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Very Rare & Historic Springfield Model 1884 Experimental Round Rod Bayonet Trapdoor Rifle c. 1886

Product Description

Rare Springfield Model 1884 Experimental Round Rod Bayonet Trapdoor Rifle c. 1886

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This is an extraordinarily rare and historic Springfield Model 1884 Experimental Round Rod Bayonet Rifle.

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, which is this particular rifle. Lieutenant Colonel A. R. Buffington is generally considered to be responsible for the Model 1884 Round Bayonet Rifle. There are three principal features of the Model 1884 Round Rod Bayonet rifle that distinguish it from all previous models. The first is the round rod bayonet and its locking mechanism. The second is the rack and working pinion rear sight developed by Lt. Col. Buffington. The third is the heavy front sight cover that contains the front sight as an integral part.

Weekly production reports from Springfield Armory indicate that the Model 1884 Experimental Round Rod Bayonet rifles were made in late 1885 and early 1886. By January 1, 1886, Springfield had manufactured 504 Model 1884 Experimental Round Rod Bayonet rifles, all produced in 1885, and an additional 509 were manufactured in January 1886, for a total of 1,013 Model 1884 Rod Bayonet Rifles produced.

Virtually all of the Model 1884 Experimental Round Rod Bayonet rifles, 1,000 at a minimum, were issued for field testing in the summer of 1886. The trials highlighted problems with the bayonet locking system, the rod bayonet itself and with the adjustable rear sight. The front sight cover with the integral front sight blade was considered a total failure and was dropped in later production.

The Model 1884 Experimental Round Rod Bayonet Rifle used the unique rear sight known as the First Model Buffington Adjustable Rear Sight. This rear sight is distinguished by the use of a working rack and pinion elevation slide. The front face of the slide is grooved as a rack with teeth that interlock with a pinion attached to the elevating knob. The slide is raised and lowered by turning the elevation knob. The lower knob operates the windage screw that carries the base and leaf right or left to adjust for drift or windage. Both the windage and elevation knobs and the head of the windage binding screw are considerably smaller that those found on later models.

The Model 1884 Experimental Round Rod Bayonet Rifle used the front sight cover with integral front sight blade. The sight cover was machined from steel and held in place by a steel pin through the front of the bayonet housing. The front sight blade fits in a groove milled in the upper base of the cover and is secured by a screw through the cover and the blade.

Another distinguishing feature of the Model 1884 Experimental Round Rod Bayonet Rifle is the ramrod groove in the stock, which almost completely incircles the ramrod. The open portion on the underside of the stock forend is only .205 inches wide as compared to the Model 1888 Ramrod Bayonet channel, which is .325 inches wide.

As Albert J. Frasca and Robert H. Hill point out in their definitive work ont he Springfield Trapdoor Rifles, “The .45-70 Springfield,” Springfield Publishing Company, Northridge, California, 1980, the survival rate of the Model 1884 Experimental Round Rod Bayonet rifle is very low because of the malfunctions of its three distinguishing features. The innovative front sight cover with integral front sight blade was discarded when field testing showed it would become loose under heavy firing. The ramrod catch proved to be weak and the locking grooves in the bayonet were found to be inadequate. And the rack and pinion elevating the slide on the Buffington Rear Sight would not hold the slide in place during rapid fire. The vast majority of original Model 1884 Experimental Round Rod Bayonet Rifles were later converted to Model 1888 Rod Bayonet rifles. These facts make this one of the rarest of all Springfield Armory manufactured firearms.

The original Barrel on this Rifle is in very good condition. The barrel is 32.60” long with a 0.730” barrel diameter at the muzzle. The barrel exhibits a largely plum patina on its external surfaces with areas of old surface corrosion. The original muzzle crown is present. 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 “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 breech area is in fine condition and retains virtually all of its original dark finish. The bore of the rifle is in very good condition with strong rifling and frosting in the grooves. The Breech Plug and Tang both retain traces of the original color case-hardened finish. The Tang Screw is the correct single-slot type.

The unique Front Sight Protector with integral Front Sight Blade remains tightly secured to the barrel and it retains 80% of its original blued finish. The sides of the protector have the unique curve at the middle, which is the only type of protector that had this feature.

The Rear Sight is the correct Model 1884 Experimental Rifle Sight, also known as the First Type Buffington Rear Sight. As noted, this sight has the operational rack and pinion elevation slide assembly, which still works perfectly. 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 exhibit a largely plum patina finish as does the leaf, slide and rear sight base, with most of the wear and pinprick pitting extant on the slide. The single-slot base screw is unmarred. 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 85% of its original niter blue finish with minor dings and scratches present. The Lower Band Spring retains 95% 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 largely retains the majority of its original blued finish that is slightly faded. The lug pin remains solidly in place. Both the sling swivel and stacking swivel are present and both retain the majority of their original blued finish. The Front Band Spring retains about 80% of its original blued finish and 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 top of the Breech Block exhibits a plum patina with traces of the original color case-hardened finish. The bottom and sides of the Breech Block retain traces of the original color case-hardened finish. The breech face is very clean.

The Cam Latch is the correct Third Type with the unground rivet properly exposed leaving the square-shanked rivet visible. The Cam Latch exhibits a largely plum patina. 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 “318265,” which is within the known serial number range of Model 1884 Experimental Round Rod Bayonet Rifles, which is generally from 306,000 to 320,000.

The Lock Plate is the correct Third Type with the large shield on the eagle. Both the eagle and the serif “U.S./SPRINGFIELD” stampings remain clear. The lock plate shows several dings and exhibits a mixed salt and pepper patina with traces of the original blued finish in places. The Hammer is the correct Third Type with beveled lip. The cross hatching on the thumb piece is still crisply cut. The Hammer retains considerable 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 this model rifle. The Trigger Guard retains considerable original pale niter blue finish, which was introduced on furniture at Springfield in 1885. The original lower sling swivel is present and retains considerable original 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 the majority of its original oil case-hardened finish. The trigger release is still crisp.

The Stock is the original and fine condition Model 1884 Experimental Round Rod Bayonet Rifle Stock. The Model 1884 Rifle Stock were inletted at the muzzle end to the rear barrel band step and then drilled along its length to accept the ramrod. As noted, the width of the ramrod channel on this stock is considerably narrower than that on the later Model 1888 Ramrod Rifle, which can be seen in the accompanying photos depicting this rifle alongside a Model 1888.

The left side of the stock, just below the receiver, has the correct, clipped corner, boxed, script “SWP/1886,” 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 and the date indicates this rifle was one of the 509 Model 1884 Experimental Round Rod Bayonet Rifles made in January 1896. The bottom of the stock wrist also has the correct circle, script “P” firing proof stamp. The stock exhibits very minor dings and scratches but no cracks or chips noted. The stock retains its original oil finish.

The original round rod bayonet and assembly is present and is in fine condition and full working order. The Rod Bayonet itself is 35.60” long and it retains the majority of its original dark oil finish. The locking shoulders are rounded in comparison to the later Model 1888 ramrod. The mounting stud is still securely affixed to the barrel. Both spring loaded buttons are present and work correctly. The round rod bayonet itself still extracts to its fully open and locked position and secures correctly.

The Butt Plate is the correct Model 1884 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 exhibits a largely plum patina with evidence of old pitting. 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.

This Model 1884 Experimental Round Rod Bayonet Springfield Trapdoor Rifle functions perfectly and would still make a great shooting rifle. This is the rarest of Trapdoor rifles ever manufactured and is one of the rarest of firearms ever manufactured at Springfield Armory.

This rifle is an antique so it can be shipped to anyone. This 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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