Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Springfield Model 1873 Trapdoor Single Shot Rifle

Weight: 9 lbs
Length: 51"
Barrel length: 32"
Cartridge Caliber: .45-70 Blackpowder
Service: 1873-1906

The 1873 Springfield Trapdoor was the first standard issued rifle of the US Army. The rifle is only cabable of firing one shot at a time. Reloading the rifle requires manually opening the breech-block to remove the spent cartridge and incertaining another round. The hinged design on the opening of the breech-block resembled that of a trapdoor, hence the name Trapdoor rifle. They also fired the old black-powder cartridge, which created large amounts of smoke when fired, inherently exposing their position to the enemy.

By the 1890s the Springfield Trapdoor rifle became obsolete and outdated. The US Army had moved on to the Krag rifles that fired smokeless cartridges and had an internal box magazine. At the outbreak of the Spanish-American War, the US Army severally lacked soldiers to fight a foreign country. Volunteers were called from all States and were soon mustered in to fill the roll along side enlisted regular soldiers. At the start of the Philippine-American War, the Volunteers were initially armed with Springfield Trapdoor rifles and carbines. As more Krags were produced, the Trapdoor rifles were phased out. The single shot Trapdoor carbines would be past on to Philippine Scouts(Native scouts) working under the US Army. And in 1901 the Philippine Constabulary(Native Police Force) became established under Taft's Philippine Commission. The Philippine Constabulary officers and inspectors would also be outfitted with the left over Springfield Trapdoor rifles. After the Philippine-American War, the PC's and PS's were left with rounding up all left over insurgents and bandits roaming the country side. The trapdoor rifles were reported by all senior officers as inferior and useless at close quarter combat. PC Chief Henry Allen even requested his officers be given left over captured and surrendered Spanish Remington Rolling Block rifles from Filipino insurgents; which was denied. Both organizations would not see a change in rifles for several more years. In 1906 the Philippine Constabulary replaced their worn out single shot Springfields for Krag Carbines. And in 1907 the Philippine Scouts replaced their single shot rifles with Springfield M1903s.

The loading hing on the breech-block that soldiers gave reference to as a trap-door.

20th Kansas Volunteers firing with Trapdoor rifles outside of Manila, 1899.

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