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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hello everyone, I'm new here :)

I just picked up this Rifle rather cheap and I know nothing about it. I got it from a young guy who said it belonged to his great great Grandfather. I'm a WWII collector so as I said, I know nothing about this sort of thing... If anyone could tell me more about it I'd be grateful! Markings etc...
 

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Hi. You just about have the basics of your Carbine. It is referred to as an "1884 Carbine", but judjing from the serial number I'd hazzard a guess of about 1887 or 1888 (you can 'Google' Trapdoor springfield dates of manufacture. Mine is a #408XXX and it was made in 1886)

As far as markings, everything you've shown is correct. One thing you didn't include, and this is important - is that the the sight leaf on your Buffington rear sight should be marked with a "C". I think your Carbine is an original Carbine, but you have to be careful that it is not a cut-down rifle. The easy ways to spot one of those would be to look for an open or filled in cleaning rod channel hole on the nose of the stock. Another is that rifle rear sights are not marked with the afore mentioned "C' on the rear sight slide.

Of course you can see the "U.S. Springfield and Eagle" on the lock plate, and the "VP and Eagle Head" proof marks on the barrel just ahead of the receiver. The "VP" stands for "Viewed and Proofed". You have the correct breechblock stamped 1884. Some of the early 1884 and 1885s still had 1873 stamped breechblocks.

These rifles and carbines had many modifications done to them during their service life. Yours still has the early style barrel band. My 1886 has the later shielded band, and that was just to keep the front of the rear sight from catching on the Carbine's scabbard.

If you get into reloading or shooting yours, keep in mind that there are 3 seperate classifications of loads for the .45-70 caliber: Trapdoor loads (mild); Late lever action (medium) and Ruger/Siamese Mauser (hot). Stay with the mild loads because of the trapdoor design and age. I have fired factory loads, but as rarely as possible. I reload ALL of my own with cast bullets and some black powder, but mostly with IMR 3031 and a filler. Some may argue that it doesn't matter, but I never use jacketed bullets, and my reasoning for that is that the barrels are made of a softer steel than we use today, and they were made for cast lead bullets anyway.

Also, just FYI, there were two seperate issue loads for the .45-70. One was the Cavalry load with 55 grains of black powder, and the other was the Infanty ("Long Tom") loads with 70 grains of black powder. Most used a 405 grain hollow base lead bullet, but later loads used a 500 grain lead bullet. The reason for the lighter load was that recoil is BRUTAL with the full-power 70 grain charges. Full power loads will print about 12" high at 100 yards with the rear sight set for that range.

I am far from calling myself and expert on these, but I've learned what I've told you from owning and shooting these since 1975. Have fun and enjoy that nice Carbine!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thank you very much Jim :)
That information was very helpful! I looked at the sight and it IS in fact marked with a "C". And there is NOT a filled hole in the nose of the stock. I was really curious about the ammo too, so thanks for that as well :)

I have one more question though; What's the value of this carbine? I'm not going to sell it, I'm just curious if I made a good buy.
 

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I forgot to welcome you to the Forum! Welcome!.

Value-wise, this model Springfield Trapdoor has been a roller coaster for years. I've seen them go from anywhere between $650 and $1200. Yours is in great condition (I assume the bore to be clear and sharp with little or no pitting), so I'd guess yours somewhere nearer to the $900-$1000 mark.

Carbines seem to be more desireable than the Infantry rifles on the market, and move much faster in sales, from what I've seen in gunshops and gun shows. That is where I'd set the mark. Not saying you would get exactly that with the Trapdoor market being what it is. Could be a little more or a little less.
 

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Another thing counterfeiters did was to cut off the forearm tip and replace it with a tip from a busted original stock. They put the seam under the barrel band.
 

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I forgot to welcome you to the Forum! Welcome!.

Value-wise, this model Springfield Trapdoor has been a roller coaster for years. I've seen them go from anywhere between $650 and $1200....
I checked one out a month or two ago just south of Harrisonburg, VA. It was in good condition, but the bore was filthy and questionable. Asking price of $1,500. About $500 high in my opinion.
 

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That is an EXCELLANT point by Buffalochip. My 3rd Trapdoor I bought at a gun show was a rip off. The Carbine was in pretty decent shape overall, but the bore was dark and dirty. The seller had been at many local shows and regularlt sold Trapdoors, and this guy assured me "the bore will clean up just fine'.

Well.... No so much. I should have walked away, but the bug bit me and I bought it for about $600. Took it home and cleaned up the bore. There was good rifleing on the breech and the muzzel ends - but the rest in the middle was GONE. I did eventually find a good Carbine barrel, but only after about 3 years of scouring the planet. (Of course this old guy didn't recognize me or the Carbine at any of the next shows, so I was stuck with what I'd bought)

Lesson learned: NEVER buy anything unless you can verify it right then and there. If I knew then what I know now, I'd have had him 'clean it up' first.
 
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