Model 1865

Model 1865 Rifles and Short Rifles

Model 1865 Rifle in the Tojhusmuseet (Arsenal Museum), Copenhagen, Denmark. An Ordnance letter dated April 18, 1866, to the Commanding Officer at the Springfield Armory states: You will be pleased to prepare and issue properly packed for presentation to the Danish Government, two Springfield rifle muskets with 1000 copper cartridges for each. One of the muskets to be altered on Allin's plan, like the 5000 ordered; and one with Allin's latest improvements [M66]. When ready, they will be sent to H. Dolluer Esq., Consul for Denmark, 181 Front Street, New York. The lock plate date is dated 1862. Also, the right side of the breech block extends above the front of the receiver like a number of experimental First Allin's at Springfield. There is one illustrated in Book I. Photograph supplied by Ed Hull.

Model 1865 Rifle

Overall Length56 Inches
Barrel Length (in bore)37.7 Inches
Cleaning Rod Length39 5/8 Inches, swell and threaded
Muzzle Diameter.772 -.778 Inches
Rifling3 Lands and Grooves
Caliber.58 Rimfire .58-60-500 Cartridge
Barrel Bands3, M61 Flat bands, 11 Inches apart
Cartouches2, Rect. between bolt heads & oval ESA behind bolt heads
Breech Block Not Stamped
Firing ProofNone
Lock PlateDated 1865 & Milled
V/P/Eagle/p stampPossibly CW Eagle
Front sight1 1/4" from muzzle, 5/16" long
Rear SightM65

Fall 2013

Model 1865
NRA Very Good =$2,500
NRA Excellent = $4,500
Model 1865
Short Rifle
NRA Very Good = $?
NRA Excellent = $?

Model 1865 Rifle

The Civil War was drawing to a close, but far from over, when the War Department requested that the Ordnance Department develop a breech loading rifle for the military. To fulfill this request, the Ordnance Department sent requests for prototype arms to all the major arms manufacturers in the world and to anyone who would like to submit a test gun for trial. A number of private and commercial arms were received along with several submitted by Springfield armorers.

After a considerable amount of prototype testing, the breechloader submitted by Erskine S. Allin, Master Armorer at Springfield, was selected for its simplicity. Also, it could be inexpensively assembled using many parts from CW muskets. At this time, and for many years after the War, getting funds for new ordnance projects was a major problem.

5,000 of Mr.Allin's rifles were made and given the nickname "First Allin." The gun design was based on using Model 1861 muskets for its construction. Only the stocks and barrels had to be modified. The breech of the barrel was opened and fitted with a breech block which hinged forward, thus the name "trapdoor." The stock had to be cut to accept the ejector and extractor mechanisms. This process left only a very thin portion of wood covering the mechanism on the lockplate side of the stock. If a rifle had been used in service, this piece of wood is usually missing. The rifle was chambered for .58-60-500 rimfire cartridges. CW locks, stocks, barrels, trigger assemblies and bands were used in their production. This made the actual production cost ($5.00) far less than the cost of a new rifle.

It soon became apparent that many of the small working parts in the breech system were not going to have a long service life, and the action was too complicated for normal service use. Therefore, before the M65 production order was completed, the less complex M66 rifle,"Second Allin," was already being tested.

The Model 1865 rifle quickly became obsolete and most of them were sold in the 1870s to several American arms dealers. At the time, there was a large demand in the US, for shorter cadet style rifles. To satisfy this need, these dealers cut the barrels and stocks to make short rifles with 33" and 36" barrel lengths. Likewise, the stock wrists were often thinned for cadet use. These altered guns have marginal value and have caused the remaining few unaltered rifles to rapidly climb in value.

Model 1865 Short Rifle

The Model 1865 Prototype Short Rifle was not produced in quantity. The one featured here is from the collection at the Springfield Armory NHS. It is a short rifle with a full butt plate and assembled using a M63 Type I stock and M63 hardware. Very few records exist on the gun and a value has not been established.

For additional photographs, descriptions and specifications for the above rifles see:
The .45-70 Springfield-Book II-1865-1893.

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