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Thread: Bullet length and stability in .54-caliber Sharps rifles?

  1. #1
    Boolit Master

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    Bullet length and stability in .54-caliber Sharps rifles?

    Regarding reproduction Sharps 1859/63 percussion cap lock .54-caliber (1:48 twist) rifles and carbines, what is the longest bullet that remains stable? I refer to "stability" two ways: no yawing or keyholing for target shooting to 400 yards; and straight line penetration on game animals to 140 yards.
    Itís so simple to be wise. Just think of something stupid to say and then donít say it. Sam Levinson

  2. #2
    Boolit Master


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    Google the "Greenhill Formula", it will answer your questions.
    Best,
    Mike

    NRA Life Member
    Remember Ira Hayes

  3. #3
    Boolit Buddy
    451 Pete's Avatar
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    Naphtali,
    I had hoped to see someone that maybe had one of these rifles reply to your post with what had worked for them. If it helps I can supply the following information on loading, this from the Dixie Gun Works catalog. Dixie lists a 50 grain charge of 3fg with a conical bullet .544 in diameter. Original rifles shot about a 400 grain projectile.

    hope this helps ... Pete

  4. #4
    Boolit Master

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    Quote Originally Posted by 451 Pete View Post
    Naphtali,
    I had hoped to see someone that maybe had one of these rifles reply to your post with what had worked for them. If it helps I can supply the following information on loading, this from the Dixie Gun Works catalog. Dixie lists a 50 grain charge of 3fg with a conical bullet .544 in diameter. Original rifles shot about a 400 grain projectile.

    hope this helps ... Pete
    Pete:

    One reason for the query is that some shooters I have asked have placed a[n arbitrary] limit of about .930 inch as maximum length for 1:48 twist 54s. Pedersoli offers a mold whose bullet length is about 1.2 inches. This is a huge disparity. While I feel Pedersoli would not offer something that will not function, this is only part of the issue.

    A bullet that is marginally stable may be acceptable for target shooting - that is, punching through a thickness of paper. But that bullet, that bullet length may become grossly unstable traveling through elk torso. The obvious example of the issue that concerns me is stability of the original 5.56 mm bullet-ammunition in original twist M-16 rifles.
    Itís so simple to be wise. Just think of something stupid to say and then donít say it. Sam Levinson

  5. #5
    Boolit Buddy 59sharps's Avatar
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    I know this will not be much help! But. I shot a shilho in 54 out to 100yrds. Have not found a bullet yet that will not work well in mine. my loads tested have ranged from 38 to 48 of both 3fffg and 2ffg. only bullet I had a problem w/ was the NEI #381. worked well at 50 but is to light to work at 100. Just would not hold a group in any kind of a breeze
    14th VA. CAV.
    N_SSA

  6. #6
    Boolit Buddy
    451 Pete's Avatar
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    Naphtali,
    For what this is worth. I did a little searching and came across exactly the same question as yours that had been posted on the Shilo message board by one of thier members a while back. This fellow had the same barrel twist and was looking for something that would be a hunting load.
    A fellow board member there replied to the question that he had both the rifle and the carbine models of the 1863 Sharps and he loads a 480 grain bullet in the rifle with 64 gr Swiss Powder and the same bullet in his carbine model over 50 gr. of Swiss. He said that he got very good accuracy using these loads in his rifles.

    Again this is not something I can personally attest to, but rather something I am passing on in the hope that it may be at least a good starting point for you.

    You may also try and do a bullet swap with some members here to try a couple of different weight bullets in a .54 before purchasing a mold.

    Take care .... Pete

  7. #7
    Boolit Master
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    Back in late 1970s bought a Sile .54 percussion Sharps. The only boolit I found that worked well was Lyman's #557489 copy of the original Sharps ring tail for tying off the paper cartridge.

    I later sleeved the barrel .45-70, made a breech block and altered the hammer. Still have the SC mold.





  8. #8
    Boolit Mold
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    I own a Farmingdale Shiloh .54-100 perc. sporter. 30" barrel, set-trigger lock and vernier tang sight. My hunting load is a 490gr ringtail, 1.030" long. (custom NEI mould) over 90gr Triple 7, FFF. Have shot out to 700 yds. At 100yds. shot THRU a 15" dia. live alder tree leaving a perfect .54 cal exit hole. Bullets are cast from chilled shot. I've seen no indication of "tumbling" when shooting thru trees OR animals ! Matter of fact, deer drop like a rock. Twist is 1:48

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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