| THE RIFLE.
M1865 to M1868 US Springfield:
Springfield US rifle mod.1865 in cal. 58 rim fire was issued to
the infantry after the Civil war.
After the American Civil war, over a million and a half
percussion muzzle-loaders were available and in service, but were also
Yet, financial constraints imposed by the great cost of the war
required that if there was going to be a more modern arm introduced,
it would have to take into consideration this vast number of arms
"available" for use in some appropriate, but economical,
The outcome was clearly not the best possible modern breachloader, but
the best compromise to be had, given money available and the desire to
obtain more service out of the existing stockpile of arms.
This balancing resulted in the adoption of a breachloading mechanism
to be fitted onto the Springfield muzzle loading rifle M1863.
Nominally "designed" by Springfield Armory Master Armorer
E.S. Allin, the pattern resulted in pattent infringement suits by both
W. Mont Storm and Col. Hirum Berdan, designer of the Spanish and
Russian Berdan systems and a successful Civil War commander of note.
The first conversions made in 1865 utilized the original .58 cal
barrel but quickly proved unsatisfactory, both due to calibre and an
exceedingly complex extractor mechanism.
The next batch in 1866 were immediately successful.
These incorporated a simplified extractor mechanism and a sleeved
barrel reducing the rifle's caliber to .50. These proved servicable
enough that the M1868 was produced utilizing completely new (shorter)
barrels, with Allin actions built on M1863 percussion rifles.
The M1866 is distinguished from the M1865 by it's simplified extractor
and sleeved .50 caliber barrel.
It is distringushed from the M1868 by it's 40" barrel. The M1868
is fitted with a new made, unsleeved 30 1/2" barrel.
The M1865 are usually marked "1865" on the lockplate tail,
the M1866's were mostly converted from M1864 percussion muzzle loaders
and are marked "1864."
The M1868's are marked "1863" or "1864" and are
serial numbered on the left side of the receiver.
M1873 to M1888 US Springfield:
The Springfield US
rifle mod.1873 in cal. 45-70 "Trapdoor" was
issued to the infantry during the indian wars. The Us
rifle mod.1873 was an significant improved version of the mod.1865. The overall lenght is 51.9 inches while the
stock is 48.4 inches. All original stocks should show an
armory inspector's cartouche on the left side of the
stock and a firing proof behind the triggerplate. If a
rifle has more than one mark, the rifle has been returned
to the armory for a major repair. The lenght of the
barrel was 32.6 inches. All barrels from the armory have
an index mark on the right side of the barrel which
should line up with a similar mark on the breech. The
barrel and stock are secured together by mean of two
barrel bands. The cartridges used with the rifle were
loaded with 70 grains of black powder with a 405 grain bullet.
During the next 15 years, this standard service arm underwent many
minor revisions culminating in the M1888. This model
incorporated a unique bayonet which also served as a cleaning rod and
was carried full time and retracted under the barrel except in use.
This design innovation was driven by financial and production
considerations as a new smokeless repeater was in the works and, the
supply of Civil War bayonets having finally been exhausted, this
provided an economical substitute.