Breaking open the old black powder Trapdoor (VIDEO)

A rest stop between the Springfield muskets of the Civil War and the later bolt-action rifles adopted by the Army, the 1873 Springfield was best known by its “trap door.”

Going back to 1866, Master Armorer E.S. Allin converted 100 muzzle loading Model 1863 Springfield smoke poles to breechloader cartridge rifles in .50-70 caliber. The benefits of these guns over a musket was obvious, as the front stuffer could only make about three aimed shots per minute, while a breechloader could be fired 12 or more by an experienced rifleman in the same period.

Four different variations of this design passed through Springfield over about seven years until Allin’s fifth variant, which used the  “45-70-405” round (.45-70, 405-grain lead bullet) in a new rifle rather than a conversion, went into standard production in 1873. The rifle, of with some 567,882 produced by 1893, was still used as late as the 1900s with militia/National Guard troops until replaced by the Krag M1892 and finally the Springfield 1903.

And Hickok’s, marked 1884, is no replica and still fires a big ole pill downrange with no problem.