SOLD FOR: $1677
Make: Sharps Rifle Co.
Model: 1878 Military Rifle
Serial Number: 9964
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 bottom of the receiver is marked “9964” between the trigger and lever. The top of the barrel is marked “Old Reliable” and “SHARPS RIFLE CO. BRIDGEPORT, CONN.”. The left side of the buttstock is marked with a circled “BL” cartouche, belonging to Hylan B. Lyon.
Barrel Length: 32?, Round
Sights / Optics: The front sight is a blade in a slotted base, dovetailed to the front of the barrel. The rear sight is a flip-up “V”-notch elevator sight dovetailed to the rear of the barrel. In the down position, the step-up elevator graduates from 1-4 and in the up position, the elevator graduates from 4-10.
Stock Configuration & Condition: The stocks are two-piece smooth walnut with a capped double-banded forearm, checkered steel buttplate, straight grip, and straight comb. There is a sling swivel in the bottom of the receiver and the front barrel band. There is a space on the bottom of the forearm for the included cleaning rod. The stocks have several scattered nicks, dings, scuffs and scratches. There are cracks around the front edge of the wrist on either side. The wood shows some weathering with deep grain-lines and some discoloration. The LOP measures 13 3/4? from the front of the trigger to the back of the buttplate. The plate has scattered wear, erosion at the heel, and well defined checkering. Overall, the stocks are in about Very Good condition as Antique.
Type of Finish: Blue
Finish Originality: Original
Bore Condition: The bore is dark with well defined rifling. There is light-moderate erosion and pitting scattered through the bore.
Overall Condition: This rifle retains about 40% of its metal finish. The rear face of the mainspring retainer cap has sheared off. Most of the remaining finish is on the barrel. There are scattered nick, scratches,and small impacts throughout the metal surfaces. The receiver, lever, and bands have a mottled patina with scattered erosion. There is some light pitting at the front of the barrel. All leading edges have thinned. The screwheads range from lightly tool-marked to disfigured and serviceable. The markings are clear. Overall, this rifle is in about Good condition as Antique and will rate Very Good-plus with a replaced mainspring retainer cap.
Mechanics: The action functions correctly, however the rear face of the mainspring retainer cap has sheared off. 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: Christian Sharps introduced one of America’s first and most successful breech-loading rifles with design starting in 1850 and improvements continuing into the 1870s and the metallic cartridge era. This rifle is a Model 1878 Military Rifle, just about the most advanced single-shot breech-loading design of the 19th century. The action utilizes the patent of Hugo Borchardt and is a hammerless falling-block design with an automatic trigger safety engaged when the action is opened fully. The rifle shows wear consistent with its age and use as a working gun, likely keeping predators away from livestock and putting meat on the table. The most notable defect is that the rear face of the mainspring retainer cap has sheared off, but once replaced this will be a nice example of a Sharps-Borchardt. The 1878 models were only made for four years and this would make for a great display in a Sharps collection or a very worthwhile restoration project. Please see our photos and good luck!