The Springfield Model 1884 was one of the last members of the infamous "Trapdoor" Springfield rifles. Although other versions of the "Trapdoor" Springfields were produced after 1884, the Model 1884 was the last major redesign of the Springfield Rifles before the Springfield Armory focused on building thier own Krag Jorgensen Rifle.
The Springfield Model 1884 was based on the earlier Model 1873 "Trapdoor" Springfield Rifle, taking many elements from that and the models that came inbetween. This meant that, in appearance atleast, the Model 1884 had a very similar look to it to the Model 1873. However various tweaks were made to the percussion lock mechanism and the breechblock over the years to the Model 1884, all of which were included on the Model 1884. Among these improvements a new serrated trigger was introduced.
But the most significant difference between the Model 1873 and Model 1884 were the sights, with the Model 1884 being equipped with a brand new "Bennington" rear sight (designed by Lieutenant Colonel R.A. Buffington) although this sight would not be perfected until 1885. This new rear sight was incremented at 200yd intervals ranging from point-blank (barrel top) to 1400yds using a rack and pinion system.
The Model 1884 had a 32.625in (0.83m) long, iron barrel, which had a rifling twist of 1:20in (the optimal twist for the .45-70 Government cartridge). Several examples of the Model 1884 were fitted with a rounded bayonet, a concept which tried to incorporate the bayonet and ramrod into a single unit. There was also an improved retaining mechanism fitted to the Model 1884 and the barrel bands were redesigned to incorporated the new sight system.
The Springfield Model 1884 was chambered to accept the .45-70 Government cartridge, which had been in use since the Springfield Model 1873. Specifically the Model 1884 was issued with the .45-70-500 Cartridge, which had a 500gr bullet.
The Springfield Model 1884, as mentioned earlier, belonged to the string of Springfield "Trapdoor" Rifles. Therefore, like its predecessors, the Model 1884 was further developed with other variations of the design appearing. Although some of these modifications were relatively minor, there are several that are worthy of note (and indeed recognised by Springfield as entirely different models).
Springfield Model 1886Edit
The Model 1886 was a modified version of the Model 1884, featuring a modified stock (which had a compartment to store a three-piece ramrod) and a modified extractor. The Model 1886 was shorter than the Model 1884, fitted with a significantly shorter 24in barrel, with 1,000 examples produced.
Springfield Model 1888Edit
The major difference between the Model 1884 and Model 1888 was the bayonet. Although many Model 1884s were fitted with a rounded bayonet, all Model 1888s were fitted with a modified version of the ramrod/bayonet combo. This version was more rounded and did not have an effect on the ballistic capabilities of the Model 1888 (unlike previous attempts).
The Springfield Model 1884 was used in large numbers (although those numbers did not come close to the use of older Springfields such as the Model 1861 Rifled Musket) throughout several conflicts in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Notable conflicts the the Model 1884 saw use in were the American-Indian Wars (1622-1924), the Spanish-American War (1898) and the Philippine-American War (1899-1902).
The Model 1884 can also be considered the last of the "Trapdoor" Springfields (despite the fact that a few models were released after it) as it was the final version of the "Trapdoors" to have a major set of modifications made to it. In 1892, after a run of 28 years (with a further loose connection that extended back to 1795 with the Model 1795 Musket being the first Springfield) the "Trapdoor" Springfield Rifle was replaced by the Krag-Jorgensen based Springfield Model 1892, which not only ended the historic line of Springfield's single-shot rifles and muskets but also ended the use of black powder, as smokeless powders came to the fore.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Springfield_1884full.jpg - Image origin