Back in the 1860s, Remington began production of a single shot breechloading cartridge rifle that went on to become well-liked both in the U.S. and overseas.
While during the Civil War, Remington was busy making Model 1858 cap-and-ball revolvers and "Zouave" Model rifled muskets for the Army, prolific factory superintendent Joseph Rider put research into a simple but strong breechloading cavalry carbine chambered for .50-45 centerfire cartridges. The latter gun led to Remington's famous Rolling Block series of rifles by 1867 and the Navy ordered some 5,000 of these modern breechloaders. Soon, the Army got into the act and by 1870 was producing a variant of the Rolling Block at the government-owned Springfield Armory under license.
Curious as to the advances in military technology going on in America, European countries soon adopted the Rolling Block as well. Both Sweden and Norway placed small orders direct from Remington then began producing the guns locally under by at Carl Gustafs, Husqvarna, and Kongsberg.
Those Scandinavian countries had gotten the idea from Denmark, who as far back as 1867 started ordering Rolling Blocks of their own, chambered in a chunky 11mm black powder rimfire round very close in size to the American .45-70 Government, later opting to move over to a centerfire configuration with a reversible firing pin, dubbed the Model 1867/96.
Over 40,000 of the rifles were used by Denmark, with early models built by Remington and later ones constructed in Danish arsenals.
Although replaced in front-line service by the Krag-Jorgensen bolt-action magazine rifle in the 1890s-- the same type that ironically replaced Springfield Armory-made single-shot rifles in America at about the same time-- the Danish military kept their Rolling Blocks in reserve as late as the 1940s, as did other countries such as Norway and Sweden. Meanwhile, back in the U.S., Remington kept cranking out No. 4 and No. 6 rimfire variants of the Rolling Block pattern, pitched as training and youth rifles, as late as the 1930s.
After the war, many surplus rifles overseas were imported into the U.S. and turned into sporting and target guns, although ammunition is hard to find for such veterans. Nonetheless, they still can work in a pinch. A couple of years ago a 93-year-old Minnesota sharpshooter ably harvested a deer with a 146-year-old Swedish-made Rolling Block that came to America in 1885 in a bag with his immigrant grandfather.
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