M1871 Springfield Ward - Burton
.50 / 55 / 430 Government
The Ward - Burton rifles and carbines were made at the Springfield Armory for trial purposes from February 1871 to March 1872. There were 1,011 rifles and 316 carbines made. They were not serial numbered. They are the earliest bolt actions put into service by the U.S. government. The design is from patents by Bethel Burton for the interrupted thread turn bolt and William G. Ward for the design of the extractor and ejector.
The carbines went into service in June of 1872 with the 2nd (42), 3rd (14), 6th (54) and 7th (56) Cavalry. The last ones were removed from service in September of 1875.
Three other designs were involved with the service trials. They were the Springfield Allin, Remington and Sharps. The Ward Burton was the only bolt action of the four. On May 3, 1873 the Ordinance Department officially accepted the Springfield Allin (trapdoor). The Ward – Burton came in last largely due to its unaccustomed appearance of not having an external hammer that is easily seen in assessing the status of the rifle.
The top of the bolt is marked WARD.BURTON.PATENT / DEC. 20, 1859 FEB. 21, 1871. The left side of the receiver is marked with the eagle motif and US / SPRINGFIELD 1871. The butt plate is marked with U.S. The barrel band is marked with a U. The forward underside of the trigger plate is marked with the number 38, C and X. The trigger stop screw is marked 38.
The bore is in fine condition, mostly shiny with crisp rifling. There are scattered pits that get more pronounced toward the muzzle. There is some cleaning rod erosion to the crown and the last 1/4" of rifling has thinned.
The stock has an ESA (Erskine S. Allen) cartouche on the left wrist partly obliterated by sling swivel hook wear. Behind the sling bar on the left is another banner or ribbon shaped cartouche of JWK (John W. Keene). The firing proof is visible rear of the trigger plate but is not legible. There are no cracks or missing wood but there are handling nicks, dings and scratches. A repair has been made on the top just rear of the receiver in the trough the bolt travels in.
The rear sight leaf is proper and graduated for 2, 3, 5 and 7. It has the shallow sighting notches that are proper to the 1870 carbines and rifles. The slide bar on this carbine is from a rifle and has been shortened to the proper 0.169” tall. The support screw in the top of the leaf is .092” tall. The support screw is not original but a shortened screw that was used on the Remington and Sharps Springfield made rifles. The front sight is of two piece design with a replaceable steel blade.
The safety is engaged by slightly lifting the handle and sliding the safety lever up and back so the round rod will engage a hole in the bolt handle.
Specifications Published This carbine
Overall length 41 5/16" 41 1/4"
Stock length 29 3/4" 29 7/8"
Barrel band 3 1/2" from nose 3 1/2"
Barrel length 22" 22 1/16"
Muzzle diameter 0.785" 0.783"
Rifling twist 3 groove 1 in 42" 3 groove 1 in 42"
Rear sight marking 2, 3, 5 and 7 2, 3, 5 and 7
Front sight pinned steel pinned steel
Weight - 6 lb. 13 oz.
Head space Go = .070” No Go = .075” .077”