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Military Rifles in the Age of Transition
(Non-U.S.) Black Powder, Metallic Cartidge, Military Rifles
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M1889 New-Built Spanish Remingtons
(Fusil Remington Mo. 1889)
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Fusil Remington Mo. 1889
Historical Context: For a review of the Historical Context in which this rifle was developed and built, please see the section HISTORICAL CONTEXT in the page M1868 & M1870 Spanish Remingtons
By the mid 1880s it was clear to Spain the it's venerable Remington-designed and locally manufactured rolling block rifles had reached the end of their lives as front-line service rifles and the hunt was on for a suitable modern rifle. At the same time, it was appreciated that distribution to the units of a modern repeater model which was yet to be adopted would be slow. With the consequent maintenance in service of the Remington rifle for necessarily a few more years yet, it was decided to improve the ballistic properties of existing arms. After adopting the Model 1889 cartridge and implementing the modification of large numbers of the Model 1871 rifles to allow the use of the aforementioned ammunition (see: M1871 & M1871/89 Spanish Remington) a new production order was placed in 1889 with the Oviedo armory for a very small number of short rifles (Carabina Remington para Dragones Mo. 1889) and a very limited number of new-made infantry rifles. These two rifle models were the first new rolling block models adopted by Spain since 1874. Nevertheless, they are fundamentally and operationally identical to the original American rifles, differing only in a number of their details. Currently, not much is known about the reasons for the very limited production runs of both the rifles and short rifles, and few have been encountered, although they do appear to have entered service.
Calvo' describes the rifle in a monograph "The Model 187189 rifle and the Model 1889 carbine for Dragoons" as being the last models of single-shot rifles adopted by the army ("El fusil Modelo 187189 y la carabina Modelo 1889 para Dragones fueron los últimos modelos de carga simple reglamentarios de nuestro Ejército . . . "). However, given the vast numbers of Spanish-built M1871s which were converted to the clearly distinct 1889 standard and that the nomenclature of "M1871/89" has entered the collector literature to denote these upgraded rifles, we have elected to denote this rifle simply as the M1889 Spanish Remington (not M1871/89) to avoid obvious confusion with upgraded M1871 Spanish rifles. Since no such confusion is likely to occur regarding the Dragoon short rifles, we leave this as Calvo's nomenclature: M1889 Spanish Dragoon Rifle, described in more detail below.
Exactly as the M1871 and M1871/89 Spanish Remington rifles.
These rifles are marked identically to that of the earlier Oviedo-manufactured M1871 rifles except that the dates will be 1890-1892. (Note that M1871 rifles, whether in their original configurations or converted to the /89 standard, have not been encountered with dates later than 1886.) Like the earlier series, the hammer and breech block are inspector-marked on the left side, both pieces by the same inspector. Also like the earlier rifles, the buttstock is stamped with an ownership / manufacturer roundel consisting of a crown over “Oviedo” over the date of manufacture.
While not visible absent removal of the buttstock, the lower tang (the trigger guard and assembly) is serial numbered and the upper tang (receiver) is acceptance mark stamped.
The rifle version is most readily identified by its considerably enlarged and canted breech block operating lever, which at first glance is a very close copy of the M1867/89 Swedish rolling block smokeless powder conversion, which preceded this rifle by only a year or two at the most. The Spanish rifle’s breech block lever differs from the Swede only slightly in shape as well as differing slightly in the shape of the firing pin extractor cam. Markings of course differ also.
The action is a Layman "Type 2" with a concave lower face breech block but with a rotary as distinguished from a bar-type extractor. The action is very close in external appearance to the Swedish M1867/89 made for smokeless powder, but these latter rifles are fitted with type 4 flat lower face breech blocks. While nearly all foreign RBs have concave base breech blocks, the Swede 67/89s have flat blocks. To the best of our knowledge, the Spanish M1871/91 is the only rolling block variety to be fitted with both the very early design concave breech block and the late feature rotary extractor. Also differentiated from the Swedes, the Swedes have serially numbered breech blocks with a matching hammer and have obviously been heat treated. The Spanish rifle breech blocks have no serial number, no evidence of heat treatment, but both hammer and breech block are identically inspector marked.
These rifles were not conversions of earlier produced rifles and were, from the start, chambered for the Freire and Brull designed M1889 Reformado cartridge. (See the webpage regarding The M1871 and M1871/89 Spanish Remington rifle. Hence, while they are not marked with either an “R” nor and “FB” over their barrel ahead of the receiver, they are nevertheless chambered for the Reformado cartridge.
Improvements were also made to the ramp & leaf rear sight. The base is considerably longer, with a much lower profile and wider leaf, with the steps of the base now fitted within the legs of the leaf rather than straddling the leaf in the earlier 1871 model. The volley sight extension, along with the front volley sight post, has been dispensed with.
An interesting observation is that the Spanish have not only maintained their “belt and suspenders” approach to their barrel bands, but with the M1871/91 have improved the system by substituting cross pin band retainers for the earlier band retaining springs, as with the British Martini-Henry series. While screw-retained barrel bands are more expensive than simple spring-retained bands, the cross pins are cheaper than springs, less likely to break and work easily as well in situations in which you don’t really want your troops removing the barrel bands in the first place.
The cleaning rod retention system was also slightly altered. Spanish-manufactured rods have always differed from American-designed and built rods in that they were retained via a shoulder on the rod with a flat front face around its diameter which clipped below a recessed and dedicated abutment at the bottom back of the nosecap, again somewhat similarly to the Martini-Henry rods. This system is retained with the M1891, but there is also added a small clip at the back end of the nosecap to further secure the rod and to keep it from rattling.
These changes are all more in the nature of a fine tweaking then of any fundamental design changes.
Unknown, however a socket bayonet is assumed, as there is no bayonet lug or provision for a saber bayonet but the front sight, like all Remington rolling block rifles is sufficient to anchor a mounted a socket bayonet. The M1871 and the M1874 bayonets will fit.
SPECIFICATIONS, STATISTICS & DATA OF THE MAIN RILFE
M1891 Spanish Remington Rifle
Chambering: 11.4x58R Reformado
Overall Length: 51.75 inches
Weight, empty: approx. 8.75 lbs
Barrel Length: 37.1 inches
Rifling: 6-groove; RH, concentric
Sight: Flat base-and-leaf, graduated to 1,000 meters, base 100 to 300 meters
CARTRIDGE: Chambered at manufacture (not re-chambered) for the .43 Spanish Reformado (M1889 11x58R Reformado)
MANUFACTURING DATA: It appears that there were approximately 1,000 such rifles manufactured at Oviedo around 1891 and possibly into 1892. The only example examined is serial numbered 1815 and dated 1891, thus if the numbers continue the series begun with the M1889 Dragoon Rifles, the production numbers suggested appear to be very close. However if the short rifles carry their own number series then the estimated production may be higher than is being guessed.
SHORT RIFLES, CARBINES, & SPECIAL VERSIONS
Model 1889 Dragoon Rifle (Carabina Remington para Dragones Mo. 1889) (Note: This rifle is also covered in the webpage M1871 & M1871/89 Spanish Remington (Oviedo)). As few as 650 of the M1889 Dragoon short rifles were produced at Oviedo between 1888 and 1890 and it is probable that they were the direct precursors to the M1891 rifle. We have not been able to directly examine such a short rifle and thus are unable to confirm whether or not it shares the features of the rifle illustrated here. While there is no bayonet lug nor any overt provision for a bayonet, the short rifle most likely was fitted for a socket bayonet anchoring on the front sight.
Specifications of the M1889 Dragoon Rifle:
Chambering: 11x58R, rimmed
Overall Length: 46.25 inches
Weight, empty: approx. 8.71 lbs
Barrel Length: 31.55 inches
Rifling: 6-groove; RH, concentric
Sight: Ramp-and-leaf, graduated to 1,200 meters (1310 yards)
Two screw-clamp barrel bands
Model 1889 Spanish Remington Dragoon (Carabina Remington para Dragones Mo. 1889): Very little information regarding this very late and produced in small numbers short rifle other than that provided by Walter's 3rd Edition and brief references to it in Calvo's various monographs. This was a newly-built rifle, the first new model introduced since the 1870s, but it looks very much like the Model 1874 Spanish Remington Short Rifle referenced above, except for being 4 inches longer and the rear sight placed considerably further forward.
With the 1889 approval of the Freyre y Brull upgrades to the M1871 (which adopted both the M1889 Reformado cartridge as well as the chamber and sights upgrades to the rifle) authorizing the M1871/89 Spanish Remington in May, 1889, a new model short rifle was provisionally approved for Dragoon units denominated as Md. 1889 (Carabina Remington para Dragones Mo. 1889). The Oviedo Factory produced a total of 1,650* examples between 1889-1890. This model short rifle was to replace the Md. 1871 rifles equipping the the four Dragoon Cavalry regiments authorized 1885, the: nº 9 “Santiago”, nº 10 “Montesa”, nº 11 “Numancia” and nº 12 "Lusitania".
*There exists some confusion regarding whether this figure includes or excludes the 1,000 newly-manufactured infantry rifles approved in 1889 but which we denominate M1891 Spanish Remington, see below. Walter indicates that 650 Carabina Remington para Dragones Mo. 1889 were produced and that "about 1000" new rifles were produced. Calvo's figure for the Dragoons is 1,650.
As befits a mounted infantry short rifle, it was fitted with a full length fore stock but being shorter than the infantry rifle its barrel was mounted with only two barrel bands. Interestingly, unlike the rifle, but like the Mo.1874 engineer carbine, the barrel bands are not equipped with additional retainer springs. An integral cleaning rod is mounted beneath the forestock. It was not issued with a bayonet, however it's reasonable to speculate that it would have been able to mount the widely available M1874 socket bayonet.
These rifles were not re-chambered because they were originally chambered at manufacture for the concurrently approved M1889 11.4x58R Reformado cartridge.
Specifications, Statistics & Data
A Model 1889 Spanish Remington Dragoon (Carabina Remington para Dragones Mo. 1889) in the collection of the Spanish National Army Museum (photo via Juan L. Calvo')
Specifications, Statistics & Data for the Carabina Remington para Dragones Mo. 1889
Overall length: 46 1/4 in (1175mm)
Barrel length: 31½ in (802mm)
6 groove barrel
Two screw clamping barrel bands and nosecap,
with sling swivels beneath the upper band and lower buttstock
Ramp & Leaf Rear Sight: 200m to 1,200m
Bayonet: (Likely) Standard M1871 or m1874 socket bayonet
Chambered at manufacture for the 11.4x58R Reformado cartridge
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Page built Jan 16, 2022