A surgical stapling instrument for forming and implanting a staple in the skin or fascia of a patient to close a wound or incision therein. The surgical stapling instrument is intended to be used with a staple carrying cartridge of the type taught in U.S. Pat. No. 4,043,504 and characterized by a staple feeding track containing a stack of staples, a parallel staple forming tack, a longitudinally shiftable feeder actuator operative to cause the bottommost staple of the stack to be shifted from the staple feeding track to the staple forming track and a longitudinally shiftable staple former to implant the staple and form it about an anvil mounted on the instrument. The surgical stapling instrument has a handle portion and a nose portion rotatively mounted in the handle portion and capable of being set and remaining in any rotative position with respect to the handle portion. The nose portion carries the instrument anvil and releasably supports the surgical staple carrying cartridge. The nose portion also mounts a longitudinally shiftable feeder block operatively connected to the cartridge feeder actuator and a longitudinally shiftable driver operatively connected to the cartridge staple former. A trigger is mounted in the handle portion and is operatively connected to the driver to shift the driver to cause the cartridge staple former to form and implant a staple. A feeder pawl causes the feeder block to travel with the driver during the driver's initial travel to operate the cartridge feeder actuator to provide a staple for the cartridge staple former to implant and form.