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Springfield Armory Model 1868 .50 Trapdoor Rifle #1686

Product Description

Early Springfield Armory Model 1868 .50 Trapdoor Rifle, Ser No 1686

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u.s. model 1868 rifle, .50-70 caliber Manufacturer: springfield armory Serial number: 1686 This is a scarce and fine condition Springfield Armory Model 1868 Rifle in .50-70 Caliber. This particular Model 1868 Rifle is serial number 1686, which was manufactured in the summer of 1869.

The genesis of the Model 1868 was the earlier alterations of existing Civil War percussion rifles, which came to be known as “Allin” alterations. At the end of the Civil War, the Ordnance Department realized that a breech loading infantry rifle was needed to replace the obsolete muzzle loading percussion arms used during the late war. With so many Model 1861, 1863 and 1864 percussion rifled muskets on hand at war’s end, Springfield Armory Master Armorer Erskine S. Allin developed the U.S. Model 1865 Rifle, also known as the First Allin Alteration.

Developed from the earlier Model 1861 Rifled Musket, the Model 1865 Rifle incorporated a hinged breech block that was attached to the original barrel, which was cut down to accept the breech block. The Model 1865 fired a .58 caliber rimfire cartridge. The Model 1865 design, while somewhat revolutionary, quickly demonstrated several weaknesses. The cartridge was underpowered and the breech design, including the extraction and ejection mechanism, was complicated and fragile. A new design by Erskine Allin was quickly in production.

The result was the U.S. Model 1866 Rifle, known as the Second Allin Conversion, which was based around the Model 1863 and 1864 rifled muskets. This rifle fired a smaller diameter but more powerful .50-70 caliber round. The breech block, extraction and ejection mechanisms were also simplified and strengthened. The Model 1866 proved to be a very solid infantry rifle but the fact remained that it was still an alteration of an obsolete percussion, muzzle loading design.

The Ordnance Department decided that the standard infantry rifle needed a separate receiver, which provided a more robust mounting point for the breech block. The result was the U.S. Model 1868 Rifle in .50-70 Caliber. The Model 1868 would become the general configuration of all “trapdoor” production until it ended in 1893.

Springfield Armory produced only 52,145 Model 1868 Rifles from 1868 through 1870. Unique to the Model 1868, the year of manufacture was stamped into the top of the breech block. Only a few hundred were manufactured in 1868. The majority were manufactured in 1869 or 1870. This particular Model 1868 Rifle is an early one, serial number 1686, which was manufactured in 1869. According to Albert J. Frasca’s definitive work on Springfield Trapdoors, The .45-70 Springfield, Book II – 1865-1894, Frasca Publishing, 1997, Model 1868 Rifle production actually began in January 1869 with only 11 rifles manufactured from the start of production until March 1869. From April to June 1869, only 7 additional rifles were manufactured, which is indicative of Springfield getting all of the tooling established and any design, tooling or production problems worked out. Production increased slightly in the 3rd quarter of that year, from July to September 1869, with 3,764 rifles manufactured. That is the quarter when this rifle was produced at Springfield and it can be estimated that this particular rifle was produced in August 1869.

The Barrel on this rifle is the original 32 ¾ inch barrel with three grooves. The barrel on the Model 1868 was manufactured for the rifle and did not, except in a very few cases, have a lining. The barrels were finished in National Armory Bright. This particular barrel retains the majority of its original National Armory Bright finish, which now has considerable plum mottling along its length on the top, exposed portion, with evidence of pitting from firing towards the muzzle. The bottom, protected area is in very fine condition and the original finish remains. The bottom of the barrel, at the rear, has an “18” assembly stamp, which is directly adjacent to a matching “18” assembly stamp on the bottom, front of the receiver.

The right side of the barrel, just forward of the receiver, has the correct witness mark that aligns perfectly with the witness mark on the receiver just above the stock line. The left side of the Barrel has the serial number “1686.” The front of the barrel has the original front sight stud and blade present and it remains tightly brazed to the barrel.

The Receiver, originally finished with a blackened case-hardened finish, now retains a largely pewter patina above the stock line with the marjority of the original blackened oil finish remaining below the stock line. The tang also retains a pewter patina on top with the majority of its original case-hardened finish remaining below. The rear end of the breech block has a crisp serif “U” inspection stamp. The bottom of the receiver itself has a serif “H” inspection stamp. The breech plug tang is retained with the correct and slightly marred single-slot screw.

The interior portion of the receiver at the breech still retains considerable original dark oil finish with areas of old corrosion present. The inside of the breech itself still retains 95% of the original dark oil finish. The Extractor and Ejector are still present and still work correctly. The left side of the Receiver, adjacent to the Barrel, has the matching serial number “1686.”

The Lock Plate has a crisp “1863” date, which is correct for the Model 1868 Rifles, which typically have either 1863 or 1864 dated plates, and also retains its very strong eagle and “U.S./SPRINGFIELD” stamps. The lock plate retains 95% plus of its original dark oil quenched finish throughout. The Hammer is the correct type with knurling inside a shield design on the thumb piece. The Hammer still retains remnants of its original color case-hardened finish. The original hammer screw is present.

The interior of the lock is in very fine condition. The interior surface of the lock plate retains the majority of its original color case-hardened finish. The Main Spring retains virtually all of its original oil hardened finish. The original two-position Tumbler retains the majority of its original oil hardened finish and the Tumbler Screw retains most of its original finish. The Tumbler is marked with a serif “M” inspection stamp. The Bridle retains the vast majority of its original oil finish. The Sear has a serif “F” inspection stamp and it retains the majority of its dark finish as does the Sear Spring and Sear Spring Screw. The top of the Sear Spring has a serif “X” inspection and assembly stamp. The inside of the lock itself has numerous inspection and assembly stamps including two serif “X” stamps and “3” and “4” stamps. The lock mechanism works perfectly.

The Breech Block exhibits faint remnants of its original color case-hardened finish and is very clean throughout. The top of the breech block has the crisp “1869/eagle/crossed arrows/U.S.” stamp. The bottom of the breech block is correctly arched and it retains the vast majority of its original dark oil finish with pitting noted near the rear of the block. There is a serif “H” inspection stamp on the bottom rear of the block. The original firing pin remains and the hammer strike surface retains the majority of its original dark finish. The original Extractor is present as is the Ejector Stud. The Thumb Latch was a new design on the Model 1868 and it has the correct squared front and back edges. The Thumb Latch still retains considerable original dark oil finish and it works correctly.

This Rifle has its original and correct U.S. Model 1868 Long Range, Adjustable Rear Sight. This rear sight, which was new to the 1868, had a longer leaf than previous models. The elevation slide is present and still holds securely at each elevation level on the slide, which was graduated from 200 to 900 yards. The rear sight base is secured to a spanner head screw, which is unmarred. The base, leaf, spring and elevation slide all retain traces of the original, faded, dark finish.

The Stock on this rifle is the original stock to the rifle, which was an entirely new stock type for the Model 1868 Rifle modified from existing Civil War Model 1863 Rifled Musket stocks. It was shorter than the previous models at 48 ¾” and was inletted differently to accept the new, separate receiver. On the left stock flat is the correct oval with script “ESA” cartouche of Springfield inspector and designer of the original trapdoor design Erskine S. Allin. There is an additional rounded end cartouche with two script initials but I am not able to decipher what those letters are. The Stock has normal dings and scratches but it retains its original oil finish and there are no cracks noted. The original ramrod friction “spoon” retains 98% of its original dark oil finish.

The original Nose Piece is present and exhibits a pewter patina. The original friction plate is present and retains the majority of its color case-hardened finish. The Butt Plate is the original type that exhibits a mixed pewter and plum patina. The Tang has the correct “US” stamp and both convex, single-slot butt plate wood screws, which are unmarred, are present.

The Lower Band is the correct, and unique, Model 1863 Rifle Musket Lower Band. The Model 1868 Rifle was the only rifle in the trapdoor series to use the Model 1863 lower band with the clamping screw. The band has the correct serif “U” stamp on the right side. The clamping screw and the band exhibit a mixed pewter and plum patina.

The Upper Band is the correct type with attached sling swivel. The band has the correct serif “U” stamp on the right side and the screw is unmarred. The sling swivel exhibits a largely pewter patina and is the correct split shank type. The band spring now exhibits a largely pewter patina. Both bands fit securely to the stock. Both band springs are present and both retain 70% of the faded blue finish with the balance a pewter patina.

The Trigger Guard Plate has the correct Civil War-era rounded pads and it retains a mottled bright finish that has a more pronounced plum patina at the bow. Both convex, single-slot guard plate screws are unmarred. The Trigger Guard Bow retains its integrated lower sling swivel. The smooth Trigger exhibits considerable original blue finish in the protected area. The inside portion of the trigger bow has a serif “M” inspection stamp. The inside portion of the plate has serif “A” and “B” inspection stamp.

The Ramrod is the correct and original single-shoulder type that was unique to the Model 1868 design. The ramrod is 35 5/8” long and has a seven-ring head with patch channel and uncupped head. The lower end is plain with a rounded head. The ramrod exhibits a pewter patina throughout its length and it stows tightly in the stock.

This Rifle comes with three original .50-70 caliber expended brass cases that were manufactured by Remington-UMC. These center fire cases could easily be reloaded or used as dies if someone wants to reload and fire this rifle.

This is an historically significant and scarce Springfield U.S. Model 1868 Trapdoor Rifle in .50-70 Caliber and it functions perfectly.

This rifle is an antique and can be shipped to anyone. The rifle will also come with an 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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