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Sharps "Old Reliable" .40 Caliber

Discussion in 'General Firearm Discussion' started by IronMonster, Nov 26, 2014.

  1. IronMonster

    IronMonster Washington Opinionated Member Diamond Supporter

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    I recently took possession of this, It belonged to my great grandfather. I have handled a few real Sharps rifles before but I really dont know the first thing about this or any other.

    From a bit of poking around I think this is a model 1874, probably what they call a "Business" rifle The condition is poor, Its missing the front sight blade and the wood is rough. It appears to be complete and functions (not fire, just all the moving parts jive)

    Do you know where I could expect to find the serial number?

    Also any way to determine the chamber short of casting some cerrometal in there? It looks like the cartridge is necked and freakin long, 3" maybe?

    So what can you tell me about it? This is one of three rifles that I got that belonged to my great grandfather. He had another Sharps that is in much better condition that I should get soon. The story on it was it was promoted by Wild Bill Hickok, It has a brass plate set in the stock that says something about it Bill Hickok anyway. I believe it is a 1874 as well but a longer version with the provision for the long distant sights sharps5.JPG sharps4.jpg sharps3.jpg sharps2.JPG sharps1.jpg
     
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2014
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  2. U201491

    U201491 Well-Known Member

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    Some interesting info on the old sharps and other single shot rifles of that era.

    http://www.gunsamerica.com/blog/fro...30-dec-2-sharps-rolling-blocks-trapdoors-etc/

    Lots to see out there on the Sharps Rifles
    https://www.google.com/search?q=Sha...&sa=X&ei=ALx2VOOhJ8T8igKvxoAY&ved=0CAgQ_AUoAw
     
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2014
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  3. Flopsweat

    Flopsweat Slightly right of center Well-Known Member

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    IM, you can call it ugly if you want, but it looks pretty to me. Sorry that I don't have anything else to contribute, as I know very little about Sharps rifles. Well, other than that if someone offers you a chance to shoot a 45-110, do it. :cool:
     
  4. IronMonster

    IronMonster Washington Opinionated Member Diamond Supporter

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    I never said it was ugly, I said it was in poor condition. Its actually quite beautiful
     
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  5. Flopsweat

    Flopsweat Slightly right of center Well-Known Member

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    I stand corrected. :)
     
  6. jbett98

    jbett98 NW Oregon Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    I worked with a guy who was married to a direct descendant of Wild Bill.
    Her brother inherited some of his guns and memorabilia.
    I never did get the chance to see them, wish I had though.
    Nice to see you got some cool firearms.
     
  7. rick benjamin

    rick benjamin USA, Or, Damascus Secure the drama Silver Supporter 2016 Volunteer

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  8. Sgt Nambu

    Sgt Nambu Oregon Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    Sorry Monster, no info, but that's a beautiful old rifle!
    Keep us informed as you learn more about it. SRG
     
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  9. U201491

    U201491 Well-Known Member

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    There are no ugly Sharps.
    Just ones like me, Well aged :)
     
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  10. ogre

    ogre Vancouver, WA Well-Known Member

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    Original Sharps cartridges in 40 caliber range from the 40-50-265 Bottleneck to the 40-90-370 Straight.

    The Business Rifle was brought out in 1876 and offered in calibers 40-70 and 45-75 Sharps.

    A 40-70 Sharps Bottleneck has a case length of 2 1/4"

    A 40-70 Sharps Straight has a case length 0f 2 1/2"

    A 40-90 Sharps Bottleneck has a case length of 2 5/8"

    A 40-90 Sharps Straight has a case length of 3 1/4" (There is conflicting information as to whether this cartridge was an original Sharps offering)

    If readable the cartridge, including case length, should be marked on the top of the barrel near the receiver.

    I envy you your possession. :)
     
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  11. IronMonster

    IronMonster Washington Opinionated Member Diamond Supporter

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    The barrel is simply marked ".40 Caliber" It does have a bottle neck. I have some cerrometal, maybe I can make a plug and a chamber cast.
     
  12. IronMonster

    IronMonster Washington Opinionated Member Diamond Supporter

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    Anybody have a comment on the butt? I am reasonably sure it is a modification, strange to say the least. It does hug your shoulder quite well but I bet the bump is significant :)


    IMG_6302.JPG
     
  13. ogre

    ogre Vancouver, WA Well-Known Member

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    Many people preferred that style of butt plate and they placed it on the upper arm between the bicep and the shoulder when shooting. I have a 36 caliber muzzleloading target rifle with the same style of butt plate and it is quite comfortable to shoot. It does not have near the recoil of your fine Sharps though.
     
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  14. OFADAN

    OFADAN Brownsville, OR Well-Known Member

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    I don't know much about Sharps rifles but I'll contribute where I can....Sharps rifles were basically produced from a "custom" shop. Each rifle was highly customizable and while many of the rifles types (business, mid-range, sporting, express etc.) all had similar characteristics they could be altered to meet the needs of the owner or the particular store ordering.

    Based upon what I'm observing (and some of the details are missing or fussy from the photos) it "could" be a Business Rifle BUT...the Business Rifle was a low-end rifle to fill the demand for cheaper than sporting rifles in a booming market (sorta like AR of today). Your rifle has some higher-end features which makes one cautiously suspicious it is a Business. Business rifles were produced from August 1976 to Sept 1880 in Bridgeport. From what I can tell it "appears" your rifle is a Bridgeport rifle from the markings.

    Business rifles had 28" ROUND barrels with a rifle buttplate. Very few variations were made on this rifle because it was the low-end mass produced rifle in its day. About 100 26" and 30" barrels and only 10 (yep that's right) 10 each in octagon were made. So if your rifle is a Business it is in the extreme rare category.

    The issues discounting it from being a Business rifle is the octagon barrel, the mid-range style butt plate, the rear sight, and the Bridgeport style Schnabble forearm which leads me to believe this is indeed a Bridgeport rifle but maybe not the Business. The Business rifle didn't have a Schnabble forearm...it was rounded and tapered toward the barrel rather than having a lip protrude down like on your rifle. All rifles produced appear as "CALIBRE 40". If CALIBRE is missing and it just says "40" then it is a customized Business rifle as it never had CALIBRE. The case length and/or powder charge appears on the side of the barrel. So see if you can find this!

    There is one known '74 Business that looks very similar to yours except for the buttstock. Indeed your buttstock could be an add-on. It has the same rear sight, octagon barrel and Schnabble forearm - Serial Number 160,625.

    I'm uncertain where ogre obtained his data and I'm not contradicting him but it is my understanding the Business Rifle only came in three standard calibers - 40/70 2 1/4" Bottle Neck until March 1878 and 40/65 2 1/2" straight thereafter. And of course 45/70 2.1" straight. 900 45's were produced, and 700 40s (both cartridges). Six 50 cals were made according to factory records. So if yours is a Business then it must be the 40/70 2 1/4" Bottle Neck. Again, it should be marked on the rifle. I only hope this helps.
     
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2014
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  15. IronMonster

    IronMonster Washington Opinionated Member Diamond Supporter

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    I like the fact that you preface your statement with "I dont know much" and then basically lay out a hundred times more info than anyone I have been able to come across :D

    I does say Calibre 40. It also says "Sharps Rifle Co Bridgeport" right behind it. I found online someplace that only 441 1874's where made in Bridgeport?

    I will dig it out while I am at the shop tomorrow and see if I can find a serial number and the case length info

    Are there any other specific photos I could take that would help identify it further?

    Thanks!
     
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  16. U201491

    U201491 Well-Known Member

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    Its an ERA thing.
    I have an old 94 Win with a curved Butt Plate.
    A turn of the century thing on many rifles.
    Some of the old Sharps, and then look at the Schutzen Styles.

    https://www.google.com/search?num=1...urce=og&sa=N&tab=wi&ei=tDV4VKL4Dcj4igLTzIHwBQ
     
  17. OFADAN

    OFADAN Brownsville, OR Well-Known Member

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    Not sure where the "441" number derives from...there were 1,600 Business rifles all produced in Bridgeport. 900 45's, 700 40's and six 50's just in the Business model alone. Other models were produced in Bridgeport as well including the Long-Range, Mid-Range, Schuetzen, Express, and around 3,000 Sporting rifles made there.

    When you go to the shop look for two numbers on the side of the barrel. One will mark the black powder charge and the other the length of the cartridge. In these older black powder cartridge rifles it is critical to get the case length. Back in the day the common vernacular wasn't to say "I'm shooting a 45-70" but rather "I'm shooting a 45 two and one eighth".
     
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2014
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  18. IronMonster

    IronMonster Washington Opinionated Member Diamond Supporter

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    Ok, I don't see any case info, you can see where the patent info is on the side of the receiver but it's not really legible. I did find a number on the underside of the barrel which I assume must be the serial number?
    48310
    I can't find the number on the receiver. image.jpg
     
  19. IronMonster

    IronMonster Washington Opinionated Member Diamond Supporter

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    And the barrel is 30"
     
  20. BigBull 301

    BigBull 301 PDX almost Well-Known Member

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    What a great family heirloom!
     
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