Original U.S. Civil War Springfield Rifle Converted to M-1868 Trapdoor Short Rifle using ALLIN System c.1869

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. This is really a Peach! This short rifle started out as a Civil War Model 1861 Springfield Rifle Musket, dated 1863, made by SPRINGFIELD ARMORY, as indicated on the lock plate. There is also the "Spread Eagle" and U.S. marking, indicating military production. The model 1861 was the official rifle of the United States when the civil war began, however they were always in short number until they could enter full production. The number of Model 1861 muskets produced by the Springfield Armory was 265,129 between January 1, 1861 and December 31, 1863. Thus, many 1861s were in fact dated 1863, the year the next model was developed.

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 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.

In fine condition, this particular M-1868 Springfield was made as a short rifle, with a 25 inch barrel, only 44 inches in length. The lock is marked 1863 and an EAGLE to the left of U.S. over SPRINGFIELD, and the Breech Block is DATED 1869 with an Eagle head "Crossed Arrows" cartouche over U.S.. The barrel and receiver bear serial number 49330 on the left hand side. 

In very good 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 in good condition, worn to a nice peppered patina. Bore shows clear lands and grooves, with a partly bright finish, but does show some corrosion in areas. 

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. Barrel length is 32". See "THE .45-70 SPRINGFIELD" by Frasca and Hill, the definitive work, Page xii directly opposite the Introduction for excellent illustrations of these interim models, ours is shown.

An very example of the M-1868 Converted and shortened rifle, Fully Cleaned and Ready to display and research!


Year of Manufacture: 1863 - Converted c.1869
Caliber: .50-70 government
Cartridge Type: Centerfire Cartridge
Barrel Length: 25 Inches

Overall Length: 44 Inches
Action type: Side Action Lock
Feed System: Trapdoor Breech Single Shot

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