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Uberti Baby Rolling Block

Uberti Baby Rolling Block

In the last quarter of the 19th Century, the Remington factory was in full-swing, turning out large numbers of their rolling block action rifles in a variety of calibres and configurations. Probably not quite as popular as the 1874 Sharps among today’s shooters, a limited range of rolling block models are reproduced by today’s Italian firearms manufacturers.

Legend vs truth

There are many legends and tall-tales in the world of firearms manufacturing, one of which concerns young Eliphalet Remington Jnr. It is said that he turned up at a shooting match and commenced to outshoot everyone there and when asked where he got such an accurate rifle he replied that he had made it himself. Of course, so the story goes, everyone wanted one, and the Remington firearms business was born. Nice story and the kind of thing Hollywood loves, but unfortunately a little off the truth. Eliphalet Snr. ran a small forge near the town of Ilion in New York state, where he and his son made farm tools and implements for the local community. Set in an area where there was a large concentration of gunsmiths, it was probably a natural progression that they should seek to cash in on the demand for gun parts, so they began to manufacture gun barrels, albeit in a very small way.

In 1828, the business moved to larger premise in Ilion proper, but that same year Eliphalet Snr. died and his son was left to carry on the work. He increased production of gun barrels but it was still not the major part of the income.


It was not until 1848, when the company purchased gun making machinery from the Ames Company of Chicopee, Mass., and with it an uncompleted contract to make breech loading percussion carbines for the U.S. Navy, that Remington began to manufacture complete guns for the first time. Other contracts followed and the company eventually began to make firearms on a mass production basis.

Eliphalet’s son, Philo, had joined the firm in 1844, bringing a change of name to E. Remington & Son. This had changed again by 1852, as two more sons had joined the business, becoming E. Remington & Sons. The partnership was essentially one of arms makers rather than inventors and they acquired inventions from others to sustain the production. During the latter half of the nineteenth century, the factory turned out a vast array of guns. They were prolific makers of cartridge derringers, supplied the US government with a variety of revolvers and long guns, as well as providing American sportsmen with a range of rifles and shotguns. Among their most popular offerings were the rolling block series of rifles, designed by Leonard Geiger and Joseph Rider. These models sold from 1867 until 1934, with well over one million military units alone leaving the factory. It is a reproduction of this action that we have before us today.

Uberti’s Baby

Whilst the Remington factory produced rolling block rifles in a bewildering combination of calibres, barrel lengths and finishes, Uberti have chosen to replicate only the smaller New Model No. 4 action, and named it the Baby Rolling Block. The version on hand is the 22-inch round barrel carbine and the other option is a 26-inch octagonal barrel rifle. Both are offered in the same range of five calibres, with the .357 magnum being the largest available.

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This is a fairly compact and light rifle, coming in at almost exactly thirty-six inches long and tipping the scales at a shade under five-pounds. Standard finish is a case coloured action, in this example fairly subdued colours, with a black barrel and brass trigger guard and butt-plate. The barrel has a good gloss finish and the wood is walnut with Uberti’s typical red/ brown gloss varnish. Wood to metal fit is quite good all round with only a couple of minor raised edges on the wood. The wrist area is rather thin and those with larger hands might find it a little uncomfortable. The nicely contoured forearm is also on the narrow side and I could imagine this gun being popular with younger shooters and even the ladies.

Sights are fairly typical for the period, and using what seems to be standard practice in today’s reproduction market, the same sights will be found on other models in the Uberti range. The rear is the buckhorn type, with the arm dovetailed into the barrel and held in place by a screw at the front. Windage correction is adjusted by moving the arm left or right. Elevation is via the standard slider under the winged blade, which has a nice sharp square cut out. The front sight is a tapered blade with its base again dovetailed into the barrel, and this can also be adjusted left or right and locked in place with a screw. The simplicity of this combination gives an infinitely variable range of adjustment. Sight picture is very good with the sharp edges on both sights. The gun has a flat, fairly wide, trigger which had a pull weight of around 4½lbs and broke cleanly without any creep. The rolling block design is also a true ambidextrous pattern, so the ten per cent or so of people who are ‘south paws’ will feel right at home with this model. This version and the .22LR will make great little guns for indoor use.

Strong & simple

Remington produced these rifles in around 40 different calibres, starting with the humble .22 short rimfire, including 16-bore and 20-bore shotguns, with the rolling block action being capable of handling any ammunition produced in its day, up to the .50-70 military cartridges. The original design was patented in 1863 by Leonard Geiger and over the next few years Remington’s own design expert Joseph Rider made a number of improvements. The system operates on a rolling breech block which, at the point of ignition, locks with the hammer, preventing any rearward movement. Aside from its inherent strength, it is extremely simple to operate and to strip for cleaning.

I used a 158-grain RNFP lead bullet backed by six grains of Bullseye and felt recoil was very gentle. Five-shot groups were consistently under two inches at twenty-five yards and one shooter managed a one and a quarter inch group. I did not get the opportunity to shoot the rifle at longer distances but I think it has the potential for some respectable accuracy out to one hundred yards, in the right hands and with a suitable load.

Load up

To load the rifle, simply pull the hammer back to full cock, then with a similar motion, roll the breech block back via the serrated ‘ear’ on its upper right corner. This latter action also draws out the case extractor. Place the cartridge in the breech until the rim touches the extractor then close the breech block. The gun is now ready to fire. I have not tried firing one of these fast but I can imagine that a well-trained infantryman could rattle off a fair few shots in a minute, probably faster than the breech loading Sharps and Springfield trapdoor rifles. The extractor pulls the empty case out far enough to be grasped with your fingers and there was no perceived fouling from blowback, so the one hundredth case came out as easily as the first.

While one or two shooters may be tempted to use .38 Special ammunition in this carbine, there really is no advantage in doing so. It is possible that there will be a small disadvantage in that the shorter case will leave a ring of fouling in the breech; which, if not meticulously cleaned, may result in more difficult extraction of .357 cases should they be used afterwards. Check out the Henry Krank website for the other calibres available in the Baby Rolling block carbine.

Conclusion

Clean up is very simple, with only the barrel needing any real attention and a couple of passes with a bore snake followed by a solvent soaked patch then a dry patch, saw the bore shining as new. What tiny bit of fouling that came back into the breech block area was brushed away with a toothbrush and the area wiped with a cotton bud dipped in solvent.

 

  • Uberti Baby Rolling Block - image {image:count}

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  • Uberti Baby Rolling Block - image {image:count}

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  • Uberti Baby Rolling Block - image {image:count}

    click on image to enlarge

  • Uberti Baby Rolling Block - image {image:count}

    click on image to enlarge

  • Uberti Baby Rolling Block - image {image:count}

    click on image to enlarge

  • Uberti Baby Rolling Block - image {image:count}

    click on image to enlarge

  • Uberti Baby Rolling Block - image {image:count}

    click on image to enlarge

gun
features

  • Model: Uberti Baby Rolling Block
  • Type: Single shot rifle
  • Calibre: .357 magnum
  • Barrel: 22-inches
  • Length: 36-inches
  • Weight: <5lbs
  • Pull length: 13¾-inches
  • Price: £641.00
  • Distributor: Henry Krank www.henrykrank.com
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