Known as the U.S. Springfield Lee Model 1875 this Lee Vertical Action Rifle was designed by James P. Lee, one of the more prolific firearms inventors of the era. There were 143 Model 1875s that were manufactured at the Springfield Armory under his supervision and financed by a Congressional appropriation of $10,000 for testing.
The rifle has a 32 5/8-inch barrel with a Model 1873 Springfield Rifle rear sight and it is chambered for the Government .45/70 cartridge. They were issued to companies of the 1st and 20th Infantry Regiments for field trials. Trials completed, the rifles were withdrawn from consideration, declared surplus and purchased by Bannerman's who later sold them in his catalog for $36 .
The rifle features a Martini type dropping block action with centrally mounted spur hammer. Pulling the hammer back locks and cocks the action. After firing the hammer is pushed forward, the breechblock drops to eject the fired cartridge and allows for reloading. The breech closes automatically on insertion of the round in the chamber. Lee touted an impressive 30 rounds in 45 seconds with the rifle, thanks to the design elements that combined to make a very fast manual of arms.
The Model 1875 Lee Vertical Action Rifle is an extremely rare U.S. martial arm found only in the most advanced collections.
The prototype for the Lee Vertical Action rifle was a carbine built, for Lee, by E. Remington & Sons and is considered one of a kind. This prototype was formerly in the Howard Troy collection and the last known hammer price (2014) exceeded $16,000.
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