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Old August 15, 2013, 11:35 AM   #1
Jamesmyboy
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1869 Trapdoor 45/70

First of all, I know we have a contradiction of terms but, that's why the question. A neighbor brought a piece by for me to look at and here's what he had. A trapdoor with the date of 1869 on the breech-block, serial number on the left side of the breech, but no matching number on the barrel where it should have been. And, 1869s were manufactured as 50/70; this one is 45/70. In trying to find out something about this weapon, I Googled all over the place and found a curious thing. My neighbor's piece has a four digit number in 9XXX range and I found another 1869, full military, in 45/70, no number on the barrel, but a breech numbered 9XXX. So here we have two '69s rebarrelled to 45/70 in the same serial number range. Any information on this situation? Thanks up front for any and all info.
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Old August 15, 2013, 01:48 PM   #2
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AFAIK, there were no Model 1868 rifles made in .45-70. That, plus the absence of a barrel number pretty well indicates that the gun was rebarrelled (not sleeved, as that would have preserved the original markings).

I think those are probably worked over rifles, sold as surplus and then rebarrelled by a surplus dealer to the (then) modern caliber, since .50-70 ammunition would have been hard to find in later years. It is interesting, but not surprising that two rifles with close serial numbers would turn up in the same area.

Many of those "Frankenguns" were sold, in military configuraton, to military academies, color guards, and drill teams, so if there was/is something like that in your area, they could have purchased those guns at the same time from the same dealer.

FWIW, the Model is 1868 even though some breechblocks were marked 1869.

Jim
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Old August 15, 2013, 03:43 PM   #3
Mike Irwin
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Supposedly the Model 1868s that are found in .45-70 were arsenal rebarreled to be used as test guns when the caliber change was being contemplated.

True or not I don't know, but I have heard of other Model 1868s chambered in .45-70.
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Old August 16, 2013, 07:32 PM   #4
chiefr
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Agree with Mike and James. The gun is a rebarrel.
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Old August 16, 2013, 09:55 PM   #5
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I am sure they were rebarrelled, the question is by whom.

I would make sense for Springfield to rebarrel current guns to test the new ammo; they did the same thing with late .45-70 trapdoors when testing .30 ammo before they adopted the Krag.

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Old August 17, 2013, 01:32 AM   #6
Jamesmyboy
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Gentlemen; thanks for your response.
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Old August 17, 2013, 01:45 PM   #7
mwmjones
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I used to own one of these and man are they fun to shoot

I would also try the cowboy action web site sassnet.com and look under their wire classifieds forum I think they call it

Please a wanted ad and they should be able to help
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Old August 17, 2013, 03:59 PM   #8
James K
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I will add one note on those Springfield ammunition test guns. The barrels were usually marked to indicate the caliber being tested, along with other information like the rifling twist.

I still think a Model 1868 in .45-70 without any special marks on the barrel was rebarrelled by one of the many dealers in surplus arms who were in business at that time. As far as I can determine, there was never any Army program to convert the Model 1868 rifles to .45-70 for issue to troops.

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Old August 17, 2013, 09:56 PM   #9
Mike Irwin
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"I am sure they were rebarrelled, the question is by whom."

The only logical answer to that is by Springfield Armory.

It wouldn't have made much sense to have done it commercially by a company such a Bannerman, as the .50-70 was a solid seller for them surplus for many years.
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Old August 17, 2013, 10:12 PM   #10
Jim Watson
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You guys are going to have to get your stories in agreement.
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Old August 17, 2013, 11:08 PM   #11
James K
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Gee, Jim, if we agreed, where would be the fun?

Yep, Mike, but at one point, .50-70's were selling for $6.50 and .45-70's were going for $12.50. That would have made it profitable to rebarrel especially with skilled labor getting all of $2.50 a day.

AFAIK, the barrels will interchange (I don't know about details, as I have never tried it), so if a supply of barrels was available, why not change to the more modern and available caliber? In our own day, we have seen cut up M1 rifle receivers welded back together and modified to an M14 configuration, a lot more complex job than rebarrelling a Model 1868.

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Old August 18, 2013, 09:17 AM   #12
Jim Watson
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I think it would take more than just screwing in a .45-70 barrel.
Flayderman points out that the 1868 has a longer receiver ring than the 1870 and 1873.
I presume that would call for a longer barrel shank to match. If so, some lathe work would apparently be required to make the caliber conversion.
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Old August 18, 2013, 07:51 PM   #13
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Well, it was obviously done by someone. Without seeing the gun, it would not be possible to tell if the barrel is an 1873 barrel or a newly made barrel. Cutting down the shoulder to lengthen the shank would be no problem, but I don't know what problems the extractor change might impose.

Still, the surplus dealers did some amazing things. I once had an opportunity to handle a left-handed M1903 Springfield converted by Sedgley. It was almost unbelievable the amount of work that went into that rifle.

Jim
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