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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi - below are some pictures of a rifle that was a family hand me down from years ago. It's been in closet storage for years and I'm looking for some advice on what can be done with it? Does it make sense to try and restore or just sell it off?

Best I can tell from searching the internet this is what I've got:

- Sharps Model 1852 (M-1852) Slant Breech Rifle
- Serial Number 66366
- Dated - 10/5/1852

Condition: Poor. Breech is rusted closed, trigger guard (breech lever?) seems to be a part from another gun -- doesn't cover the trigger like other internet pictures show (even when I turn it around). Behind the trigger there's supposed to be some other kind of short handle/lever and that's missing too. Rusting on various part of the barrell.

The hammer does cock and the trigger will cause it to fire.

If selling is the recommendation where exactly would I do that? Antique store, auction site, etc?

Thanks.











 

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Some clear sharp pix are needed to tell much about it, especially around the breech mechanism area. Probably best way to sell is post it on *********.com auction, with good clear pictures.
 

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I can't tell much from those pictures, but I can tell you that it is not a slant breech; it is (or appears to have been) a standard Sharps military rifle Model 1859. It is not a later sporter because it has the Lawrence primer, and it wasn't a carbine because it has the sling swivel. And it is not (per the serial number) one of those issued to the famous "sharpshooters", a term, incidentally, that was in use long before Christian Sharps was born.

But the octagon barrel surely is not original to a military rifle, and the bore looks too small for .52 caliber. But Sharps, during the war, used rejected receivers to build sporting rifles, many of which had octagonal barrels. There were supposedly only about 100, so such a rifle would be rare indeed.

But, as usual, it isn't that simple. After those rifles were sold off as surplus, gunsmiths by the dozens altered them, rebarrelling to other calibers and using whatever barrel was on hand or that the customer wanted.

Perhaps there is a way to tell a Sharps octagon barrel from a gunsmith job, but I don't know it.

Frozen breech blocks are very common with Sharps percussion carbines and rifles, and I know of no good way to free them. (A good friend has been trying for about 50 years with no success.*) The only way might be to drill out the whole breechblock and replace it.

As you say, the trigger guard is not for that rifle; it has a vaguely Maynard look, but I can't connect it with any other gun. The missing button behind the trigger was a latch to hold the trigger guard/lever in place. Since it fitted over the end of the original lever, it obviously could not work with the lever shown.

*Please don't bother telling me about Kroil or some other wonder product. That breech block is in there to stay!)

Jim
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Interesting - thx for the details. However, since the date stamp on the gun is 1852 - how could it be an 1859 model? Maybe I'm just not following?.....
 

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Some clear sharp pix are needed to tell much about it, especially around the breech mechanism area. Probably best way to sell is post it on *********.com auction, with good clear pictures.
Rhmc24 - I guess this web site filters domain names, did the same thing in the PM you kindly sent my way (I couldn't respond to that since this web site also blocks new members from sending responses until they've made 15 postings). So what's that name you had tried to share?
 

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If the marking's on the lock, it's a patent date. If not too badly rusted, you'll find Model 1859 or New Model 1859 on top of the barrel aft of the rear sight.
 

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The firing pin, extractor, and what's left of the Maynard tape primer system indicates this rifle's a post-Civil War conversion from percussion to cartridge. Someone more knowledgeable on Sharps than I can probably give you a time frame, but I believe they started around 1869.
 

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The priming system is the Lawrence pellet primer, not a tape primer, but it has defintely been deactivated and there is a firing pin and space for an extractor. So, yes, a conversion to use metallic cartridges. (The gun originally was designed to use linen cartridges; the rising breechblock cut the end off the cartridge so the primer flame could reach the powder.) The sight is not military; it was probably installed when the conversion was done.

So, we have some further information. But as to when the conversion was done, or by whom, I have at the moment, no clue.

Jim
 
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