Actually, I know what they are, I’m just confused about what the ring is for. Web searches aren’t helping me, because I’m getting conflicting results.
A columnist in a certain popular shooting magazine contends that the ring (specifically on the trapdoor Springfield cavalry carbine) is there to allow a cavalry trooper to affix his carbine to his saddle in some unspecified fashion. Somehow, this is supposed to keep the gun in a ready condition for action. At any rate, he claims that that is the basis for the “saddle ring” designation.
I’m not buying that.
Mid- to late- 19th Century U.S. Cavalry troopers rode McClellan saddles with knee scabbards for their weapons, so a saddle hardpoint would seem to be superfluous. I mean, really, is untying a carbine from a hardpoint and loading it any faster than pulling it from a knee scabbard and loading it?
My understanding of the derivation of the term was different.
There are examples of smoothbore wheelock carbines dating to the Thirty Years War with similar rings. They were evidently carried by dragoon formations, along with five or six pistols and a broadsword.
A dragoon would have pistols in holsters on his saddle and body, and at least one tucked in the top of his boot. Then there would be a broadsword hung from a baldric on his left hip, and a carbine hanging from another baldric on his right. So, a “saddle ring” would be something on a gun to be used by a man in a saddle.
It seems to me that, even as dumb as we are, that Americans couldn’t possibly have forgotten something so basic so quickly.
What was the ring really for?