U.S. Springfield.45-70 Gov’t Trapdoor Carbine in excellent condition. This carbine has a “starred receiver” which indicates a pre-50,000 serial number arm that was re-built between 1880 and 1883 with upgraded parts.
The 22-inch-barreled .45-70 Gov’t carbines command the most interest and value, due to their association with the U.S. Cavalry and the taming of the American West. Trapdoor carbines were also used in the Spanish-American War, and refurbished arms were issued to National Guard units as late as the 1920s.
To replace the Army’s 1861 and 1863 muzzle loading rifle-muskets, Erskine S. Allin, master armorer at Springfield Armory, perfected a forward-hinged breechblock that swung open like a trapdoor, earning its everlasting nickname. Commensurate with this was the development of the .45-70 Gov’t cartridge, a gun and ammunition combination literally made for each other. Due to the carbine’s lighter weight and shorter barrel, reduced-load cartridges containing 55 grains of black powder were issued for it. Nonetheless, the carbine’s sights were optimistically calibrated to 800 yards.
Carbines were fitted with a stock-mounted bar and saddle ring, to be hooked to a leather sling worn diagonally across a trooper’s body, thus curtailing accidental loss from the saddle. Numerous changes were made to the carbine during its 20-year service in the Army, encompassing triggers, lock plates, breechblocks, stampings, hammers, and rear sights. Befitting military guns, parts were interchangeable and today it is rare to find a trapdoor in “as-issued” condition. Plus, many rifles were made into faux-carbines in later years.
There were 60,912 carbines made from 1873 to 1893. Those with serial numbers below 43,700 are known as “Custer Guns,” as there is a possibility they saw action at the Little Big Horn, but easily swapped parts mean “buyer beware”—authenticated guns are rare. Nonetheless, values of any carbine in decent condition have risen dramatically in recent years.