Model 1868

Model 1868 Rifles and Carbines

Fall 2013
Model 1868
NRA Very Good =$900
NRA Excellent = $2,200
Model 1868
NRA Very Good = $18,000
NRA Excellent = $29,000

Model 1868 Rifle

Overall Length51.85"
Barrel Length (in bore)32.6"
Cleaning Rod Length35 5/8",no cannelures
Muzzle Diameter.774"
Rifling3 Lands and Grooves
Caliber.50 CF .50-70-450 Cartridge
Barrel Bands2 clamp type,18 5/8" apart
Cartouches4, 2 Rectangular & 2 Oval ESA
Breech Block 1868 or 1869, or 1870/Eagle/Arrows/U.S.
Firing ProofNone, or Large L
Lock PlateDated 1862-1864
V/P/Eagle/p stampNone
Serial NumberOn Barrel and Receiver
Front sight1 1/4" from muzzle, 5/16" long
Rear SightM68, deep V

The next rifle adopted by the US Army was the .50 caliber Model 1868, having E.S. Allin's modifications. The majority of the 52,000 rifles produced were manufactured in 1869 and 1870. Production peaks were in the October 1869, through June 1870, period.

The M68 was Springfield's first attempt at using a separate receiver and in some cases new 32.6" barrels. The rifling is the same as that in the Model 1866 rifle, one turn in 42 inches with three equal width grooves and lands. The shorter length barrel eliminated the need for the middle band, so the sling swivel was attached to the upper band. The bands are retained by stock shoulders and band springs. The musket sight was replaced with a leaf sight having a maximum range of 900 yards. The ramrod shoulder is retained by a pin inserted in the ramrod groove.

The most noticeable feature of this rifle or carbine is the length of the receiver. No other trapdoor has such a long receiver. M68 breech blocks are dated with the year of production: 1868, 1869 or 1870. However, very few rifles were produced in 1868, so the 1868 breech block is extremely rare.

The receiver and barrel are stamped with matching serial numbers on the left side. All model 1868 rifles should have "V" shaped sighting notches in the rear sight and square cornered thumb pieces. These arms normally have four cartouches, two from CW production, and two from when it was altered to a breech loader.

A number of these arms were nickel plated before being issued to troops for trial. Occasionally these nickel plated arms are found and can be identified.

Some Model 1868 rifles have replacement breech blocks that are thinner at the hinge which allows them to rotate further forward when opened. These breech blocks come with an assortment of stampings other than the standard dated variety. The modification started in the 1870s.

Model 1868 Carbine

The Model 1868 Carbine never went beyond the prototype stage. A total of about four were made for trial. They feature the 1868 action, bore and rifling. The barrel length is 22 1/4" and the gun features a two piece front sight with a brass blade pinned to the base. Three were made in the third quarter of 1869 and one was made in the first quarter of 1870. These guns were not cartouched when produced. It is believed that new stocks were used rather than fill the ramrod groove in a used musket stock.

For additional photographs, descriptions and specifications see:
The .45-70 Springfield-Book II-1865-1893.

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