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Re: Any info on US Model 1873 trapdoor carbine

Posted by Dick Hosmer on Wednesday, 4 February 2015, at 11:04 a.m., in response to Re: Any info on US Model 1873 trapdoor carbine, posted by Dave Esala on Wednesday, 4 February 2015, at 2:28 a.m.

No, the material researched and published by the Springfield Research Service, as four small books ending in 1995, one CD (1999), and a residual dribble to this day, is the only reasonable source available. Many people assume, wrongly, that they can just stroll into the National Archives, hand a note to the receptionist, and someone will bring the info on their gun to them. But, it doesn't work that way!

Hundreds of man-years were spent by SRS (who knew how and where to look) starting in the 1950s, much of it on hands and knees, going through un-organized material. They published what they found, which worked out, on average, to about 5% of the numbers on any given arm - though naturally some are better covered than others. Even this small percentage has proven very valuable.

It should not come as any surprise that, upon returning to the archives years later to re-check something previously found, the material was gone. Bad storage, bad filing, theft, who knows? The late Frank Mallory, founder of SRS - to whom collectors owe a HUGE debt - was appalled by the storage situation.

The books today are out of print and command prices of $200 each on Ebay. The CD never saw wide distribution, and at least early on was availble only in an arcane machine language unreadable by most PCs and zero Macs. This was later corrected. I cannot believe I am saying this, but it is probably worth it for a serious collector to buy the books. Why SRS - who guards the rights tightly - does not reprint them, is beyond me.

At one time, one of our frequent contributors hosted an online wersion of the material, gratis. This agreement was cancelled by the current operator of SRS, because he felt he was being ripped off by dealers stealing his info. I always looked upon it as free advertising for his wares, as the online info was minimal - one still had to buy the "factory letter" to get the details.

Those of us who have the books will look through them upon request, which takes about two minutes. My volume one is in tatters from doing just that. Later volumes were better printed.


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