Original U.S. Civil War Springfield M-1863 Rifle Converted to M-1870 Trapdoor using ALLIN System with Replica Sling - dated 1863
Original Item: One Only. This is something we don't see everyday! This rifle started out as a Civil War Springfield Rifle Musket, dated 1863, made by SPRINGFIELD ARMORY, as indicated on the lock plate. There is also the "Spread Eagle" over U.S. marking, indicating military production. This particular rifle looks to have been made during the change over from the Model 1863 Type I to Type II, as it has both the screw retained barrel bands of the Type I, AND the band springs of the Type II. Definitely an interesting example! Around 700,000 of all Model 1863 types were produced from 1863 until the end of the Civil War in 1865.
The U.S. Civil war had confirmed the adage of NEED is the Mother of INVENTION. Muzzle Loading Muskets and Rifles were extensively used but new developments continually resulted in a "fresh" breach loading system being adopted on a trial basis. The Union had as many as NINETEEN different systems issued during the war and the ALLIN system was a version that was considered a determination was made to standardize.
The Trapdoor system seemed to be the one that satisfied most authorities so more trials were held, and the trapdoor was adopted. The government then looked for for cost effective ways to modernize their rifles, and one way was to convert muzzle loading Rifle muskets to a breech loaders, as seen throughout the world.
Originally, the trapdoor Springfields were created to convert Model 1863 Springfield rifled muskets to breech-loading rifles at a relatively low cost. This conversion consisted of replacing the percussion lock with the breech-loading trapdoor mechanism, and relining the barrels to convert them from .58 to .50 caliber. This proved problematic, because in the field, the lining tended to separate from the barrel.
To correct this problem, the Model 1868 used a new barrel instead of relining the original older barrel. The new barrel was slightly shorter, 32.5 inches, compared to the 36.5-inch barrel used on the Model 1866. The shorter barrel was affixed using only two barrel bands, instead of the three used on the Model 1866. Since it lacked the middle barrel band, the sling was affixed to the upper barrel band instead. The Model 1868 also differed from previous models in that it used a separate Allin type receiver with the barrel attached to it. The Model 1868 was also the first trapdoor conversion to use the cartridge extractor covered by U.S. Patent No. 68,009, issued August 27, 1867 to W.H. & G.W. Miller. The Model 1868 had an overall length of 51 7/8 inches.
Over 50,000 Model 1868 rifles were manufactured, chambered for the .50-70 450 cartridge. The model 1868 was then further refined, producing the model 1870, which had some incremental improvements. There were two versions of the Springfield model 1870, which differed slightly from each other. The first version was produced in 1870 and 1871. The rear sight was improved, and the receiver was shortened to create the model 1870 receiver. The rear sight on the first model 1870 was almost against the receiver. 1,000 of these rifles were manufactured.
The second version, which we have here, was produced in 1872 and 1873. In this version the rear sight was moved up so that it was about half an inch away from the receiver. The second version model 1870s also had a long high arch on the underside of the breech block, which differed from the first version which had a shorter arch identical to the Model 1868. 10,000 of the second version were manufactured.
This model served as the basis for the definitive Model 1873 "Trapdoor Springfield" series of rifles in .45-70 caliber, which was adopted in 1873 as the standard military longarm of the United States armed forces for the next 20 years. There is an excellent work TRAPDOOR SPRINGFIELD by Waite and Ernst published in 1980 that covered this very subject from 1865 - 1893. The very first Chapter is entitled "The ALLIN Breech-Loading System" which covers the Model Trap door rifle we offer here. The conversion made inventive use of the existing parts of the barrel, such as the cap lock bolster being turned into part of the breech lock system.
In fine condition, the lock is dated 1863 across the tail and has an EAGLE over U.S. over SPRINGFIELD, indicating original manufacture at the U.S. Armory in Springfield, Mass.. The Breech Block is marked with MODEL / 1870 / Eagle's Head / U.S., the correct marking for the 2nd version of the breech block. It has the correct long high arch on the underside, and an intact ejector, which we have not tested with actual brass.
In great condition this is a rare U.S. Military Rifle that led to the the legendary Model of 1873. Stock is in good condition with the expected dents and dings from age, as well as some gouges. The Metal components are also in very good condition, with the original finish faded to a gray patina, and no sign of refinishing. The bore is in very good condition, with strong lands and grooves and a mostly bright finish on the three groove rifling. There is some fouling and oxidation from service, as to be expected.
Attached to the sling is a very nice replica 1st Pattern Springfield Trapdoor leather sling, with replicated markings from "WATERVLIET ARSENAL" added. It really looks the part and definitely adds to the displayability of the rifle.
An very example of the M-1870 Converted rifle, Fully Cleaned and Ready to display and research!
Year of Manufacture: 1863 - Converted c.1872-1873
Caliber: .50-70 government
Cartridge Type: Centerfire Cartridge
Barrel Length: 32 1/2 Inches
Overall Length: 52 Inches
Action type: Side Action Lock
Feed System: Trapdoor Breech Single Shot
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