Perhaps this was the most remarkable rifle of its time; it certainly did more to popularize rifles than any other invention that had preceded it. The barrel is firmly secured to the stock, and the breech is closed by a vertical sliding breechblock, similar to that employed in the Hotchkiss quick-firing guns of to-day. The cartridge was made of cloth, having the end nearest to the breech-block closed by tissue paper, which was saturated with nitrate of potash. In some of the early types of this arm, the breech-block was made to cut off the end of the cartridge and expose the powder on being closed. One of the principal advantages of this arm over others was that a supply of percussion caps was placed in the magazine, held in position by a spiral spring, and arranged in such a manner that the action of the breech placed a fresh cap on the nipple by the act of opening the breech. The lever for working the breech formed a part of the trigger guard. The accuracy of this arm was very much superior to any other rifle of its time. The celebrated John Brown, of Osawatomie and Harper's Ferry notoriety, employed this form of rifle with great effect against the border ruffians of Missouri. The Sharps "Old Reliable" had an outside hammer. The Sharps-Borchardt was hammerless. Both used metallic cartridges in the later models.
Farrow, Edward S. American Small Arms; a Veritable Encyclopedia of Knowledge for Sportsmen and Military Men. New York: Bradford, 1904. Print.
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