SPRINGFIELD TRAPDOOR SPORTING RIFLE – WITH .45-70
SHARPS COMPANY BRIDGEPORT ADDRESSED OCTAGON BARREL – A
BEAUTIFUL SPECIMEN IN EXCELLENT CONDITION: A
truly beautiful example of the gun maker’s art, this
Trapdoor Sporting Rifle presents in excellent
condition. Of particular note, this rifle is fitted
with an octagon barrel made by the Sharps Rifle Company,
bearing the Bridgeport, Connecticut address and the
bracketed “OLD RELIABLE” Sharps trademark stamp.
While these Trapdoor Sporters have come to be commonly
referred to as “Meacham” Rifles, there were many
gunsmiths who availed themselves of the ready supply of
surplus Trapdoor parts and the popularity of the design,
and produced these sporting rifles. Firms such as E.C.
Meacham of St. Louis, N. Curry & Brother, San Francisco,
Harley & Graham of New York, Lovell of Boston, Freund
Bros. of Denver and Cheyenne, and Gove of Denver all
manufactured various grades of this style of rifle.
Based on the number of surviving examples, and the
broadsides, catalogs and advertisements from the period,
these rifles were quite popular in the community of
hunters and marksmen.
Built on the Trapdoor design, this rifle retains vivid
case colors on all the surfaces of the lock, receiver,
and breechblock. In excellent condition overall, the
lock-trigger mechanism is very crisp. The metal
surfaces are smooth with no pitting and the blued finish
is intact overall.
The barrel is 26 ¼” long and the bore is pristine with
excellent rifling. In fact, there is no evidence in the
bore, in the chamber, or on the face of the breech block
that indicates that this rifle was ever fired. The
rifle is chambered for .45-70 and is so stamped on the
barrel immediately forward of the receiver. When the
Sharps Company went into receivership and its assets
were sold, a number of gun makers purchased the finished
Sharps barrels and incorporated them into their rifles.
The front sight features a flip-up narrow sighting ring,
and it is fitted with an ivory or bone sight blade. The
rear sight is the classic Sharps Company buckhorn with
an elevation leaf, and the sight base is stamped “B.G.
I. Co.”, for the Bridgeport Gun Implement Company.
B.G.I. is known to have made a number of the reloading
tools and bullet molds sold by the Sharps Company and I
have been told that Freund Brothers purchased sights
from B.G.I., suggesting the possibility that they may be
the maker of this rifle. The receiver tang is tapped
for mounting a tang sight.
The stock features a schnable forearm tip and has finely
checkered panels on the forearm and wrist. The wood is
finished very well and shows no wear other than some
minor handling marks.
This Trapdoor Sporting Rifle presents as well today as
it did one hundred thirty years ago, having survived the
years in amazing condition. Most certainly one of the
more impressive single shot rifles of its day, rifles of
this quality must have been a statement of the owner’s
stature within his peer group, and that same
satisfaction will be enjoyed by the collector who adds
this fine firearm to their collection.