Sharps rifle

Sharps rifle

Infobox Weapon|is_ranged=yes
name=Sharps rifle

origin=U.S., Union
type=Rifle, Carbine
designer=Christian Sharps
cartridge=caliber .52 475-grain projectile with convert|50|gr|sing=on cartridge, later converted to 45-70 US government in 1873.
action=Falling Block
rate= 8 - 10 shots per minute
range= 500 yards
sights= open ladder type
variants=Single set trigger (regular army)
Double set trigger |number= 100,000+
velocity=1200 ft/s
weight=8 pounds
length= 47 inches (rifle)
feed=1 round

Sharps Rifle was series of rifles first designed by Christian Sharps and manufactured by the Sharps Rifle Manufacturing Company. The Sharps Rifle patented September 12, 1848 [ [,+1848 IMPROVEMENT IN BREECH-LOADING FIRE-ARMS] retrieved 20 September 2008 from Google] and was manufactured by Butterfield & Nippes in Philadelphia.


The second model used the Maynard tape primer and surviving examples are marked Maynard Gun Co., Chicoppe Falls, MA. In 1850 the second model was brought to the Robbin & Lawrence Co. of Windsor, VT where the Model 1851 was developed for mass production. Rollin White of R&L invented the knife-edge breech block and self-cocking device for the "box-lock" Model 1851. This is referred to as the "First Contract," which was for 5,000 Model 1851 carbines, of which approximately 1,650 were produced -- all in Windsor.

In 1851 the "Second Contract" was made for 15,000 rifles and the Sharps Rifle Manufacturing Co. was organized as a holding company with $100,000 in capital and with John C. Palmer as president, Christian Sharps an engineer, and Richard S. Lawrence as master armorer and superintendent of manufacturing. Sharps was to be paid a royalty of $1.00 per gun and the factory was built on the property of Robbins & Lawrence in Hartford, CT.

The Model 1851 was replaced in production by the Model 1853. All Sharps rifles were manufactured in Windsor, VT until October 1856. Christian Sharps left the Company in 1853; Richard S. Lawrence continued as the chief armorer until 1872 and developed the various Sharp models and improvements that made the rifle famous.

Hugo Borchardt designed the last rifle made by the company; Sharps-Borchardt Model 1878. The Sharps Rifle Co. closed down in 1881.

Reproductions of the paper cartridge Sharps M1859 and M1863 Rifle and Carbine, the metallic cartridges 1874 Sharps Rifle, and Sharps-Borchardt Model 1878 are being manufactured today. They are used in Civil War re-enacting, hunting and target shooting.

harps military rifles and carbines

harps military rifles

The military Sharps rifle (also known as the Berdan Sharps rifle) was a falling block rifle used during and after the American Civil War. Along with being able to use a standard percussion cap, the Sharps had a fairly unusual pellet primer feed. This was a device which held a stack of pelleted primers that flipped one over the nipple every time the trigger was pulled and the hammer fell. This was much easier to operate from horseback than individual percussion caps.

The Sharps Rifle was used in the Civil War by the U.S. Army sharpshooters known popularly as "Berdan's Sharpshooters" in honor of their leader Hiram Berdan. The Sharps made a superior sniper weapon of higher accuracy than the more commonly issued muzzle-loading rifled-muskets. This was due mainly to the higher rate of fire of the breech loading mechanism and the fact that the quality of manufacture was superior. It was produced by the Sharps Rifle Manufacturing Company in Hartford, CT.

harps military carbine

The Carbine version was very popular with the cavalry of both the Union and Confederate armies and was issued in much larger numbers than the full length rifle. The falling block action lent itself to conversion to the new metallic cartridges developed in the late 1860s, and many of these converted carbines in .50-70 Gov't were used during the Indian Wars in the decades immediately following the Civil War.

harps sporting rifles

Sharps made rifles in sporting versions from the late 1840s until the late 1880s. After the American Civil War, converted Army surplus guns were made into custom rifles, and the Sharps factory produced Models 1869 and 1874 rifles in large numbers for the commercial buffalo hunters and frontiersmen. These largebore rifles were manufactured in some of the most powerful black powder cartridges. Sharps also manufactured special long range target versions for the then popular Creedmore style of convert|1000|yd|m|sing=on target shooting. Many modern black powder Cartridge Silhouette shooters use original and replica Sharps rifles to shoot metallic silhouettes cut in the shapes of animals at ranges up to 500 meters. A company known as Shiloh Rifle Manufacturing Company, of Big Timber, Montana, has been manufacturing reproductions of the Sharps Rifle since 1983. A replica Sharps Rifle was featured prominently in the 1990 western film Quigley Down Under, starring Tom Selleck, and one is used to good effect by the character Bob Valdez (Burt Lancaster) in the film Valdez Is Coming.

ee also

*Sharps Rifle Manufacturing Company
*Sharps-Borchardt Model 1878
*Berdan rifle
*Spencer rifle
*List of individual weapons of the U.S. Armed Forces
*.50-90 Sharps


* Frank Sellers "Sharps Firearms"
* Winston O. Smith "The Sharps Rifle"
* Earl J. Coates and Dean S. Thomas, "An Introduction to Civil War Small Arms"
* Ian V. Hogg, "Weapons of the Civil War"


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