German Jaeger  

A 'Princely' Jaeger

Boar Hunt

many years ago at the close of the 18th Century, there lived a Prince near the German City of Aachen. This was not unusual because in those days, with hundreds of tiny German Principalities, there were a lot of Princes around, and they all seemed to want fine hunting rifles for boar shooting. Thus, it came to pass that a Princely Jaeger was ordered from the noted gunsmith J.G. Dachtine, who lived in the city, then called Aix-LaChapelle. The rifle was completed, suitably engraved and carved and with the Prince's coat of arms emblazoned on the wrist of the stock - and then the rest of the story was lost to history. I don't know whether (or how many) boars, deer or other animals fell to its power, or what happened to the Prince. Even his crest seems to be forgotten, lost somewhere in a mouldy archive, but the rifle survived. Somewhere in its past, it was lovingly smeared with grease, which hardened into a dark mess but almost perfectly preserved the steel, and it was revived to shoot again in my shop. Here is that part of it's story.

The Jaeger weighs 6 1/2 pounds including the (new) sling and has a pull of 12 3/4" and a drop of 2". It fits my shoulder perfectly, and lifting it into position puts the sights aligned and on target. The balance is perfect for fast target acquisition, such as a charging boar, and it could easly be fired one-handed from horseback (if the horse didn't object...). The rear sight has a second leaf which provides 13" elevation at 100 yards, which is about what one would expect for a 60 caliber round ball with a muzzle velocity of 1200 fps on a gun sighted in at 25 yards.

The Lock

Lock signature
The lock-plate is signed 'J G DACHTINE AAIX' below and around the pan, and 'LACHAPELLE' centered under the frizzen spring. This translates to 'J.G. Dachtine at Aix-La Chapelle', which is the French name for the German city of Aachen, which sits on the border of Germany and Belgium, slightly North East of Liege. J.G. Dachtine is known for producing high-end and mechanically complicated firearms in the latter part of the 18th Century, including an enclosed 'waterproof' flintlock mechanism. This French-style 1780's lock is extremely well-made, with a sliding safety plate behind the hammer and a high degree of internal finishing. Note that clicking on any image here will bring up a much larger version.

Front of lock   Rear of Lock

The 23 3/4" swamped barrel measures 1.13" wide at the breech, 0.82" at the waist and 1.04" at the muzzle. The bore is approximately 0.61" with seven grooves at about 0.635"; a 0.580" ball with a 0.018" patch provides a tight fit, but the very deep grooves may have been intended for a leather patch or for additional wadding to prevent gas blow-by. The stout iron original ramrod suggests that whatever combination was used, it was very tight and needed some 'persuation' to get it down. On the top of the breech is a gold inset with the gunmakers initials 'JGD' and a separate inset bearing the eagle insignia of Aachen.


For an arm bearing a princely emblem, there is only modest decoration, but what there is, is well-done. Aside from the cartouche on the top of the wrist, there is engraved furniture, including a strap which strengthens the traditional carved wooden trigger guard.

Jaeger muzzle   Gunmaker's stamp
Stock of Jeager   Jaeger forestock
Top view of Jeager
Trigger guard of Jeager
Jeager butt plate

The Prince

The Prince's Cartouche with a double-headed eagle

Unfortunately for anyone tracing the provenance of this Jaeger, there were literally hundreds of principalities and German statelets at the time this rifle was made, and there were even more noble crests. The double-headed eagle holding the sword and orb is a part of the crest of the Holy Roman Emperor and is also common in Prussian heraldry. I would be interested to see if any readers can find a more definitive origin for this crest.

So, in the end we have a Jaeger which was well-built by a prestigious maker of the time. The decoration does not come up to the standards of the best courtly weapons, but it was clearly made for some noble house (no one else could have afforded it). It may have been an armory piece or designed to be used by a huntsman, or even the Prince himself - if there actually was a Prince...

Historical Update

A reader has identified the coat of arms as belonging to the House of Schoenborn, a large and prominent family dating from the Middle Ages with extensive interests continuing today. In the church of Schwemmelsbach there is a coat of arms almost identical to that on the rifle.

Performance and Video

The jaeger was tested with a light 'trail walk' load and hunting loads. The recoil was slight with the lighter loads and only moderate with the 'hunting' load.

Charge MV fpe
50 gr 1058 fps 727
70 gr 1275 fps 1056
100 gr 1545 fps 1550

Click on the image to see a video about the rifle. Shooting jaeger