Make: Sharps Rifle Co.
Model: Sharps-Borchardt Model 1878 Falling Block Sporting Rifle
Serial Number: 9021
Year of Manufacture: 1878-1881
Caliber: .45-70 Government
Action Type: Lever Opening Falling Block Single Shot
Markings: The underside of the receiver is marked “9121”.
Barrel Length: The heavy barrel is 32” in length and 1.1” in diameter at the muzzle. It has a recessed crown.
Sights / Optics: The front sight is a globe sight with interchangeable inserts that is dovetailed into the top of the barrel. The mechanism for retaining the inserts is apparently missing because there is a piece of scotch tape over the top of the globe to hold the insert in position. The insert currently in the globe is a circle on top of a post. There is also a 2nd insert which is a large ring the same diameter as the inside as the globe with two tabs on its outside edge. There is a hole through the globe from side to side for mounting a bubble level, the top of which would be visible from the rear. The rear sight is a long range Soule sight with the left side of the ladder marked from 0 to 3.25. The ladder has a micrometer adjusted windage adjustment with the widest travel we have ever seen on a Soule sight. There are 15 hash lines on either side of center with ten clicks of adjustment per hash line. The ladder has a large eyepiece that is about 1.1” in diameter. There are no provisions for iron sights on the barrel.
Stock Configuration & Condition: The stocks are two piece fancy walnut with fiddleback patterns in both the forend and buttstock. The stocks have been refinished with a lacquer finish. The buttstock has a pistol grip, cheekpiece and a black solid rubber recoil pad marked “Decelerator”. The bottom of the grip is sculpted with a Schnabel profile and the front of the forend is cut at an angle with the bottom of the forend longer than the top. There are three flat compression marks in the underside of the forend, each about ¼” wide, and a compression mark on the left side of the forend at the receiver. There are two drag lines in the cheekpiece, several tiny dings from the eyepiece at the front of the comb, and three small compression marks in the top of the comb. There is also a compression mark in the belly near the toe and a few more light marks scattered over the buttstock. The LOP measures 14 9/16” from the front of the forward trigger and 13 ¾” from the front of the rear trigger to the back of the recoil pad. The pad shows light wear at the toe and is still pliable on its edges. The pad is in about Fine condition. The stocks rate in about Fine condition as re-finished.
Type of Finish: The barrel is blued and the receiver and lever are case colored.
Finish Originality: We think the rifle was professionally restored. There no markings on the barrel or on the left side of the receiver, which should as a minimum have the Borchardt Patent markings. In addition, there are very faint scratches under the finish along the left top edge of the receiver near the front.
Bore Condition: The bore is bright, and the rifling is sharp. There is no erosion in the bore. As we mentioned previously, the barrel has a recessed crown.
Overall Condition: This rifle retains about 92% of its current metal finish. The front half of the barrel shows thinning with extremely light scratches on the underside from polishing and a few tiny handling marks. The front sight globe is developing a plum colored patina. There is a mark through the finish on the left side of the receiver and a several more very light marks scattered over the sides. There is also a ding in the top front edge of the breechblock and scratches in the top of the block from sanding. The bottom left side of the breechblock has several tiny dings. The screw heads are sharp except for the forend screw, which is disfigured. The S/N on the bottom of the receiver is clear, but the barrel and left side of the receiver are both missing markings. Overall, this rifle rates in about Fine condition as restored.
Mechanics: The action functions correctly and appears very solid. The lever is a little stiff to open and close. The trigger breaks crisply at 1lb 8ozs. 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.
Box, Paperwork & Accessories: None
Our Assessment: From Wikipedia: “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. Several variants were produced, predominantly the Military model, and the commercial models could be had in varying barrel lengths and sight configurations. 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 with lesser quantities of the commercial models. 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 it is probable the barrel was replaced. The globe front sight could very well be the original sight but the tang sight has been replaced with a more modern sight offering micrometer adjustment of the windage over a wide range. The stocks have been refinished and a modern Decelerator recoil pad was added. All of the markings have been removed from the receiver except for the serial number on the bottom. The rifle has about 92% of its current finish remaining. The barrel shows areas of thinning, a few light marks and extremely light marks from aggressive polishing. There are also several light marks in the receiver, a ding in the front top edge of the breechblock and scratches from sanding in the top of the breechblock. The stocks are a dark walnut with a beautiful fiddleback pattern, so please see our pictures. There are a few dings and drag lines in the buttstock with a series of tiny dings at the front of the comb from the eyepiece of the tang sight. There are also three flat compression marks on the underside of the forend with another compression mark on its left side near the receiver. The bore is bright with sharp rifling and no erosion. The action is very tight, and the lever is a little stiff to open and close. Due to the scarcity of the Sharps-Borchardt rifles, they have become very collectible. However, the finish restoration and probable barrel replacement will probably delegate this rifle to the BPCR silhouette shooters or someone who likes to participate in the SASS Long Range Rifle side events. With is micrometer windage adjustment on the tang sight offering quick and repeatable windage adjustments, this ought to be perfect for shooting silhouettes on windy days.