Original U.S. Experimental Springfield M-1884 Chaffee-Reese .45-70 Caliber Bolt Action Rifle - dated 1884

Item Description

Original Item: Only One available. During the late 1870s, the U.S. Army was looking for a replacement for the venerable Springfield Model 1873 single shot rifle with one that had a magazine for additional cartridges. The trapdoor design, like the remington rolling block, was very robust, but not conducive to any type of “repeating” system conversion. To do this, the Army's ordnance department set up a "Magazine Gun Board" in an attempt to find a possible replacement for the older Springfield.

One of the rifles considered was the Chaffee-Reece system, an American bolt-action tube magazine-fed bolt-action rifle designed by Reuben Chaffee and James Reece in 1879. Unable to find private contractors willing to make the rifle, examples for testing ended up being produced by the Springfield Armory from 1883 to 1884. An experimental design incorporating some novel elements, the Chaffee-Reece had a tubular magazine in the butt, loaded from the rear, similar to other designs of the time.

It was potentially a most desirable rifle, however the design continually had loading problems, discovered during manufacturing and testing at Springfield Armory. The rifle was subsequently not adopted, with only about 750 ever being made, some of which were later sold out of service. Consequently these are a very rare weapon on today's collector's market.

This is a very nice example of the rare M-1884 Chaffee-Reese Rifle, manufactured at the U.S. Armory at Springfield, as all were, marked on the receiver with:

U.S. - SPRINGFIELD. - 1884.

The overall design of the rifle borrows much from the Springfield Trapdoor, especially the barrel bands, which look to simply have been taken from stock, complete with the U marking found on the side, as well as the band springs. It has two sling swivels, with a stacking swivel on the upper band. The rear sight is almost identical to the Model 1879 Springfield sight, except it is correctly marked C-R on the left side of the ramp, for Chassee-Reese. The left butt stock also bears a clear SWP 1884 cartouche just in front of the butt plate. It features a standard cleaning rod, and the rifle has overall good metal finish and all metal proofs still present, with a nice aged blue finish. 

The elegant script "SWP" belongs to Samuel W. Porter, who was the Master Armorer and Chief Inspector of Springfield Armory from 15 September 1879 to 18 June 1894. A stylized P in a circle under the wrist of the stock indicates that the rifle passed all of its overpressure proof testing. Additional marks of interest include inspectors' and proof marks around the breech end of the barrel: a V over a P over an eagle's head on the left side just above the stock.

Condition of the rifle is very good, showing a lovely patina of age and from decades of cleaning. The action seems to function correctly, though we have not made any attempts to see if it able to feed correctly. The magazine cutoff seems to work, but it is very hard to cycle the action with it in the rear position. The bore of the rifle is excellent, with only just a bit of dirt on the edges of the grooves. With just a bit of primer burn on the bolt, this rifle does not appear to have seen much use at all.

This is an excellent opportunity to pick up a very nice example an experimental U.S. bolt action rifle. This is the first example that we have had, and we do not expect to have another anytime soon! Ready to display!

Specifications (Rifle):-

Year of Manufacture: 1884
Caliber: .45-70 Government
Cartridge Type: Centerfire Cartridge
Barrel Length: 28 Inches
Overall Length: 49 Inches
Action type: Bolt Action
Feed System: 5 Round Tube Magazine

This rifle was designed by two men, Reuben S. Chaffee and Gen. James N. Reece, in 1879 and submitted to the Magazine Gun Board in 1882; the Chaffee-Reece was pitted against other designs by Remington and Winchester. Initial test results proved appealing, with the Army requesting for a test batch of 750 guns to be manufactured.

For some time, Chaffee and Reece were unable to find a manufacturer who was willing to manufacture these rifles except for Colt, although they offered to only produce 200 rifles at $150 each. Under these conditions, they turned to the state-owned Springfield Armory. A total of 753 rifles were produced over two years and were sent for testing, which numerous exhibited faults in the design. The rifle's complex feeding system was prone to jamming and breaking, and difficult to clean. Due to this, the design was rejected, and most examples were sold off into the surplus market.

The Chaffee-Reece was a bolt-action rifle that fed from a tubular magazine located within the stock, with rounds fed through the rear via a trapdoor; the rifle can only be loaded when the weapon's bolt is open. The weapon's feeding system is notably quite complex, consisting of two rectangular bars located at the bottom of the magazine tube, which are operated by the bolt. The bar on the right is a toothed rack with spaces fitting the rim of a .45-70 Government cartridge, with the left bar helping to keep the cartridges in place and prevent any rearward movement of the cartridges as the ratchet picks up another cartridge rim. Opening the bolt depresses these bars, allowing cartridges to be loaded in; closing the bolt pushes the bars back up. As with most rifles of the time, a magazine cutoff is also featured; this allows the user to single load rounds into the gun and then disable the cutoff for an "emergency supply" of ammunition.

Note: This gun is NOT considered obsolete calibre, so we are no able to ship to the United Kingdom. Please note that for international shipping, these MUST be shipped using UPS WW Services.

  • This product is not available for shipping in US state(s)
    New Jersey

    This product is available for international shipping.
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