Ruger No 1 Falling Block Rifle

Falling Block vs Break Action

Q: I’ve been  bitten by the single-shot bug and intend buying myself one of these rifles in a flat-shooting calibre. However, I am still undecided whether to go for a rifle with a falling block action or a break-open action. Which design would be the strongest and most accurate?

Keith Jackson

A: Theoretically at least, the falling block should be the more accurate of the two designs, although there surely are no flies on the break-open action either. Rifles like the Blaser K96, Merkel K1 and Harrington & Richardson certainly affirm that there’s no lack of accuracy with a break-open action. In terms of strength, however,the falling block has an edge over the break- open action. The falling block resists high chamber pressures with a breech block held directly behind the chamber by the receiver. A break-open action on the other hand, is held closed by a locking mechanism that is either above or below the axis of the chamber and bolstered by the hinge pin itself. But the break- open action does lack something in the way of strength and I’d be wary about feeding it a steady diet of high pressure loads. It is something to keep in mind if reloading for a Thompson Contender, a H&R or a Bergara. If you’re looking for an ultra-accurate long- range single-shot rifle you’d do better with a long-barreled Ruger or Browning for modern high-intensity cartridges.




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Nick Harvey

The late Nick Harvey (1931-2024) was one of the world's most experienced and knowledgeable gun writers, a true legend of the business. He wrote about firearms and hunting for about 70 years, published many books and uncounted articles, and travelled the world to hunt and shoot. His reloading manuals are highly sought after, and his knowledge of the subject was unmatched. He was Sporting Shooter's Technical Editor for almost 50 years. His work lives on here as part of his legacy to us all.