U.S. Springfield Model 1884 Trapdoor - The HuntingPA.com Outdoor Community
 
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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 08-22-2012, 11:10 AM Thread Starter
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U.S. Springfield Model 1884 Trapdoor

I just picked up a Springflield Model 1884 Trapdoor. Im trying to find any information on it. So far i know it was made in 1889 from the cartouche. I did contact a online source and found out it was probably issued to a "unknown" volunteer militia. Does anyone know of a good way to research it? Its definitely shootable ( had it checked out lastnight ). Dont know if its going to be a mantle piece or a shooter. Would also like to find out the value of it. Any help would be appreciated.

Serial # is 454734

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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 08-22-2012, 11:18 AM
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Re: U.S. Springfield Model 1884 Trapdoor

Nice rifle, congratulations on getting it.

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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 08-22-2012, 12:38 PM
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Re: U.S. Springfield Model 1884 Trapdoor

Darn shame if it was cut down! If it is an original carbine, it is a super find.

The Buffington rear sights are really good. IMO the best ever open sight for a military rifle. Capable of very fine target-shooting quality adjustment.

Trapdoors were often set up at the factory to be right on, (elevation wise) at approx 250 yards. Armies and militia units still practiced volley fire to some extent and were supposed to aim for the enemies' belt buckle. Anything closer than 250 yards would hit the abdomen and chest.

I have hit 9 out of ten 500 meter rams with mine, with cross sticks, at a BPCR competition at Shippensburg, but haven't been there in years.

The full length 1884, had what was called the ram rod bayonet. It was a slightly heavier duty steel ram rod with a chisel point, that could be fixed a few inches ahead of the fully retracted position. Imagine getting stabbed with a No 3 phillips screw driver cause that is what it looked like

There are many books and web forums about the trapdoor and it's several variations. Some are just about trapdoors and other s are about Black powder cartridge rifles.

If you load for it, with black powder, you won't get 70 grains of black powder into the case. The old balloon head cases could accommodate such loads, but not the modern solid head cases. There are about 20 different bullet weight and shape molds available, from a 190 grain bullet up to 600 grains. The official Gov't loads, were the 45-70 450 and the 45-70-500. The trapdoor didn't have much drop to the stock and a full load 500 grain bullet recoil will slap you some.

30 years ago, at Clark Brother's gun shop south of Warrenton Virginia, they sold original 1890's 45-70 Gov't ammo in bulk for $1.00 a pound. (about 12 cartridges to a pound)

They are fun to shoot. Don't load copper jacket bullets in it. They will swage the rifling right out of those soft steel barrels. The rifling is deep enough that pure lead works well. My load is 60 grains of 2fg, an over powder card, a grease cookie and a 500 grain original shaped bullet from an Ideal 457125 mold. Some trapdoors run a little large.

A few were made, or afterward reamed out to 45-90. A 45-70 black powder load will shoot just fine either way.

They are as addicting as muzzle loaders.

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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 08-22-2012, 12:45 PM Thread Starter
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Re: U.S. Springfield Model 1884 Trapdoor

I had it checked out lastnight at Village Arms. They told me it would be ok to shoot modern ammo through it as long as it is not high pressure stuff. The stock on it has been cut down , but the barrel seems to be standard length and not messed with. It has really nice crisp cartouches and minimal surface rust that should clean right up. It does look as if it was hot blued at one point a long time ago. Im really thinking this will become a nice mantle piece and occasional shooter. May turn out to be a good investment down the road if I decide to sell it.
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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 08-22-2012, 01:02 PM
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Re: U.S. Springfield Model 1884 Trapdoor

according tto the table of serial numbers in the Dixie Gun Works cat. the serial number falls into 1889 production.

Springfield made 36,523 full length models, and 5,002 carbines that year.

The barrel steel is fairly mild. If it has good rifling, the copper jacket stuff will turn it into a smooth bore in about 80 shots. Many gun shops now sell cowboy ammo, loaded with lead for low pressure cowboy action competition I bought a box of it in 44-40 for my lever gun. I am fairly sure Winchester and one or two others loads cowboy ammo. And it isn't black powder loads just low pressure smokeless.

also 45-70 is one of the easiest there is to reload. If you load with black powder, don't ever leave empty space in the cartridge. fill it with powder, wads, a filler etc.

Check out some of the many trapdoor and black powder cartridge forums about the modern ammo.
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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 08-22-2012, 01:05 PM
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Re: U.S. Springfield Model 1884 Trapdoor

When I first saw the pic I thogh it may be an officers model or a carbine. But the barrel looks too long to be an officers model and if the stock has been cut down, well, it's been cut down. It's great looking rifle regardless. I had a full stocked trapdoor years ago and it was a blast to shoot and I loved the mechanics of the gun. I still recall them clicks as the hammer is drawn to full cock.

Good night Chesty, wherever you are......
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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 08-22-2012, 01:09 PM
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Re: U.S. Springfield Model 1884 Trapdoor

Zimm, if he chooses to hand load for with BP will he need a Drop-Tube set up to charge the cases? When I loaded for mine I used modern powder with recipe that took into consideration that it was for a trapdoor under a lead bullet so there was plenty of room in the case.

Good night Chesty, wherever you are......
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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 08-22-2012, 03:52 PM
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Re: U.S. Springfield Model 1884 Trapdoor

A drop tube merely settles the black powder into the empty case. The same effect can be accomplished a number of ways. A friend holds the case up against a vibrating case cleaner and that settles the powder. I load the epty case directly from a valve that loads onto the powder can. Tip the can upside down and push the valve. Shake it back and forth a few times and let the valve close. The powder is settled. I think a drop tube is more of a gimmick than anything. Never used one. Of all the things that effect accuracy, it may be a 1% thing. of The really finicky match shooters, many but not all, use drop tubes and weigh each powder charge and each bullet. I have done alright without a drop tube.

Even more important to accuracy is making sure the black powder compression is the same from shot to shot.

With a bulky slow burning smokeless like 4198, space in the case doesn't matter. Case might only be a third to half full.

We even burn 4198 in pistol cases.
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