Production Trapdoors

Springfield Trapdoor rifles 1873-1893
Case 20

Springfield Armory NHS, US NPS

In 1873 the caliber of the “Trapdoor” rifle was again reduced, this time to .45. Since it was not practical to convert .58 caliber muskets to this small size, Springfield Armory began new construction of the “Trapdoor” rifles. They remained in production, with modifications, until 1893. This was the weapon, both rifle and carbine, that served the U.S. Army so well during the Indian Wars on the Western Frontier and in the Spanish-American War. In twenty years of production almost half of a million .45-70 caliber weapons were manufactured at Springfield.


Springfield US Model 1873 rifle
The US Model 1873 rifle was the first Springfield rifle made with steel barrels.

Springfield Armory NHS, US NPS

M1873 and M1877 Rifles SPAR1364 M1873 and M1877 Rifles .45 caliber. 1873-1878. 85,000 made. These were the first 'Trapdoor' designs chambered for a .45-70 caliber cartridge.


M1879 Rifle SPAR5526 M1879 Rifle. .45 caliber. 1879-1885. c160,000 made. This was an improved version of the M1873 Rifle. This model also was made in carbine and cadet versions.


M1884 Rifle SPAR5528 M1884 Rifle .45 caliber. 1885-1890. 232,500 made. This model, including carbine and cadet rifle versions, embodied improvements in the 'Trapdoor' design, adapted for a heavier bullet.


US M1873 trowel bayonet
The M1873 Trowel Bayonet was an attempt to provide the American infantryman with a two-in-one item: a bayonet and digging tool in one. Unfortunately, it was not very good in either role.

Springfield Armory NHS, US NPS

Trowel Bayonet, M1873 SPAR1087 This bayonet's trowel-like design was intended to make it an entrenching tool. More than 10,000 of these bayonets were produced.


The rod bayonet doubled as a cleaning rod.
The US M1888 Rifle replaced the socket bayonet with a rod bayonet that doubled as a cleaning rod. The US ARMY found little use for bayonets in combat until WWI.

Courtesy: Al Frasca;

M1888 Rifle SPAR5529 M1888 Rifle .45 caliber. 1889-1893. c. 65,000 made. The last of the 'Trapdoor' series was also the last single-shot, black powder arm produced by Springfield. It incorporated a rod bayonet, a device that would be seen again in the early version of the M1903 rifle.


Last updated: February 26, 2015

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