MODEL 1866 SPRINGFIELD RIFLE – A VERY NICE EXAMPLE
OF AN EARLY INDIAN WARS HISTORICAL RIFLE: One
of the first, truly serviceable, cartridge conversions
executed by the Springfield Armory and issued to the
soldiers on the western frontier, the significantly
historic Model 1866 Springfield Rifle acquitted itself
very well through a series of notable early engagements
against the hostiles, including the Hayfield and Wagon
In addition to proving to be a valuable weapon in the
hands of the army, it is no surprise that it became a
popular and well respected rifle among the civilian
hunters and frontiersmen as well. Probably the most
famous Model 1866 Springfield Rifle belonged to William
“Buffalo Bill” Cody, which Cody described as “my
celebrated buffalo-killer, ‘Lucretia Borgia’ - a
newly-improved breech-loading needle gun, which I had
obtained from the government”.
The metal surfaces of the barrel and furniture are
overall bright and smooth with no significant pitting or
discoloration that detracts from the attractive
character of this rifle. The lock is dated 1864 and
the lock stampings are present and legible, as is the
“1866” and the eagle head on the breech block. The .50
caliber barrel retains the original full 36.6” (in bore)
length and the bore is excellent – overall bright with
no pitting and very strong rifling throughout. The lock
action is crisp and the breechblock is tight. The
original full length ramrod is present.
The stock has a beautiful, rich color and is in overall
very good condition with no cracks, breaks or other
structural damage, and very few of the handling marks
that one expects to see on a rifle of this heritage.
The edges of the ramrod channel are generally sharp with
only very minor wear to the edges in isolated points.
The desirable “ESA” inspector’s cartouche on the left
flat opposite the lock is still fully legible.
The only significant demerit that needs to be mentioned
is what appears to be a collector applied Minnesota
driver’s license number on the rear tang of the trigger
guard, no doubt a previous owner’s attempt to identify
the rifle in the event of theft. While there are other
ways to accomplish this with antique arms which were
produced without a serial number, this is not a major
issue. The engraving of the numerals is not
particularly deep, and with some time, patience and a
careful application of a fine file and emery paper, they
could be removed. Or, another original trigger guard
plate, or an entire trigger guard, could be acquired
from any number of parts dealers. In light of the
overall very nice condition of this rifle, this small
distraction is only mentioned here in the interest of a
full description. Either way, it could be easily dealt
with by the new owner, should they decide to do so.
This is a very nice specimen of a very historic early
Indian Wars rifle, fresh from an old collection and one
which will be a nice addition to your collection.