & Lead

There are a lot of weird and wonderful kinds of ammunition out there, but a candidate for the title of “weirdest ammunition” might be the .58 Schubarth. Shaped like an egg on a diet, the .58 Schubarth was originally designed for an American break-action breechloading rifle design from the early 1860s. The round was recently mentioned – and pictures of it posted – at the International Ammunition Association forums:
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The .58 Schubarth was a variation on the pinfire firing mechanism, whereby an internal pin was disrupted to strike priming compound and detonate the round. The .58 Schubarth mated with a unique two-piece chamber, with the round protruding from one half and the other half closing on it. One major downside of the round was that it had to be properly oriented during loading, however even with this somewhat quaint characteristic it still would have been a great advance versus existing muzzleloading cartridges.

Nathaniel F

Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. In addition to contributing to The Firearm Blog, he runs 196,800 Revolutions Per Minute, a blog devoted to modern small arms design and theory. He is also the author of the original web serial Heartblood, which is being updated and edited regularly. He can be reached via email at


  • MrEllis

    Awesome, thanks for sharing. Imagine if this stuck, I guess we could have called magazines “cartons” then…

    • Budogunner

      Meggpull would still dominate the market as their windowed cartons allow you to count your eggs before they hatch.

  • Would it be possible to keep article’s like this as a weekly thing? Very informative, and its always nice when I can learn about some rare form of ammunition and or weapon.

    • Will

      Stupendous idea, Genius Bandit, I’m 100% in agreement!!!
      This would be an amazing weekly article. Highly entertaining and informative. There are so many unusual cartridges out there that some of us have never seen or heard of.
      Yes, PLEASE, Nathaniel F, make this a weekly article.

      • Not to brag, but it’s not to uncommon for me to have good idea, at least every once and-a-while. Glad we’re in agreement.

    • TJbrena

      Agreed. Unconventional, strange and otherwise bizarre designs like this fascinate me, regardless of age.

      Unfortunately for anyone who may have been armed with this gun during the Civil War, they’d have to go on a real Easter Egg hunt to find some ammo.

  • Nashvone

    That was an interesting read. I had never heard of this round before. Thanks for the knowledge.

  • john huscio

    They should chamber an AR for it

    • JK

      On it…

  • ostiariusalpha

    Mess with someone armed with a .58 Schubarth, you might end up with some egg on your face. Ba-dumsh!

  • Plumbiphilious

    This is the cutest bullet I’ve ever seen.

    • DIR911911 .

      meet comment below 🙂

  • MR

    I’m curious what the supposed advantages would be for this design, versus what turned into the standard cartridge. Seems like consistently forming a egg shape would be considerably more difficult than a capped-off tube.

    • ostiariusalpha

      Well, theoretically speaking, the egg casing is much closer to a sphere in shape (the ideal shape for consistent detonation of smokeless powder) which gives better inherent accuracy. The problem is this case was for black powder, which is a degressively deflagrating propellant that does not detonate, and gets nothing from this case geometry. In this context, the egg shape seems to have more to do with the taper allowing ease of chambering & extraction, with the round base being simpler to manufacture and having no right angles to snag the rear chamber door on. Lacking a rim, there’s nothing to really grab a hold of for mechanically aided extraction, a flaw which would have become quickly apparent compared to the contemporary rimfire cases.

      • Tassiebush

        I think the simpler manufacture of cases would have been a significant benefit of the design.

        • ostiariusalpha

          Definitely. Brass metallurgy had a ways to go back then, they were slowly working out the process of annealing the cases between stages of manufacture to relieve stress in the brass while drawing it into the shape we recognize as a cartridge case today. This egg shape reduced the steps and didn’t require the annealing.

  • Hokum

    Now I’ve seen everything.

    • jcitizen

      That is what I keep saying, but then comes along something else I’ve never seen before!

  • Vitor Roma

    Ballistic gel test plz, thx.

    • at $3000 – $5000 a pop that is not feasible. However in 1861 Mr. Schubarth said that “It will be seen that the powder is fired in the middle of the charge thus causing a rapid combustion [and] that this causes so great force be generated that 60 grains of powder has driven bullet through 15 one inch boards at a distance one hundred yards “

  • wetcorps

    OMG so cute!

    • DIR911911 .

      meet comment above 🙂

  • Roger V. Tranfaglia

    Hey Nate…
    Is there still a working Schubarth to fire one of those puppies…….
    Maybe Ian from F.W. Can do a video!(?)

  • Awesome, thanks for commenting, Aaron!

  • DIR911911 .

    video . . . video . . .video . . please 🙂

    • DIR911911 .

      wow , do NOT do a google video search for this cartridge , just don’t .

      • Tassiebush

        I’m trying to find it assuming it was filth but all I can find is wholesome stuff 🙁

  • Fruitbat44

    First trounds, and now this. Is it “Interesting Ideas Which Didn’t Really Work” week at the TFB?

  • Tassiebush

    I think the only difference is that this one is an internal pinfire so it is sealed, whilst the one in patent you’ve posted (very awesome BTW) is a more conventional pinfire apart from unusual shape.

  • jcitizen

    Thanks for letting us use the information, if that is the case!