INDIAN WARS U.S. CAVALRY TRAPDOOR CARBINE

$1,500.00

Quantity Available: 1

Item Code: 490-2472

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Trapdoor carbines had a long service life in the U.S. cavalry, from the 1870 .50 caliber version to the .45-70 model introduced in in 1873, which lasted with some variations up to the introduction of the Krag in the 1890s. As a result, they are often more a continuum with improvements and changes introduced while in service rather than simple or top-to-bottom straight examples of one pattern. This one has elements of the 1877/79 patterns and the 1884, but also signs of restocking and rebluing, likely by a collector or dealer.

The metal has a nice look, with deep blue on the barrel, band, buttplate, sidebar, etc., and with light, but visible case color on the lockplate, breechplug tang, and some traces on the breechblock. The case color seems fine. The blue was redone. The left barrel breech shows a large gouge with pitting around the V/P/eaglehead barrel proofs and a “C” stamp indicating it was condemned. The blue seems to go over pitting and damage, and the blue on the rest of the parts appears to match. The color of the stock is good, but is no damage adjacent to that in the metal, which must have been from a substantial impact, which points to the carbine being restocked. This is born out by the Samuel W. Porter “SWP / 1888” inspection stamp in the wood on the left and the breech serial number 286213, which gives it an 1885 date of manufacture. Serial numbers may range as much as 20,000 ahead of the inspection dates, but not behind and the implied range for the inspection date is beyond that parameter in any case.

The mix of other elements on the gun, however, are more commonly found. The stock is the short comb/thick wrist pattern introduced in 1877 with a compartment in the buttstock for cleaning tools. The lockplate and breechblock markings are also 1877 patterns (the block retaining the 1873 date until late 1886 when “1884” was substituted.) The rear sight is the 1879 pattern, marked “C” for carbine on leaf at upper left, with a base graduated to 800 yard and leaf graduated to 1500, with the wider and deeper cut-out in front of buckhorn indicating the “fifth variation.” The buttplate shows the oval cut-out under the door for access to the cleaning tools introduced in 1881.

The wood is generally very good, with nice color, a good fit around the metal, and good edges along the barrel. There are some small chips on the toe of the butt, next to the buttplate, and a long narrow scratch on the lower left wrist through the lower part of the SWP/1888 inspector’s cartouche. Aside from the stock being a little late for serial number, the only part that might be changed is the front band using a stacking swivel, which was changed in early 1879. (See Poyer and Riesch, and Farrington for the points covered above.)

This carbine has a nice look for a Indian Wars cavalry display.  [SR]

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