4c.Single Shot Rifle


Some may question what value a single shot study has in this day of machine weapons. The answer is simple. There is absolutely no element of locking principle or operating or firing principle used in the most modern automatic weapons which is not reflected in single shot design. All the basic features of tomorrow’s designs are to be found in yesterday’s patterns.

6.1. The Dropping Block Locking System:

This is the earliest and one of the strongest and most successful of all breach locking systems. Variant of it are in use today in both light weapons and artillery. In the end of 19th century this system was used in heavy calibers for buffalo shooting. In its working, drawing down the trigger guard lever lowers the breech-block, cocks the hammer and extracts and ejects the empty shell from the firing chamber. The safety is automatically applied as the action is closed by drawing back on the lever. A release behind the trigger must be pulled to prepare for firing.

6.2. The Falling Block Locking System:

Its principle is that of hinging the breech-block at the rear and above the line of the barrel bore. It is unlocked by pulling the trigger-guard lever down and forward. The front end of the block is drawn below the line of the chamber permitting rapid loading. The first model used the famous military external hammer of the day and was produced in .45 caliber rim-fire. Its block-system prevented action jamming by expanded case heads. It was a great advance over anything in the market up to 1862 A.D.

6.3. The Remington Rolling Block System:

The mechanism for lock breech consists of two parts. First is the breech-block itself. This is a heavy rolling member mounted in the receiver on an axis pin. It contains the firing pin in a hole in its centre face, and is machined with a thumb-extension to allow it to be rolled back away from the breech when it’s locking support is withdrawn. The second unit is the firing hammer. It is a rotating member pivoted on its axis pin behind the breech-block. The breech block is spring-supported against the face of the breech when ready to fire, as the hammer falls when the trigger is pulled, a projecting under-surface on the hammer rolls firmly into place below and behind the breech-block, supporting it immovably. This locking surface reaches its full support position before the striking surface on the hemmer can mechanically reach the firing pin. In it’s days this was the most widely used army rifle lock design in the world but had short effective military life.

6.4. Bolt Action Development

6.4.1. The first use of the bolt forward locking lug principle was incorporated by Lt. Col. J. Durrel Green, U.S.A in his percussion weapon of 1857 though that principle was not used for metallic cartridges until the French (Lebel) introduced it in 1886. It is, however, true that all modern bolt actions stem from the German Dreyse Needle Gun, and the German Mauser, which is a direct descendant of Dreyse Needle Gun, is the parent of most of its perfect forms.

6.4.2. Peter Paul Mauser, a mechanical design genius of Oberndorf, West Germany designed a rifle (model 71) which is one of the first successful metallic cartridge bolt action rifles. Almost every good original feature of the metallic cartridge turning bolt action design was the work of Mauser introduced by 1865 AD.

6.4.3. In Switzerland Frederic Vetterli was first to introduce bolt action rifle. In 1871 A.D. Russia and Bulgaria adopted the Russian bolt pattern known as Berdan II.

6.5. Repeating and Magazine Rifle Development

6.5.1. The Spencer rifle produced in 1860 A.D was the first successful repeater. It had a spring-fed magazine tube in the butt stock.

6.5.2. The Famous John M. Browning designed the Model 1895 Box Magazine Rifle for M/s Winchester. It had built-in box magazine in the receiver directly below the line of the breech-block. During World War-I Russia placed order on Winchester, U.S.A for manufacture of these rifles with modification in chamber to accept Russian cartridge. Rifles of this model were used by Russia in World War-II also.

6.5.3. In last quarter of 19th century and early 20th century hundreds of attempts were made by inventors at designing lever-action repeaters. It is nearly impossible to list them all. However, it will not be out of place to mention here that, while Mauser invented the first successful military bolt action, his was not the first attempt. The Swiss were actually first in the field. Frederic Vetterli of Switzerland is famous for his works. The Swiss 10.4 mm Caliber rifle with 3000 meters maximum range was used until 1889. In Austria, Von Mannlicher was a great designer of his time. He produced over 150 designs. Had his Government backed him up financially, the weapons history of the world could have been far different. Von Mannlicher was usually ahead of others in designing but introduction of his designs was late. France introduced one of the best rifles in the year 1886, the French Lebel. Special importance being that it was the first bolt action rifle to handle the new smokeless powder.

6.5.4. I must not forget the turn-bolt Murata of 11 mm caliber produced by Japan. In 1887 this design was modified from a single-shot to a tube repeater and at the same time chambered for a new rimmed 8 mm cartridge.

Continued on page 4d

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