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Lone Rider SASS#32091

Anyone shoot a Sharps cavalry carbine?

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I have been thinking about the possibility of a reproduction cartridge firing Cavalry Sharps in 45-70 as a future purchase. It looks like these are tough to find. I didn’t see one on Uberti’s website but Pedersoli  shows one. Taylor’s shows one out of stock and Cimarron shows an Armi  Sport Mcnelly which I am not familiar with. I know these are not long range weapons but how far would they realistically shoot?  I plan on shooting mainly BP in it and from what I have read a lot of shooters use filler in their loads ( as I understand the military did) to reduce recoil. How did you determine how much filler to use? Any thoughts or comments on the gun/loads are appreciated. Thanks.

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Those rifles will reach way out there.  I've seen some impressive shots. They do boot you pretty good with a full load of BP. The rounds I made up had 50 grains of BP and used corncob media as a filler cause it was free and handy. Used a 340 grain pure lead bullet. 

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I have a McNelly carbine, in 50-70.  This carbine, which is a reproduction offered by Cimarron, is patterned after the original, in that, it started out as a percussion rifle, and they converted it to shoot center-fire cartridges,  It has a slightly different receiver, than the later Sharps, given that the original configuration was set up to handle percussion caps.  So, the reproduction is faithful to the conversion, or...as much as can be in a modern reproduction.   

Mine can hit accurately at 100 yards, which is about as far as an old geezer like me can clearly see.  I am sure my son could hit accurately at a greater distance.  You have a "ladder" back sight on it, so I imagine the range would be further than 100 yards, easy.   

The 45-70 caliber, in that rifle, should do even better, I would think.  The 50-70 has a trajectory like a rainbow.  At around 45 yards it will hit high, but at 100 yards it is pretty much right on the money.  That is my experience, with this particular rifle.  

I sometimes use a filler, in reloading mine. I have tried dry grits, and have since settled on Cream of Wheat, since it seems to work better for me.  Some may even use a small round lubricated fiber wad, as a filler, and that's okay too. Just make sure you have your bullet compress the black powder, a little bit. That is really a must, not only because black powder works better when slightly compressed, but from a safety stand-point, it is better. You do not want any gap between the projectile, and the black powder.  You may know this, and I apologize if you do, but I bet there may be some reading your thread that may not.

I use an electric caliper to measure the overall length of the loaded cartridge. I then use it to measure the bullet length.  I use it to measure the amount of black powder I drop into the brass shell, and after doing the math, I figure out how much black powder I need to put in the shell, and/or if I need/want any filler.  Sometimes I use a filler, other times I don't.  If I want to just shoot a light load, for plinking at cow patties, I may use a filler to reduce the recoil, and produce a lighter load.  I just make sure I compress the black powder, with the bullet, whether the filler is present in the shell, or not.  It just depends on what you want, and you should plan to experiment with loads to find out what does what for you. 

Of course, in today's world, we use a "solid head" shell, whereas back in the frontier days, they, like as not, used a "balloon head" shell, which held a tiny bit more powder.  If you have spent some inflated paper money on a chronograph, that will tell you what load combination gives what velocity.

Whichever way, with or without a chronograph, you'll still have to shoot quite a bit to see what is accurate with what load.  The chronograph will tell you the velocity, but you'll need to shoot quite a few times to develop what is accurate at the range you want to be accurate. 

Keep good notes.   

 

The reproduction Sharps, I bought, was an investment in fun, and I would buy one again, in a New York second. 

 

My Two Bits.

W.K.

 

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It has been a number of years since I shot an original Sharps M1869 Cartridge Conversion Carbine, cal. .50-70.  I never did use BP.  I experimented with a number of smokeless powders, including IMR4198 and 3031.  I cast my own bullets from a Lyman #515141 mould using Lyman #2 equivalent alloy (wheelweights plus 50/50 bar solder), which produced a 425 gr. bullet, medium-hard.  31.2 gr. of 4198 with a 2-inch square of single-ply toilet paper poke gently down on the powder, and fully seated by the bullet base.  That load produced 1130 ft/sec. from the 22-inch barrel.  With 36.8 gr of 3031 and NO filler, I got 1130 ft/sec.  Loads were pretty accurate at 50 yds, considering the crude sights.  The same loads fired from a 32-1/2" barrel on an original M1869 Springfield produced 1215 ft/sec with the 4198 load and 1170 with 3031.  A heavily compressed load of Pyrodex "RS" produced 1294 ft/sec from the Springfield.  Brass was modern drawn cases mainly from Dixie Gun Works.

 

I haven't shot any of these guns in years out of respect for the age of these antiques, especially the Sharps as the receiver was originally the percussion type from 1863!  I wish I still had a Remington Rolling Block carbine made for the NY State National Guard.  The Sharps had some history behind it, having apparently been used by a young civilian teamster, employed by the Army in 1875-76.

 

[Disclaimer:  I do NOT recommend the use of the above loads in original antiques of this age, and list the above data as a matter of general interest.  I assume NO responsibility for the use of such data in any guns of that era! Modern reproductions may or may not work well.]

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Try an original. My Sharps carbine is an original percussion gun converted to .50-70 in 1868.  A prior owner made a couple changes included installing a taller front sight. It shoots dead on at 50 yards with the ladder down and dead on at 100 with the ladder flipped up and the slide moved out of the way.  I eventually removed the slide while shooting because the screw that holds it in kept coming loose.  I load only 2F Goex, 55g with a wad or filler.  The bullet is a .515 450g from Buffalo Arms. It’s one of the best shooters of all my single shot carbines. Note that my Avatar is also .50-70, an original Rolling Block carbine that shoots the same round as the Sharps and just about as well. 
 

Seamus

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I owned one, but sold recently to a fellow BP shooter.  When I used to shoot side matches, i loaded them up with BP without filler, recoil wasn't bad (for me) but it sure made it out to 500 yards no problem, I am sure it still can go a little bit more further but I will never know for sure, 'cause I don't have it anymore.   I used 450 gr, lead bullet. Really a nice shooting Sharps (Pedersoli). There are some good used ones out there, a new one would run about 1600.00.  Good luck. 

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I traded a Pedersoli 1874 Silhouette (8996) for a Pedersoli 8119 carbine on here about a year and a half back. Loaded up with 49-50 grains of Alliant Black MZ and a 405 grain bullet, it's quite accurate, but I haven't shot it beyond a couple hundred yards - I have longer barreled Sharps (Sharps's?) for that.

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I have an ASM cavalry sharps.  Great gun.  The "safety that was attached to the hammer was annoying so it was removed.

 

My Sharps has a very heavy trigger.  I've always thought that was because tlyou don't want a hair trigger while shooting on the move via horseback.

 

 

 

 

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I have an original 1859 converted to cartridge in 1863. Write a whole story about it on my web site. Great fun gun. Shot a white tail with it last season. 50-70 cartridge....... Website. www.rvbprecidion.com

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Posted (edited)

Consider the recoil in such a lightweight rifle.
 

I have an original percussion .52 cal carbine made in 1863. I roll my own paper cartridges with 70 grains of BP under a 405 gr bullet, although it will hold more. As I recall, the original load was 75 grains of powder. 
 

It starts to hurt after 6 or so rounds and 10 rounds is more than enough for me. And I’m relatively tolerant of heavy recoil. 
 

HEAVY trigger. This gun makes me understand why set triggers were invented. However, that would have been impractical for a battle rifle, especially a cavalry carbine. 
 

YMMV
 

Edited by Abilene Slim SASS 81783

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Don’t sell short the 45-70 cartridge in a cavalry carbine trap door. Light, handy and boy do they shoot.:)

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Seems like the Texas ranger used one in True Grit to save Rooster Cogburn!

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