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USISS M1870 Rifle: cut down

Posted by Rich F. on Monday, 27 February 2017, at 2:55 p.m.

Last weekend I was at an auction that had a cut down Model 1870 rifle. It was shorter than a carbine, so it's doubtful that it was from someone trying to fake a carbine. It could be an interesting bit of history, unfortunately, my searching for information on it has been met with no success, so I naturally thought that maybe some of the experts here would be able to shed some light on the subject.

The two attributes that I found very interesting are: 1) It was stamped USISS on the top of the breach block, on the top front of the receiver, and the butt stock. 2) It had an original Bannerman's tag attached to it (which is a bit of history alone). Hand written on the tag "US Indian Scout Service". The tag showed quite a bit of age.

The gun did not appear to have had the typical Bannerman treatment. The stock was in rough shape, no apparent refinishing of the metal or wood, and there was no front sight (there was a mark where a front sight could have been, about the same size as the original front sight). It had and 1863 lock plate, but it had a 3 position tumbler (which is really the only Bannerman like feature). The fact that this gun still has the Bannerman tag attached makes me believe that the condition, other than possibly a bit more patina/rust, is the same as it was when purchased from Bannermans. It did have a rather dark rust patina on the varrel, and the bore was dark with very little rifling visible. The receiver and breach block showed a little rust patina, but not like the barrel. The serial numbers matched on the receiver and barrel (in the 29,000 range ???).

So, one question is would Bannermans have sold a faked (or misidentified) gun like this? Has anyone run across something similar? The other big question is was there a US Indian Scout Service, and if so did they stamp their weapons with "USISS"? I looked at all the reference materials I have, and spent several hours on the internet, and could not find any reference to the US Indian Scout Service. A lot of references to the Indian Scouts, but not with "Service" attached at the end.

FYI, the gun sold for $1,500. Of course someone had "told" one of the auction staff that they did some research on the gun, and that it was "one of only 359 guns made", and of course they announced this to the audience right before starting the bidding. However, it was the rarer version model 1870 rifle with the sight tight against the receiver.

I was still curious about this and thought someone here might know something about it. Maybe I let something get away that I shouldn't have?


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