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Trapdoor Springfield rifle Converting a muzzle loading Springfield rifle to breech loader (revised version). The majority of rifles used in the American Civil War were muzzle loaders. These were slow to load, and generally required the soldier to load while standing up. The Austro-Prussian war of 1866 showed that an army equipped with breech loaders could fire several times faster (and while lying down) than an army with muzzle loaders. What do you do if you have hundreds of thousands of muzzle loaders in your armoury? Throw them away and buy new or convert them to breech loaders? Much cheaper, and quicker, to convert. This animation shows how a Springfield rifle musket was converted to a breech loader – the ‘Trapdoor’ Springfield.

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