View Full Version : Weapons Question
01-10-2012, 08:38 PM
Doing some research the other day, I came across several references to Sharps Infantry Rifles being used in the March to the Sea and other campaigns.
So, my question is why don't you see more Sharps Infantry Rifles in the ranks of reenacting? Is it the initial cost. the cost of ammunition or is it a safety concern?
01-10-2012, 09:37 PM
I'd say the cost and the inability to field an entire unit of them. Plus, it is not a versatile weapon for multiple impressions.
01-11-2012, 01:17 AM
Wasn't it a private purchase weapon for a while? I know I saw reference in "War is ****" A History of Sherman's March to the Sea. That a Pvt. purchased a Sharp's using pay from a couple of months...
It would be a neat weapon to buy one day for sure.
Robert A Mosher
01-11-2012, 09:58 AM
Regarding the available Sharps repros - has there been any discussion here of defarbing an Armi-Sport Sharps Infantry Rifle?
Robert A. Mosher
Ross L. Lamoreaux
01-11-2012, 10:13 AM
As previously mentioned, its cost is prohibitive, it is very limited impression-wise, and compared to a musket, is difficult to make authentic (defarb). Those who care enough to bring out a limited-use rifle usually care enough to defarb, and the options are limited. Like Henry's and Spencer's in the west, there are plenty of accounts and records of use, but much like the same reason we don't see alot of mounted artillery, wagons, massive supply depots in the rear, and even correctly mounted artillery - the cost is out of reach for most ordinary reenactors.
01-11-2012, 10:39 AM
According to records, 9,141 Sharps rifles were purchased which would be the NM 1859 and the NM 1863. That would include the 2,000 "Berdan Contract" order of NM 1859 rifles modified with double set triggers and socket bayonet.
Some of the units armed with them besides the 1st and 2nd USSS: 1st Conn. Artillery, 1st/2nd/4th/6th/7th/8th/11th/13th/14th/20th Conn. Infantry, 66th/113th IL Inf, 20th IN Inf, 11th/12th KY Inf, 11th KY M Inf, 3rd/5th/15th/16th MA, Andrew's MA SS, 1st/8th MN, 26th/27th MO, 2rd/3rd NH, 3rd/30th NJ Inf. 1st NY Ind SS, 2nd/5th/41st/ 76th/141st/146th/151st NY Inf, 1st PA Rifles, 38th/42nd/105th/149th/150th/190 PA Inf, 2nd RI Inf, 4th Wisconsin Infantry.
As shared, there are "issues."
While they can be so-called "de-farbed" at a minimal hobby standard level of removing the Italian markings, refinishing stocks, and rebluing metal, the currently available reproductions suffer from a lack of the Sharps' Lawrence Priming mechanism. NOT that anyone makes copper pellet primers, it is just that from an "authentic POV" what the Italians and even Shiloh did (with the exceptionof the 1980's Garret versus that did have a functional primer lock mechanism) is to simply make a non-functional "block of metal" to take the place of the Lawrence primer feature.)
One can replace the Italian lock with an original Sharps lock. The last one I saw for saw, was gray but crisp for $675. It wuld cost about $250-300 to have it recolored.
So, yes, so-called "defarbing" a Sharps can be expensive. Especially, if one also replaces the .54 barrel with a custom made .52.
Here was my "de-farbed" Garret with original lock I sold last month:
01-11-2012, 11:44 AM
The US Navy had the following:
Model 1851, ordered 1852 - 60 carbines
Model 1855, ordered 1858 - 88 carbines, 212 rifles
Model 1859, ordered 1859 - 900 rifles
Model 1859, ordered 1861 - 1500 rifles
Robert A Mosher
01-11-2012, 03:34 PM
Thanks for the information, very useful and having seen your name come up during my netsearches on the Sharps, I appreciate your expertise. So, having the rifle in hand and based upon your info, I think perhaps the light defarb is the way to go. (The antiquarian in me shudders at the thought of stripping an original lock out of an original weapon - even if from an otherwise useless one just so my toy can be a little bit "better").
However, I am curious at having found reference to two sizes of sling. The rifle I have has swivels for a 1 and 1/4 inch wide sling but I've seen references to a 1 and 1/2 inch sling for the Sharps infantry rifle - and wondered if you could clarify this for me (and some sources online report that the slings would have been black but I notice that the sling in your image is brown?).
The goal would a repro that reasonably approximates a late war issue - 1864 - to a sharpshooter company with the 16th Michigan.
Thanks again for sharing your expertise - here and elsewhere!
Robert A. Mosher
01-11-2012, 07:14 PM
I have a Sharps, and have reenacted with it for a number of years. Originally I got it for a specific impression, and then have carried it when my rifle was loaned out to a beginner. I would say that as a reenacting arm apart from being inaccurate for a majority of infantry impressions, it has the following shortcomings: 1) It's fiddley. I've replaced several parts, and learned more than I really ever wanted to know about gun repair keeping it in shooting condition. 2) It's a bear to clean. I can clean 4 muskets adequately in the time it takes to clean a Sharps breechblock well. And for the love of mike, never drop the breechblock cleanout screw in the grass. I'd rather look for a contact lens on the floor of the mall. 3) It needs special cartridges. I can shoot regular paper cartridges, but some of the paper is going to blow out the muzzle. Sometimes folks get hyper about that. So I shoot combustable cartridges. If I run out, I can't share with the guy next to me. 4) It's short. Firing from the rear rank is problematic. 5) You have to modify a bayonet to get it to fit. Now, it's an easy modification, but for someone who is all thumbs in the workshop, it's a showstopper. 6) It's a really expensive blackpowder gun. At least historically it's been nearly 2x as much as an off the shelf muzzleloader. It might not seem as expensive compared to a Garand, or to the new muzzleloading repros, but I saved moeny for a year and a half for it. 7) It's greatest advantages: accuracy and fast rate of fire, are meaningless in reenacting tactical demonstrations. A Sharps can be reloaded in about 8 seconds. So can a muzzleloader, if you're only firing blanks and not ramming. In short, although I love my Sharps, love shooting it and love the looks of envy when I fall in on the line, I wouldn't recommend it to anyone as a first or primary reenacting infantry arm.
01-11-2012, 08:09 PM
Thanks for the information gents... I think I'll stick with my enfield....
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