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Old May 17, 2011, 02:14 AM   #1
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sharps rifle

heres a good question, if someone was to buy a pre civil war style sharps breech loading rifle, what would be hte better one to get, the one that utilizes the cumbustible linen cartridge, or the one that uses the brass cartridge case with powder nad bullet, but fired wth the percussion cap mounted on the breechblockin the standard location?

would either style be a better choice over a military rifle with adjustable sights of the same time period?
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Old May 17, 2011, 06:30 AM   #2
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As far as I know, prior to 1867, all Sharps rifles/carbines used the combustible linen cartridge. Reproductions of the percussion Sharps have been manufactured by a few different makers. A common problem with Italian-made repros is that the breechblock does not properly seal the chamber and the breechblock will get severely gummed up with BP residue after a few shots. I have heard that the American-made Shiloh Sharps repros do not have this problem, but the Shiloh is a lot more expensive than an Italian Sharps.
There are brass cases on the market which are intended for use in the percussion Sharps, but I have not read any good reviews on them. Evidently, they do not effectively seal the chamber either..... and I imagine that it would be a pain in the neck to extract one of those brass cases after firing.

As to whether a repro Sharps might be better than a standard military muzzle-loader, I think it would depend on what application you have in mind. Hunting? Target shooting? Battlefield reenactments?

If you can afford a Shiloh Sharps, I would say "Go for it", but it may not be legal for muzzle-loading hunting in your state.
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Old May 17, 2011, 10:33 AM   #3
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Newton24 - if you're thinking of getting a Sharps, perhaps some on here that are experienced with the different makes/models will chime in.

You might also want to take a trip over to the NSSA site - North South Skirmish Association - the link to their home site is below

Once you get there, click on to their "bulletin board" tab which will take you to a number of forums. There is one on weapons. I'm sure that a lot of the skirmishers probably use a Sharps for carbine competition and can help clear up any questions you might have on makes/models and associated problems if any. Good luck! Sounds like you've been bitten by the dreaded "Sharps Bug"?
If a pair of '51 Navies were good enough for Billy Hickok, then a single Navy on my right hip is good enough for me . . . besides . . . I'm probably only half as good as he was anyways. Hiram's Rangers Badge #63
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Old May 17, 2011, 11:13 AM   #4
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i have a Pedersoli sharps rifle in 45/70. it fires brass cartridges breech loading. i am not sure of the linen cartridge you speak of unless it is muzzle loading.

Pedersoli makes a fine sharps rifle in many styles. mine has fine wood, a great metal finish and a target grade sights and barrel. Pedersoli sharps rifles compete head to head with many custom built sharps with great success on the range.

i am not sure about improper breeches and fouling. BP is dirty and will foul any rifle much sooner than smokeless. i've not heard Pedersoli sharps are any more or less affected by this than any other brand of sharps.

there are a couple of italian made sharps as well as some fine made in the usa custom rifles. most of the usa made sharps are much more expensive and often there is a long wait. Pedersoli has a fine reputation and makes fine guns that go head to head with guns that cost much more and often win. you make your choice and pay your money.
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Old May 17, 2011, 11:55 AM   #5
Jim Watson
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My philosophy is to stay with the original design. The brass tubes are a fake improvisation for people who don't want to learn how to make proper paper cartridges. There was no such thing for real Sharps rifles in the day. If you want brass cartridges, get a .45-70. If you want an 1859 or 1863, learn how to manage it.

That is just too much like work, we don't have sweatshops of widows and orphans rolling paper cartridges or paper patching bullets. I like my "modern" 1885 Winchester.
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Old May 23, 2011, 11:08 PM   #6
Ideal Tool
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I have a Shilo 1863 percussion rifle ( Farmingdale N.Y.) I have experianced no breech leakage when firing. As far as the brass tube design being fake...I have to disagree. Sharps manufactured special brass-tube ctgs. for their percussion sharps..These had a small tab on one side of case head for extractiing. On some rifles, a shallow slot was milled into breech face for this tab to fit into. These were termed "mule ear cartridges". I have seen examples with a light brass chain afixed to the tab to prevent loss. These models were of course less common than the regular paper ctg. sharps. With the high quality and tight fitting breech of the American made Shilo..I can see no advantage to using a brass case in this model.
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Old June 4, 2011, 03:39 AM   #7
Join Date: November 28, 2009
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My Love Affair With Sharps

Over the past 40 odd years I have owned two original and two replica percussion Sharps Carbines.

Both my replica Shiloh and Pedersoli Sharps are top quality. The Shiloh shot fine out of the box with no breechblock jamming issues.

On my Pedersoli, it would lock up after a dozen rounds from fouling. I did an "O" Ring job on it and now it will fire 100 plus rounds without locking up.

IF I were you and not an N-SSA shooter (I use my Sharps Carbine in the Carbine Team Matches) I would get a Shiloh Percussion Military Rifle.

NOW....Making percussion ammo is about 5 times more hassle than loading modern brass cartridges. For my Sharps, I use Ladies Hair Curling Papers. They are pre-cut to the right size and burn up completely. [I got 5,000 Hair Curling Papers from a Beauty Salon supply store for $8.00 plus tax.] Some people advocate using cigarette papers but that is crazy because they have so many tobacco taxes included in their price.

I have a cut off piece of 1/2 " wooden dowel. [1]I wrap the Hair Curling Paper around the dowel. [2]Then using Elmer's stick glue, I glue the paper into a cylinder. [3] Then I run some stick glue around the base of the bullet where the paper cylinder will attach. [4] Then I slide the paper cylinder from the dowel until it catches over the base of the bullet. [5] I press down the paper on the base of the bullet to make sure the glue sticks. [6] Then I slide the dowel out from the paper cylinder. [7] I place the bullet's nose of the fragile "cartridge in making" in a hole so the "cartridge" stands upright. [8] Using Dental Floss, I also now tie the paper cylinder to the base of the bullet.

[9]After I have done 50, I "Hot Dip" the bullets in melted lube. [10] Then I drop the powder in the cartridge and twist the ends of the paper cylinder into a "Rat's Tail." Now my cartridges are ready to load and fire!

Percussion Sharps are lots and lots of fun-just know you are have to work making up your cartridges! The advantage? Percussion Sharps are cheaper to shoot than cartridge Sharps!
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