Springfield Armory Model 1873 Metcalfe Type IV

Springfield Armory Model 1873 Metcalfe Type IV

Brand: Springfield Armory
Product Code: SA1873Metcalfe
Price: $2,995.00

Springfield Armory Model 1873 Metcalfe Type IV

.45 / 70 / 405

Serial number 68344


Lieutenant Henry Metcalfe came up with a design for a rifle appendage that would supply the soldier with a quick and easy way to reload his Model 1873 Springfield rifle.  A metal bar with a locking cam was attached to the right side of the rifle and extended from behind the lock plate to and under the rear barrel band.  Affixed to this metal strap was a detachable wood block that was drilled to accept 8 rounds of ammunition.  A spring steel and leather carry device was also designed to secure a loaded block on the soldier’s belt. 

There were 1,008 of these rifles produced with the Type IV Metcalfe cartridge box device in 1876.  Their serial numbers ranged from 55,300 to 70,000.  These rifles were assembled for trial purposes and were issued in limited numbers.  The results of the trials were generally not favorable and the rifles were eventually returned to Springfield Armory.  They were dismantled and the specific Metcalfe parts were either destroyed or sold to civilian organizations such as Bannermans and J.W. Frazier.  The remaining usable parts were rebuilt by Springfield with new stocks and lock plates than reissued as standard M1873 rifles.  It is known that in 1956 there were 506 smashed lock plates found at Bannermans.  In the 1970’s there were 25 of the modified stocks found at the M.G.M. Studios that had the Metcalfe inletting filled with Plastic Wood.  A few Springfield Model 1881 20 gauge “forager” shotguns have been found with the modified lock plates.  It is known that some of these rifles were assembled by companies such as Bannermans from serviceable parts and sold on the civilian market.  To find an all original rifle is considered extremely rare or impossible.

Along with the 1,008 rifles produced there were 31,000 type IV eight round magazine blocks and 6,000 belt carriers made.

The receiver of this rifle has a serial number (68344) that shows it was made between April and June of 1876.  This serial number is in the proper range for a rifle modified for a Metcalfe device. 

The breech block is correct and its markings (MODEL / 1873 / eagle head / crossed arrows / US) were used up until serial number 70000.  There is some slight lateral movement of the blocks rear when in the closed position.  Head space is very close to the published specification of .075".

The barrel is marked on its left rear with the large V, P, eagle head and small letter P so it dates after serial number 67600.  There are two burst proof P's on the bottom of the barrel.  There is moderate pitting and frost in the bore from the muzzle back for about 8".  The crown shows moderate rod wear.  The barrel / receiver witness marks are in perfect alignment and appear original.            

The lock plate is a correct Metcalfe plate that has the circular cut on the back around the front screw hole for the loop on the end of the Metcalf device or bar.  It is marked with the eagle motif and U.S. over SPRINGFIELD over 1873.

The hammer has the fine checkered stamped knurl on the spur that was used after serial number 45000.  The tumbler has two notches.

The correct and original Metcalfe stock has an ESA (Erskin S. Allin) cartouche in an oval on the left wrist.  A firing proof script P in a circle that is partially double struck is rear of the trigger plate.  The stock fitters mark J.C. (James Carlile) is just forward of the firing proof.  There is a repair on the top right edge of the barrel channel that runs from the rear barrel band shoulder forward for about 5 1/2".  It is 3/8" tall at the shoulder and tapers forward to 0".  This repair appears to have been made when the stock was made for the Metcalfe device.  There is a small splinter missing about 1/16" wide and as long as the rear barrel band is wide on the bottom under the rear barrel band that extends through into the rod channel.

The front sight is of the early integral base and blade type used before serial number 92000.  The rear sight is the early M1873 and correct for the serial number of 68344 and attached with slotless screws.  The screws do show old pliers marks.

Other markings

F                      bottom of receiver

Z                      bottom of breech block

3                      firing pin

D                     bottom of trigger plate

R                     trigger

E                      back of butt plate

U, A, D, u, ~   back of lock plate

K                     back of hammer

16                    main spring base end

K                     tumbler