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Thread: US Trapdoor sights

  1. #1
    Boolit Master Bad Ass Wallace's Avatar
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    US Trapdoor sights

    We don't see a lot of these rifles in Australia. I bought mine off a deceased estate about 12 years ago and it is a beautiful item to use. The action plate is 1873 but the breech block is marked 1884 which I assume is a factory refurbishment as it is now chambered for 45/70.

    Recently I had a chance to show it to another collector and he commented on my rifle which is fitted with a "Buffington" rear sight. Both his rifles are fitted with a plain ladder sight.

    So the question is, were these Buff sights fitted by the military or were they a aftermarket item for civilian target shooting.

    Hold Still Varmint; while I plugs Yer!

  2. #2
    Boolit Grand Master



    M-Tecs's Avatar
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    US issue. Lots of research went into the Buffington sight to compensate for rotational drift.

    Good info here
    https://www.trapdoorcollector.com//shooterstext.html
    Last edited by M-Tecs; 01-23-2021 at 02:21 AM.
    2nd Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. - "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

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  3. #3
    Boolit Master
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    Definitely military issue. Look up C&Rsenal for their take on them. Fascinating

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  4. #4
    Boolit Buddy
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    1. Buffington sites as stated above are military issue.

    "The designation, Model 1884, is somewhat nebulous. The changes that are associated with the model all occurred before or after 1884. For example, the trigger associated with the model is serrated, that change occurred in 1883. Likewise, the Buffington rear sight was not perfected for the gun until 1885. Also, the breech block which is dated "1884" did not appear on guns until 1887. So, there were no obvious changes that occurred with the beginning of 1884. However, the Buffington rear sight is the one item that collectors associate with the model. It should be said that marksmen found the sight to be excellent, but troops found it to be an obstruction."


    2. If the lock plate is stamped 1873 it is not arsenal made but aftermarket.

    "This feature indicates that you do NOT have a rifle produced at Springfield, though some of its parts were made there. Thousands of surplus parts from early 1873s were once sold as scrap. But, when SA discovered that the buyers were making up entire guns and selling them, the disposal program was summarily halted. Receivers were sometimes in bad shape. Some SA barrels were available, but others, often having five(5) grooves, were obtained from various commercial sources - and some were even made (contracted for) new, by the large firms such as Bannerman. Lockplates were always scarce (SA reused them on the starred arms) so they often had to be fabricated by the arms merchants. Other common "wrong" features of these "fraudulent" (as they were termed at the time) arms are odd rear sights, strange ramrods, total absence of a ramrod keeper, reworked musket stock with lined barrel channel, etc."


    Quotes in italics are from https://www.trapdoorcollector.com/

  5. #5
    Boolit Grand Master



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    Quote Originally Posted by tbx-4 View Post

    2. If the lock plate is stamped 1873 it is not arsenal made but aftermarket.
    That only applies to lock plates dated 1883 or 1884.
    Last edited by M-Tecs; 01-23-2021 at 03:24 PM.
    2nd Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. - "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

    "Before you argue with someone, ask yourself, is that person even mentally mature enough to grasp the concept of different perspectives? Because if not, there’s absolutely no point."
    – Amber Veal

    "The Highest form of ignorance is when your reject something you don't know anything about".
    - Wayne Dyer

  6. #6
    Boolit Man
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    Pictures please. The rifle sounds original.

    Thanks,
    Stephen

  7. #7
    Boolit Grand Master

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    Just because it was lined does not make not military. The US Government sent train loads of barrels to Sharps to be relined for the Government Trapdoors. If the barrel was too large it was sent to be lined.
    Wayne the Shrink

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  8. #8
    Boolit Buddy
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bad *** Wallace View Post
    We don't see a lot of these rifles in Australia. I bought mine off a deceased estate about 12 years ago and it is a beautiful item to use. The action plate is 1873 but the breech block is marked 1884 which I assume is a factory refurbishment as it is now chambered for 45/70.

    Recently I had a chance to show it to another collector and he commented on my rifle which is fitted with a "Buffington" rear sight. Both his rifles are fitted with a plain ladder sight.

    So the question is, were these Buff sights fitted by the military or were they a aftermarket item for civilian target shooting.

    Wallace,

    The M1873 and M1884 U.S. trapdoors were always chambered to .45/70. Sights were often refit at the arsenal per my Springfield book. My many trapdoors have tangent sights as well as my preferred Buffington sights.

    I hope this helps.

    Adam

  9. #9
    Boolit Buddy
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    The Buffington sight was calibrated for the 500 grain round nose bullet with 70 grains of powder. If you load yours as close to this as possible the sight will be very close. You'll have trouble getting 70 gr of powder in modern cases. The sight in the down position is the "battle" position and will shoot quite high. With the sight in this position the bullet should strike a man between his head and his feet at any distance to over 400 yards. The inspector mark on the left side should have the year it was completed at Springfield. If that is 1884 or after then yours should be considered an 1884 Model. As noted some features were introduced at different times.

  10. #10
    Boolit Buddy
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    Quote Originally Posted by M-Tecs View Post
    That only applies to lock plates dated 1883 or 1884.
    Sorry, my mistake. Thanks for the correction.

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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