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My first Springfield Trapdoor - which model is it?


Robin Trains SASS 80595
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Perhaps one of my favorite pastimes is studying history through old firearms. So much to learn and consider when reading about the vulgarities & twists and turns of gun adoption, development and displacement.

In my slow quest to buy historical guns, I recently had the chance to purchase my first Springfield trapdoor. The seller was a stranger, but kind - and told me what little he knew of this rifle - having bought it in the 1980s in Ohio. Trapdoors are completely new to me, and I did not know how to negotiate or 'feel' if the price was a fair one.

Immediately I was struck with features on this rifle I had never seen in photos of trapdoors. For me this includes the stock pistol grip, the bayonet and rear sight. (again, I am a newbie)

Here are pics, with a serial lookup manufacture date of 1890 and a stock cartouche date of 1891. Any knowledge, trivia or contributions from you - much wiser than me - on this gun would be greatly appreciated. Cheers, pards!

 

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Edited by Robin Trains SASS 80595
Clarifying
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It looks very nice. I like reading this site: https://trapdoorcollector.com/

 

And let's hope it isn't a Bannerman special. After reading about his empire of buying and refurbishing military surplus, I question all military long guns.

 

This goes into the history of Bannerman a little. https://roadtrippers.com/magazine/bannermans-castle-pollepel-island/

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that is one i had once a long time ago , the rod bayonet was short lived in our history but i did like having the one i had and shot it for a bit with my reloads , there is something about shooting these that makes you fee the history a bit better , only one i never shot i wished i had was my 1853 enfield , i did shoot the snyder tho - it was much like the trapdoor , very pleasant to shoot 

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10 hours ago, H. K. Uriah, SASS #74619 said:

Well, it's an 1878, not an 1888.   

But that ramrod bayonet is a puzzlement.  I've read they were unique to the model 1884.  But yours clearly has one.   

Keeping up with all the trapdoor variants is a challenge!   Good luck with it.

 

 

Thank you for the correction. I will continue researching this piece and wow.. lots of subtle variations! :)

 

-Robin 

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I’d encourage you to get the book “Loading Cartridges for the Original .45-70 Springfield Rifle and Carbine” by J.S. and Pat Wolf.  It’s available on Amazon but you can order it directly through Pat at https://the4570book.com/

 

The book provides not only reloading data, but also a tremendous amount of history and research that Mr. Wolf did on the trapdoor. 

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The cartouche on the stock was by Samuel W. Porter, and indicates inspection in 1891.  The serial number on the receiver indicates very late production, as well. Trapdoor production ended in 1893 with a total of about 566,000 rifles and carbines.  Except for the breechblock, which is from an 1873!, everything else is consistent with an 1884 with rod bayonet.  The pistol grip screwed to the bottom of the buttstock is indicative of a rifle used for target shooting (p.119 - "Trapdoor Springfield" by M.D. "Bud" Waite and B.D. Earst). Can't say if this was a "Bannerman Special" or just a rifle refurbed at the arsenal, and they just used whatever breechblock was handy. This is not an uncommon practice with the military.  As long as the arm worked, it didn't especially matter what parts they used.  You might think about checking the chamber (using a chamber cast of CerroSafe), to see if it might be chambered for the 2.4 inch .45-80-500 long range cartridge, rather than the standard .45-70.  If you didn't want to bother with the chamber casting, you could see if a .45-90 round would fit. 

You have a great piece there!

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3 hours ago, Trailrider #896 said:

The cartouche on the stock was by Samuel W. Porter, and indicates inspection in 1891.  The serial number on the receiver indicates very late production, as well. Trapdoor production ended in 1893 with a total of about 566,000 rifles and carbines.  Except for the breechblock, which is from an 1873!, everything else is consistent with an 1884 with rod bayonet.  The pistol grip screwed to the bottom of the buttstock is indicative of a rifle used for target shooting (p.119 - "Trapdoor Springfield" by M.D. "Bud" Waite and B.D. Earst). Can't say if this was a "Bannerman Special" or just a rifle refurbed at the arsenal, and they just used whatever breechblock was handy. This is not an uncommon practice with the military.  As long as the arm worked, it didn't especially matter what parts they used.  You might think about checking the chamber (using a chamber cast of CerroSafe), to see if it might be chambered for the 2.4 inch .45-80-500 long range cartridge, rather than the standard .45-70.  If you didn't want to bother with the chamber casting, you could see if a .45-90 round would fit. 

You have a great piece there!

The hooded front sight makes me think it's a cadet rifle weren't they a little shorter ? It's been many years since I had any trapdoors .

 

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4 hours ago, WOODFOX , sass#34179 said:

The hooded front sight makes me think it's a cadet rifle weren't they a little shorter ? It's been many years since I had any trapdoors .

 

No, the hooded front sight (the sight was actually part of the hood, which was pinned to the barrel!) was standard on the late Trapdoor rifles.

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Courious...  Did Springfield Armory ever stamp the receiver serial number on the barrel of the Trapdoor rifles and carbines?

 

I have an original 1865 Burnside Spencer Carbine that was rebarreled by Springfield Armory in 1871. It is one of only 1107 that are known to be done. It now sprts a rifle length barrel that was originally made for an 1868 Trapdoor. Now instead of a 56-50 chamber the barrel is chambered in 50-45-400 aka 50 Cadet. It also sports the correct front and rear sights for an 1868 trap door.

As part of the conversion the barrel was stamped with the receiver's serial number. 

 

Although it looks like a franken gun the research I found over on the Spencer Shooting Society supports that it was indeed done by Springfield Armory.

 

I know you want pictures and as soon as I finish the write up on it I'll post it along with plenty of pictures in its own thread.

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19 hours ago, Trailrider #896 said:

The cartouche on the stock was by Samuel W. Porter, and indicates inspection in 1891.  The serial number on the receiver indicates very late production, as well. Trapdoor production ended in 1893 with a total of about 566,000 rifles and carbines.  Except for the breechblock, which is from an 1873!, everything else is consistent with an 1884 with rod bayonet.  The pistol grip screwed to the bottom of the buttstock is indicative of a rifle used for target shooting (p.119 - "Trapdoor Springfield" by M.D. "Bud" Waite and B.D. Earst). Can't say if this was a "Bannerman Special" or just a rifle refurbed at the arsenal, and they just used whatever breechblock was handy. This is not an uncommon practice with the military.  As long as the arm worked, it didn't especially matter what parts they used.  You might think about checking the chamber (using a chamber cast of CerroSafe), to see if it might be chambered for the 2.4 inch .45-80-500 long range cartridge, rather than the standard .45-70.  If you didn't want to bother with the chamber casting, you could see if a .45-90 round would fit. 

You have a great piece there!

Great info pard, and thanks!

I am very curious now about the chamber. If we suspect it could be for the '2.4 inch .45-80-500' - the idea behind using a .45-90 round is simply to check the chamber length of 2.4 inches?

I presume empty brass would be okay? Anyone have a single round they can sell me? lol

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14 hours ago, Sedalia Dave said:

Courious...  Did Springfield Armory ever stamp the receiver serial number on the barrel of the Trapdoor rifles and carbines?

 

I have an original 1865 Burnside Spencer Carbine that was rebarreled by Springfield Armory in 1871. It is one of only 1107 that are known to be done. It now sprts a rifle length barrel that was originally made for an 1868 Trapdoor. Now instead of a 56-50 chamber the barrel is chambered in 50-45-400 aka 50 Cadet. It also sports the correct front and rear sights for an 1868 trap door.

As part of the conversion the barrel was stamped with the receiver's serial number. 

 

Although it looks like a franken gun the research I found over on the Spencer Shooting Society supports that it was indeed done by Springfield Armory.

 

I know you want pictures and as soon as I finish the write up on it I'll post it along with plenty of pictures in its own thread.

 

Springfield stamped a serial number on the side of the reciever and on the adjacent barrel on the model 1868 trapdoors.  No other pre-1873 trapdoors had serial numbers.

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On 11/14/2022 at 6:56 AM, Robin Trains SASS 80595 said:

Thank you for the correction. I will continue researching this piece and wow.. lots of subtle variations! :)

 

-Robin 

 

I disagree with it being a model 1878.  Please read the info on this web site for the different model designations https://trapdoorcollector.com/.  Everyting except for the breech block matches late production.  See this link Model 1888 Round Rod Bayonet Rifles (trapdoorcollector.com) which is what I think it is except the breech block should show 1884 instead of 1873.  Early trapdoors had the year of the model on the breech block until the model 1873 which stayed that date until 1887 it was changed to 1884 until the end of production.  So someone has changed it out.

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4 hours ago, Robin Trains SASS 80595 said:

Great info pard, and thanks!

I am very curious now about the chamber. If we suspect it could be for the '2.4 inch .45-80-500' - the idea behind using a .45-90 round is simply to check the chamber length of 2.4 inches?

I presume empty brass would be okay? Anyone have a single round they can sell me? lol

Yep! If you have a .45-90 empty brass that will tell you. If it goes in all the way with finger pressure alone, the chamber is for the .45-80-500.  The .45-90 WCF can also be designated .45-90-300 or -350. Winchesters chambered for the .45-90 WCF had a much slower rifling twist (1-32" IIRC). The Winchester version was considered an "Express Rifle".  With the 90 gr. charge, and the lighter bullet, the theory was you could get faster muzzle velocity.  The fallacy with that is at longer ranges, the lighter bullet slows down faster (lower sectional density) than a heavier one. The slower twist would not stabilize the heavier bullets.  I was able to stabilize a 385 gr bullet in a .45-90 Winchester rifle. The military "long range" rifles, some of which were chambered for the longer cartridge kept the 1-22" twist of the .45-70, so it would stabilize the 500 grain bullet. The slight reduction from the .45-90-300 was due to the longer length of the 500 gr. bullet when seated in the 2.4" case.  I never tried it, but you might turn a 500 grain bullet backwards and seat is a little into a .45-70 (2.1") case and push it into the chamber.  If it's the longer chamber the bullet wouldn't be pushed into the case very far.

Have fun! :)

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I might have a .45-90 brass coming my way to perform this test with. Hopefully this will shed some light on the gun's variant. Needless to say I will share results here. I also have the books cited above en-route - 10 days out, alas.

~Robin

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I don't know if this helps but I went and got mine out of the safe. It has the same rear sight, the same ramrod, and the same cartouche (except mine is 1892). Mine does not have a hooded ft sight. The Serial # is 5581xx. the serial # is just behind the trap door and cannot be read without opening.

I don't believe it has been modified as it has been family owned for generations. I got it from my wifes Grandfather.

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