M1873 to M1888 US Springfield
(This set of photos courtesy of M. Kerrigan)
GENERALLY: For the history and development of the basic design of this rifle, please see the commentary on the M1865-1868 US Springfield.(.50-70 Govt.)
In 1872 trials were held to determine a "modern" new production arm to replace the obsolescent .50 cal rifle then in use. Repeaters not having yet been shown to be effective, it's not surprising that the military stayed with a basic action design considered "tried and true."
In 1873 a "new" rifle was produced. Caliber was reduced to .45 and numerous small changes made, but the overall design concept remained that adopted in eight years ealier. During the next 15 years, this standard service arm underwent many minor revisions culminating in the M1888. This model incorporated a unique bayonet which also served as a cleaning rod and was carried full time and retracted under the barrel except in use. This design innovation was driven by financial and production considerations as a new smokeless repeater was in the works and, the supply of Civil War bayonets having finally been exhausted, this provided an economical substitute.
PHOTO: The rifle shown is a M1888 Springfield
DISTINGUISHING CHARECTERISTICS: This rifle is fitted with a Buffington rear sight and "ramrod" bayonet. The sight is graduated to 2,000 yards incorporating a long range slide and an azmiuth knob which traverses the entire sight.
MISC NOTES: The Springfield was first fitted with it's implement compartment fitted into the buttstock in 1878, being applied to the last of the M1873 carbines. The M1879 Springfield rifle and all subsequent rifles carried the implement compartment.
The famed "Ramrod Bayonet. For additional photos see:
Allin (Berdan) action closed, weapon has been fired. (extractor is partially visible
as the dark blued piece that pivots with the breech block. Rifle's serial number is to the left of the hammer on the back of the receiver.
Hammer at half-cock (safety); Breech block open ready for re-loading.
Inspector's cartouch showing manufacture date of 1892. No major power's arms were retained in service during this transition era as long as the US kept the "Trapdoor Springfield"
The "ramrod" bayonet of the M1888 in its retracted position.
underside of the M1888 showing retaining lever. To extend the bayonet the
lever is rocked around a central spring loaded pivot utilizing the two thumb-finger
The ramrod is extended to the first detent. This is not an operational position
but is shown simply to illustrate the detents that retain the rod when it is stowed.
The ramrod bayonet fully extended, locked into place at the lower pair of detents,
and ready for business.
Buffington Sight long range leaf extended, Windage is also adjusted.
The Buffington sight viewed from above. The upper knob is the slide extension knob. the lower knob is the windage knob.
Page first built February 1, 1999
Revised September 26, 1999
Updated: Nov 12, 2021