1889 most Oviedo Spanish rolling blocks were rechambered to the improved Spanish "Reformado" cartridge. This cartridge was developed by two Spanish Army officers and had a brass covered, larger, heavier bullet (.454 in dia., vs. .439; 375 gr. vs. 395 gr.). It was this cartridge that US soldiers faced in Cuba during the Spanish-American war.
PHOTO: The rifle shown is an unaltered M1871 Spanish manufactured (Fabrica de Armas de Oviedo) Remington Rolling block rifle chambered in .43 Spanish Remington caliber. Most rifles of this model have been altered to chamber the later .43 Spanish Reformado cartridge. An example of this later converted rifle is shown in the link below.
DISTINGUISHING CHARECTERISTICS: A traverse bolt through the rear of the forestock is probably the first distinguishing charecteristic. But for the conversion of the Swedish M1867 to the smokeless M1889 chambered in 8mm, no other military rolling block carries this feature. The firing pin retractor, which sticks up out of the breech block when the rifle has been fired (or any time that the hammer is lowered) is the second significant distinction, although that feature is occationally seen in the more scarce, Belgian made Uruguan Remington. The upper tang is devoid of markings and the right side of the receiver is marked with the Spanish Crown over AR O and the year built. (AR O/1885 on the right side, signifying manufacture in 1885 at the Spanish arsenal at Oviedo (AR = Alfonso Rex XII Spanish king 1874-1888.) This model has no bayonet lug or tenon.
MISC NOTES: Quantities of the M89 Spanish Reformado Cartridges are still seen frequently at gun shows today. Most examples, however, have very poor, flatteded headstamps, a result of the Spanish Army's policy of reloading its spent brass, the raised headstamps being flattened out as a result of repeated firing.
Good view of the traverse bolt through the rear of the forestock.
Markings of the M1871 Spanish made Rolling Block (see text above)
Above and Below: Firing pin retractor in the exposed (hammer down) position. The firing pin retractor is visible just sticking out of the breech block. It rotates on the screw seen to the right of the proom mark.When the hammer is cocked and the breech block is rotated back to open the breech, the retractor cams against the hammer mounting and internally levers against the firing pin retracting it. The M1867 Danish Rolling Block has a similar firing pin retraction device but it is looks somewhat different.
Above: On the left - Original .43 Spanish Remington cartridges (11.15x58R)
On the right - the Spanish "Reformado" (11.4x57R) cartridge. The bore of the
rifle was not altered by the modification, only the chamber. The bullet just had
to deal with it ... making for a tighter fit of course).