This is an original condition Springfield Armory Model 1873 Trapdoor Rifle in .45-70 caliber from 1882. This rifle is in the serial number range of rifles issued to the 1st United States Volunteer Engineer Regiment during the Spanish American War, which served in Puerto Rico.
The serial number on this rifle is 203511, which places its date of manufacture to 1882. Springfield Armory only produced 27,892 rifles that year. The Model 1873 was the first model of the .45-70 trapdoor service rifles and was manufactured at Springfield Armory from 1873-1886.
The Barrel on this Rifle is in fine, original condition. The barrel is 32.60” long with a 0.730” barrel diameter at the muzzle. The barrel retains the vast majority of its original blue finish throughout the exposed, top portion. The left, rear side of the barrel has the serif “V” view proof stamp over the serif “P” firing proof stamp over the eagle head over the second serif “P” proof stamp, indicating proof firing with a special 80 grain cartridge of the assembled barrel, receiver and breech block. (The first, or top “V” stamp was a firing proof verification of the unrifled barrel blank). The top of the barrel has a serif “R” barrel inspector’s stamp. The right side of the barrel has a serif “D” assembly stamp that aligns with the witness line on the right, front of the receiver. The bore of the rifle is in fine condition with strong rifling and a mirror finish.
The chamber is in fine condition and retains the majority of its original dark, oil quenched finish. The Breech Plug and Tang both retain considerable original color case-hardened finish. The Tang Screw is the correct single-slot type and is unmarred and it retains 98% of its original blued finish.
The Front Sight Stud remains tightly brazed to the barrel and it a largely plum patina. The Front Sight Blade is the correct Second Type with flat sides and beveled top rear that was used from 1878 to 1886. The Front Sight Blade is still tightly pinned into the stud.
The Rear Sight is the fine condition Model 1879 Rifle Sight, also known as the Buckhorn. This particular sight is the Model 1879, Fourth Form, Third Variation. The Model 1879 Buckhorn Rear Sight was introduced in 1879 and is 100 to 550 yards on the base, from 600, 1,200 yards on the front of the leaf and from 1,300 to 1,600 yards on the rear, side of the leaf. The left, top side 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. Both of the original single-slot screws on the slide have unmarred slots. The left side of the base has the serif “R” rifle stamp and the sans serif “B” stamp with arrow indicating the rolling fire mark (at 266 yards). Both original slotless base screws are present.
The Lower Band is the correct Model 1879 Lower Band with rounded top. The Band is correctly marked with the serif “U” stamp and it retains considerable original blue finish. 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 retains considerable original blue finish throughout. The Lug retains the majority of its niter blue finish and the lug pin remains solidly in place. Both the sling swivel and stacking swivel are present and both exhibit considerable original blued finish. The sling swivel still has the crisply stamped “MAR. 1874” patent date. The Front Band Spring retains 95% of its original blued finish. Both bands remain solidly on the stock.
The Breech Block is the correct Sixth Type that is crisply marked “U.S./MODEL/1873,” adjacent to the hinge point. The Breech Block exhibits a plum patina on the top portion but the bottom and sides still retain generous traces 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.
The Cam Latch is the correct Second Type with the ground and polished rivet. The Cam Latch retains generous traces of its original blue 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 “203511,” with normal operational wear. The Receiver exhibits a largely plum patina.
The Lock Plate is the correct Second Type with the large shield on the eagle. Both the eagle and the serif “U.S./SPRINGFIELD” stampings remain crisp and clear. The lock plate retains the majority of its original oil case-hardened finish that now exhibits a slightly faded 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 the majority of its original blued finish throughout as does the Hammer Screw, which is the correct single slot type.
The Trigger Guard is the correct two-piece type used up until the Model 1888 Rifle with the single-piece design was adopted. The Trigger Guard Plate is the correct Model 1863 pattern with rounded pads. Both Model 1863 (rounded pads) and Model 1864 (squared pads) plates were used during Model 1873 production with both being used in approximately equal numbers for rifles manufactured between 1879 and 1888. The Trigger Guard Bow is the correct Model 1863 pattern that uses a rivet to attach the rear sling swivel. The swivel still moves freely. The Trigger Guard Plate, Bow and Sling Swivel all considerable original blued finish with the rear of the plate exhibiting a more worn patina. Both single-slot wood screws are present. The Trigger is the correct First Type with smooth face. The Trigger retains the vast majority of its original oil case-hardened finish. The trigger release is still crisp.
The Stock is the fine condition and original Model 1873 Rifle Stock. On the left stock flat is the correct, clipped corner, boxed, script “SWP/1882,” cartouche of Springfield Master Armorer Samuel W. Porter, who held this position at Springfield from 1879-1894. The cartouche is still very crisp and visible. The bottom of the stock wrist has the correct circle, script “P” firing proof stamp along with a serif “D” stock inspector’s stamp. Both original lock plate screw washers are present and both traces of their original finish. The stock exhibits a few small dings and scratches but no cracks are noted. The stock retains its original oil finish.
The Nose Cap is still solidly in place and retains considerable original blued finish. The correct Model 1877 Rifle Butt Plate is present and the tang exhibits a plum patina and pewter patina with strong traces of original blue finish towards the front. The tang is stamped with the serif “U.S.” stamp. The back side of the butt plate also exhibits a largely plum patina and the original convex, single-slot butt plate screw is unmarred.
The stock carries the correct Model 1878 Rifle Ramrod, Second Type, with cupped end. The ramrod retains considerable original blued finish and still attaches securely when stowed. All of the original finger cannelures at the other end of the ramrod remain crisply machined.
This particular rifle, serial number 203511, is in the serial number range of Springfield Trapdoor Rifles issued to the 1st United States Volunteer Engineer Regiment during the Spanish American War. Specifically, according to the Springfield Research Service, this range was for Company L of the 1st USV Engineers. For example, serial numbers 203447 and 203713, on either side of this rifle, were issued to Company L in 1898. The 1st USV Engineers mustered into federal service for the Spanish American War from June 25 to July 16, 1898 at Peekskill, New York. The regiment departed the United States on August 10, 1898 and arrived in Puerto Rico on August 15, 1898. The regiment stayed deployed to Puerto Rico for just over three months, departing on November 17, 1898. The regiment arrived back in the United States on November 24, 1898. The regiment was mustered out of federal service two months later on January 25, 1899. The regiment consisted of 50 officers and 1,098 men and had 18 men die of disease during its service.
This rifle still functions perfectly.