The Sharps Rifle
The Sharps was a single shot, the Henry a lever-action repeater. The former might be considered the parent of all the single-shot rifles made on the falling breech-block principle including the Ballard, Remington, Winchester single shot, Stevens, Martini-Peabody, and several models made in England to-day.
There is no better single-shot action at the present time than the old Sharps-Borchardt hammerless with a falling breech-block, finger lever, kicking extractor, and block so shaped at the top that the cartridge would slide home with its own weight. After it was modeled the English war rifle and other European military arms in use up to the date of nitro powders. Why this arm was rejected by our own authorities in favor of the old Springfield .45 is one of the mysteries that only a board of military experts could explain.
The Sharps, together with its rivals, the Winchester, Ballard, and Remington single-shots, was instrumental in developing all our most powerful black powder cartridges. For two or three decades following the Civil War the single-shot was the preferred arm of hunters simply because cartridges of greater power than could be used in any repeating rifle of the time were adapted to it.
Powerful long range and express ammunition was manufactured for these rifles, ammunition of a kind now all but obsolete. The .44-100-520 Sharps and the .45-100-550 Sharps made long distance sharpshooting records that can scarcely be excelled to-day, besides being used effectively upon the buffalo and grizzly bear. These cartridges were loaded with both patched and lubricated bullets, the former being preferred for match shooting.
Later the Winchester Company remodeled the .45-100, loading it with more powder and less lead. It then showed a very flat trajectory for a black powder rifle and plenty of killing power, but was never so well liked as the old long range cartridges owing to excessive fouling and lack of accuracy for any great number of shots.
Askins, Charles. Rifles and Rifle Shooting. New York: Outing, 1912. Print.
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