SOLD FOR: $1825
Make: Sharps Rifle Co.
Model: Sharps-Borchardt Model 1878 Military Rifle
Serial Number: 8290
Year of Manufacture: 1878-1881
Caliber: .45-70 Government
Action Type: Lever Opening Falling Block Single Shot
Markings: The top of the barrel is marked “OLD RELIABLE” in script and “SHARPS RIFLE CO. BRIDGEPORT, CONN.”. The left side of the receiver is marked “BORCHARDT PATENT / SHARPS RIFLE CO. BRIDGEPORT, CONN. / U.S.A.”. The bottom of the frame is marked “8290” behind the lever.
Barrel Length: 32 1/8”
Sights / Optics: The front sight is a short blade on a rectangular base fixed to the barrel. The rear sight an a sliding escalator sight. When down there is a “V” notch, when flipped up there is a small “U” notch on the slider and there is a “V” notch at the bottom of the ladder. There is an empty drilled and tapped hole behind the rear sight base. The rear sight is installed backwards.
Stock Configuration & Condition: The stocks are two-piece walnut, the forend has been cut and has a single barrel band and a hole for a missing cleaning rod. The buttstock has a straight grip, a straight comb, and a checkered steel buttplate. There is a crack on the top of the wrist at the rear of the tang. There is a crack on the bottom of the wrist at the rear of the tang. There is a crack on the right side of the wrist at the receiver. There are some scattered dings, compressions, scuffs, and scratches. The majority of the defects have colored with age. The LOP measures 13 ¾” from the front of the trigger to the back of the buttplate. The plate is proud to the butt. The buttplate has some scattered mottled patina and light scabbing. The stocks rate in about Very Good condition as customized.
Type of Finish: Blued & Case Color
Finish Originality: Original
Bore Condition: The bore is gray. There is some scattered erosion. The rifling is strong with some light wear to the edges.
Overall Condition: This rifle retains about 70% of its current metal finish. The receiver has finish loss, scratches, scuffs, dings, mottled patina, and patches of dark discoloration from previous oxidation. The breechblock and lever have some finish loss, patches of dark discoloration from previous oxidation, and operational wear. The barrel has some mottled thinning and patina, mostly on the top. There are some scattered spots of discoloration from previous oxidation, light scabs, patches of thinning, and some dried oil. A few of the screw heads are disfigured. The markings are clear. Overall, this rifle rates in about Very Good condition.
Mechanics: The action functions correctly. The rifle has a unique safety, which looks like a rear trigger. It is engaged when the lever is opened and must be slid rewards before the trigger can be pulled. We have not fired this rifle. As with all used firearms, a thorough cleaning may be required to meet your maintenance standards.
Box, Paperwork & Accessories: None
Our Assessment: The Sharps-Borchardt rifle was designed by Hugo Borchardt who became more famous in later years for his automatic pistol as well as the basic design for the Luger pistol. The hammerless Borchardt design came out too late to participate in the great bison slaughter, and as a consequence didn’t sell very well. Three variants were produced: Military, Sporting, and Express. The Military Sharps-Borchardt was made only in .45-70 with 32 1/8″ round barrels, whereas the Sporting and Express models were offered with octagonal barrels of varying lengths and calibers. The Military version was purchased by the Militias of the states of Michigan, North Carolina, and Massachusetts, and was also sold to foreign countries. About 6900 of the Military version were produced. Notwithstanding its lack of commercial success, the Sharps-Borchardt is admired for its strength and accuracy: reputed to be one of the strongest if not the strongest rifle action ever built before the 20th century. The gun was revolutionary at its time for its use of coil springs as opposed to flat springs. This one has had the forend cut but has nice mechanics and a lot of finish remaining, it will make a nice addition to your collection or fun restoration project. Please see our photos and good luck!