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Thread: New 50-90 Sharps

  1. #1
    Boolit Mold
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    New 50-90 Sharps

    Just acquired a new (70's vintage) 50-90 Sharps. I've been a shooter/handloader for some 40 years but all modern revolver and rifle calibers. Also did some muzzle-loading and cap and ball, but this 1800's cartridge stuff is new to me.

    I'm looking to talk over some things like slugging the bore, what bullet weight and smokeless loads and such. Thought maybe starting with Trail Boss.

  2. #2
    Boolit Master
    bigted's Avatar
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    welcome to the forum ! ...

    what kinda Sharps did you get? what maker? which style? do you plan to use smokeless or black powder?

    knowing the make and style will garner better advise which is all you need. there are a lot of books on the subject that will and are great reference books for your life time. I research my ideas with my books and scribbled notes on what has worked and what didn't. I would at first recommend against using the Trail Boss powder as it spikes very high in the pressure dept. 3031 from IMR or Alliant RL-7 are great powders in smokless but nuttin takes the place of good old blackpowder.

    blackpowder is another world and the loading and shooting it is some added info needed for success with it. also the casting and lube needs are something to be learned if not known already.
    WHEN ALL IS SAID AND DONE...MORE WILL BE SAID THEN DONE

  3. #3
    Boolit Master hickstick_10's Avatar
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    Agreed that you should start with black powder, I try others but I always keep coming back to it in the Sharps. Trailboss would be about the last powder I would choose for a 50-90. I like it for pistol cartridges in that it burns clean and shoots ridiculously quiet.

    If you must go smokeless, I agree with Bigted on the suggestion of Reloader-7, my second favourite compared to black but even in the 13 pound sharps the recoil is stiff at trapdoor levels, especially from prone.

    Some guys balk at the cost of black and how few rounds you get out of a pound of powder, but with the old single shots if you have 100 rounds loaded I'm pretty much set for the day of shooting if I include good yaking sessions, a snack and general taking it easy. Once you find out how much time it takes to load a good cartridge for these guns you tend to savour your shooting.

  4. #4
    Boolit Master Randy C's Avatar
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    Ouch

    That's going to kick. picture please

  5. #5
    Boolit Master Nobade's Avatar
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    If it were my rifle I would use nothing but black powder. That is what it is made for. But if you insist on smokeless let me add my 2 cents and suggest nothing faster than IMR4350. A case full of that will be quite a bit more powerful than normal black powder loads and you can't overpressure the gun with it.

    -Nobade

  6. #6
    Boolit Master

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    Don't think that because Trail Boss yields such low velocities that it must also be low pressure, that's NOT the case! TB may be ok for pistol or low capacity rifle cartridges but a quick look at the Hodgdon data is a real "eye opener" when it's used in big cases. For example some of the 45/70 data shows nearly twice the pressures at the same velocities as some of the more common powders used for large cases. Trail Boss would be one of the last powders I would consider for use in a large capacity case.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master
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    One thing you might do while you're deciding on powder choices is to determine what twist rate your rifle has. Modern 50-90's seem to run anywhere from 22"-36" or so for twist. The faster twist 22 seem to do best with heavier bullets (650 or such) and are hit or miss with traditional bullets arount 475 or so. The slower twist 36" will not shoot the 650 grain as it is designed for the 475 area.
    ward
    "To anger a conservative, lie to him. To anger a liberal, tell him the truth." —Theodore Roosevelt"

  8. #8
    Boolit Man
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    The first thing you do is make a cast of the chamber and throat down about three inches into the bore below the length of the chamber. That will let you know most of the critical dimensions for your brass and bullet. Second thing is to measure the twist rate. If it turns out to have a slow twist and a long throat, you are in for a long fight to make it shoot accurately.
    rr2241tx
    Timin' has a lot to do with the outcome of a rain dance.

  9. #9
    Boolit Mold
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    First off, a little history. What I was really looking for was a 45 or 40 caliber cartridge gun I could shoot with black powder. I like BP, but have only used it in cap and ball revolvers and muzzel loaders.
    As I was asking around, one of my friends came up with this "Sharps Rifle Mfg. Arcadia, Cal." gun in 50 cal. Interestingly, it has the C. Sharps "Old Reliable" logo on the barrel.
    The deal was too good to pass up and now I want to shoot it, but not too much!!! The rifle is unfired as yet and I don't believe it's the most comfortable one to shoot.
    Later I'll probably get a High Wall in a caliber I can enjoy shooting.

    It looks to be the 1874 style with a pistol grip and a 32" barrel. Looking into Trail Boss, (I use it for the .45) I see it it's not the powder for the 50. Yes, BP would be a
    perfect choice, but I was reluctant to get this gun too gunked up seeing as it won't be my regular shooter. (comments?)

    I will be casting for the smaller caliber when I get it, but will probably just use factory heads for this gun, due to the limited use.
    I'll check the twist and post it here before I decide on a bullet. Any favorites for casting media?

    Thanks for all the advice, I hope I answered everything. I will soon post a pic.

    Mark

  10. #10
    Boolit Mold
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    Using a cleaning rod, patch and a rule, twist looks to be 20 1/2"

  11. #11
    Boolit Master
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    I've done some tinkering with the 50-90, and it's relatively easy to build some powerful loads using smokeless powders that don't exceed Trapdoor levels. I have a load for Trailboss, but it is more of a plinker load, using a 390 grain wadcutter at about 1,350 fps. Probably do just fine on a deer though.

  12. #12
    Boolit Master Nobade's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Old44 View Post
    Using a cleaning rod, patch and a rule, twist looks to be 20 1/2"
    That seems mighty tight for a 50. If it really is that fast you're likely looking at 650+ grain bullets to get it to really shoot well. As for black powder and cleaning, don't worry. It is a lot easier and faster to clean a rifle shot with black than it is with one shot with smokeless. Way easier than those C&B revolvers since all the fouling is in the barrel.

    -Nobade

  13. #13
    Boolit Master
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    I will say that ... [some will call me a heretic for this] ... when I want or desire a cleaner powder fouling with black powder I Duplex it ... meaning that I load just under 10% IMR4227 and the rest with blackpowder. this combo shoots almost as clean as pure smokless powder in a new built gun and it can be every bit as accurate as the pure bp loads. also don't sell short the lube cookie loads that ensure an easy to clean barrel from the breech. just shot my 45-70 today with these and cleaned it with three patch's ... 1 soaked with Windex with VINEGAR instead of ammonia... 2 dry patch's ... ok 4 patch's ... the 4rth was saturated with rem oil with a few squirts down the barrel and into the action... bingo, cleaner then any smokless with a ton less scrubbing.
    WHEN ALL IS SAID AND DONE...MORE WILL BE SAID THEN DONE

  14. #14
    Boolit Bub
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    Pete at C. Sharps was able to give me the history of my 45-110 via email. You could possibly get some background information on the rifle from that source-take some of the mystery out of the situation. Using BP can be highly addictive-you are fairly warned. Best wishes.

  15. #15
    Boolit Master
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    Mark the Sharps rifle is one of the easiest black powder rifles out there. You can drop the breech block without tools. If you use Fg the recoil won't be too bad until you get into the really heavy bullets. With heavy bullets you'll enjoy shooting from a sitting position over cross sticks much more than from a shooting bench. My Winchester 1885 in .50-90 is no problem with 95gr of Fg and a 698gr Creedmoor bullet as long as I'm sitting with cross sticks.

    Chris.

  16. #16
    Boolit Master

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    I don't have a 50-90, but a 50 alaskan in a rebored Pedersoli. I use 5744, card wad over the powder, grits as a filler, so I get about .100" compression when seating a 750 gr boolit (think the 50 bmg boolit with the gas check/rear driving band and grease groove removed). IIRC, it runs 1300fps and will do about 2"@100yds, about the best my eyes can do.

  17. #17
    Boolit Mold
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    So the plan now is obtaining some brass, powder and bullets. The powder will be the trickiest, its a little scarce around here.
    I'll hang on to the smokeless loads, but I think I'll start with the Fg. Seems the cleaning will be a lot easier than a c&b.
    The sights need improved, as the barrel sights don't match up too well with my older eyes. I was thinking of the "New Ideal Sporting Tang" from C Sharps, the peep style is a lot clearer. I can also talk with them about the gun as Roundball suggested.

  18. #18
    Boolit Master
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    so in regards to the cleaning after shooting blackpowder is very easy in a '74' rifle.

    take either water with a few drops of 'dawn' dish washing liquid or Windex with vinegar and a saturated patch from either and from the breech scrub this first patch back n forth without leaving the barrel and then out the muzzle end.

    now take a second saturated patch and repeat the first procedure ... do this with patch's till they come out clean.

    now dry the bore with dry patch's.

    now I squirt rem oil from a can into the bore from the breech and allow some to accidently spray into the breech block and firing pin area.

    now with a patch saturated with rem oil swab the barrel the last time and use this wet oily swab and rub down the entire rifl and take care of the muzzle end where there should be some fouling and lube star.

    easy cheesy.

    on sights ... my eyes are old as well and I cannot see anything anymore with clarity except the peep style rear sights. I am also guilty of mounting a 3/4 inch scope from a couple manufacturers to my rifles as even the 3/4 inch scopes with 3 or 6 x power do well and better for me and my tired eyes.
    WHEN ALL IS SAID AND DONE...MORE WILL BE SAID THEN DONE

  19. #19
    Boolit Master
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    PM EdK here. He has been shooting one for 5-6 years now. With Black.

  20. #20
    Boolit Mold
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    I like that secret formula for cleaning bigted, good thing because I going with BP.

    BTY, I'm going to cast the chamber, but i measured it with a wooden stick and it came out to 3 1/4"

    By my reckoning, this is a 50-140! have to be sure before I get brass.

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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check