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Rolling Block Action

Home > Propellants, Firearms, and Ammunition Development > Evolution of Firearms > Breech Loading Firearm Design > Rolling Block Action

Rolling block rifle

Photo by Jean Plamondon

Another single shot design that found favor with military customers was the rolling block action originated by Remington Arms. Its name describes the movement of the breechblock, which is pinned below the axis of the bore and rotates about one hundred degrees to expose the chamber for loading. A curved interior surface on the block connects with a matching surface on the hammer. When the hammer is cocked, the surfaces are fully disengaged, allowing the block to be opened. When the trigger is pulled, the two surfaces reengage to hold the breech closed for firing.

Rolling block action

Photo by Jean Plamondon

In breech design theory, the strongest actions are those whose support against the rearward thrust of the cartridge is as strong above the centerline of the cartridge as below. The rolling block action was simple and easy to operate, but not as strong as the falling block. In the rolling block design, the entire support against cartridge thrust is well below the centerline of the cartridge. Although, appropriate for low-power, black powder cartridges, the rolling block could flex and eventually loosen when operated with more modern cartridges. Conversely, the falling block design effectively balances upper and lower support.

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