TIPPMANN ARMORY’S ROLLING BLOCK: A SUPER-ACCURATE, MODERN TAKE ON A CLASSIC DESIGN
Most of the time, you just need one: one good firearm that can place one good shot. I began hunting many years ago in a shotgun-only area. I didn’t have a lot of money. A box of five slugs would typically last for five deer. If I hunted carefully and did everything right, I needed just one shot.
Tippmann Armory has brought that one-shot concept to its full potential with its rolling block rifle that brings modern materials and manufacturing processes to a historic 19th century design. It’s simple, robust, dependable and effective. Most of all, it’s extremely accurate.
A LOOK BACK
In 1864, when black powder metallic cartridges were a relatively new thing, E. Remington & Sons introduced its
single-shot, rolling block rifle. During its production over the next 54 years, it was available in a number of rimfire
and centerfire chamberings. It was a strong action and Remington was able to chamber it for some of the
more powerful cartridges of the day, including the .40-70, .50-70 and
The rifle saw use with military units around the world, but also on the American frontier where buffalo hunters found it especially effective. It also saw use in the popular long-range shooting competitions of the era.
When smokeless powder was introduced, the Remington action proved strong enough to handle the higher pressures. Updated metallurgy for the barrels was all that was needed to make the conversion.
THE TIPPMANN DESIGN
The modern Tippmann rolling block rifle is made in the U.S. and is based on a Remington rolling block Model 1 variation that saw use as the Spanish infantry rifle.
According to Jon Schortgen of Tippmann Armory, that’s no coincidence. He told me that Brad Tippmann, operations manager of Tippmann Industries, had gotten the inspiration from a rifle of his dad’s that he always admired, a Remington rolling block Spanish infantry rifle. Tippmann apparently decided it would be nice to have a modern reproduction that was also American made.
A CLOSER LOOK
When I first grasped the Tippmann rifle, I was impressed by the feel of quality and sturdiness. It’s a substantial rifle at 8.5 pounds with its 27-inch round barrel and overall length of 43 inches. Despite its weight, I found the gun balanced nicely when carried with one hand just ahead of the trigger guard. I wouldn’t hesitate to tote this around the woods.
My test rifle was chambered in .44 Magnum/.44 Special, but it’s also available in .357 Magnum/.38 Special and the more traditional .45-70. No, the .44 Magnum wasn’t introduced until the 1950s, so it wasn’t available when the original Remington guns were in production. But I like the cartridge for its compatibility with my revolvers and the fact that despite its power, it does not have punishing recoil in a long gun, especially in this heavy Tippmann rifle.
The rifle has a button-rifled Green Mountain barrel with a Black Nitride finish with an optional color case hardened finish on the receiver.
It’s fitted with an attractive, uncheckered straight walnut stock and fore-end. A steel butt plate protects the end of the stock. The rifle features an adjustable buckhorn rear sight and a tall blade front sight. Its receiver is modernized by being drilled and tapped for the included two-piece scope mounting blocks.
There’s not much to learn to begin firing the Tippmann rolling block. Cock the hammer, roll back the block using the finger tab, insert a cartridge into the chamber, close the action and you’re ready to fire.
There is no manual safety. There is a half-cock notch, however. At the range, you’d keep it unloaded until ready to fire it. If you were to carry the rifle around the woods in a hunting situation, you could lower the hammer to the half-cock notch by carefully controlling it with your thumb. Or you could simply carry it with the action open.
Using a MagnetoSpeed chronograph, I was anxious to see what kind of velocities I could get out of that long, 27-inch barrel. The velocity increases were significant. For example, the Double Tap 240-grain jacketed soft point that reaches 1,485 feet per second out of my Ruger Super Blackhawk Hunter with 7.5-inch barrel, sizzles out of the Tippmann rifle at 1,827 feet per second.
For accuracy testing, I mounted an old Bushnell 3x9 scope with quick-detach rings to the Tippmann.
Because of the drop in the stock, I couldn’t use my Caldwell Lead Sled rest as I usually would and get the barrel high enough to be on target. So, I fired the gun from the bench with the just the fore-end supported by another Caldwell rest. Then, I tucked my left fist under the stock to support the rear of the gun. It wasn’t the most stable position, but I was able to level the gun at the targets I’d placed at 100 yards.
Understand, I’m not the best at shooting groups from the bench. I’m never able to get comfortable or sit still long enough to achieve any consistency. Yet even with a less than ideal shooting position, I was thrilled with how the Tippmann rolling block rifle performed.
I fired three-shot groups using four brands of factory ammo. With three of them—Double Tap, BlackHills and Federal—I managed at least one group of 0.75 inch. The fourth—American Eagle—I had at least one three-shot that measured 1.0 inch even. Overall accuracy was slightly above 1.0 inch, but blame me, not the gun. If you do your part, this Tippmann rifle will generate three bullet holes at 100 yards that are all touching. This rifle is super accurate.
Removing the scope, I used the iron sights to shoot off-hand. Shouldering the rifle was natural and the sights came easily into alignment. The trigger, which breaks cleanly at about 3.75 pounds, proved to be a big benefit as I regularly clanged a 12-inch steel gong at 100 yards from an unsupported standing position. This is a fun gun to shoot and with the butt nestled securely in soft spot inside your shoulder, recoil is no issue at all.
MANY WAYS TO ENJOY IT
This Tippmann Armory rolling block rifle is excellent in every way. With three different common chamberings from which to choose, you could certainly use it to compete in a SASS long-range side match with either factory loads or your tailor-made handloads.
With its superb accuracy, you could use it simply as a fun range gun and impress your buddies how this design, more than 150 years old, can out-shoot many of their synthetic-stocked bolt guns.