Original U.S. Springfield Trapdoor Model 1873 Rifle with Restored Metcalfe Cartridge Device - made in 1874

Item Description

Original Item: One of a Kind. This is a fantastic find and great opportunity to own a rifle with a very interesting history: A Springfield 1873 Trapdoor Rifle fitted with a restored Metcalfe Loading device. This consists of the inletted stock, attaching clamp, and Cartridge block. Some four or five years ago IMA purchased a series of Trapdoor Springfield rifles from a well known Internet Auction house. One of these rifles however was a bit different. Aside from being a very early production example, in front of the lock there was an old lengthy slot cut out of the stock on the right side of the fore stock of the rifle. A little research, see THE .45-70 SPRINGFIELD by Albert J. Fresca and Robert H. Hill, we found the complete information on LIEUTENANT, later CAPTAIN METCALFE'S CARTRIDGE BLOCK DEVISE. (See pages 49 to 60)

The devise was a detachable wood block mounted on the right side of the rifle to hold 10 .45-70 cartridges that could be quickly accessed for this single shot rifle. Over four years the idea was developed using standard 1873 model rifles. Reading the text from the above book tells us that this rare device was not at all what it was hoped to be, and frankly was unpopular. Having manufactured some hundreds before the idea was shelved we learned that in 1956 a case of 506 Metcalfe device cartridge blocks that had been smashed were discovered in Francis Bannerman's New York City warehouse. There is a COMPLETE original example in the Springfield Armory Museum (See page 56).

Having done the research we decided to restore the device by one of London's top Gun Makers, using the Reference Book as a guide, recreate the components. This is what we now offer to the U.S. Collector's market. One only using the original Springfield Trapdoor rifle with its cut out Metcalfe stock, serial number 22425. The serial number of the example in the Springfield Armory Museum is 31830.

The aged London Gunsmith did an outstanding job, which of course took more than a year to complete. Exceptionally rare since most of the original devices were Officially destroyed. This is at least partly ORIGINAL and can fill the hole in many a Springfield Trapdoor Collection.

The breech on this example block is marked as expected:



Below this is marked Serial #22422 with legible clear ESA cartouche, overall good metal finish with all stock proofs still present. The serial number indicates production in 1874, the second year of production, and the stock is in good original condition. The butt plate is marked U.S. and both barrel bands are U marked. Metal finish shows some traces of past pitting, but is overall solid. The Springfield Trapdoor is a Center fire breechloader in .45-70 government caliber, with two bands, two sling swivels with stacking swivel, an adjustable Buffington Sight, and standard ramrod. Lock is marked with an eagle and US SPRINGFIELD, manufactured by Springfield Armory, Springfield Massachusetts.

This example had been fitted at arsenal with the Metcalfe Loading Device, but this was later removed, along with the clamp in the stock, though the stock was not filled. This was most likely done at arsenal, and it was then most likely that the original sliding sight was replaced with the Buffington sight, and the early pattern cleaning rod replaced. The original smooth trigger was also replaced with the 1884 style serrated trigger, though it still retains the early style two part trigger guard.

Bore on this example shows clear lands and grooves, though there is wear and while the lands are bright, the grooves are somewhat dark. Wood and metal condition is excellent considering the age of the rifle.

The elegant script ESA is the cartouche of the Master Armorer at Springfield Armory, and this is only present on very early production trapdoors. A stylized P in a circle under the wrist of the stock indicates that the rifle passed all of its overpressure proof testing. The upper right corner of the Buffington adjustable sight is marked R, indicating that it is for a rifle and not a carbine. As this is an early production model, the usual barrel proofs are not present, and it is only marked with the letter "L".


Year of Manufacture: 1874
Caliber: .45-70 Government
Cartridge Type: Centerfire Cartridge
Overall Length: 52 Inches
Action type: Hinged Breechblock with side action lock.
Feed System: Single Shot

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.
  • Not eligible for payment with Paypal or Amazon


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