What caliber is a Sharps rifle

The icons of American gun history include early Winchester models (such as Henry, Model 1866, Model 1873) and the Colt Single Action Army, weapons from Sharps. Especially the model 1874, set up for large-volume cartridges suitable for hunting all North American big game, has a special flair. Numerous stories, legends and occasional roles in relevant films have contributed to a myth of a special kind. The synonym "Buffalo Rifle" points to a (sad) chapter in the story of the conquest of the American continent, when between 1867 and 1882 the professional buffalo hunters almost exterminated the herds of millions of specimens of the American bison, except for a pitiful remnant .

In principle, "Sharps" refers to a robust single-shot weapon with a long and often heavy barrel in large caliber, without many frills, without unnecessary luxury. The OLD RELIABLE trademark (on weapons manufactured in Bridgeport from 1876 onwards) also contributes to consolidating the nimbus. Similar to the way Colt primarily thinks of the 1873 (Single Action Army) model, Sharps has the 1874 model in mind.

At the beginning of the career of a whole series of practical, long-lasting and visually appealing weapons, which enjoyed considerable popularity in both the military and civilian sectors, the invention of a Christian Sharps (just like that, with an "s" and without an apostrophe!) . C. Sharps lived from 1811 to 1874. He worked and learned in the arsenal of Harpers Ferry under John Hall, a famous inventor from New England. Sharps received his first patent in 1848 for a drop block lock, the underlying principle of all weapons commonly associated with the name Sharps.

The first two rifle models, 1849 and 1850, are still manufactured by A. S. Nippes in Mill Creek, Pennsylvania, the carbine of the model 1851 by Robbins & Lawrence in Windsor, Vermont. This is followed in 1852 by the founding of a sales company in Hartford, Connecticut, which bears the name of Christian Sharps as Sharps Rifle Manufacturing Company and of which Sharps is a technical advisor. For every weapon manufactured, he receives a share of the income. Production was relocated to Hartford around 1855 under the same company name. In 1874 a reorganization takes place, the company now operates under the Sharps Rifle Company. Two years later, the entire Hartford factory is relocated to Bridgeport, Connecticut, where they will remain based until the end of 1881. But until then, a production that is impressive in terms of quantity, quality and diversity will leave the production facilities. Shotguns and military weapons (model 1853) are manufactured, Beecher's Bibles and John Brown Sharps play their part in the political discussion about the slave issue, and they are also manufactured for the military and England. With the New Model 1859, 1863 and 1865 rifles and carbines, the breech block that slides downwards at an angle is replaced by a vertically lowerable one. After the fratricidal war between North and South, exactly these models were changed to metal cartridges at the Sharps company. A model 1869 and a model with the designation 1870, modified in the arsenal in Springfield and at Sharps from existing civil war stocks, followed in small numbers, before the model 1874 launched the dazzling range of those legendary hunting and sporting weapons that preoccupy collectors and historians alike. Although it was first produced in 1871, the mentioned year 1874 has become the norm for a model that, in its variety of uses, calibers and designs, has been the weapon of choice for hunters of all North American game and for shooters, especially over long distances Distances up to 1300 yards are possible. In national and international competitions it is always a model that causes a stir. A special model 1877 is also being developed for the competitions of the latter type. The brothers Frank and George Freund, from Heidelberg, gunsmiths by trade, draw attention to themselves with their own modifications. With the Sharps-Borchardt rifle (model 1878) comes the end of a series that successfully kept pace in the hectic time of permanent innovations in the field of weapons and ammunition development and offered buyers the best bang for their buck.

The inventor himself had a somewhat disturbed relationship with the companies that bore his name. Already in 1853 he parted with it and paddled his own canoe in Philadelphia, where he founded a company C. Sharps & Co. in 1854 to manufacture single-shot breech loading pistols with percussion ignition, from 1859 four-shot pepper boxes. In 1862, C. Sharps tried a partner named William Hankins. The two also produced "pepper shakers" and rifles and carbines with vertically sliding barrels, the latter almost all for military purposes. In 1866 they separated. There was a C. Sharps Co. and four-barrel pistols again until 1874, when Christian Sharps died and his company ceased to exist with him.

The 1874 models were manufactured by the Sharps Rifle Manufacturing Co. of Hartford from 1871 to 1876, then by the Sharps Rifle Company of Bridgeport until 1881. With regard to barrel length, caliber, barrel shape, finish and sights, there was a multitude of options with a corresponding number of variants. Certain fixed combinations were offered in the catalogs under special names, or the collectors of a later generation created common names under which Sharps weapons are now divided into types. In "Flayderman", the bible for collectors of American weapons, there are subdivisions in "Sporting (6500), Military Rifle and Carbine (1769 + 456), Hunter's (592), Creedmoor # 1-3 (149), Mid Range # 1 -3 (177), Long Range # 1-4 (429), Business (1604), Schuetzen (69) "(the numbers in brackets, which add up to 11745). Another 700 specimens belong to the so-called A-series, which were manufactured between 1879 and 1882 in a colorful variety of percussion weapons and leftover parts and were mainly delivered to two well-known dealers in Denver, Colorado, namely J. P. Lower and Carlos Gove.

The popularity of the .45-75 Sharps caliber was due to the widespread use of the .45-70 Government military cartridge. It was easy to get almost everywhere, in any case where the military was nearby, and was allegedly given in part to buffalo hunters free of charge in order to speed up the extermination of the buffalo and thus that of the Indians. The popularity of the .45-70 Government cartridge in Sharps rifles continues to this day. After all, it is standard in the new productions of the 1874 model, which are again offered in numerous variants today, and which can always be found in the increasing number of competitions taking place in the old manner.