Osprey's Trapdoor Springfield


John Langellier


Osprey Publishing


$20.00 MSRP


Scott Van Aken

Notes: 80 pages, 7 x 9 inches, softbound
ISBN: 978-1-4728-1970-3

The 1800s were a time of considerable advancement in rifle design. Starting with muzzle loading muskets the century ended with semi-automatic rifles. One of the more important steps along the way, was the single shot, breech loading version. This was developed after the American civil war and the most widely used was what we'd call the 'trapdoor' Springfield.

This gun accepted a cartridge by lifting the firing pin mechanism up, inserting a cartridge, and then closing the pin assembly, or the trapdoor, before firing the weapon. It was a simple and rugged design that was pretty much free from jamming and was equally impervious to dust, dirt, sand and water. Though not 100% perfect (as it is impossible to completely prevent glitches), it had a major advantage in that the number of times the gun could be fired in a minute was greatly increased. This came to be a real boon during the time we often call the Indian Wars.

The guns were built in relatively large numbers and were the major US service rifle from the time it was put into production in 1873 until it was slowly replaced by bolt action rifles and those that could accept clips holding multiple cartridges in the early 1890s. Still, a lot of the rifles were used well after that, particularly during the Spanish-American War, when Army manning was increased from around 25,000 to the numbers needed to fight in Cuba and in the Philippines.

Like other books in this series, we are provided with the reason for the weapon, the development of the weapon and a look at all the different modifications done to it during its life. A major part of this volume is its use in battle and a goodly number of conflicts in the American West as well as those with Spain and the Philippines are covered in some depth. These all focus on the use of the rifle and how it was used by those involved.

This is followed by a section on the various equipment used by soldiers that was directly related to the gun. Finally a look at the movies where the Springfield was a prominent part. In all, it makes for an interesting look at this important rifle and how it played a part in shaping the US during the second half of the 19th century.

May 2018

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