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trial rifles

Posted by Fred on Thursday, 28 October 2010, at 11:07 p.m.

I keep wondering why it is that no clear cut photo of one of the 1,000 trial Model 1870 trapdoor Springfield rifles is available for study. Maybe, I'm thinking, with the exception of a very very few rifles that escaped overhaul, the bulk of the trial 1870 rifles were eventually sent back to Springfield Armory to have the barrels pulled, and the location of the rear sights moved forward to comply with the final design. Why then are there 1870 rifles with numbers consisting of two digits, always below 100, stamped on the left side of the barrels and receivers? Did the overhaul and updating of the trial rifles involve taking a group of 100 rifles or even 80 rifles at a time and stamping them with the numbers 1 thru whatever to keep insure the reassembly of the correct barrels with their receivers? Then, another batch of 100 or so rifles processed the same way and onward until all 1,000 or so trial rifles had been updated? Is this why there was another reported rifle (from a person who only posted once or twice on this forum) that had the same number 17 stamped on it as my rifle does (also stamped with 17 on the barrel and receiver)? Now possibly, the person who made such a claim about that other rifle was a Troll. However, maybe not. And why is it that such rifles with such numbers in that particular place seem to have the identical features of an 1868 rear barrel band, single shouldered rod, ramrod retaining spoon still in place within the forearm? Is it possible that the trial rifles all had these features (of course they had the one shouldered cleaning rod, but they were all altered with the updated rear sight and reissued. Mine, having a later designed breech block with the word "MODEL" on it might be because by the time the rifles were all called back to Springfield for updates, the updated receiver with the "MODEL 1870" was already in production and those trial rifles that had somewhat damaged breech blocks simply had them replaced with whatever was grabbed out of the bin, which included both types of breech blocks by then. If the trial rifles WERE updated by having their rear sights moved forward, then did the barrels have the old mounting holes and dovetails welded shut and finished over? The underside of my receiver definitely shows that the receiver had been tightened back onto the barrel. There is a mark on it showing that pressure was applied to the receiver with a smooth wrench while putting it back on the barrel. Also, the single slash or chisel mark showing the alignment of the barrel and receiver show a 2nd mark placed over the original alignment mark. Hmmm... It's all speculation of course, but it seems to add up in my mind that the possibility exists that with the exception of an overlooked rifle or two, virtually all of the 1,000 1870 trial trapdoor Springfields rifles might very well have been altered and are still with us today, scattered about here and there and overlooked by collectors.


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