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Thread: 1866 Trapdoor Springfield .50-70

  1. #1
    Boolit Master
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    Mar 2011
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    1866 Trapdoor Springfield .50-70

    Well, having never run into too many guns in .50-70, I now have another one in addition to the Sharps carbine I've seen from Shiloh in .50-70, my local gun shop has an original 1866 Trapdoor in .50-70. These were Springfields that were modified and the barrel sleeved to fire the .50-70 Government.
    The gun at the shop is in excellent condition with a very clean bore, and since these guns were in the white, it looks very clean.
    I have some experience with the 1873 Trapdoors, never owned one, but the 1866 completely escapes me. The only thing I know about them is that Buffalo Bill Cody made his name and kept his name, with a 1866 in .50-70 that he called "Lucretia Borgia", and under contract shot some 3,000 bison with that gun. It's actually a nice piece, the shop wants $1,500 for it.
    Whatever cannot be remedied, must be endured.

  2. #2
    Boolit Master



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    It is an Allen Conversion. Mine shoots good. They were made from the old 1863 left over from the civil war and they did not last long in production as the 1873 trapdoors in the new 45/70 cartridge was adopted.

    Mine was on of the older conversions the outside was trashed when I got it with a big walnut in the barrel . I cut it down to 24 inch cleaned the stock and reoiled it. Total invested $79.00

    It is a nice carbine with lots of knockdown for deer. It makes me feel like I am cheating when I hunt with this gun as I considerate to be a fast "repeater" Yuk,yuk instead of one my usual flintlocks.

  3. #3
    Boolit Master
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    I have one that was made in 1870. The lock plate is marked 1863. It wasn't a conversion - there's no liner in the barrel. I shoot it once and awhile with 50 grs FFG black powder and a filler (grits, Cream of Wheat).
    Here's a good site:
    https://trapdoorcollector.com/

  4. #4
    Boolit Buddy
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    Quote Originally Posted by Battis View Post
    I have one that was made in 1870. The lock plate is marked 1863. It wasn't a conversion - there's no liner in the barrel. I shoot it once and awhile with 50 grs FFG black powder and a filler (grits, Cream of Wheat).
    Here's a good site:
    https://trapdoorcollector.com/
    If yours was made in 1870, it’s a model 1868, unless the breech block is marked Model 1870, in which case it is an actual Model 1870.

  5. #5
    Boolit Buddy
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    The 1866 barrels were 1863 musket barrels with an integral chamber that was machined for the trapdoor breech block. Because the block is attached to the receiver with just two hinge screws, it’s considered the weakest of the trapdoor actions. It’s a good idea to check the head space on them.

  6. #6
    Boolit Master
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    +1 on what Varsity said... The block attachment is weak, and it also has a breech plug, because it was a converted muzzle loader.
    The 1868 and following models had new, machined receivers and a better attachment for the breech block.
    That being said, I'm sure it's still serviceable... I would just be careful not to push it too hard (no super, duper smokeless loads!).
    You could probably get a good Model 1868, 1870, or NYS Rolling Block in .50/70 for that amount of money...

    -Tom

  7. #7
    Boolit Master
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    I read somewhere (I'll find it) that the movement (wiggle) in the opened breach block on the trapdoors is intentional.

  8. #8
    Boolit Buddy
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    Quote Originally Posted by Battis View Post
    I read somewhere (I'll find it) that the movement (wiggle) in the opened breach block on the trapdoors is intentional.
    That's so the hinge pin "floats" when in battery. Therefore all the force when fired is on the rear of the breach block face and the receiver/toggle latch and not on hinge pin.

  9. #9
    Boolit Master
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    I went back and looked at the gun again, it turns out the tag was mismarked, it's actually a 1868 Trapdoor. The lock has a date of 1864 and on the breech is 1870. Not sure how much that affects the value of the gun, but it is still in excellent condition with a clean bore.
    Whatever cannot be remedied, must be endured.

  10. #10
    Boolit Buddy
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    Quote Originally Posted by David LaPell View Post
    I went back and looked at the gun again, it turns out the tag was mismarked, it's actually a 1868 Trapdoor. The lock has a date of 1864 and on the breech is 1870. Not sure how much that affects the value of the gun, but it is still in excellent condition with a clean bore.
    Go to www.trapdoorcollector.com and click on catalog and classified adds. Go to 1865-1893 arms for sale and look at 1868s currently for sale and previously sold. Compare their conditions and prices with the one you’re interested in.

  11. #11
    Boolit Master
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    If it's a model 1868 it will have the longer nose receiver than other models. These are good, solid actions and fine for shooting with appropriate BP loads. I've been shooting one for about 15 years.

  12. #12
    Boolit Master
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    I have an 1866 "short rifle". I've always wanted to shoot it but just never have. My hat is off to those that have managed to shoot theirs!

  13. #13
    Boolit Grand Master



    missionary5155's Avatar
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    Good afternoon
    We also have an 1866 Springfield which we shoot off and on.
    We decided only black powder would ever be fired in it and no regrets making the choice. With a 450 grain cast slug off cross sticks it will smack a 6 inch gong at 100 yards and a 10" gong at 200 yards easily. But you have to do some time on paper to get the sight figured out.
    Mike in LLama Land
    "Come unto Me, all you who labor and are heavy burdened, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28
    Male Guanaco out in dry lakebed at 10,800 feet south of Arequipa.

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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check