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Description of the Springfield Trapdoor Rifle / Carabine


M1865 to M1868 US Springfield:

The 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 demonstrably obsolete.
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, fashion. 
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.


The Springfield Trapdoor carabine is a shorter version of the rifle. The overall lenght was 41.3 inches, with a stock of 29.8 inches. The carabine stocks were inletted on the left side of the stock for the sling swivel. The barrel lenght is 22 inches. The barrel and stock are secured together by mean of one barrel band. The cartridges used with the carabine were loaded with 55 grains of black powder with a 405 grain bullet.