• View of Springfield Armory overlooking the city of Springfield, 1855

    Springfield Armory

    National Historic Site Massachusetts

Breechloader Miscellany

Experimental breechloading Springfield rifles

Case 21

Springfield Armory NHS, US NPS

Around the time of the Civil War many private gun makers were experimenting with breech-loading rifles. Some continued to use paper cartridges; others used metallic. The secret was to build a breech mechanism that could withstand and contain the explosion of the gun powder. For the safety of the soldier, and to get the most efficiency out of the cartridge, the breech had to be sealed tightly to prevent the escape of gases, yet the weapon had to be capable of being reloaded quickly and not jamming. After the War, Springfield undertook production of some of these weapons in addition to their Trapdoor models.

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Joslyn rifle

Springfield Armory NHS, US NPS

Joslyn Rifle SPAR2504 .56 caliber, 1865, 3307 made. Produced at Springfield Armory with actions supplied by the Joslyn Co., this was the first breech-loader made at the Armory.

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US M1871 Springfield Rolling Block rifle

Springfield Armory NHS, US NPS

M1870-1871 Rolling Block Rifle SPAR1132 .50 caliber, 1870-1872, 33,336 made. Remington's 'Rolling Block' actions were manufactured under royalty at Springfield Armory which manufactured versions for the Army and Navy along with carbines and experimental pieces.

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M1871 Ward-Burton rifle

This was Springfield Armory's first bolt-action rifle.

courtesy: private collection

M1871 Ward-Burton Rifle SPAR1613 .50 caliber, 1871, 1327 made. This weapon was the result of an effort to develop a bolt-action military rifle.

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M1875 Springfiedl Lee rifle

Springfield Armory NHS, US NPS

Lee Rifle SPAR4103 .45 caliber, 1875, 143 made. Essentially an experimental rifle, this weapon was developed by James P. Lee.

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Did You Know?

Organ of Muskets at Springfield Armory NHS

During the Civil War, Springfield Armory produced about 300,000 muskets for the Union. In 1864, production reached 1,000 muskets per day. More...