The "Springfield Trapdoor" was the standard rifle used by the U.S. military in one form or another since the late 1860s, with 1873 being the "Final" product produced by Erskine S. Allin. However as with any rifle, updates continued to be made as needed. The short-lived Model 1880 was one such design. These are exceedingly rare, and have always commanded a premium at auction.
In the years following the U.S. Civil War, Springfield Armory had produced bayonets for the trapdoor rifle by re-working older bayonets left over from the war, but by 1880, their supply of bayonets had been almost completely exhausted. Rather than re-tool their production equipment to make an item that was by many considered obsolete, Springfield Armory chose instead to modify the Model 1873 to use a new bayonet system.
For the Model 1880, Springfield Armory departed from previous bayonet designs and attempted to produce a combination bayonet and cleaning rod. The bayonet was of a triangle design and held in place in a modified cleaning rod channel cut in the stock under the barrel. Approximately 1,000 of these Model 1880 Springfields were produced and were fielded for testing.
Subsequent tests were underwhelming. The rod's retaining mechanism was problematic and did not work well until a key was added to the locking spring. The design modifications altered the ballistics of the weapon, and the sights had to be modified to compensate for the changes. Because of these problems, the Model 1880s were all returned from the field and were placed into storage. A majority of these guns were later modified and re-issued, making unmodified examples an extreme rarity.
This particular M1880 is all complete and in excellent condition. It is completely original and unmodified; making it one of the few guns that was never modified and re-issued. The lock, receiver, barrel, and furniture all retain their beautiful blued finishes while the breech block still sports vibrant case colors; a key feature of post 1879-production trapdoors.
The stock is in phenomenal condition and matches the condition of the metal components. The inspector's cartouches are deep and legible and all the edges are crisp - this stock has never been sanded or refinished! There is no damage to speak of, other than a small chip along the breech plug tang.
The lock is in great condition with a reliable three-notch tumbler that holds solid on all positions. The barrel is in excellent condition with good stamps and unmodified front and rear sights. the bore is near mint with sharp rifling throughout. The breech block locks tightly to the receiver and the extractor is functional and in excellent condition.
The furniture is all original and matching. The triangle-bayonet is original and full length. Included with this rifle is an original bayonet in absolutely fantastic condition, which matches the rest of the rifle.
With only 1,000 M1880's produced and even fewer remaining in unmodified condition, it is no exaggeration to say that this is not only the rarest trapdoor rife we've ever had, but is among the rarest guns we've ever offered in general! Examples in this condition routinely bring north of $4K at auction. At the time of writing, ima-usa.com is currently offering a slightly poorer condition M1880 $3795.00! Don't sleep on this one!