A single shot means to fire one round then reload the rifle. The bolt action rifle was originally a single shot until the addition of a magazine. One that will, by default, never really change is the single shot break action rifle.
Types of Single Shot Rifles
A break action will always be a single shot and is still the most commonly found one today. It’s operated by pulling a lever or pressing a button, to release a catch so that the barrel and frame separate at the receiver, allowing a cartridge to be inserted.
Bolt actions were initially single shot rifles, fed through an opening made when the bolt was drawn back. Some claim to have a solid base where the magazine now sits offered greater stability which led to better accuracy, perfect for target and varmint rifles. Some companies still offer varmint models without magazines and loaders.
The rolling block rifle, which was also known as a split breech gun, is where the breech block rolled back when you pulled it, very similar to an external hammer. The trapdoor loading system is similar to a rolling block, but instead of pulling back on a lever the mechanism lifts up on hinges.
Benefits of a Single Shot Rifle
Single shot rifles aren’t meant to provide firepower, fast shooting, or multi-shot efficiency. Instead, single shots force the shooter to slow down, evaluate the situation, and learn patience. Slowing down the firing rate can also extend the life of your barrel, as firing multiple rounds through a heated barrel can clog it.
Having a thick, solid steel base offers rigidity, which in turn should lead to improved accuracy. The knowledge that there is only one shot and it must be made to count helps, too.