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Re: USISS M1870 Rifle: cut down

Posted by John S. on Tuesday, 28 February 2017, at 11:53 a.m., in response to Re: USISS M1870 Rifle: cut down, posted by Dick Hosmer on Tuesday, 28 February 2017, at 10:33 a.m.

U.S. Life Saving Service (USLSS) is a possible explanation for the markings, but not a probable one. The USLSS was established in 1877 and merged into the U.S. Coast Guard in 1916.

Although the Lyle line throwing cannon was approved in 1878, the first recommendation for purchase of any "shoulder line throwing guns" was in 1896 for a small number of Sharps rifles converted for line throwing by Mr. Dimond. Some shoulder line throwing guns based on Remington Rolling block rifles were made as early as 1886 using Simon Ingersoll's patents but those were mainly for fire fighting use, not maritime or USLSS use.

It is remotely possible that this one was converted during the period when .50-70 Sharps line throwers sold under the Coston name were in maritime use (circa 1900-1920) perhaps during WW1. But there is no mention of USLSS use of any shoulder line throwing guns prior to the USCG adoption of the modified M1903 rifles in the 1930s. The SLTGs were mainly items required aboard merchant vessels, and USLSS/USCG was the agency to approve them as meeting certain standards. But, I have never heard of a "USLSS" stampings being the method of doing this.

USLSS markings were applied to the Lyle cannons procured and issued to the many life saving stations along the coasts. The USLSS was stamped or engraved on the barrel, and branded on the wooden carriage.

I recall seeing one trapdoor (don't recall exact model) with some USLSS markings which I considered to be highly questionable, but I don't think it was this one.

I do know of two M1868 or M1870 trapdoors converted for line throwing use by fire departments, with date of conversion unknown but my guess would be early 20th century, done as one time deals by a local gunsmith.

The Bannerman "Indian Scout" tag may be a simple misidentification by Bannerman employees more familiar with USIS marked surplus militaria than with an occasional U.S. Life Saving Service item. Or, a suspicious mind might speculate that Indian stuff sells better and for more than life saving stuff and that might have driven the tag content.

I doubt if the gun in question is connected with the U.S. Life Saving Service.


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