Carbines were fitted with a stock-mounted bar and saddle ring, to be hooked to a leather sling worn diagonally across a trooper’s body, thus curtailing accidental loss from the saddle. Numerous changes were made to the carbine during its 20-year service in the Army, encompassing triggers, lockplates, breechblocks, stampings, hammers, and rear sights. Befitting military guns, parts were interchangeable and today it is rare to find a trapdoor in “as-issued” condition. Plus, many rifles were made into faux-carbines in later years.
There were 60,912 carbines made from 1873 to 1893. Those with serial numbers below 43,700 are known as “Custer Guns,” as there is a possibility they saw action at the Little Big Horn, but easily swapped parts mean “buyer beware”—authenticated guns are rare. Nonetheless, values of any carbine in decent condition have risen dramatically in recent years.
This Model 1879, serial number 177,XXX, was manufactured in 1881. A five-pointed star stamped after the serial number indicates an arsenal rebuild. Research shows this carbine was reissued in 1898 to the 13th Colorado Volunteers. A properly fitting lockplate, visible inspector’s cartouche, and pristine bore make this an above-average example worth $2,250 to $2,500.