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  1. #1
    Contributing Member ssgross's Avatar
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    first find Springfield Trapdoor

    I happened to be out of town on a work trip all last week. I was supposed to be home yesterday but it has been extended through next week. Wandering around town, I came across a Springfield Trapdoor (2 actually) at a Cabelas gun library. I have been wanting one for a while, but have never seen one that wouldn't be a wall hanger - in the few dozen I have seen in person, with just an eyeball inspection the bores look very rough from corrosion and years of neglect with built up fouling. Even if the rifling can be seen, looking under the trap shows a chamber heavily pitted from years of wall hanging or neglect. I want something I can shoot and enjoy maintaining, and so have been very patient for many years.



    These 2 rifles are a bit different. On the first, the metal looks great - not a hint of any pitting anywhere, even under the trap. The door has retained some of its colorful case hardening (beautiful varying gray swirls at this point). With trap open, and holding up to a light staring down the bore, the color is of course deeper of course than a new rifle, but is clean and shiny all the way down, with none of the usual cloudiness from frosted corrosion or built up fouling. The rifling is clear and sharp, but appears the grooves are not very deep? The lands do look to peter out smoothly and evenly at the muzzle, showing its age. But not a hint of any pitting or frosting anywhere. The stock seems serviceable - shows it's age, and has a rack number painted on the side of the butt.
    The second rifle has a stock in much better condition. Metal exterior is of similar quality as the first. The bore has some frosting, evenly down the whole length, that can be seen with just an eye, and some discoloration in the chamber under the trap, whereas the first rifle was perfect. This one is $100 cheaper than the first one. The prices seem a bit steep - but for me would be worth it for a rifle in what appears to be a very good example of serviceable condition - good enough to be issued out today were it needed. I'm leaning towards getting the first rifle I described.

    I'm headed back to buy a flashlight and get a closer look, and hopefully some pictures. My concern is that as clean as the bore appears, it could be shot out. I've never seen a "clean" bore on a trapdoor, so I have no comparison has to how deep the grooves should actually be.
    Last edited by ssgross; 03-20-2021 at 02:07 PM.

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  3. #2
    Contributing Member ssgross's Avatar
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    here are some pics of the first rifle. Not as excited about it after taking a closer look.


    here is the other one, with the nicer bore.


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    Contributing Member rcathey's Avatar
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    Iím a sucker for rack numbers! Thatís tempting by itself.

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    Contributing Member ssgross's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rcathey View Post
    I’m a sucker for rack numbers! That’s tempting by itself.
    I usually take them off, especially when they seem too "fresh". Like these. Looks like it came from a vfw closet...painted extra big and bold, and renewed every year, so the old guy could tell them apart (no offense intended) Price seems high, but I get a veteran's discount, free shipping back to my Cabela's in Virginia and so no ffl fees.
    given how long I've been patient, and the very poor ones I've seen go for only a couple hundred less, I think I'm not likely to find a better one. Need to do some parts reading. if the important parts are correct my wallet won't ache as much when I get it (oops...IF I get it.)
    EDIT: stock is marked 1882, which at least matches the serial according to http://gun-data.com/springfield_trapdoors.html
    Last edited by ssgross; 03-20-2021 at 03:11 PM.

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    Advisory Panel browningautorifle's Avatar
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    I liked the first bore better but hard to tell without a bright white cloth at the back and a light on it. They both had detractions though...
    Regards, Jim

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    Contributing Member ssgross's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by browningautorifleicon View Post
    They both had detractions though
    Do elaborate. I have a couple days to decide.
    The bore pictures are tough to convey what I saw with my eye. The first one the rifling seems to show up better because it is "cruddy" and reflects less light. The second is bright and shiny, and well defined.
    The crown on the first is pretty rough..plenty of small dings and pits. The second with the shiny bore is nice clean and smooth. From what I read and saw on https://www.trapdoorcollector.com, the sights are correct for an 1882.

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    Advisory Panel browningautorifle's Avatar
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    I can't see if they have all the parts? Are they missing the firing pins? Can't be both missing them? Second one has a nice cartouche but dings in the wood there. First one has no dings. First one has a nice bore from what I can see but the second has that nice case hardening. It's back and forth. I'd like to be there to see them both because as you say, lighting in the pics. If the second one has a clean bright bore...I'd take it. A shiny bore in an old BP rifle is almost impossible to find. I like a good bore. It has the cartouche too...dings could maybe steam up.
    Regards, Jim

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    Contributing Member ssgross's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by browningautorifleicon View Post
    Second one has a nice cartouche but dings in the wood there
    the first stock has been sanded and refinished - the circle P under the wrist is barely visible. The second one is nice and proud. The stock is dirty, but would clean up real nice. The fit around the lock plate is also better on the second.
    Quote Originally Posted by browningautorifle View Post
    Can't be both missing them?
    I think they are both there. Will go back today and triple check.

    The second rifle shows someone beat on the front sight. I need to go back and look closer to see if it's a pinned blade, or the earlier solid type. I think I read that by 1880ish they had switched to pinned blades? hopefully someone can confirm.

    I did some price searching...on gunbroker they seem to be $1500-$2000, but no one is bidding! Those with bids and ending soonest are at $700-900, but clearly not in as good a shape...lots of evidence of surface rust, cartouche on lock plate not very visible, and likely a bore that looks as bad as the crown. 2021 listing and sales on trapdoorcollectors look to be going at $800-$1200, but I didn't see one with with metal finish in as good a shape as the second one above. I don't have my NRA value book with me whilst traveling, but I think I remember NRA "very good" to be $1200-$2000 for an 1873 model, and starting at triple that for a Custer era.

    ---------- Post added at 01:11 PM ---------- Previous post was at 01:07 PM ----------

    ...they also have a Winchester M1icon carbine they want top dollar for. I want an M1 carbine eventually, but I'm not nearly well informed enough on all the complexity of variations to buy one yet.

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    Contributing Member ssgross's Avatar
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    closer look...firing pins are indeed there. front sight is the later type with removable blade, and the bore really is that nice. A bit of etching on the top of the door. I'm only concerned that the reason the bore is so nice is that maybe it was lapped to death? suppose I won't know until I slug it.

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  14. #10
    Advisory Panel browningautorifle's Avatar
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    Don't know about the idea that someone lapped it. I've not seen that so far on anything.
    Regards, Jim

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