During the latter part of the Civil War, Brig. Gen. A. B. Dyer, Chief of Ordnance, commissioned Erskine S. Allin, master armorer at Springfield Armory, to develop a breech mechanism to permit economical conversion of cal. .58 muzzle-loading percussion rifles to breech-loaders using a self-contained metallic cartridge. Recognizing the importance of this conversion, Dyer specifically instructed Allin to make use of any existing ideas regardless of who held the patents.
Allin accomplished the assigned task and, without the knowledge of Dyer, obtained, on Sept. 19, 1865, U. S. Patent No. 49,959 covering his breech mechanism which was subsequently selected by the Ordnance Board of 1865. The U. S. Government paid claims totaling S 124,341 to various inventors holding patents infringed by various features of the Allin breech mechanism.
Many modifications were eventually made before the design of the Model 1866 rifle was approved. The cal. .58 barrels were reamed out to accept cal. .50 rifled liners which were brazed in place. The original Allin conversion made in 1865 was chambered for a cal. .58 rimfire cartridge.
The cal. .50 center-fire cartridge developed for use in the Model 1866
was loaded with 70 grs. blackpowder behind a 450-gr. pointed lead bullet. The Model 1868, subsequently produced, was largely made with new steel barrels rather than relined barrels.
The Model 1870 was similar to the Model 1868 except for changes in receiver, barrel, breechblock, and sights. It was manufactured in both rifle and carbine form.
The Services were apparently dissatisfied with performance of the Model 1870 and the .50-70 Government cartridge. An Ordnance Board was convened in 1872 to "consider and recommend for adoption of a breechloading system for muskets and carbines for the military service".
Examined by this board was a total of 99 American and 9 foreign breechloading arms, including several modifications of the Allin system. Their choice was rifle No. 99 submitted by Springfield Armory. The breech mechanism of this rifle was based upon the Allin system. Upon adoption, the new rifle was designated Model 1873. It was chambered for a cal. .45 center-fire rifle cartridge loaded with 70 grs. black-powder and a 405-gr. bullet. The carbine cartridge was loaded with 55 grs.
blackpowder and a 405-gr. bullet. The steel barrel was rifled with 3 grooves, with twist rate of one turn in 22".
The Model 1873 was made in regulation, cadet, and carbine sizes and remained the basic U. S. Service arm until superseded by the Krag-Jorgensen repeating rifle in 1892. Numerous changes were made during this period of manufacture. These included modifications in the breechblock, receiver gas-escapes, sights, and firing pin.
Subsequent models produced included the Model 1875 Officers Model rifle, the Model 1877 Carbine, and the Model 1884 Rifle, Carbine, and Cadet rifle. The Model 1888 Rifle adopted in 1889 was equipped with a rod bayonet similar to that used on the first 1903 cal. .30 Springfield rifles.
In addition to the regularly issued Service rifles and carbines, there were several experimental types or special-purpose arms (using the basic 1873 action) produced at Springfield Armory from 1873 until manufacture of cal. .45 rifles and carbines was discontinued in June 1893. In this category are 20-ga. shotguns, sharpshooters' or marksmen's rifles, short rifles, rod-bayonet rifles, and a special lot of cal. .30 rifles used in development of smokeless powder cartridges.
Remove ramrod (32) and tang screw (20). Pull hammer to half-cock and remove 2 side screws (21). Remove lock assembly from stock. Press in on band springs (29) and slide off both upper and lower bands (26-27). Barrel and breech assembly can now be removed from butt-stock (25).
To disassemble breech assembly, remove hinge pin (10) and withdraw breechblock assembly (11). Take care to prevent compressed ejector spring (8), spindle (9), and extractor (7) from escaping. Remove breechblock cap screw (17) and remove cam latch (15) with thumbpiece (18) and breechblock cap (16) together. Remove cam latch spring (14). Firing pin (12) is removed by unscrewing firing pin screw (13) from underside of breechblock.
Trigger mechanism in trigger guard, buttplate, stock tip. and remaining stock parts are easily removed for repair or replacement of parts. Reassemble rifle in reverse order.
3. Rear sight assembly
4. Front sight blade
5. Front sight pin
6. Ejector stud
8. Ejector spring
10. Hinge pin
12. Firing pin
13. Firing pin screw
14. Cam latch spring
15. Cam latch
16. Breechblock cap
17. Breechblock cap screw
19. Breech screw
20. Tang screw
22. Side screw washers (2)
23. Buttplate screws (2)
25. Buttsiock (shown partially)
26. Lower band
27. Upper band
28. Ramrod stop
29. Band springs (2)
30. Stock tip
31. Stock tip screw
33. Lock assembly
34. Guard plate
35. Guard screws (2)
36. Guard bow
38. Guard bow swivel
39. Guard bow swivel screw
41. Trigger screw
The longitudinal section through the action shows the proper relationship of interior parts
B. Tumbler screw
G. Mainspring swivel pin
H. Sear spring
J. Sear spring screw
L. Sear screw
To disassemble lock mechanism, compress mainspring (D) with a Springfield or other suitable mainspring vise or heavy pliers and remove from lockplate (C). Remove scar spring screw (J) and scar spring (H) from lockplate. Remove scar screw (L) and sear (K). Remove bridle screw (N) and bridle (M). Remove tumbler screw (B) from hammer (A). Tumbler (E) may be driven from lis seat in hammer with a large punch or brass drift pin. Reassemble lock in reverse order ■
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