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Rare Springfield Armory Model 1866 Second Allin .50-70 Trapdoor Rifle, First Type

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Rare Springfield Armory Model 1866 2nd Allin Trapdoor Rifle, .50-70, First Type

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This is a very rare, fine and original condition Springfield Armory U.S. Model 1866 Rifle, also known as the Second Allin Alteration Rifle, with the very rare First Type Cam Latch.

 While the American Civil War was predominantly an Infantryman's war using muzzle loading, percussion cap ignition rifles, the use of breech loading, cartridge-firing weapons (principally carbines) left an indelible mark on both the US Army and weapons designers in the United States. The Army's experience during the Civil War left post-war Army leaders with two distinct impressions. First, the accuracy and long-range of modern infantry rifles made the linear, Napoleonic-style of infantry tactics obsolete. And second, the need for faster firing weapons was a necessity for modern infantry combat. The result was the formation of a special board by the War Department to select a new breech-loading rifle. Once the board was formed, it developed a list of requirements for a new breech-loading rifle and sent requests for submissions to all known arms manufacturers and to the National Armory at Springfield. The principal requirements of the new arm were straightforward: a breech-loading firearm chambered for a self-primed, metallic cartridge.

When Springfield Armory received the request for the board, it assigned the responsibility for developing the Springfield design to Springfield's Master Armorer, Erskine S. Allin. Allin's design was both simple and practical. His design, oddly enough, involved the conversion of the earlier Model 1861 Pattern Rifle Musket that was used during the Civil War instead of the later Model 1863 and 1864 Rifle Muskets. Many thousands of these muzzle-loading rifles were on hand at Springfield after having been returned following the demobilization of the Union Army. Allin's design involved cutting a section out of the breech end of the standard Model 1861 .58 caliber barrel and fitting a hinged breechblock into the cutout space. This was the "trap door" design that became the standard design for the US rifle for the next 25 plus years.

Several foreign and domestic US designs were also submitted to the board in late 1865. The board ultimately chose Allin's Springfield-submitted design. Although many have opined over the years that one of the main reasons for the board's selection of Allin's design was its familiarity to the board's members (it looked very similar to the muzzle loading Model 1861), the real reason probably had more to do with the Army's tiny budget after the end of the Civil War and the relatively low cost of converting existing arms compared to procurement of an entirely new design. The War Department approved the board's recommendation and Springfield was directed to produce 5,000 Model 1865 breech loading rifles, which became known as the "First Allin" Rifle.

The Model 1865 "First Allin" Rifles were finished in 1866 and issued to soldiers in the field. The Model 1865 fired a short, copper-cased, .58 caliber rimfire cartridge with a powder charge of 60 grains and a 500-grain bullet. Reports from these units identified several problems with the new rifles. First, the copper cartridge case had a weak case head that was often torn off during extraction, leaving the rest of the case inside the chamber. Ballistically, the .58 caliber round was also considered underpowered. And the breech system itself was considered too fragile with problematic extraction and ejection components. The problems identified were severe enough that Springfield made the decision to completely redesign the breech action and develop an entirely new round.

The new cartridge that was designed was based around a .50 caliber bullet that had a more pointed tip than the earlier .58 caliber round. The case was also significantly different with a longer overall case length and a centerfire ignition system instead of the earlier rimfire design. The new case held 70 grains of black powder, giving the new round a significantly higher muzzle velocity than its predecessor. Springfield also designed a new breech that was stronger and had more robust components.

The new design was, unlike the earlier Model 1864 "First Allin" Rifle, based on the later Civil War issued Model 1863 and 1864 Rifles. The concept was the same, however, in that the rear portion of the original barrel was cut away and the new breechblock was hinged in the "trap door" style. The smaller diameter of the bullet necessitated a more radical change to the existing Model 1863 barrels. The .58 caliber rifled barrels were reamed out along the entire length to a diameter of .640 inches and then fitted with a .50 caliber liner or barrel insert that was brazed in place at the muzzle and breech.

This new rifle was designated the US Model 1866 Rifle, also known as the "Second Allin" Rifle and it performed much better than the Model 1865 First Allin Rifle. The Model 1866 saw active combat service soon after it was issued and was considered instrumental in the Army's defeat of Sioux Indians under Chief Red Cloud at the Wagon Box Fight and Hayfield Fight, both occurring in August 1867 along the Bozeman Trail in the Wyoming and Montana Territories. The exact number of Springfield Armory manufactured (modified) Model 1866 Rifles is not entirely clear. Norm Flayderman's Guide to Antique American Firearms, the benchmark text on American weapons, states that only about 25,000 were manufactured. Richard Hosmer's fine work on .58 and .50 caliber Springfield Rifles lists approximately 52,300 Model 1866 Springfield Rifles manufactured with most produced in 1867, plus a few hundred additional rifles in 1868 and 1869. Regardless of the total number made, which is still a small number comparatively speaking even if Hosmer's number is used, when the Model 1866 was eventually replaced a few years later with the US Model 1868 Rifle, most of the existing Model 1866 Rifles were purchased by the Remington Arms Company and were resold to the French for use during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871. While some of these rifles made it back to the United States over the years, the majority did not making the Model 1866 a historically significant and very scarce example of American military firearms design.

The Lockplate is the correct Civil War era Model 1863/64 Lockplate that is correctly and crisply marked "1865" to the rear of the Hammer, which is a rare date for this model as most are dated “1864.” Forward of the Hammer is a crisp federal spread eagle with the eagle looking towards the muzzle. The eagle bears the large shield and the detail is still exceptionally fine. Just forward of the eagle is a crisp, serif "U.S./SPRINGFIELD" stamp. The outer, flat surface of the Lockplate still retains the vast majority of the original color casehardened finish. The beveled edges of the Lockplate, as well as the thumb latch recess still show vivid color case hardened finish.

The original Hammer is present and it shows considerable original, muted color case hardened finish on both the exterior and interior surfaces. The in-shield knurling on the thumb piece of the Hammer is still crisp. The face of the Hammer, correctly, comes together with the rear of the Breechblock comb to form a line that is not perpendicular to the barrel, which makes the Model 1866 unique among all Trapdoor models. The original single-slot, rounded face Hammer Screw is present and is in fine condition and is unmarred.

The interior of the lock mechanism is in very fine condition. The Hammer Main Spring is still very strong and it retains virtually all of its original finish. The Tumbler and Sear, and their associated screws, retain the vast majority of their original oil-quenched finish. The Sear and Sear Spring also retain virtually all of the original dark oil finish.

The original Thumb Latch still shows the majority of its original color casehardened finish. The top of the Thumb Latch is correctly smooth and the single-slot, rounded head Latch Screw is unmarred and has vivid original color casehardened finish remaining. The Thumb Latch is the very rare first type as used on the Model 1865 First Allin Rifle, which is the type that enters the block from the right and is retained in the block by a small screw entering the shaft from the left side. This first type was replaced with the second type used on the Model 1866, with the integrated, machined cam and a cap plate and screw on the right side. Only about 7,000 Springfield Model 1866 Rifles are the first type, which is less than 15% of the total production, making this a very rare variant.

The Breech Block is the correct type with the flat-top firing pin housing or comb. The top surface of the Breech Block is still smooth with no marring or pitting and the majority of the original oil quenched blackened finish is remaining although it is thinning on top of the block. The bottom of the Breech Block is the straight, cylindrical type that retains the majority of its original, dark blackened oil quenched finish. There is a serif "L" inspection stamp on the bottom of the Breech Block. The top, forward section of the Breech Block has a crisp "1866/small eagle head" stamp. There is, correctly, no sighting notch in the Breech Block Hinge, which is also unique among Springfield Trapdoor weapons. The Breech Block opens the full 160 degrees, which is far more than any other Trapdoor Breech Block. The Firing Pin is secured at the end of the comb by a Spanner Head Retaining Collar, which retains the vast majority of its original dark finish. The single-slot Hinge Screw is in fine condition with no marring and is secured on the left side of the hinge by the original two-part Jam Nut, which also retains the vast majority of its original finish. The Hinge Strap is in fine condition and retains the majority of its original, but now thinning, oil blackened finish. Both single-slot Hinge Strap Screws are present with the rearmost one showing marring to the slot.

The Stock on this rifle is the original and very fine condition Model 1866 Rifle Stock. Model 1866 Rifles used one of two types of stocks. The first were existing US Model 1863/64 Civil War-era stocks that were subsequently modified to accommodate Erskine Allin's mechanism, which is what this stock is. The original friction spoon in the stock, used to secure the ramrod, was removed and the stock inlet for the horseshoe ejector spring and the cartridge friction spring. The second type of stock was a new, black walnut stock that was milled from a stock blank especially for the Model 1866 Rifle and its unique mechanism. The lock inletting is in very fine condition. There is a small round surface crack with slightly loose wood that follows the contour of the rear profile of the lock plate but it remains secured to the stock with the lock plate attached. There are small dings and scratches but no other cracks noted. The stock also bears its original oil finish, which is consistent with the earliest Second Allin rifles. Later rifles had the stock coated with varnish instead of an oil finish.

On the left stock flat is the oval-end, boxed cartouche with script letters "FWS" inside the box. The "FSH" initials stand for Springfield Armory Inspector, Frederick W. Sanderson, who was a civilian inspector at Springfield Armory. The stock also has the original Civil War oval, script “ESA” cartouche of Erskine S. Allin, the designer of the Trapdoor family of rifles. The bottom of the stock wrist, just to the rear of the Trigger Plate, is a script "N" inspection stamp that is still crisp below a number stamp. The Nose Cap on the Stock is still in its original National Armory Bright finish. The Butt Plate is the correct and original curved profile, convex surface type with crisp "US" stamp on the Tang. Both the Tang Screw and Butt Plate Screw are the correct single-slot, rounded face type that are in fine condition. The Butt Plate still retains its National Armory Bright finish with areas of staining and darkening in a few places but is excellent overall.

The Rear Sight on this Model 1866 is the correct US Model 1863/64 Rear Sight from the Civil War. The Model 1866 used the earlier Rear Sight, which was reversed on the new rifle so the yardage markings are on the opposite side of the Elevation Leafs as the firer. The Rear Sight Base is attached to the top of the barrel in a dovetail and is held in place by its original Spanner Head Screw, and this Screw and the "floor" of the Rear Sight Base in which the Spanner Nut secures the sight are both in fine condition and retain 95% of their original blued finish. The Elevation Leaf is correctly marked for 100, 300 and 500 yards with a 700-yard notch at the top of the Leaf. The Elevation Leaf retains the vast majority of its original blued finish. The Leaf Screw secures from the left side and the Leaf Screw's single-slot is unmarred. The sides of the Rear Sight Base still retain the majority of their now thinning and slightly faded original blued finish.

The Barrel on this Model 1866 Rifle is the original modified .58 caliber Model 1863 muzzle-loading Barrel that is 40" long. The Model 1863 Barrels used on the Model 1866 Rifles were reamed out to a diameter of .640" the entire length of the Barrel and were then fitted with a .50 caliber, rifled Barrel Liner that was brazed at the end and the Barrel crowned. The braze line on this Barrel is barely noticeable and the Liner is still secure. The bore has the 3-groove rifling and the bore is still mirror shiny as if it has seldom been fired - the bore is nearly in mint condition and the rifling is still crisp and strong. The original Front Sight is present and is still securely brazed to the top of the Barrel.

The Breech of the Barrel is simply in fine condition. The Ejector Stud is shiny and is in fine condition and is not worn. The Friction Spring Screw tip is visible and it retains 100% of its original blackened finish. The Extractor Spring Plate screw holes are crisp and clean with no evidence of corrosion. The Extractor Arm portion of the Breech Block is crisp and not excessively worn. The Thumb Latch Cam Recess in the end of the Barrel is smooth and has a mirror finish. The original Nipple Recess Filler, which was done on all modified Barrels to fill in the area of the Barrel that held the nipple and bolster, is present and the weld seams are in very fine condition. The left barrel flat has the correct, eagle head stamp from its original Civil War proofing, which is now the lower portion of the eagle's shoulders. The eagle stamp is still crisp. The original partial barrel date, “65,” is present, indicating this barrel was manufactured in 1865, which is scarcely found on Model 1866 Rifles. The Barrel Tang is still in National Armory Bright and is very clean and the single-slot, flat head Tang Screw is in fine condition. The back side of the tang and barrel have numerous inspection and assembly stamps.

The Trigger Guard and Trigger Plate assembly remain with their original National Armory Bright finish with minor staining. The original Trigger is present and it retains 95% of its original oil blackened finish. The Trigger operates smoothly and still releases the Hammer crisply. The original Lower Sling Swivel Assembly is present and is in fine condition. The Lower Sling Swivel Screw is a flat head, single-slot screw and it remains in fine condition. Both Trigger Plate Screws, which are round head, single-slot Screws, are present and both are unmarred.

The Lower Barrel Band has the correct, serif "U" stamp on the right side and remains with its National Armory Bright finish with minor dings. The adjacent Band Spring is in fine condition. The Middle Barrel Band has the original Sling Swivel present and attached with a correct Split Shank Swivel that is retained by a flat head, single-slot Band Screw that is unmarred. The Middle Band has the correct serif "U" stamp on the right side and retains its National Armory Bright finish with minor dings to the metal. The Middle Band Retaining Spring is present and is in fine condition. The Lower Barrel Band retains its National Armory Bright finish with correct serif "U" stamp on the right side and its original Band Spring is present and is in fine condition. The original Model 1861 tulip-head Ramrod is present and is 39 7/16” long and it retains its National Armory Bright finish throughout its length. This is the type of ramrod used on the Model 1865 First Allin Rifle and since it is a different length than the First Allin-modified ramrod, which was shortened to 35, 7/16” with the end rounded off, this is likely the original ramrod used on this very early First Type Model 1866 Rifle. The Ramrod, when stowed, is correctly flush with the muzzle.

This is rare, historically significant and fine condition example of the Springfield US Model 1866 "Second Allin" Conversion, .50-70 caliber Trapdoor Rifle, First Type, that is in its 100% original configuration. This Model 1866 Rifle functions perfectly.

This rifle is an antique so it can be shipped to anyone. This rifle will also come with a historic writeup and a CD containing all of the photos in the listing. I accept Visa and MasterCard and charge NO FEES. Please let me know if you have any questions or if you would like additional photos posted.


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