At the outbreak of the Spanish American War, the current model was the Model 1889. This weapon was the main shoulder arm used by the volunteer troops at the outbreak of the war, in spite of its being outdated in comparison with the smokeless powder weapons that were becoming available.
The modification that was the major difference between the Model 1873 and the Model 1889 was the replacement of the triangular bayonet with a rod bayonet, and a few other very minor modifications.
The overwhelmingly major objection to this rifle was that it used black powder instead of the more modern smokeless powder. The black powder cartridge left a tell-tale cloud of smoke by which the shooter could be spotted and fired upon. Also, the smoke cloud required the shooter to wait until the smoke cleared before he could aim and fire again.
The weapon was a single shot whereas the newer Krag-Jorgensen and the Spanish Mauser rifles were magazine weapons. The United States, however, insisted that its magazine-equipped Krag-Jorgensen rifles be used as single shot weapons with the rounds in the magazine reserved only for emergencies. Still, in actual combat, the rate of fire of the single-shot Model 1889 "trapdoor" rifles was much slower.
The Model 1889 "trapdoor" rifle had an advantage in "take-down" power over the newer smokeless powder rifles such as the Krag-Jorgensen Rifle, used by some United States forces, and the Spanish Mauser because these weapons fired a smaller projectile. This difference in size and weight also meant that the average soldier could carry fewer rounds with him fo rthe Model 1889 than he could carry for newer Krag-Jorgensen Rifle (one hundred .30 cal. cartridges weighed the same as sixty .45 cal "trapdoor" rifle cartridges).
Lastly, the "trapdoor" rifles fired at a higher trajectory than
the more modern weapons, resulting in more difficulties in aiming.
|Total length:||52 inches|
|Length of barrel:||36 inches|
|Rifling:||3 grooves, making one turn in 22 inches.|
|Stock length:||48-3/4 inches|
|Weight of projectile:||405 grains|
Gluckman, Arcadi, United States Muskets, Rifles and Carbines. (Buffalo: Otto Ulbrich Co., Inc., 1948).