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Thread: Berdan's Sharps

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Posts
    12

    Default Berdan's Sharps

    Looking to get a sharps rifle in general.

    I found a pedersoli Carbine (1859) for 1095.


    I prefer the look and use of the infantry or berdans model. I can't afford the Pedersoli model, but there is the Armi-sport model.

    The army sport is 1300. I have heard pedersoli is superb quality over the armi-sport.

    I have also heard the armi sport has less issues firing due to the vent hole being lower in the breech, however, this also makes the use of brass casings impossible. Here is what I am asking, in terms of the following, which would be a better rifle to get.

    1. reliability/ ease to use for reenacting
    2. ease of cleaning
    3. looks and cosmetics

    Also would it be possible to make the cavalry carbine into a infantry model? My guess is no but i will ask anyway.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Philadelphia
    Posts
    338

    Default

    I can't see any way of converting a carbine to a rifle without replacing the whole barrel assembly, forestock and barrel bands. That would cost so much that any savings you got by buying the carbine would be more than used up. If you want a rifle buy a rifle.

    Sharps rifles using brass cartridges would be post war. All the ones used in the Civil War used paper cartridges.

    Maintenance of a Sharps is much more demanding than for a muzzle-loader. The only way to really clean the darn thing properly is to completely disassemble, it, clean it and reassemble (which will take at least an hour). The design of the breech block makes quick cleaning almost impossible.

    Still they are sweet looking guns!
    Scott Washburn
    Mifflin Guard
    www.paperterrain.com

  3. #3

    Default

    I have an Armisport Sharps rifle. Fine gun and I've had a lot of fun with it over the years. It is a bear to clean, but all Sharps are. I've replaced the mainspring and the breechblock spring, so if you get a chance, you might as well buy and extra and keep them on hand. They're inexpensive. I also bored out the nipple to better facilitate firing blanks. Fitted it with a bayonet, which only took about 15 minutes with a Dremel tool.
    Rob Weaver
    Pine River Boys, Co I, 7th Wisconsin
    "We're... Christians, what read the Bible and foller what it says about lovin' your enemies and carin' for them what despitefully use you -- that is, after you've downed 'em good and hard."
    -Si Klegg and His Pard Shorty

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Monessen PA
    Posts
    141

    Default Sharps

    Ďmorning,

    All of my Sharps are rifles, not carbines Ė for most things that wonít make a difference, but in at least one area it does. I donít own an unmodified Ped (it had major modifications before I purchased it - to the point that I wouldnít consider it a Ped any longer), so I canít comment on them ďout of the boxĒ.

    For the Armi-Sports, I have both the DST (Berdan) model and the single trigger model. Be aware that the DST version (any make) is more temperamental than the single trigger version. Both are reliable, although they do prefer the hotter caps, as do the other makes (strangely, it doesnít seem to matter what caps if Iím live firing). Iím experimenting with rounds now that all thatís available are the four wing crap. Both are easy to clean (same with my Ped and Garrett).

    The AS are reasonably accurate if youíre live firing, but nothing compared to the Garrett. I havenít live fired the Ped yet.

    If youíre going to fit it with an angular bayonet, youíre going to have to modify both the front sight and the bayonet.

    The main functional difference between the rifle and the carbine is the chamber sleeve. On the rifle, it will not remove completely for cleaning, which will eventually lead to it seizing in the block. Eventually this will lead to excessive leakage when firing. The carbine sleeve is shorter, and thus completely removable.

    I would disagree that it is more difficult to clean than a musket. I personally think it is easier although it does take a little more time. I echo the suggestion to have spares of both springs. For the mainspring, go with an original, not a repro. Youíll have to clearance the stock just a hair, but itís a much stronger spring.

    Cosmetics, the AS is fine compared to the Ped. I have had it next to a pardís unmodified Ped, and the two are virtually indistinguishable. There are differences compared to the Garrett - thicker wrist, wood type/color, the ďhumpĒ as opposed to the actual pellet primer mechanism, but nothing majorly glaring. I havenít had the opportunity to handle an original, so the Garrett is the closest I can comment on.

    If you go to the 2nd Regít Berdans, Co C website (www.berdansharpshooters.com), there is a forum. Bill Skillman posted a comparison of the major manufacturers of Sharps some time back. Be aware that it is dated Ė most of the issues he mentions in relation to the AS had been corrected by the time that I purchased mine.

    Best of luck!
    Calum
    Calum Munro

    5th Virginia Infantry, Co H
    http://5thvacompanyh.webs.com

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Posts
    12

    Default

    Okay, so I am leaning towards the infantry model. I feel like it will be enough to pass off as a Berdans unit if I chose to go that route but will overall be less painful in the long run. Please advise if this is a bad reason to go this way.

    On the chamber sleeve issue. Is there a way to prevent the chamber sleeve from seizing up and leaking gas? Is the gas leak major? I have heard of people using "o" rings for live firing but not sure if the leak is a big deal for non-live fire demonstrations.

    Also is there a place that has detailed instructions on how to clean the sharps?

  6. #6

    Default

    Mostly cleaning the Sharps is cleaning the breechblock. Push the pin out and drop the block. When you've got it in your hand, take out the breechblock cleanout screw and the nipple. Clean the spark channel with whatever tools you have at hand that fit: a 5/64 drill bit (I think) in one of those hand attachments is useful for running through the spark channel. I use a lot of q-tips, too. Oil lightly and reassemble (unless you're going to be firing soon). When you put the cleanout screw back in, only tighten it enough for the block to clear, then back it out a tiny bit. It's easy to overtighten it and chew up the head trying to get it out the next time. Always lay out a light colored cloth if you're cleaning in the field and never take it apart in the dark - too many small pieces.
    I didn't have to modify the front sight to take a bayonet at all. It might be a function of the wide variation in repop bayonets, but all I did was cut out the socket to accomodate the sight. The lug would already turn past it.
    Rob Weaver
    Pine River Boys, Co I, 7th Wisconsin
    "We're... Christians, what read the Bible and foller what it says about lovin' your enemies and carin' for them what despitefully use you -- that is, after you've downed 'em good and hard."
    -Si Klegg and His Pard Shorty

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Monessen PA
    Posts
    141

    Default

    'morning,

    As Rob said, most of the Sharps is a clean block. One thing to watch whether you are using q-tips or pipe cleaners is that nothing is left behind in the flash channel. Getting it out is highly frustrating. Canned air helps, as does a vent pick with a very tiny hook at the end. I also use a high temp anti-seize (ask at your local parts store) on the clean out screw. Don't forget to pull your cutter plate off can clean behind it - gunk will build up and eventually seize your block.

    Gas leakage is gas leakage. As with any leak, it will get worse as time goes on. It can be dangerous you have your face/hand/anything over/under the block when firing. Or if you use clip tail cartridges and have powder on top of the block, as it can ignite. There is an article on how to do the o-ring conversion on the site I referenced in my earlier post. Also, lots of good info on cleaning/maintaining a Sharps.

    Calum
    Calum Munro

    5th Virginia Infantry, Co H
    http://5thvacompanyh.webs.com

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Old Northwest
    Posts
    13

    Default

    Fellow Sharpshooters--

    A bit of wandering on this post, but I'll chim in. In regard to what repop Sharps is 'the best'. I've found Sharps shooters field a variety of repops, and if the weapon functions how they want it to, they will swear on a stack of Bibles that it is 'the best'--and woe be to those who might question 'brand loyalty'. I'd lie up on the NSSA website to monitor any 'for sale' for Sharps--Shilohs are a bit more expensive, but from my personal experience, well worth the extra money--and they retain their value. Peds and then Armi-Sports. If you can find a Garrett NM1863 snatch it up--it was the 'grand-daddy' of the Peds; excellent detailing and workmanship.

    Look for a Sharps that you actually have the opportunity to inspect personally--unless you already have sizeable experience of knowing the strengths and weaknesses of the weapon-and ideally, the manufacturers strengths and weaknesses. Unfortunately, you may have missed out on the largest collection of Sharps at the BGA 150 event on the Bushy Farm--close to 60 Sharpshooters fielding every brand of repop Sharps on the market. I got plenty of opportunity to examine a variety of Sharps--and work on a few as well. Anyway, consider how accurately you want your repop to reflect the original weapon. De-farbing a Sharps is very difficult--so it is best to get one that looks and functions like the one you want.

    As 'calum' and others have reported, the breechblock and 'not so sliding' gas sleeve are the criticial pieces of a Sharps. The gas check (the part that mates into the breechblock) should slide free from the block. The vent screw (allows access to the vent between the cone and block cone) should be easily removed. I personally prefer the NM1863 (Shiloh) larger and flush mounted filbaster screw instead of the NM1859's recessed, rounded head screw--a b**** to remove if a dot of rust gets into the threads. DO NOT use Q-tips--the cotton comes loose and blocks the vent--pipe cleaners combined with a 3/32 screwdriver gets the carbon out (after emersing the block in hot water to soften the crud). Ammo construction is the next most critical part of the equation.

    When I do a USSS impression and plan to be in multiple skirmishes, I take my NM1863 Shiloh (the closest to the originals-and made in the USA) and remove the trigger plate and then the lever catch. This gives the rifle the overall impression (from 10 feet out) that it is a set trigger rifle.

    As 'calum' has recommended, a lot of bytes have been devoted on the Company 'C' 2nd USSS website forum on Sharps rifles, their care and feeding (including ammo making, 'O' ring conversions) etc. You might find the website helpful in answering other questions that may pop for you.

    Hope this helps.

    Bill Skillman
    Hudson Squad Mess-USSS
    Last edited by NM1859; 08-02-2013 at 08:58 AM.

  9. #9

    Default

    Hallo!

    Thanks to Herr Bill who saved me many words, except just one...

    Amen.



    Curt
    Recovering Sharpsaholic Mess
    In gleichem Schritt und Tritt, Curt Schmidt

    Not a real Civil War reenactor, I only portray one on boards and fora.
    I do not portray a Civil War soldier, I merely interpret one.

  10. #10

    Default

    In 18th century reenacting, DST are frowned upon. Some units insist that rifles not have them if possible. I don't use mine. I was wondering if anyone has ever run into rules, events or units that discourage having the DST.
    Rob Weaver
    Pine River Boys, Co I, 7th Wisconsin
    "We're... Christians, what read the Bible and foller what it says about lovin' your enemies and carin' for them what despitefully use you -- that is, after you've downed 'em good and hard."
    -Si Klegg and His Pard Shorty

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