Wednesday, November 02, 2011

New Firearm

Well not exactly "new" new, but new to me.

And no, it's not a Taurus Judge. It's more practical than that.

It's a Model 1884 Trapdoor Springfield rifle, in caliber .45-70 Government.A later version of the US Arrmy's Model 1873 Springfield, which saw much use in the indian wars out west (notably in the hands of Custer's ill-fated 7th Calvary, among others), these rifles stayed in service long enough to see use in the Spanish American War, being hauled into Cuba by some of the deployed National Guard troops who were sent. The Spanish, armed with new German Mauser rifles firing cartridges that used the then-new smokeless propellant, were less than impressed.
As you can see by the markings below, this rifle was made at the real government-run Springfield Armory in Massachusetts.Above you can see the rifle's single-shot lock-work, including it's exposed hammer, which had to be brought back to half-cock before the breech-block, or "trapdoor" could be opened to insert a cartridge. Below, you can see it open, awaiting a new cartridge. This one has a great-looking bore (with one possible pit that the seller wasn't exactly forthcoming about) and should be a great shooter. We'll see in the coming days.
Being a leftie, I could be happier with hammer placement on the other side of the action, but I guess it's just a cross that we have to bear to keep us humble.
A hallmark of the 1884 model is the Buffington sight, designed by Lieutenant Colonel R. A. Buffington of the U.S. Army Ordnance Department. This improved rear sight allowed skilled marksmen to really make some serious long-range shots despite the rifle's rainbow trajectory at long ranges.
Barely visible here is the acceptance cartouche, dated 1887.
The lock, dated 1884, also first began actually appearing on these rifles in 1887.
Stamp of approval. This one was accepted by and issued to US troops. Where it served or for how long is anyone's guess though.
And here's it's cartridge (left), next to the contemporary 5.56mm NATO round on the right. It's a .45 caliber bullet weighing 405 grains, seated atop 70 grains of black powder.And remember--this rifle only holds one, not thirty.

Still, I'll take it over a Taurus Judge anyday. Just sayin'.

Now to get it out to the range...


  1. Have fun with that good looking long gun! I have to say I too would take it over a Judge any day. So, when can I shoot it? I'll trade!

    Thinking about traveling to the CMP Store down south. First of next year, interested?

  2. Very nice. It's in much better shape that the 1873 that I inherited. Did you get the bayonet with it too?

  3. @Keads, Yes. Road trip seems in order.

    @Shepherd, no bayonet.

  4. Very nice indeed, and I'm quietly envious.

    Now you can go practice drill with the Trapdoor like they do at Ft. Mackinaw (remember that?).

  5. @Brigid: I have some new factory ammo here just waiting for you to show up and shoot it.

    @Aaron: I do remember. Great trip, that was. Great trip. even if the dogs did eat all the smoked fish.

  6. You have the best firearms collection. I have got to start actually contributing to my gun fund.

  7. First a Martini-Henry and now a Trapdoor Springfield. It seems you are opening up a new wing in the gun room! Can't wait to see what's next!

  8. Very nice find, cool beans.

  9. Nice! That's gonna be fun to shoot!

  10. Very nice contours, great ingenuity and resourcefulness on Erskine Allin's part. And the history of of bridging the front loader era to the cartridge era. Wood and steel, meticulously formed by craftsmen's hands. All great stuff.

    You gonna work up BP, Pyrodex or Trail Boss loads?

    I look forward to the range report!

  11. @ The Donald: Right now I've got a factory load to test-fire it, but I will be working up a proper black powder load just to get the right effect when firing.

  12. Just remember not to take that rifle for a visit to Little Big Horn.