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New old Rolling Block

mm93

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Was bored and looking at various firearms related forums not long ago. On one forum I noticed a thread where guys were discussing whether a Rolling Block rifle at Simpson's Ltd. was a bubba'd gun??? I looked at the gun link posted, and thought to myself, "Why doesn't somebody just call Simpsons?"
So next thing I know I'm calling them just to answer questions people were discussing that could be easily answered with a simple phone call. I really never understand these types of discussions, or why nobody just makes that call if they really want an answer? After discussing the description with a sales person, and having them check various things on the old Rolling Block, I found myself again wondering why nobody called, or better yet, why nobody bought it? I told the sales person I'd take it, and we did the purchase.
Since this is an antique it was all done over the phone in minutes, and a few days later it was at my doorstep! I unboxed the gun, and began giving it a quick once over. One of the things mentioned in their description was, "Breech is sealed". I knew from talking to the sale person this was a mistake as they said they could see the entire bore and chamber. They also told me it was missing the firing pin, but I knew I had lots of Rolling Block parts, or could turn one out on the lathe quickly. I cocked the hammer to see what the sealed breech was, and when I tried to open the breech is indeed wouldn't open. I pulled the hammer back slightly, and the breech rolled open fine. So just a small timing issue. The bore was strong, with great rifling, and looked to be around a .50 caliber. Stocks were solid, with a small lengthwise crack on one side of the forearm, and a tiny hairline crack near the buttplate. The buttstock had one chip missing where it met the receiver at the upper tang, but otherwise solid. Forearm and buttstock both nice sporting type, and original to the gun, so not a military model.
The one thing that really caught my eye when I looked at their pictures was the receiver! A very unusual Rolling Block action, and very early too! Way before Remington began using a side plate to retain hammer and block pivot pins! It has the individual screws used on early guns to retain pins. Even more unusual was the shape and contours of the receiver. It is scalloped at the back edge, and unique among any Rolling Blocks I've owned or ever seen. It also has a very unusual removable trigger guard. Something I've never seen on any Rolling Block rifle. More like what shotguns use than rifles, or like some muzzleloaders used.
A few pictures of the unique action:

17LoXFMl.jpg

The small schnabel forearm, with cross screw that doubles to hold the forearm, plus attach the sling swivel.
WG5QhAil.jpg

Sporting style smooth steel buttplate:
pzeksINl.jpg

Stocks are checkered at the wrist, but not on the forearm. Checkering is well worn, but visible.
ippMJlDl.jpg

I fixed the timing issue with the cocking notch to make it function correctly, and then built a new firing pin. Found a screw the correct thread in my boxes of old gun screws, and turned the shank down to make it fit the block to retain the new firing pin. Cleaned the stocks, and fixed the tiny cracks by simply pouring super glue into the tight cracks and clamping.This stabilizes them and stops further cracking. I spread the forearm crack and put clear epoxy in it, and clamped it with multiple strong rubber bands I cut from old bike inner tubes. Made up a filler piece of walnut and epoxied it into the missing chip at the receiver. After curing I filed and sanded it down. A little stain to match, and some finish applied only to the repair.
I did a chamber cast of the chamber with Cerrosafe, and it appears to be either .50-70 or 12.7x44R chamber. The 12.7 being the Scandinavian version of our .50-70 Govt. I'm not doing any further restoration, as I think this gun would be ruined by a full restoration. A "sympathetic" restoration is my preference to make the gun functional, but not make it lose it's original patina.
I've got a bunch of Rolling Blocks, but this one at under $300 is the best bargain in a Rolling Block Sporting Rifle I've ever found! I've sent pictures to Remington historian and author Roy Marcot, but his reply simply said he'd never seen anything like it in many decades of collecting data on these guns. So a mystery gun for certain!
 
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Very nice gun.

I really like the stocks. Shotgun style but plates are beautiful things the way they fit the wood.
 
Last edited:

Mikej

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I don't see much here on Remington rolling block rifles. I have on that is almost the last of what my dad got from surplus bin when he got out of the Navy in 1947. It's a saddle ring carbine with a 20.5" barrel. I can only read one date on the tang and it's 1866 I believe. Haven't figure out what to do with it. So it just sits. The throat is pretty burned and overall the gun has got some serious patina and non-pitted rust. The bore is .448"
 
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I don't see much here on Remington rolling block rifles. I have on that is almost the last of what my dad got from surplus bin when he got out of the Navy in 1947. It's a saddle ring carbine with a 20.5" barrel. I can only read one date on the tang and it's 1866 I believe. Haven't figure out what to do with it. So it just sits. The throat is pretty burned and overall the gun has got some serious patina and non-pitted rust. The bore is .448"
Stop the rust and shoot it :)
 

Legs

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Good score! Be nice to know the manufacturer. I do know various European versions were made. Could be....
 

Mikej

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Stop the rust and shoot it :)
Yea well, not even knowing what caliber it is, and what center fired cartridges were even out there prior to 1866.....

It's the last original of the junkers that dad had bought after getting out of the service with the intention of "Fixing" them up. There were several other old, terrible condition guns that I have sold to acquire other new and old guns. The one other I have is a fully sporterized, scoped M 1917 that he shot "A" deer with. I'll always keep that. I'm just waiting for someone/something to come along and smack me upside the head, where I'll say "AHA! That's what I want to do to this gun!"
 
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mm93

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I don't see much here on Remington rolling block rifles. I have on that is almost the last of what my dad got from surplus bin when he got out of the Navy in 1947. It's a saddle ring carbine with a 20.5" barrel. I can only read one date on the tang and it's 1866 I believe. Haven't figure out what to do with it. So it just sits. The throat is pretty burned and overall the gun has got some serious patina and non-pitted rust. The bore is .448"
That bore diameter tells me your dad's carbine is likely a number of possibilities. .43 Mauser, .43 Egyptian, .43 Spanish, are all around that size, although the .43 Spanish usually run closer to .440" The biggest issue shooting many of the early Rolling Blocks in foreign calibers is finding brass, or finding donor brass that doesn't cost $4 each, or isn't impossible to find.
 
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mm93

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I sent pictures of this unusual Rolling Block to Roy Marcot who has authored a couple books on Rolling Blocks, and is the Remington Society's historian, and past president. His reply arrived recently and in his email he said in many decades of collecting, and documenting Rolling Block rifles he'd never seen a receiver quite like this one. He said the characteristics make it a #1 (which I knew) and the screws retaining the pins make it a very early #1, which means even if sent to another country for assembly, it was still originally an action made by Remington.
Beyond this he had no idea who had built it, and nothing to compare it to. That's OK really, as I'm happy to add it to my collection of Rolling Block rifles anyway.
 

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