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Egyptian Remington Rolling Block

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    Posted 7 years ago

    (310 items)

    I thought this firearm might make a good transition piece between my recent posts of guns related to the British Empire and some future posts of American guns.

    The Remington Rolling Block (In this case the “Remington No. 1 Military Rifle”), was a single shot black powder cartridge firearm featuring a “rolling” breach block. It was too late for the American Civil War, but it made a huge hit at the 1867 Paris Exhibition, resulting in numerous orders from governments around the world. At the exhibition, Sam Remington was invited by emissaries of the Khedive, Ismael Pasha of Cairo, to come to Egypt to show his new rifle. The Khedive was so impressed that he not only ordered the rifle for his army, but gave Remington a plot of land in Cairo where he built a small palace. The first shipments were diverted for the Franco-Prussian war, but by 1875 the Egyptians were receiving large quantities of the rolling block.

    Egyptian rolling blocks saw quite a bit of action, but the most well-known may be in the Sudan, where a retired British Colonel named Hicks lead an Egyptian Army of about 11,000 soldiers against the rebel forces of Mohammed Ahmed, the self-proclaimed “Mahdi” (prophesied redeemer of Islam). Colonel Hicks would have done better spending his retirement growing roses. Instead, he and almost his entire command got wiped out, and now the Mahdi’s rebels had a whole bunch of these Remingtons. This made matters even worse for Charles Gordon, Aka “Chinese Gordon” Aka “Gordon of Khartoum”, when he was besieged by the Mahdi’s Forces some time later. Reluctantly, the British sent a relief force that arrived two days too late to keep Gordon’s head from being hung in a tree.

    General Kitchener would eventually defeat the successor to the Madi, Abdullah al-Taashi, in the battle of Omdurman in 1898. Among the British troops was a young Winston Churchill. At this stage of his career Kitchener actively courted the press to build his reputation, and his relationship with G. W. Steevens of the "Daily Mail" resulted in the book "With Kitchener to Khartoum" that I’ve used as a backdrop here.

    This Egyptian Rolling black is not in the best of shape. Much of the finish looks like it was blasted off in a Saharan sandstorm, the sling swivels are gone, there is a crude stock repair near the receiver, and the bore, while not pitted, looks awfully worn. Still, the breach mechanism looks sound and works crisply. There is a marking on the receiver indicating Egyptian police use at one time. There are also Arabic characters marked on it which I haven’t had translated.

    The bayonet for the Egyptian Rolling Block was a copy of the French Chassepot Bayonet, the only obvious difference being the markings. Unfortunately I don’t have an Egyptian Rolling Block Bayonet, but I do have the Chassepot bayonet it was copied from. So here ya go.

    The Egyptian Rolling Block is chambered for the .43 Egyptian cartridge. It seems that proprietary cartridges were all the rage among the trendier nations back then. Anyway, it fired a 400 grain bullet backed up by 75 grains of black powder with a muzzle velocity of 1330 feet per second. I have not fired this rifle because I’m not tooled up to make the .43 Egyptian yet – but some day.

    WARNING: Load data is provided for information only. Many vintage firearms are unsafe to shoot and I do not advise use of this load data for other firearms since I do not know the specific firearm that may be involved or its condition.

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    1. fortapache fortapache, 7 years ago
      Excellent. Thank you once more for the information.
    2. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 7 years ago
      Can always count on you.
    3. pw-collector pw-collector, 7 years ago
      In Roy Marcot's book, The History of Remington Firearms, he writes a short (2 paragraphs) on the Remington Egyptian Rolling Block Rifles where a contract for 60,000 rifles was signed on June 30, 1869. After several amendments to this original contract, it is believed that by 1880, more than 250,000 Remington firearms of all types had been shipped to Egypt. But he goes on to say that Egypt's financial difficulties debt to Remington exceeded $1,000,000.00 by 1877. They eventually paid Remington about 66% of all monies owed & the Khedive was eventually deposed in 1879. E. Remington & Sons would never recover from its disastrous dealings with Egypt.
      The risk one takes when extending credit has always been there.
    4. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 7 years ago
      Never had one so never looked for .43 Egyptian dies but assume they would be hard to find. Then, what cases to size down or fire-form to work? Bon chance. Might get info on TheHighRoad.
    5. Windwalker, 7 years ago
    6. Chrisnp Chrisnp, 7 years ago
      Thanks pw-collector. Part of my information comes from George Layman's "The Military Remington Rolling Block Rifle. He mentions that those first 60,000 Rolling Blocks were diverted to France for the Franco Prussian war. Another source gives a higher number of RBs being diverted, but I don’t know if those were later shipments originally for Egypt, or shipments originally intended for other countries. I can only imagine the logistical challenges of all these various caliber firearms flowing into France! I also wonder who had custody of them after the German victory, and being chambered for a round that nobody else uses, if the RBs ever made it back to their intended user.

      I had not known about the financial troubles between Remington and Egypt, thanks for the info. I guess that’s always been a challenge to international arms dealers – The most volatile countries are likely to have the highest demand for your product, and be the biggest credit risk.

      Blunder and Windwalker, CH4D makes dies for the .43 Egyptian and Bertram makes the cases – I know a source for both. Unfortunately as specialty items they are a quite pricey and I’ve had some major expenses recently. Perhaps by spring I’ll be tooled up and I’ll post the results here. Thanks for the link Windwalker – reforming 348 cases, if it works, could save me some cash.

      Thanks for the love Windwalker, scott, geo26e, vanskyock24, officialfuel, gargoylecollector, pw-collector, kerry10456, blunder, fortapache and aghcollect.

    7. Chrisnp Chrisnp, 7 years ago
      Thanks for the love Petey

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