SOLD FOR: $1775
Model: Ward Burton 1871
Serial Number: NSN
Year of Manufacture: 1871
Caliber: .50-70 Government
Action Type: Bolt-Action Single Shot Rifle
Markings: Receiver left side marked with Eagle and “U.S. / SPRINGFIELD 1871”. The top of the bolt is marked “WARD BURTON PATENT / DEC. 20. 1859. FEB. 21. 1871”. The top of the buttplate, forward of the screw is marked “US”. The left side of the stock is marked with a Cartouche for John W. Keene.
Barrel Length: 32?
Sights/Optics: No sights are present.
Stock Configuration and Condition: The stock is a one-piece smooth wood with sheet-steel buttplate, straight comb, straight grip, two barrel bands held by detent spring clips, and a ramrod groove (ramrod is included). There are sling swivels on the front of the guard and on the underside of the forward barrel band. There are light-to-moderate nicks, dings, and compressions throughout, many of which have been oiled over. Cracks run from the grip tang rearward roughly 4” on either side of the grip. The LOP measures 13? from the front of the trigger to the back of the buttplate. The plate has light pitting from erosion throughout along with light nicks on the edges. A finish has been applied to the plate. Overall, the stock rates in Good-plus condition, as Antique.
Type of Finish: Blued Receiver and Bolt Assembly, Bright Barrel
Finish Originality: Original
Bore Condition: The bore is semi bright with well-defined rifling. There is no erosion in the bore, but light stubborn fouling persists throughout.
Overall Condition: This rifle retains 5% of its original finish. Very little of the blue finish remains on the receiver, but there is a bit on the top. The receiver and the barrel have spots of light surface oxidation throughout along with minor nicks and scuffs. The screw heads range from sharp to tool marked, all with usable slots. The markings are clear in places, missing in others. Overall, this rifle is in Good-plus condition, as Antique.
Mechanics: The action functions correctly. We have not fired this rifle. As with all used firearms, thorough cleaning may be necessary to meet your maintenance standards.
Box, Paperwork, and Accessories: None.
Our Assessment: Arms development for the US military during the mid-to-late 1800s was nothing if not dynamic, and while the Trapdoor and its precursors were a flurry of design ideas and iterations, there are among those even more rare and unsung variants. One such is the Ward Burton patent bolt action rifle of 1871. Crafted in the time in between Allin conversions and the 1870 trapdoor, the Ward Burton would be the first bolt-action rifle put through trials with the U.S. in 1872 but not see any kind of adoption, partly due to an iffy safety mechanism and an overall lack of enthusiasm from the troops. It is worth considering that no more than 1,011 of these were ever made, and it is hard to imagine any firearm gaining any kind of popularity in so few hands. Regardless, like most of the arms developed in this period, the Model 1871 Ward Burton is fascinating, and perhaps its greatest sin was being too far ahead of its time—bolt-action rifles would be widely adopted by the US military just a quarter century later. Springfield, U.S. Military, and bolt-action collectors will want to keep a sharp eye on this rare rifle. Good luck and happy bidding!