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IDENTIFIED MODEL 1873 SPRINGFIELD TRAPDOOR RIFLE RECEIVER SN 5251 RECORDED IN ORDNANCE NOTES 122 AS IN THE INVENTORY OF THE 5TH REGIMENT OF INFANTRY IN 1879:  This early Model 1873 Springfield Trapdoor Rifle Receiver bears a low, four-digit serial number, number 5251, which indicates it was manufactured in 1874.  This particular serial number was recorded by the U.S. Army Ordnance Department in 1879 during an inspection of the rifles issued to the 5TH U.S. Infantry Regiment, and the results of that inspection were published in  ORDNANCE NOTES No. 122 a comprehensive 101 page report, which was included as part of the Chief of Ordnance Report for 1880. 

The arms were recorded as to number of years in service, condition, serviceability, to whom they were issued, and the accuracy of each rifle was recorded with a set of plotted targets.  Serial number 5251 was recorded as a complete rifle which had been in service for four years and eleven months at the time of the inspection.   

When a firearm was determined to be no longer serviceable and it was slated for a surplus sale, the arms were disassembled and sold as parts.  The civilian buyers then reassembled those parts into complete arms which sold quite well on the retail market.  For whatever reason, this receiver was never incorporated into a complete rifle, but it has survived in very nice condition.

The block is full form in its original configuration with no obvious signs of faults or flaws.  The block retains much of its original oil quenched finish and the surfaces are very smooth with no significant pitting or signs of other wear.  The threads for the tang and for the barrel are clear without any flaws.  The serial number is fully legible.

In 1879, the 5TH Infantry Regiment was stationed at Fort Lincoln in the Dakota Territory and Ft. Keogh in the Montana Territory.  In the almost five years since they had been issued the new Model 1873 Rifles, the regiment had served on the southern plains in Texas and the Indian Territory, and by the fall of 1876 they had been moved to the northern plains.  Based on the condition of this particular rifle as it was described in the report, it certainly must have served in the field against the warriors of the Comanche, Cheyenne and Sioux during those turbulent years. 

This receiver is a historic piece in its own right; however it would also provide the basis for an interesting and worthwhile restoration project.  The balance of the correct parts necessary to assemble this receiver into a complete rifle are available with some searching, and there are parts dealers who can assist you.  While there are those who would frown on such a project, the bottom line is that many of the rifles in the inventory of the 5TH Infantry were found to be unserviceable and they suffered the same fate as did 5251 - parted out in surplus sales - and many of them were reassembled by the civilian dealers of the time.  Identified Model 1873 Springfields are not common and this would be a good opportunity to add an interesting rifle to your collection.  (0211)  $150

NOTE:  Photocopies of the pertinent pages of Ordnance Notes No. 122 which contain the entries regarding SN 5251 will accompany the sale of the receiver. 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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