SOLD FOR: $3275
Make: Sharps Rifle Co.
Model: 1878 Military Rifle
Serial Number: NSN
Year of Manufacture: 1878-1881
Caliber: .45-70 Government
Action Type: Single-Shot Breech-Loading Rifle
Markings: The left of the receiver is marked “BORCHARDT PATENT / SHARPS RIFLE CO. BRIDGEPORT, CONN. / U.S.A.”. The top of the barrel is marked “Old Reliable” and “SHARPS RIFLE CO. BRIDGEPORT, CONN.”. The left side of the rear sight is marked “PAT22681-05 / P PAT 8419-10”. The lever extension piece is marked “PAT’D. SEPT. 11. 1883.”.
Barrel Length: 32″, Round
Sights / Optics: The front sight is a short blade on a rectangular base fixed to the barrel. The rear sight an elevator sight fixed to the top of the barrel. The elevator has fine adjustments for both windage and elevation (the windage adjustment is on the elevator, not the base of the sight). The sight has a “V” notch and the elevation is controlled by a thumbscrew in the center of the elevator. The right side of the elevator is marked “100 2 3 4 5 6” with hash marks from 50 to 600 yards. The left side of the sight base is marked “PAT 22681-05 / P PAT 24019-10”. This sight was made for a Martini Model 310 Cadet rifle.
Stock Configuration & Condition: The stocks are two-piece smooth walnut with a capped and double banded forend with a slot along the bottom for a cleaning rod (not included), checkered steel buttplate, straight grip, and straight comb. The stocks have dispersed light nicks, dings, scuffs and scratches. There is a very light chip on the left side just ahead of the rear barrel band. The forend has scattered finish loss. The wood is slightly proud to the metal around the wrist. The LOP measures 13 5/8″ from the front of the trigger to the back of the buttplate. The plate has scattered wear and sharp checkering. Overall, the stocks are in about Fine condition as Antique.
Type of Finish: Blue
Finish Originality: Refinished
Bore Condition: The bore is bright with well defined rifling. There is very light erosion near the muzzle.
Overall Condition: This rifle retains about 90% of its current metal finish. The sides of the receiver have light little nicks and scratches. There are a few dings on the barrel on the right side near the muzzle. The bands and nose cap have taken a plum hue. There is very light oxidation under the finish on the barrel. There are scratches and dings on the bottom of the lever extension around the screws. The screws range from sharp to lightly tool marked. The markings are rounded from the refinish yet clear. Overall, this rifle is in about Fine-Plus condition as refinished Antique.
Mechanics: The action functions correctly. The lever locks up tight. The trigger is crisp. There is a sliding safety behind the trigger which engages automatically when the action is opened. We did not fire this rifle. As with all used firearms, a thorough cleaning may be necessary to meet your maintenance standards.
Box, Paperwork & Accessories: None.
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” 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 Sharps-Borchardt Military Rifle has been professionally restored, and the rear sight was replaced with an elevator sight from a Martini Model 310 Cadet Rifle. The markings were kept intact except for the serial number on the underside of the receiver, which has been ground off. The rifle has about 93% of its current finish remaining. The bore is bright with light wear in the rifling and light erosion near the muzzle. Still, the action appears tight and the bore is very shootable. Due to the scarcity of these rifles, they have become very collectible, and this one should as well. If the collectors of antique military weapons and single shot rifles of the 19th Century don’t show enough interest, it will still give someone a nice looking vintage single shot rifle with military sights that can be used for hunting or target shooting. Please see our photos and good luck!