Alex from TFB TV presents the Remington Rolling Block rifle – a gun of simplicity and strength that is arguably the greatest single-shot rifle of all time. He demonstrates just how simple it is to load and fire the gun; it takes all of 20 seconds.
The Rolling Block was one of many rifle designs that sprung about during the genesis of military interest in metallic cartridges. While few survived in such a crowded marketplace during the 1860s and 70s, the Rolling Block was sold to over 40 nations, often as a main infantry rifle. This level of international small-arms dealing is impressive, even by today’s standards. But it was almost unheard-of back then. So what makes this so special?
The answer is simple: it isn’t. The Rolling Block’s greatest asset is its simplicity. It is easy to operate, train on, make and use. For a military rifle, this is ideal. A closer look reveals how it works.
There’s a separate hammer and breech block. To use, cock the hammer and bring the breech block down to insert a cartridge. The bearing surface slides along the hammer, which is why it’s called the Rolling Block. The action is locked when the surface forward of the hammer slips underneath the breech block – a simple yet clever mechanism. The rear sight is of a sliding design, but it can be flipped up to allow for longer distance firing. The sighting arrangement is also a simple notch and post.
Alex takes the gun out for firing practice. He says it takes a lot of fine motor manipulation to load and reload cartridges from between the fingers, so he tries it one at a time, taking them from his pocket. He says he likes the action of it, and can be found on sale. He enjoys old rifles like these, and says they help him appreciate how far we’ve come in the way of firearms technology.