Saturday, April 23, 2011

Making sense of Remington System rifles...

The Remington System, popularly known as the Rolling Block or "roller" for short, was once an extremely popular military and civilian single-shot rifle action. Recently, a young fellow brought me a rifle his family had taken in lieu of cash for work performed. As I looked at it it was a #4 Remington rifle, 80-85% with octagonal barrel caliber .32 rimfire. It was missing the front sight blade but otherwise could have been shot (if ammo was available). After some further research (after seeing the rifle) I was going to call him to let him know that he should value it at about $450. However, before I could call he called me.

What did he have to say? He had been looking on-line and thought that the screws (?) didn't look right for it to be a #4.  Before I talked to him again I wanted to do some more research so that I could either convince him that it was a #4 or give him a correct identification.  Then I thought that I'd just record my notes here...

The Remington system began with the Geiger split breech rifle about 1865. Too, late for the American Civil War the gun was further developed with an eye to overseas sales, mainly Europe and South America with additional civilian/sporting sales.

One thing that one discovers right from the get go is that there are within the broader categorizations even to models as sold by contract to various military organizations is that there are numerous variations (not different models) as Remington used up parts from other contracts or redirected other contracts which hadn't been paid for to newer clients/contracts. Remington did what other companies did at the time and that is they used intensive management oversight to maximize profits by way of minimizing waste. The used and reused parts as much as possible. Again, variations within variations within models within contracts...

So what actions were there?  Well, it seems that somebody has assigned numbers to the rolling block actions, 1, 2, 4, 5, and 6 (actually a falling block).

Remington #1 Rolling Block .43 Carbine, centerfire

The #1 Remington rolling block rifle is also known as the black powder cartridge rifle. Produced by Remington in both military and civilian models from 1866 to 1895 these large frame rolling block production  totaled well over 1 million rifles with a number of variations. 1.250" wide this is the largest of the Remington system actions.  This same action was also used on the 1-1/2 rifle.

No. 1-1/2 Action rifle, rimfire

The #2 Remington rolling block is a smaller scale civilian model sporting rifle using a receiver patterned after the 1871 Army pistol. A number of the parts are interchangeable with the 1871, 1891 and 1902 pistols as well as the #7 target rifle. This rifle was produced in a wide variety of  rim fire and center fire cartridges. The rim fire models with bar extractors are the most numerous.  1.125" wide it was used for smaller and less "powerful" cartridges than the #1 action.  It can be identified by the curved counter at the rear where it joins the stock.  

The #3 was actually a falling block action, the Remington-Hepburn.  

No. 4 rifle, for .22S, .22L, .22LR, .25 Stevens ("25-10"), .32S, .32L rimfires
The #4 Remington rolling block is the smallest of the rolling block rifles it is at once noticeably smaller if you've ever seen one of the larger actions. It was only produced in rim fire cartridges and may be found in the three variations shown here plus military and Boy Scout models. The quickest identifying feature is the mounting of Breech Block and Hammer on screws rather than pins. Early production #4s have tapered octagon barrels while the late takedown model was produced with a round barrel.

Model 1897 7x57mm Mauser Chambering, the #5

The #5 Remington rolling block rifles are also known as the smokeless powder cartridge rolling block rifles. Beginning production in 1896 they comprise the 1897, 1902, and 1910 models. While the #5 was produced in several smokeless center fire cartridges the vast majority of them are chambered 7mm Mauser.

No. 6 Rifle (a falling block), for small caliber rimfires such as the .22 LR
The #6 is not a true rolling block. It is a small scale falling block boys rifle. 


Anonymous said...

I recently acquired a #4 rolling block in 25-10 rimfire. The rifle has a octagon to round barrel that is factory engraved on all the flats of the barrel,trigger guard,tang and receiver. Additionally it is beautifully checkered. Sights are Lyman with peep rear. On the butt stock there is a engraved German silver gift etching with the year 1893. I have as of yet been able to find anything out about this gun. Any help?

Hobie said...

Your best bet would be factory records if there are any. I don't know about that. You could e-mail an inquiry to the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, WY and ask for their expert advice.