Rifles by Ron Spomer, Sporting Classics Magazine.

Rifles by Ron Spomer, Sporting Classics MagazineClick thumbnail to download the PDF Article

Glenn Soroka’s Model 07 falling-block single-shot may not be the last ever designed on the Farquharson model, but it could become the best.

I do not know what Scotsmen wear under their kilts – nor does my curiosity extend far enough to compel additional research. But I have uncovered what Scotsmen were doing with firearms back in the 1870s. They were designing one of the most iconic single-shot rifles of all time – the Farquharson. And that classic single-shot design may have reached its zenith with today’s stunning Soroka M07.

Kilt or no kilt, Scot John Farquharson designed and patented his famous falling-block action way back in 1872, just seven years after his countryman, Alexander Henry, had patented his own fallingblock sidelock with its curious left-side, external hammer (to facilitate easier loading by righthanded shooters.)

Henry’s rifle, widely used in competition at the time, was itself an evolution of American Christian Sharps’ 1848 dropping block, which initially fired paper-wrapped cartridges. Although metallic rimfire cartridges were used sparingly in the Civil War, more powerful centerprimed, self-contained metallic cartridges weren’t commercially viable until about 1868 when Union Metallic Cartridge Company (UMC, now Remington) began selling them. Each of these developments inevitably led to the stunning Farquharson. With its self-cocking internal springs and hammer, it shows no superfluous lines, no wasted parts, no jarring accouterments. Simple. Elegant. Balanced. It has justifiably been called the highest form of the British single-shot riflemaker’s art. Yet John Farquharson never built one. He left that chore to George Gibbs of Bristol, England.

Surprisingly, the Gibbs’ firm manufactured just 974 Farquharson rifles through 1910. This seems odd since this was the era of the great African hunters and commercial ivory trade. No less famous a hunter than Frederick Courtney Selous doted on Farquharsons, praising them in A Hunter’s Wanderings in Africa, one of the most widely read and influential African books of its time. Few Gibbs-Farquharson originals survive, and this paucity inspires both imitators and innovators.

Whether we know it or not, most of us recognize the classic stalking rifle profile and function of the Farquharson from the daring Ruger #1, perhaps the famously accurate Miller or the trim, elegant Dakota Model 10. Each of these rifles was inspired by the Farquharson archetype. And now, the new Soroka Model 07 is poised to not just join them, but set a new standard in falling block excellence.