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Sharps AG-139 - History

Sharps AG-139 - History

Sharps

(AG-139: dp. 500; 1. 177'; b. 33~; dr. 10'; s. 12.4 k.;
cpl. 26; cl. Camano)

Sharps (AG-139) was built in 1944 by Ingalls Shipbuilding Corp. Decatur, Ala., operated by the Army as a freight supply ship (FS-385) in the Pacific until being transferred to the Navy at Guam in March 1947. She was converted to Navy use and commissioned there on 3 August 1947.

One of a group of small Army cargo ships transferred to the Navy for use among the Pacific islands Sharps provided logistic support to the Trust Territories of the Marshall and Caroline Islands. In August 1949, Sharps sailed to Pearl Harbor for an overhaul. From there, she steamed to American Samoa. She arrived there on 4 November 1949 and served as station ship for the next 10 months. She returned to Pearl Harbor and served as an ammunition disposal ship until she was overhauled in late 1951.

When the yard work was completed, Sharps stood out of Pearl Harbor and sailed for Sasebo, Japan. She operated out of that port from 3 November 1951 until 17 May 1952, supporting the United Nation's forces in Inchon and Pohang, Korea. Sharps returned to Guam and central Pacific operations until her home port was again changed to Sasebo on 9 August 1954. She operated in Japanese waters until November 1955 when she sailed for Pearl Harbor, en route to the United States.

Sharps arrived at Astoria, Oregon, on 13 December 1955. In March 1956, she moved to Seattle; and, on 3

April, she was leased to South Korea as Kun San (AKL-9o8).

Sharps received three battle stars for Korean War service.


Sharps Called Its Model 1874 ‘Old Reliable,’ And the Popular Rifle Lived Up to Its Name

Colt, Winchester, Smith & Wesson and Remington are the “Big Four” iconic gun makers of the Wild West, but Sharps isn’t far behind. Flayderman’s Guide to Antique American Firearms and Their Values expertly summarizes this fifth giant:

Among the illustrious names in American firearms history is that of Christian Sharps, originator of a line of extremely practical, sturdy, long-lived and often quite handsome military and sporting rifles and handguns. Sharps arms are associated with several major historical events which shaped American destiny in the 19th century. The substantial quantities in which many of his models were made is testimony to their widespread popularity with both the military and the public during their period of manufacture and use. Undoubtedly the most widely used and popular cavalry weapon of the Civil War was the Sharps carbine. Certainly, one of the guns that most quickly comes to mind in considering the opening and expansion of the West following the Civil War is the Sharps “Buffalo” rifle. The gun was so closely associated with Western lore (and especially that concerning the meat hunters of the Old West) that its name was often used synonymously by writers of the period to indicate any big game rifle. Although no such terminology was ever applied by the Sharps company, in actuality a great many models of Sharps are called by present-day collectors and authors “Buffalo Rifles.”

Actually, two years after Christian Sharps’ death in 1874 one Sharps rifle trademark did become a legend of the Old West— the single-shot Model 1874 “Old Reliable.”

Born in Washington, N.J., in 1810, Christian Sharps apprenticed at the U.S. armory and arsenal at Harpers Ferry in what was then Virginia and never left the firearms business. His original design for a breech-loading, single-shot percussion rifle and carbine became one of the best weapons of the Civil War. And when the self-contained metallic cartridge evolved in the 1860s and 1870s, Sharps was one of the first innovators to make single-shot cartridge rifles and carbines. The vertically sliding breechblock of his cartridge rifles was so powerful and dependable that, as the legend goes, many veterans of the frontier praised their various Sharps rifles as being their “old reliable” guns.

The Model 1874 had actually been in production since 1871, but it was in 1874 that the Sharps Rifle Manufacturing Co. was reorganized as the Sharps Rifle Co. Two years later the new company moved its Hartford, Conn., factory to Bridgeport, Conn., and in April 1876 decided to stamp all future production of the Model 1874 Sharps with an Old Reliable trademark.

One legend about the Old Reliable Model 1874 Sharps that is partially true is that no two of them were ever manufactured exactly alike. That legend evolved mostly because the gun’s action was so strong that it could be ordered in just about any size of powerful cartridge a shooter might want. The basic Sharps cartridges comprised three parts— the powder , the bullet and the cartridge case that the powder and bullet went into—but unlike a standard Colt or Winchester cartridge, all three of those components for a Sharps cartridge could be varied in size and combined to create a unique caliber cartridge.

As Louis A. Garavaglia and Charles G. Worman explain it in Firearms of the American West, 1866–1894, “What really enhanced the Sharps’ popularity among professional buffalo hunters and other frontiersmen was the line of cartridges designed for it, cartridges so ideally suited for the plains that other single-shot manufacturers either copied them directly or devised cartridges which clearly reflected the Sharps influence.”

One particular caliber was so popular with buffalo hunters that it became known as the “Poison Slinger” or “Big Fifty.” And to this day there is controversy about exactly what caliber the Big Fifty was, even though in his bible on the Sharps, Sharps Firearms, author Frank M. Sellers wrote, “The ‘Big Fifty’ Sharps cartridge was the .50 2½ inch, NOT the .50 3¼ inch. No Model 1874 rifle was chambered for a 3¼ inch cartridge of any calibre [sic] at the factory.”

Garavaglia and Worman add: “Because a hide hunter might fire more than a hundred shots per day, he could seldom justify the expense of factory-loaded ammunition: and on the buffalo range during the early 1870s the reloading of cartridge cases by individual shooters really came into its own. In the process a goodly number of hunters devised loads they preferred to the factory standard.”

Besides coming in many calibers, the Old Reliable had barrels that could be ordered in any length or weight, in round or octagon shape, or half-round and half-octagon. Double-set triggers were optional, the type of sights varied, and even the butt-plates came in optional shapes.

The major variations were named “Sporting Rifle,” “Military Rifle,” “Hunter’s Rifle,” “Creedmoor Rifle,” “Mid-Range Rifle,” “Long-Range Rifle” and “Business Rifle.” Standard finish was blue with a casehardened frame, and many were deluxe engraved. The company produced about 12,445 rifles before manufacturing of the Model 1874 Sharps Old Reliable and all other models stopped in October 1880.

Frontiersman James Henry Cook, author of the 1923 memoir Fifty Years on the Old Frontier, favored a .40-90 Old Reliable with a 34-inch octagonal barrel, which cost $125. And , even though the Model 1874 was not yet marked Old Reliable, Billy Dixon used a .50- caliber one to make his now-legendary “mile-long” shot that wounded an Indian leader during the June 29, 1874, Second Battle of Adobe Walls in the Texas Panhandle. As gun historian Jim Earle wrote in America: The Men And Their Guns That Made Her Great, “History was made with this long shot, and the reputation of the Sharps rifle would thereafter be measured by this feat.”

In the late 1870s the favorite hunting rifle of frontiersman George Bird Grinnell, was “a .45-90-450 Sharpe [sic] long-range” model. And in 1878 Andrew Garcia, another veteran of the Plains, explained tongue-in-cheek his own decision to purchase a Sharps: “[I] had to buy a buffalo gun. Like the Chinaman who took the largest size boot if it was the same price as the smaller to get more leather for the money, I bought a .45-120 caliber Sharps rifle, a buffalo gun which weighed over 15 pounds and cost $75, although I could have had a lighter .45-90 No. 13 for the same price.”

Buffalo hunter turned lawman Bill Tilghman is alleged to have killed more than 7,500 buffalo with his Model 1874 Sharps rifles, one of which—Serial No. 53858, in .40 caliber with a 32-inch barrel—is in the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City.

The Old Reliable became so popular that, no pun intended, it probably was the most reliable gun on the frontier.

Originally published in the December 2014 issue of Wild West. To subscribe, click here.


End Notes

Sharpshooter: Hiram Berdan, his famous Sharpshooters and their Sharps Rifles,by Wiley Sword Lincoln, RI 1988

Guns in the American West, New York, NY 1985

Nathan Bedford Forrest New York, NY 1993 pg 79

Carbines of the Civil War, pg 95 pg 64 for question for lawrence pg 64 for service to country pg 63 for poster

Sharpshooter: Hiram Berdan his famous Sharpshooers and Their Sharps Rifles by Wiley Sword Lincoln, RI 1988

Identifying Old U.S. Muskets Rifles and Carbines, by Colonel Aracadi Gluckman

Carbines of the Civil War 1861-1865, by John D. McAulay

The Plains Rifle, by Charles E. Hanson, Jr.

The Pitman Notes on U.S. Martial Small Arms ans Ammuition 1776-1933 Volume One Breech-loading Carbines of the United States Civil War Period From Original Materials Drawn and Colleted, by Brig. Gen. John Pitman

Civil War Firearms: Their Historical Background, Tactical Use and Modern Collecting and Shooting, by Joseph G. Bilby

Arms and Equipment of the Confederacy, by the Editors of Time Life Books

Nathan Bedford Forrest, by Jack Hurst

Fighting Men of The Civil War, byWilliam C. Davis and Russ A Pritchard

Great Century of Guns, by Branko Bgogdanovic Ivan Valencak

The Pictorial History of U.S. Sniping, by Peter R. Senich

The Civil War A Narrative Fort Sumter to Perryville, by Shelby Foote

The Big-Bore Rifle, By Michael McIntosh

Guns of The American West, by Joseph G. Rosa

Illustrated Encyclopedia of 19th Century Firearms, by Major F. Myatt #


Sharps’ .50-70 carbine

Converted Sharps carbines in .50-70 caliber were the primary arms
of the U.S. Cavalry Regiments following the Civil War.

If there ever were a name to conjure up strong images of Western battles and big game hunts, it would be the name Sharps. In the hands of the U.S. Cavalry and buffalo hunters, Sharps Model 1874 .50-70 carbines are simply romantic firearms. The four-volume study of Sharps Firearms by Roy Marcot and Ron Paxton, recently released by Northwood Heritage Press, brings forth more data and images of Sharps firearms and their use than any references we’ve ever had access to before. The work simply breathes new life into the legends of the Sharps big-bore single-shots.

Although partially stripped during the centerfire conversion, the Lawrence pellet priming
system, seen under the hammer, moved a pellet primer onto the nipple.

Carbine Cachet

I’ve always been attracted to the original Sharps carbines. They’re handy, powerful, attractive and a lot more affordable than Sharps rifle models. You can stuff your pocket with a few .50-70 rounds, stroll out the back door and go hunting plus it also has a fascinating history.

During the Civil War, there were 19 major breechloading Federal cavalry carbines fielded. In terms of total wartime production, the big five were the Spencer (94,196 produced), Sharps (80,512), Burnside (55,567), Smith (30,062) and Starr (25,603). As a group, the Union carbines of the Civil War were the most attractive shoulder arms of the conflict. Light, short, fast firing and accurate, the breechloading cavalry carbines signaled the coming end of the single-shot muzzleloader era.

At the conclusion of the war, the Ordnance Department was sitting on countless stacks of carbines, including approximately 50,000 percussion Sharps carbines and rifles. The challenge facing the Ordnance Department was to select the next generation of firearms for the infantry and cavalry and, being financially strapped after the cessation of hostilities, to do it at the least cost. The answer was to convene a “Board” to test and evaluate possible firearm options.

With the end of the war came an end of military contracts and most Civil War-era firearms manufacturers simply went out of business and disappeared forever. Sharps was barely hanging on, which begs the obvious question — why didn’t Sharps put a metallic cartridge model of their own into production? It seems they didn’t have the capital to do it, but the problem was about to change.

The .50-70 carbine delivered “musket power” in a compact, cavalry arm.

A New Powerful Package

The Ordnance Department was looking for a carbine design to deliver “musket power” in a compact package. Fortunately, one of the outstanding qualities of the Sharps action design was its ability to handle powerful cartridges.

In January 1867, 10 months after the “Board” concluded its evaluations, the Chief of Ordnance, General A.B. Dyer, contacted the Sharps company and requested they submit a percussion-to-centerfire carbine conversion for testing to the Springfield Armory chambered for the new .50-70-450 Gov’t cartridge.

Springfield Armory was impressed with the Sharps, and in October 1867, a government contract was signed with the Sharps Company to begin converting the New Model 1859, New Model 1863 and New Model 1865 carbines held in government stores to .50-70 centerfire models.

The conversion process turned out to be a cooperative effort between the Springfield Armory and Sharps, with the Armory providing overall supervision and producing an assortment of replacement parts like stocks, springs and tumblers as well as relining oversize barrels.

The conversion consisted largely of removing the parts from the Lawrence patented percussion primer system, replacing the breech block, adding a firing pin and extractor and sleeving the chamber to .50-70. However, it took the Springfield Commandant to identify a serious underlying problem — oversized .52 caliber percussion bores which ran as large as .53 caliber.

He then decided any bore over 0.5225″ in diameter was to be relined. Richard Lawrence at Sharps reported almost two-thirds of the percussion models delivered to the factory exceeded tolerance so the oversize barrels were removed at Sharps and sent to the Springfield Armory for relining.

As a point of identification, Sharps relined at Springfield sport the standard 3-groove, .50-70 barrel adopted by the Armory for the Trapdoor conversions while unlined Sharps barrels still carry the original Sharps 6-groove barrel.

The simplicity of the Sharps falling block action and its ease of
cleaning made it popular with the troops.

These patents covered the Sharps design and Lawrence’s unique pellet priming system.

Goin’ Out West

The conversion contract called upon Sharps to convert 1,000 percussion models a month. From February 1868 to October 1869, approximately 32,190 carbines were switched over to the .50-70 cartridge. The carbines were immediately sent to the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th Cavalry Regiments in the West, replacing their Spencer repeating rimfire carbines. Until replaced by the Model 1873 carbine in .45-70, the big Sharps was the primary arm of the U.S. Cavalry during the early Indian Wars and its hearty Boom! commanded the Plains.

In either original or replica form, the Sharps .50-70 carbine is a hoot-to-shoot. With a load built around Lee or Lyman’s 425- to 450-gr. bullets, cast with a 20/1 temper or Hornady’s pre-formed 385-gr. Great Plains bullet, Starline brass, Federal 215 magnum primers and either 55 grains of Blackhorn powder or 9.5 grains of Trail Boss, my typical 3-shot groups at 50 yards range from 1.25″–2.75″. I do find the short, coarse sight picture of the carbine a serious challenge for group shooting, yet the original carbine sights are graduated out to 800 yards. Those old boys could shoot!

Original Sharps carbines in good shooting condition are not uncommon, and if you need a good excuse to buy one, they’re only going to appreciate in value. On the other hand, strictly as a shooter, get the new replicas to enjoy the romance of the Sharps and the .50-70 cartridge without stretching the checking account. Either way, you’re going to love the little Sharps.


The Colorful History of the .44/77 Sharps

A newly loaded paper patch .44-2 ¼” Sharps shown with repro ammo box.

By Mike Nesbitt | Contributing Editor

Among the Sharps cartridges which I shoot these days, the .44/77 is easily my favorite.

My reason for liking it is based more on history rather than performance. The .44/77 was one of the cartridges Sharps made available in their Model 1869 Sporting Rifle, along with the .40/70 Sharps and the .50/70 Government. The .44/77 caught on, so to speak, and became the most popular cartridge in the Sharps Models of 1869 and the 1874, until the .45/70 “took over” in 1876. I like the .44/77 today mainly to carry on the tradition.

The author’s favorite .44/77 with a 28” barrel and mid-range sight.

The official name for this cartridge is actually the .44-2 ¼”, identifying it as a .44 caliber bottlenecked cartridge with the case length of 2 ¼ inches. Before 1875 the standard Sharps loading for this cartridge used a 380 grain paper patched bullet over 70 grains of black powder, so it could be called the .44/70 Sharps. Then after 1875 Sharps made a chance to their standard loading for this round, increasing the bullet weight to 405 grains and increasing the powder charge to 75 grains. There were other loadings in this 2 ¼” case by other manufacturers and the use of 77 grains of powder was actually started by Remington, under a 400 grain bullet. That gave this cartridge its most remembered name but it was still the .44-2 ¼” Sharps.

The development of the .44/77 Sharps cartridge has never been made completely clear, in my humblest opinion, and I’d like to plant some seeds of thought in your minds about when and where this notable cartridge was developed. Please bear in mind that I am really guessing at some of this but my few guesses are made, I hope you will agree, with a rather fair foundation.

First of all, as Frank Sellers said in his book Sharps Firearms, the .44/77 was based on a Remington cartridge. Too many of us have believed that Remington had the .44/77 first and that Sharps simply adopted it as a chambering in their Sporting rifle of 1869. Remington did have their .43 Spanish, which was developed at almost the same time, so let me ask, why would Remington introduce such similar cartridges firing bullets only .007” larger than the .43 when such a move would not be worth the tooling to do it?

A 5-shot group fired with the Sharps using bullets from a Steve Brooks mold.

My assumption is this Sharps borrowed the case from the .43 Spanish (maybe from the .42 Berdan, which was developed by Union Metallic Cartridge Co. in 1868) but adapted it to the .44 caliber barrels they had already been making for their .44 percussion sporting rifles. Sharps had been marketing .44 caliber sporting rifle for almost twenty years by that time. They made their own barrels and only needed a .44 caliber cartridge to put a new center-fire rifle/cartridge combination on the marker. I have a friend who has one or more of the old Sharps .44 caliber percussion rifles, such as the Model 1853 Sporting Rifle, known as the “slant breech Sharps,” and he verifies that the .44/77 Sharps used the same bore and groove diameter barrels. It would have been rather natural to use existing tooling for those barrels.

A rolling block re-built to .44/77 with 32” barrel and the tall long-range sight.

Also worthy of possible note is that Ballard bought their target barrels in .44 and .45 calibers from Sharps. Sharps barrels did have a fine reputation.

Sharps always referred to this cartridge as the .44-2 ¼”, as it was usually stamped on the barrels of the Sharps rifles, loading it with either 70 or 75 grains of powder under 380 and 405 grain bullets. According to Roy Marcot in his excellent book about Remington Rolling Block Sporting and Target Rifles, the earliest mention of the .44/77 by Remington did not take place until the latter part of 1872, about the time that production of their #1 Sporting Rifle really got under way. That in an advertisement in Army and Navy Journal when Remington was highlighting their new version of their #1 rolling block, the long range Creedmoor model.

This all strongly suggests that the .44-2 ¼” cartridge was originally made and developed by Sharps, either from the .43 Spanish which was also developed in 1869 by UMC or, like the .43 Spanish, developed from the .42 Berdan which also used 77 grains of powder. Sharps and Colonel Berdan were certainly not strangers. Sometime later Remington adopted the .44-2 ¼” as a chambering for their Sporting Rifles and gave it their own designation, the .44/77. Remington also continued to chamber the .44/77 in their rolling block rifles after Sharps had discontinued it in 1876 as a standard chambering.

For target work, here’s “Hefty Hannah” a .44/77 weighing over 15 pounds.

And loadings for the .44-2 ¼” case continued to be changed. The famous Creedmoor shooting matches were won with Sharps and rolling block rifles using .44/90 ammunition. Those .44/90s, however, still used the same 2-1/4” case which became known as the .44/90 Regular. It used bullets up to 600 grains in weight, perhaps generally a 470 grain bullet, over the 90 grains of compressed powder. That was no lubrication under the paper patched bullets in that load, and when used in competition the rifle’s barrels were cleaned after each shot. The .44/90 Regular loads were still being shown in the Winchester catalog of 1916.

On the sporting side, rather than in target competition, the .44/77 Sharps easily won the hearts of several riflemen. In the West it was a standard on the buffalo hunts, being more prominent in numbers than the .44/90 or the big .50/90 rifles.

Sitting behind cross-sticks, Mike uses “Hefty Hannah” on the Quigley range.

To bring things up to date, shooting a .44/77 today does require some special order tools for reloading. While reloading dies must be ordered, getting a bullet mold for the .446” diameter bullets is fairly easy. They are made by Accurate Molds, Steve Brooks, and KAL in Canada. The highly favored Jamison brass is no longer made but reformed cases are available from Buffalo Arms Company and newly made cases are being produced by Roberson Cartridge Company. Once those dies, bullet molds, and brass cases are collected, all you need is a .44/77 rifle for good shooting.

My hunting days might be behind me but even so, I do think about hunting deer or antelope with my .44/77 by C. Sharps Arms. The only thing stopping me, is me… But I do use the .44/77 on the “steel buffalo” at the Matthew Quigley Long Range Match in Montana and I’ve used my heavy .44/77 (Hefty Hannah) on the buffalo silhouettes with the Great Basin Sharpshooters down by Bend, Oregon with targets out to 1,000 yards. Getting a good hit at 1,000 yards with an iron sighted black powder rifle certainly gives the sound of the bullet hitting the steel targets the “ring” of success.


یواس‌اس شارپس (ای‌جی-۱۳۹)

یواس‌اس شارپس (ای‌جی-۱۳۹) (به انگلیسی: USS Sharps (AG-139) ) یک کشتی بود که طول آن 177' بود. این کشتی در سال ۱۹۴۴ ساخته شد.

یواس‌اس شارپس (ای‌جی-۱۳۹)
پیشینه
مالک
نام‌گذاری: مریلند
مشخصات اصلی
وزن: 520 tons
درازا: 177'
پهنا: 33'
آبخور: 10'
سرعت: 12 knots

این یک مقالهٔ خرد کشتی یا قایق است. می‌توانید با گسترش آن به ویکی‌پدیا کمک کنید.


Korean War service

When the yard work was completed, Sharps stood out of Pearl Harbor and sailed for Sasebo, Japan. She operated out of that port from 3 November 1951 until 17 May 1952, supporting the United Nations&apos forces in Inchon and Pohang, Korea. Sharps returned to Guam and central Pacific operations until her home port was again changed to Sasebo on 9 August 1954. She operated in Japanese waters until November 1955 when she sailed for Pearl Harbor, en route to the United States.


Sharps military rifles and carbines [ edit | edit source ]

Sharps Model 1852 "Slanting Breech" Carbine, open for loading, two primer-tapes

The military Sharps rifle (also known as the Berdan Sharps rifle) was a falling block rifle used during and after the American Civil War. Β] 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 and flipped one over the nipple each time the trigger was pulled and the hammer fell - making it much easier to fire a Sharps from horseback than a gun employing individually loaded percussion caps.

The Sharps Rifle was produced by the Sharps Rifle Manufacturing Company in Hartford, Connecticut. It was used in the Civil War by the U.S. Army Marksman, known popularly as "Berdan's Sharpshooters" in honor of their leader Hiram Berdan. The Sharps made a superior sniper weapon of greater 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 superior quality of manufacture.

At this time however, many officers were distrustful of breech-loading weapons on the grounds that they would encourage men to waste ammunition. In addition, the Sharps Rifle was expensive to manufacture (three times the cost of a muzzle-loading Springfield rifle) and so only 11,000 of the Model 1859s were produced. Most were unissued or given to sharpshooters, but the 13th Pennsylvania Reserves (which still carried the old-fashioned designation of a "rifle regiment") carried them until being mustered out in 1864.

Sharps military carbine [ edit | edit source ]

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 Government were used during the Indian Wars in the decades immediately following the Civil War. Β]

Some Civil War-issue carbines had an unusual feature: a coffee mill in the stock. Γ]

Unlike the Sharps rifle, the carbine was very popular and almost 90,000 were produced. By 1863, it was the most common weapon carried by Union cavalry regiments, although in 1864 many were replaced by 7-shot Spencer carbines. Some Sharps clones were produced by the Confederates in Richmond. Quality was generally poorer and they normally used brass fittings instead of iron.


What Sharps family records will you find?

There are 11,000 census records available for the last name Sharps. Like a window into their day-to-day life, Sharps census records can tell you where and how your ancestors worked, their level of education, veteran status, and more.

There are 704 immigration records available for the last name Sharps. Passenger lists are your ticket to knowing when your ancestors arrived in the USA, and how they made the journey - from the ship name to ports of arrival and departure.

There are 1,000 military records available for the last name Sharps. For the veterans among your Sharps ancestors, military collections provide insights into where and when they served, and even physical descriptions.

There are 11,000 census records available for the last name Sharps. Like a window into their day-to-day life, Sharps census records can tell you where and how your ancestors worked, their level of education, veteran status, and more.

There are 704 immigration records available for the last name Sharps. Passenger lists are your ticket to knowing when your ancestors arrived in the USA, and how they made the journey - from the ship name to ports of arrival and departure.

There are 1,000 military records available for the last name Sharps. For the veterans among your Sharps ancestors, military collections provide insights into where and when they served, and even physical descriptions.


Me & Sharps Rifles

Three of Duke’s .45-70 Sharps. Top is the original Model 1874. Middle is the Shiloh Model 1874
“Roughrider” mounted with 6X Montana Vintage Scope and bottom is the C. Sharps Arms Model 1874.

One evening almost 50 years ago while working as a dude wrangler in Yellowstone National Park, two friends and I were driving over Dunraven Pass in my pickup. I remember the conversation from the day like it was yesterday. Our usual conversations were girls, horses or guns. This time it was guns, specifically replicas of Old West firearms. I distinctly remember saying, “Mostly I don’t care about them but if they ever bring out copies of Sharps buffalo rifles, count me in.”

This is one of Duke’s original Sharps rifles shown with at least 12 of the 15 cartridges for which Model 1874s were chambered.

All Talk?

In actual fact I knew next to nothing about Sharps rifles except what they looked like. Unknown to me were their weights, barrel lengths, sights or even specific cartridges but still I wanted one. Therefore it was a very pleasant surprise to me eight years later when perusing the aisles at the 1980 SHOT SHOW held (of all places!) in San Francisco, I stumbled upon a display of very handsome and newly manufactured Sharps Model 1874 rifles. The maker was Shiloh Rifle Manufacturing of Farmingdale, N.Y.

If you think this was fortuitous, get this — a mere three years later Shiloh moved to Big Timber, Mont., which by local standards is practically in my back yard. They still reside there along with another company named C. Sharps Arms located on the same street. Both produce Model 1874s among other variations. Here is a confusing fact: The moniker Model 1874 was an afterthought. They were actually introduced in 1871.

The Sharps factory-marked chamberings by case length and not by powder capacity. This one was a .40-70 Sharps Straight.

Impatient

In 1980 there was a waiting period for those fine Shiloh Sharps so I set about finding a used one. As usual, Duke’s Luck trumped and got one in my hands in February 1981. It was a .50-90 and caused me to dive completely into Sharps rifles — their history, their specifics, vintage ones, domestically made ones and Italian-made ones. To date I’ve owned over 50 collectively from all the mentioned sources. They have ranged from 7-lb. carbines to one 14-lb. “Big Fifty.”

Most especially, I dived into shooting them and I mean shooting all of them. In its production time between 1871 to 1880, vintage Sharps Model 1874s were chambered for 15 cartridges in .40, .44, .45 and .50 bore sizes. To date I’ve handloaded for and shot extensively 13 of those 15 cartridges. The only ones missed were what we term today the .40-50 Sharps Straight and the .44-60 Sharps Bottleneck. A small chart at the end of this column will list the 15 different Sharps cartridges. Literally, I have fired tons of lead alloy and hundreds of pounds of black powder downrange from Sharps rifle

Duke firing one of his many Sharps rifles at one of the national championships.
The distant black specks are the metallic silhouettes.

Nomenclature

Back in its era, the Sharps Company did not label their cartridges as we do now. Today most of the old black powder cartridges names consist first of the caliber such as .45 and then next by the amount in grains of black powder loaded into them. For instance, we say .45-70 or 50-70. Sharps Model 1874 rifles were not marked in this way. They were stamped on top of their barrels as follows — “.45 Calibre” or “.50 Calibre.” Then, if the buyer was lucky, the cartridge case length was stamped either on top of the barrel or sometimes upside down on a flat if the barrel happened to be octagonal. What we call .45-70 now would have been marked “2-1/10” or the .50-70 would have been stamped “1-3/4.” When I say “if the buyer was lucky” it’s because not all Sharps rifles got the cartridge case stamp. It seems strange today but back then, evidently the Sharps factory expected gun buyers to know more about what they were purchasing.

Takeaways

At first, my Sharps were used for hunting and I have been successful in taking game ranging from small Texas whitetails to African kudu and a one-ton free-ranging bison bull. However, in 1985 the NRA put forth a game using black powder-era single-shot rifles and cartridges on the standard metallic silhouette course of fire. It was titled “NRA Black Powder Cartridge Silhouette.” The new game consumed me and still does. I’ve fired hundreds of matches all over the west and loved every minute of it. I’ve never been one of BPCR Silhouette’s top shooters but I do have a few trophies and plaques. Along with dozens of good friends spread around the nation.

In our paths through life we encounter many milestones which affect us thereafter. I was fortunate one of mine was Sharps rifles.


Watch the video: Expert Level History: The Freund Sharps (January 2022).