Reload Image

In this age, with large magazines and self-loading firearms being the norm, we often forget the effectiveness of single-shot firearms. These simple shooting irons dominated the first three decades of the self-contained metallic cartridge. Today, single-shot firearms enjoy continued production for sporting and utility purposes.


1. In 1874, buffalo hunter Billy Dixon ended the Second Battle of Adobe Walls with his legendary shot at more than 1,100 yards. His borrowed rifle was a—

A.) Sharps .50-90

B.) Remington .43 Spanish

C.) Springfield .45-70 Gov’t.

D.) Keene .45-70 Gov’t.

A. Sharps .50-90. As for the borrowed rifle, two stories exist: One, that Dixon had lost his own rifle earlier during a river crossing; two, that he didn’t think his own Sharps (or Rolling Block?) had enough power for the shot. The others were all popular rifles of the era, and some variant might have been at Adobe Walls.


2. During World War II, one million flimsy, single-shot Liberator pistols were built to arm resistance fighters fighting the Germans and Japanese. Allied leaders didn’t like the idea. Few were delivered, and most were melted or dumped into the sea. In 1964, the CIA tried the same idea in Vietnam with the—

A.) AR-7

B.) S&W Victory

C.) Deer Gun

D.) All the above

C. Deer Gun. The CIA built 1,000 of these ugly, aluminum-framed 9x19mm pistols, but the character of the war had changed by the time they were ready for distribution. The AR-7 and S&W Victory were excellent firearms, and many are still in use today.


3. In the 1877 Siege of Plevna, Bulgaria, troops of Tsarist Russia used this rugged American-designed rifle:

A.) Lee-Navy

B.) Lee-Metford

C.) Kropatshek

D.) Berdan

D. Berdan. Designed by brilliant engineer and Civil War general Hiram Berdan, this rifle was carried by the Russian army from 1870 to 1891. The others are all magazine rifles.


4. Philadelphia’s Naval Company offers an updated version of the longservice U.S. Navy line-throwing gun. Its Bridger CG85 is based on the—

A.) Harrington & Richardson top-break

B.) 1873 Springfield “Trapdoor”

C.) Winchester-Hotchkiss 1883

D.) Ruger Number 1

B. 1873 Springfield “Trapdoor.” The original line-thrower was in use for around a century, and the improved .45-70 (blanks only) replica comes complete with all necessary accessories. A version is offered with a Pelican case for rescue EMTs. Before it was closed, H&R offered its own top-break line-thrower.


5. In the great days of silhouette shooting, Thompson-Center came out with a single-shot, break-action pistol called the Contender, which could handle cartridges as heavy as .30-30.

Later, a rifle-stocked model with a stronger action was introduced. The company offered custom barrels chambered for more than 100 calibers, including .416 Rigby. This rifle was the—

A.) Versa-Rifle

B.) Super Silhouette

C.) Encore

D.) None of the above

C. Encore. T/C, now owned by Smith & Wesson, still offers the superbly designed, finely built Encore but only offers a paltry selection of (yawn) barrels in boring chamberings.


6. This Farquarson-actioned falling-block rifle has been offered in more than 50 chamberings and has been in continuous production since 1967:

A.) Harrington and Richardson

B.) Sauer Kliplaufbuchse

C.) Sharps

D.) Ruger Number 1

D. Ruger Number 1. Designed by Bill Ruger, this exquisitely built working rifle has a cult-like following among upper-middle-class sportsmen who also prefer tweed shooting jackets (with suede shoulders and elbow pads, of course), single-malt scotch and endowment membership in the NRA.


7. Which of these World War II anti-tank rifles used a single-shot, dropblock action?

A.) .55 Boyes

B.) 7.92mm Panzerbuchse 39

C.) 7.92mm Wzor 35

D.) .318 SS-41

7. B. 7.92mm Panzerbuchse 39. This folding-stock shoulder-wrecker fired a cartridge made by necking down a 13mm Mauser to .323. The case was 94mm long, and the bullet had a tungsten penetrator. The other anti-tank rifles were all magazine fed.


8. This venerable New England company produced the popular Topper single-shot shotgun until 2015, when the factory was closed by new ownership—the Freedom Group:

A.) Harrington & Richardson

B.) Hopkins & Allen

C.) Ivor Johnson

D.) U.S. Firearms

8. A. Harrington & Richardson. The Topper was considered an affordable utility shotgun for camp and farm. The other firearms companies all built “value” firearms in their day.


9. At the Battle of the Little Bighorn, Custer’s 7th Cavalry was armed with the—

A.) Spencer carbine

B.) Springfield 1873 “Trapdoor” carbine

C.) Tarpley carbine

D.) Sharps carbine

9. B. Springfield 1873 “Trapdoor” carbine. Trapdoor carbines were unpopular due to excessive recoil from the 405-grain bullet in their .4570 cartridges, as well as their slow rate of fire—especially among veterans used to the repeating Spencers they used in the Civil War. The Tarpley was a paper-cartridge CSA failure, and the popular Sharps was not issued by the cavalry.


10. This was the principal arm of the Japanese Imperial Army during the First Sino-Japanese War, the Boxer Rebellion and later, by insurgents in the Philippine Revolution (Spain) and Philippine Insurrection (USA):

A.) Type 38 Arisaka

B.) Type 99 Arisaka

C.) Type 13 Murata

D.) Type 22 Murata

10. C. Type 13 Murata. A simple, tough rifle, the 11mm black-powder Murata fought all over China and Korea. The “improved” Type 22 “didn’t work so good” and was relegated to second-line units. They were both replaced by the excellent Mauser-actioned Arisaka rifles.


Editor’s note: A version of this article first appeared in the March 2018 print issue of Gun World Magazine.