9mm Galand and 9mm Perrin French Thick Rim Cartridges

Perrin and Galand Cartridge
Perrin and Galand Cartridge
Comparison of 9mm Perrin and Galand Cartridges from Author’s Collection

A lot of people get Galand and Perrin cartridges confused, so we will take a look at these French thick rim cartridges over a few upcoming articles. The 9mm French thick rim cartridges are the most straight forward so we will start with them. Above all, the important take-away from this article is that, even though it is repeated in various articles and references, there is no such thing as a “Galand-Perrin” revolver. And these cartridges were never meant to be interchangeable nor were they ever designed to be used in the same guns.

Early Box Top Label for Perrin Cartridges from Author’s Collection

What is a Perrin Cartridge?

A Perrin cartridge is an early centerfire cartridge invented by Louis Perrin in 1859. It was designed as an internally-primed cartridge which had a percussion cap resting in a metal anvil or frame inside the cartridge.

There were earlier fully-self-contained centerfire cartridge designs including one invented by Casimir Lefaucheux, but this was probably the earliest design that really began to see a larger adoption. A lot of the centerfire designs prior to this and even after, focused on a cartridge with a nipple on it for a percussion cap. Examples of some of these by Pottet, Morse, Cofer, etc can be seen in the book we talked about in an earlier post.

9mm Perrin Cartridges
9mm Perrin Cartridges from Author’s Collection

It wasn’t until the late 1860s that Benet and Berdan and others would really popularize the centerfire cartridge.

Perrin’s Patent

Perrin patent Drawing
Patent Drawing of 1859 Perrin Revolver and Cartridges from Author’s Collection

The patent that Perrin filed on this new gun and cartridge system described a few different ways the cartridge could be made. We will describe this patent in more detail in the next article, but essentially, the cartridge was constructed with a metal frame inside that held a percussion cap or priming pellet and served as an anvil for the percussion cap to hit against when the hammer hit it. The patent also depicts a slightly different design of gun which is common in the larger size but is not seen in the the smaller 9mm revolvers.

The left-most cartridge pictured in the patent design is unique from the rest in that the primer is at the top instead of the bottom of the internal frame. And there is a pin that is hit by the hammer that then hits the primer. This is an example of a horizontal pinfire cartridge! These would likely use a slightly different hammer on the gun with a wider area to hit the pin.

The “Baby” Perrin Revolver

Gazette nationale ou le Moniteur universel, 11 juillet 1862
Gazette nationale ou le Moniteur universel – 11 July 1862
ARMURERIE PERRIN rue Laffitte, No 51.
ARMES DE PARIS, new safety system applied to breech loading weapons.
Revolver-Perrin, remarkable for the simplicity of its mechanism. and recognized by eminent and special men as a weapon destined to render great service to the armies of land and sea.
Cartouche-Perrin, divider system.

He would advertise these revolvers as a simpler, safer system with a focus on the benefit they have to the military. The 9mm version became known as the “Baby Perrin.” It is noticeably different that the larger variety and what was depicted in the patent but still follows a similar mechanism.

9mm "Baby" Perrin Revolver Marked PERRIN & Cie Bte
9mm “Baby” Perrin Revolver. Photographs Courtesy of Cowans Auctions.
Marked PERRIN & Cie Bte

What is a Galand Cartridge?

A Galand cartridge is another early centerfire cartridge that was developed by Charles-François Galand and Alfred Summerville. The revolver that shot these cartridges was first patented in Liège, Belgium on 18 September 1868. They also filed English and French patents shortly after.

Galand Revolver as Illustrated in Le revolver de guerre de 1873

The decade following the invention of the Perrin cartridge saw a significant amount of developments in firearms and ammunition technology. The most important were new ways to prime centerfire cartridges with inventions by Benet, Boxer, Bachmann and Berdan. Many of these priming methods were used by various manufacturers for these Galand cartridges and can be seen below.

9mm Galand Cartridges
9mm Galand Cartridges from Author’s Collection

Galand Technical Drawings

The following technical drawings by Cartoucherie d’Anderlecht et Société Française des Munitions show the Berdan primers being used and the full technical specifications of how they made these 9mm Galand cartridges.

9mm Galand Technical Specifications made by Cartoucherie d'Anderlecht
9mm Galand Technical Specifications made by Cartoucherie d’Anderlecht
9mm Galand Technical Specifications made by Société Française des Munitions
9mm Galand Technical Specifications made by Société Française des Munitions
Cased 9mm Galand Revolver. Photographs Courtesy of Morphy Auctions.

Reloadable Galand Cartridge

On 31 December 1872 Galand also patented a reloadable cartridge case for these Galand revolvers. He sold a special tool with a bullet mould that would make the bullets that would screw into the case. The tool also allowed one to seat and unseat the primers.

9mm Steel Galand Reloadable Cartridge from Author’s Collection
Page 149 of the 1880 edition of Album-Galand from Author’s Collection

Fig 39. — Device for defusing and re-priming central fire revolver cartridges, and bullet mold.
Breech-loading weapons require special, expensive ammunition; this ammunition can only be used once; they cannot be recharged, and it is sometimes difficult to replenish them.
It became necessary to create an apparatus which made it possible to reload indefinitely indestructible steel cartridges, suitable for the service of revolvers, so that the bearer of a weapon never ran out of ammunition, and that, in California as in Europe , he could at any moment have his cartridge pouch filled.
The Galand cartridge, made of steel, fulfills this purpose perfectly. With a suitable quantity of spare primers, and provided with the re-priming apparatus, which is at the same time a bullet mold, one can travel without fear, since everywhere one can obtain the necessary powder and lead.
NOTE: The steel cartridge is made for all models of central fire revolvers and all calibers. The dozen, 10 fr. — The re-priming tool-mold, all calibers, costs 12 fr. Primers with anvil and socket, 1 fr. 25 cents.

Page 1 of Galand Patent for reloadable steel cartridges from 31 December 1872
Page 2 of Galand Patent for reloadable steel cartridges from 31 December 1872
Drawing Page of Galand Patent for reloadable steel cartridges from 31 December 1872
Galand Patent for reloadable steel cartridges from 31 December 1872

Comparison between the 9mm Perrin and 9mm Galand Cartridges

These early 9mm centerfire cartridges do have a lot of similarities but by looking at them and measuring them you can easily understand the differences. As a general rule the Galand cartridges are just a bigger cartridge. They are longer, have a larger bullet diameter and a larger base diameter. And the Perrin cartridges have a noticeably thicker rim and typically are internally primed.

Perrin and Galand Cartridge
Comparison of 9mm Perrin and Galand Cartridges from Author’s Collection

The following measurements give a good overview of the sizes. There is a lot of variations due to different manufacturing specifications by different manufacturers that made these. But the measurements should allow you to tell if you are looking at a Galand or Perrin cartridge.

Bullet diameter in millimeters

TypeAvg. Bullet DiameterMin Bullet DiameterMax Bullet Diameter
9mm Galand9.479.179.72
9mm Perrin9.048.879.17

Base Diameter in millimeters

TypeAvg. Base DiameterMin Base DiameterMax Base Diameter
9mm Galand11.3511.0811.58
9mm Perrin10.7410.7210.76

Case Length in millimeters

TypeAvg. Case LengthMin Case LengthMax Case Length
9mm Galand14.3413.1717.69
9mm Perrin13.1012.9613.32

Overall Length in millimeters

TypeAvg. Overall LengthMin Overall LengthMax Overall Length
9mm Galand24.1722.5127.04
9mm Perrin21.4921.3421.63