This is a mint condition, unissued, museum condition and all original Springfield Armory Model 1888 Trapdoor Rifle with the scarce integrated ramrod bayonet. This particular rifle is one of only a handful of Model 1888 Rifles manufactured with still-in-inventory receivers in 1881 that were in the 141,000, 144,000, and 147,000 serial number range.
The serial number on this rifle is 144068, and it was manufactured in 1891. As Joe Poyer and Craig Riesch note in their book, The .45-70 Springfield, North Cape Publ, 2011, Springfield Armory saved cost with Model 1888 Rifle production by using earlier receivers taken new from inventory and manufacturing them as Model 1888 Rifles in both 1890 and 1891. Poyer and Riesch note that these rifles, of which only a handful have been observed, are in the 140,000 range, which were originally built in 1880, and they note that while these rifles “are uncommon, … they are original armory-manufactured rifles…” Springfield Armory produced only 30,461 Model 1888 Ramrod Bayonet Rifles in 1891 out of a total of only 66,713 Model 1888 Rifles produced, all between 1890 and 1893. The Model 1888 Rifle was the last of the trapdoor rifles manufactured.
The Rod Bayonet is an interesting, and intermittent, design that appears on American military firearms for approximately 70 years in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The first rod bayonet arm issued to the U.S. military was the U.S. Model 1833 Hall Carbine, a flintlock ignition weapon, and used a relatively thin triangular blade design. The design did not take hold and the triangular socket bayonet became standard for much of the 19th century to include use in the Mexican War and the Civil War.
The Ordnance Department and Springfield Armory resurrected the design briefly in 1880 with the U.S. Experimental Model 1880 Rifle, a trapdoor, in .45-70 caliber. The Model 1880, like the Model 1883 Hall Carbine, also used a relatively thin triangular rod bayonet. The design was not a success and was discontinued after very limited production. In the late 1880s, two things happened that led to the design being resurrected yet again. The first was that the stockpile of existing socket bayonets from the Civil War had become critically low and it was determined that retooling to produce them was impractical. The second event was the widespread experimentation in Europe of rod bayonets on infantry long arms, which had a profound affect on infantry weapons design in the last two decades of the 19th century.
The first round rod bayonet rifle was designed and installed on the U.S. Model 1884 Rifle, manufactured by Springfield Armory. 1,000 Model 1884 Rod Bayonet Rifles were manufactured at Springfield in 1885 and 1886 for trials. The trials highlighted problems with the bayonet locking system, the rod bayonet itself and with the adjustable rear sight. The proposed modifications and improvements led to the U.S. Model 1888 Rod Bayonet Rifle in .45-70.
In 1888, Springfield Armory manufactured three round rod bayonet trapdoor rifles, which were submitted to the Ordnance Board for review. The Ordnance Board subjected two of these rifles to testing that determined the earlier modifications had been successful. Despite the successful testing of the Model 1888 Rod Bayonet Rifle, the Ordnance Board was reluctant to recommend full production as it was then looking for a completely new rifle design firing a smaller caliber round with an integrated magazine.
The lack of socket bayonets, previously noted, forced the Ordnance Department to order production of the rod bayonet trapdoor rifle in .45-70 while the search for its replacement continued. The Ordnance Board formally adopted the rod bayonet rifle in February 1890 as the U.S. Model 1888 .45-70 Springfield Rod Bayonet Rifle. As a cost saving measure, however, the Ordnance Board stipulated that Model 1888 Rod Bayonet Rifle could not go into full production until all existing stocks of socket bayonets for the standard Model 1884 Rifle were exhausted. These stocks of socket bayonets ran out late in 1890 and the Model 1888 Rod Bayonet Rifle went until full production in mid-1890. The Model 1884, the last of the trapdoor .45-70 rifles, continued in production at Springfield until 1893 when it was replaced by the U.S. Model 1892 Krag Rifle in .30-40 caliber.
The original Barrel on this Rifle is in mint, unfired condition. The barrel is 32.60” long with a 0.730” barrel diameter at the muzzle. The barrel retains 98% plus of the original blued finish on its external surfaces with only a very few, very small, scattered dings. The original muzzle crown is present and is unmarred. The left, rear side of the barrel has the crisp serif “V” view proof stamp over the serif “P” firing proof stamp over the eagle head over the second serif “V” firing proof stamp, indicating proof firing with a special 80 grain cartridge of the assembled barrel, receiver and breech block. The top of the barrel has a serif “A” barrel inspector’s stamp. The right, rear of the barrel, just forward of the receiver and just above the witness line has a sans serif “D” inspection stamp. The witness line aligns perfectly with the corresponding witness line on the receiver. The breech area is in very fine condition and retains virtually all of its original dark finish. The bore of the rifle is in fine condition with a mirror finish and strong rifling. The Breech Plug Tang retains 100% of the vivid and original color case-hardened finish. The Tang Screw is the correct single-slot type, and it retains 100% of its original dark oil-quenched finish. The bore has a mirror finish and mint rifling throughout and only a hint of frosting near the muzzle.
The Front Sight Stud remains tightly brazed to the barrel and it retains 99% of its original finish. The Front Sight Blade is the correct Fourth Type with rounded top rear that was used from August 1887 until the end of production. The Front Sight Blade is still tightly pinned into the stud and it also retains 99% of its original dark finish. The Front Sight is protected by the original and very fine Model 1883 Buffington Rear Sight Cover, which retains 98% of its original blued finish.
The Rear Sight is a mint condition and correct Model 1884 Rifle Sight, also known as the Buffington Rear Sight. This particular sight is the correct third type with the binding screw collar on the binding knob to secure the elevation leaf. The sight is graduated to 2,000 yards with the leaf marked in 25-yard increments from 200 to 1,400 yards on the right and in 50-yard increments from 15,00 to 2,000 yards on the left. The right side top of the leaf has the correct serif “R” for rifle stamp. The open “buckhorn” sight is on the slide, which was used for rolling fire set at 266 yards. The top of the slide has the second open sight, which is a “u” shaped aperture. The bottom of the arrow shaped opening at the bottom of the slide is the third “u” shaped open aperture. There are two closed apertures, one at the top and one at the bottom. Both arrow lines, (on the right for the right-side range markings; and the angled line on the left for the left-side range markings) are still visible. Both the Windage Knob and Binding Knob retain the vast majority of the original blued finish as does the leaf, slide and rear sight base, with areas of original case-hardened finish. The single-slot base screw is unmarred. The binding knob works correctly with the slide at any elevation and the windage knob still crisply adjusts for left and right corrections.
The Lower Band is the correct Model 1885 Lower Band with the dish at the top to accommodate the Model 1884 Rear Sight. The Band is correctly marked with the serif “U” stamp and it retains 98% of its original niter blue finish with minor dings and scratches present. The Lower Band Spring retains 90% of its original blue finish. The Upper Band is the correct Model 1874 Rifle Upper Barrel Band with the larger “U” stamp, which was incorporated in 1879. The Band also retains 98% of its original blued finish, to include the sling swivel and stacking swivel. The lug pin remains solidly in place. The Front Band Spring retains about 95% of its original blued finish and both bands remain solidly on the stock.
The Breech Block is the mint condition and correct Seventh Type that is crisply marked “U.S./MODEL/1884,” adjacent to the hinge point. The top of the Breech Block retains 100% of its still vivid color case-hardened finish. The bottom and sides of the Breech Block retain 100% of the original and very vivid color case-hardened finish. The breech face is very clean and also retains virtually all of its original color case-hardened finish. There is no evidence on the breech face of this rifle ever having been fired after proof testing at Springfield.
The Cam Latch is the correct Third Type with the unground rivet properly exposed leaving the square-shanked rivet visible. The Cam Latch retains 98% of its original blued finish. The Cam Latch works perfectly and the breech block is very tight when it battery with no movement noticed. The original firing pin is present with a still sharp, pronounced striker end.
The Receiver is the correct .45-70 type with gas ports milled into both the left and right sides. The rear of the Receiver has the full serial number “144068,” with is one of the handful of receivers manufactured in that serial number range that were brand new, unused receivers that Springfield used to build Model 1888 Rifles in 1890 and 1891. The interior section of the receiver retains all of its original dark oil-quenched finish, indicating this rifle was never fired. The exposed portion of the tang also retains 100% of the still vivid color case-hardened finish. The Extractor retains all of its original dark oil finish and exhibits no sign of firing.
The Lock Plate is the mint condition and correct Third Type with the large shield on the eagle. Both the eagle and the serif “U.S./SPRINGFIELD” stampings remain very crisp and clear. The lock plate retains 99% of its original oil case-hardened finish that still exhibits a deep blue color. The Hammer is the correct Third Type with beveled lip. The cross hatching on the thumb piece is still crisply cut. The Hammer retains 99% of its dark and original oil case-hardened finish as does the Hammer Screw, which is the correct single slot type. The Hammer, and Tumbler, works correctly in all three positions and the Main Spring remains strong.
The Trigger Guard is the correct one-piece type with integrated rear sling swivel slot that originated with the adoption of the Model 1888 Rifle. The Trigger Guard retains 98% of the original pale niter blue finish, which was introduced on furniture at Springfield in 1885. The original lower sling swivel is present and retains 95% of its original blued finish. Both single-slot wood screws are present and both retain the majority of their original finish. The Trigger is the correct Second Type with longitudinal grooves and an angled tip that points to the bottom of the guard with cross-hatched grooves. The Trigger retains 100% of its original oil case-hardened finish. The trigger release is still crisp.
The Stock is the original and mint condition Model 1888 Rod Bayonet Rifle Stock. The Model 1888 Rifle Stock were inletted at the muzzle end to the rear barrel band step and then drilled along its length to accept the ramrod. A .47” diameter clean-0ut hole was also drilled inside the trigger plate inletting to intersect the ramrod channel to facilitate cleaning of the channel itself. Additionally, Model 1888 Rifle Stocks had a unique receptacle in the butt stock to store the Headless Shell Extractor, the Model 1879 Combination Tool and the Wiping Head.
The left side of the stock, just below the receiver, has the correct, clipped corner, boxed, script “SWP/1891,” cartouche of Springfield Master Armorer Samuel W. Porter, who held this position at Springfield from 1879-1894. The cartouche is still very crisp and is in mint condition. The bottom of the stock wrist also has the mint and correct circle, script “P” firing proof stamp just to the rear of a crisp and serif “J” inspection stamp. The stock exhibits very minor dings and scratches, but there are no cracks. The stock is simply beautiful. The stock retains its original oil finish.
The original ramrod bayonet and assembly is present and is in mint condition and full working order. The Rod Bayonet itself is 35.60” long and it retains 98% of its original blued finish. The locking shoulders are squared and crisp. The mounting stud is still securely affixed to the barrel. Both spring loaded buttons are present and work correctly and both retain 99% of their original color case-hardened finish. The rod bayonet itself still extracts to its fully open and locked position and secures correctly. The fluted points on the end are in fine condition as is the checkering from the flutes to the first locking shoulder.
The Butt Plate is the correct Model 1888 Rod Bayonet Rifle Butt Plate, which used the 2nd Type carbine butt plate and its oblong trap, which permitted storage of the shell extractor, combination tool and wiping head. The swivel trap door works perfectly. The butt plate retains considerable original finish on the back with the balance turning to a pewter finish on the bottom portion and on the shoulder of the tang from storage. The tang is stamped with the serif “U.S.” stamp. Both the butt plate and tang screw are the correct, convex, single slot screws that are unmarred.
In the butt compartment is a mint condition Model 1879 Combination Tool. This tool still retains 99% of its original blued finish and the markings are crisp. The original Wiping Tool is also present, and it still screws tightly onto the ramrod bayonet, which was used as a ramrod for cleaning.
This is the finest Model 1888 Springfield Trapdoor Ramrod Bayonet Rifle that I have had the privilege to offer for sale. It is a true museum quality rifle that looks exactly as it did when it was manufactured in 1891, and it was never subsequently issued. This rifle functions perfectly.