Early Production "Custer Era" U.S. Model 1873 Carbine without the 1877 Upgrades

.45-70. 22" barrel length. SN: 15509. Blued and color casehardened finish, smooth walnut short-comb, long-wrist stock. Lock marked weakly with the "{US SPREAD-WINGED EAGLE}" and in three lines "US/SPRINGFIELD/1873". Trapdoor marked "MODEL/1873/{EAGLE HEAD}/{CROSSED ARROWS}/US". Serial number at rear of receiver. No barrel proofs as is correct. No visible inspection marks in wood due to wear. Narrow receiver, two-click tumbler, high-arch breech, spring-loaded steel firing pin, coarse checkered hammer without lip, smooth trigger, two-piece triggerguard, barrel band without stacking swivel. 1873 pattern rear sight numbered 1 to 5 on the side walls and 6 to 12 on the ladder, sight blade in original steel base is an old, period of use replacement. Correct solid buttplate marked "US" without implement hole in stock. Carbine has none of the 1877 upgrades and remains in its original “Custer Era” configuration. Sling bar cut from mounts, typical of Native used guns.

While the Springfield Research Service Serial number books are a far from complete record of US military arms serial numbers, they can provide some helpful insight into where a gun may have been issued. This carbine is not listed specifically but several carbines close to this number are. The closest, #15506, only 3 numbers away, was issued to the 6th Infantry and was turned in damaged on February 14, 1877. Another gun tuned in damaged on that day from that regiment was #15238. The next closest gun is #15501 which is only 8 numbers away was in the possession of F troop of the 2nd US Cavalry on October 12, 1878. Other F troop, 2nd Cavalry carbines close to this one are #15552 (which was stolen on October 1, 1875) and #15620. Carbine #15537 was in the arms inventory at Fort Laramie on June 13, 1875 and #15590 was in use by F troop of the 5th Cavalry in April of 1879. Realistically it seems more likely that this gun was a 2nd cavalry gun than a 7th cavalry gun, but it falls in the coveted "Custer Range" and has none of the 1877 upgrades. The relic condition, missing sling bar and lack of modifications strongly suggest the gun was no longer in government service by sometime in 1877 and had either been lost or stolen, from which point it likely spent time in the hands of Native Americans.

Provenance:The Collection of Larry Ness


Fair, desert relic condition. Moderately oxidized brownish gray patina with scattered surface roughness and some light pitting. Markings in metal mostly clear, although weak on lock. Mechanically functional, poor bore is heavily pitted with weak rifling. Stock very dry and heavily worn. Wood with cracks in wrist, chipped loss along the forend, chipped loss at the toe, and moderate loss from chips, dings and bruises over the entire gun.

Estimate: $3,000 - $5,000
Price Realized Including Buyer's Premium

Internet Bidding

Have a Similar Item?

Consign With Us


Cowan’s Cincinnati Office offers an in-house, full-service shipping department which is unparalleled in the auction industry. Shipping costs are provided with your finalized invoice 24-48 hours after auction. For furniture and oversized items, we recommend using third-party services. For more information, click HERE or contact cowansshipping@hindmanauctions.com.  

CALIFORNIA & NEW JERSEY BUYERS: Due to recent changes to California and New Jersey law, we require all firearms, whether modern or antique, be shipped to a licensed FFL dealer. Please plan accordingly.

INTERNATIONAL BUYERS: Please note that Cowan's only ships firearms to a United States addresses regardless of antique status. It is the responsibility of the buyer to organize the export of their firearms to their country of residence. Cost of shipping to an exporter will be included on your invoice as the shipping cost, however the cost of exporting is solely the buyer's responsibility.

NOTE: All pickups and preview are by appointment only. To make an appointment, please call 513-871-1670 or email cincinnati@hindmanauctions.com