Remington-Keene Repeating Rifle

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Remington-Keene Repeating Rifle in carbine configuration
Remington-Keene Repeating Rifle. U.S. Navy Issue

Remington manufactured the rifle from 1880 - 1885 with only around 5,000 rifles produced. One of the least known, but quite interesting, rifles of this type is the Remington-Keene U.S. Navy rifle. The rifle was the invention of New Jersey arms designer John W. Keene. Keene had been working on his bolt-action repeating rifle since the early 1870s and eventually received nine separate patents pertaining to the design. The rifle's turning bolt operated in more or less the typical fashion. The action was unlocked by raising the bolt upward, and the empty case was extracted and ejected by pulling the bolt to the rear. As the bolt was almost fully retracted, the "magazine elevator" (as it was called by the inventor) raised a fresh cartridge from the tubular magazine into position in the breech so it could be chambered when the bolt was pushed forward. Manipulation of the bolt also automatically cocked the cocking piece, which was fashioned in the shape of an external hammer. It could be lowered to "half cock" to function as a safety. The "hammer" was one of the more recognizable components of the design and was viewed as a safety feature, as soldiers unfamiliar with repeating bolt-action rifles of the era sometimes had trouble ascertaining if a rifle was cocked. With the Keene rifle's external hammer-shaped cocking piece, one could easily observe its position to determine if the rifle was fully cocked and ready to fire.

The rifle's tubular magazine was under the barrel and was encased in-and protected by-the stock's fore-end. The location of the magazine required that the cleaning rod be offset to the left side of the fore-end. As with most of the other bolt-action military repeating rifles of the time, the Keene was fitted with a magazine cut-off to permit it to function as a single-shot, with the contents of the magazine held in reserve for "emergency" use.

In early 1880, the U.S. Navy ordered 250 Remington-Keene "Navy" rifles. This variant weighed approximately 9 lbs. and was about 48" in length with a 29¼" barrel secured by two bands. The magazine held nine .45-70-405 cartridges. The rear sight was a folding leaf adjustable for elevation, and it was reportedly the same sight used by Remington on the "rolling block" rifles during this period. Likewise, the bayonet used with the Remington-Keene U.S. Navy was the same triangular blade socket bayonet Remington made for its military-pattern rolling blocks.

There are some references to the Remington-Keene Navy rifle as the "Model of 1880," presumably due to the year it was procured by the Navy. This designation, however, doesn't appear in any period documents pertaining to this subject and likely wasn't the "official" designation. The Remington-Keene Navy rifles had a "U.S." and anchor marking stamped on the left side of the barrel with a "P" (proof) and "W.W.K." (William W. Kimball) marking stamped on the right side. There were no inspection or proofmarks applied to the stock.

The Remington-Keene Repeating Rifle and variants can be seen in the following films, television series, video games, and anime used by the following actors:

Film

Title Actor Character Note Date
The Sons of Katie Elder James Gregory Morgan Hastings 1965
El Dorado Diane Strom Mrs. MacDonald 1967
Joe Kidd James Wainwright Olin Mingo Sporter model 1972
Young Guns II Viggo Mortensen John W. Poe 1990
Crossfire Trail Brad Johnson Beau Dorn 2001

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