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Thread: Sharps .54 percussion

  1. #1
    Boolit Master
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    Sharps .54 percussion

    Anyone into the .54 Sharps percussion rifles? I am thinking about getting back into some competition shooting and I would like to get back into a Sharps percussion. I had an IAB Sharps at one time but I could not get any reliability out of it no matter what I tried, the next one would be a Pedersoli.
    Whatever cannot be remedied, must be endured.

  2. #2
    Boolit Grand Master

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    The pedersoli should be a food rifle if it is like mine and most Ive heard about. Not sure if C Sharps or Shiloh still make them.

  3. #3
    Boolit Buddy
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    My Pedersoli sporter is a tack driver. It has the breech block and chamber modification by Charlie Hahn which eliminates the fouled breech block issue endemic to most Sharps. I use Charlie's cardboard tubes made for ringtail bullets instead of paper cartridges. I strongly suggest not going the loose powder route. My load is 60gr Swiss 2F drop tubed into an 1 3/8" tube and a Lee .544 ringtail xmas tree bullet. The tube is capped with curler paper. The mould was a limited run for Lodgewood Mfg. and I don't think it's still available. Moose makes a very good mould in the same pattern. some people use less powder, especially for target work. I worked up my load for hunting but I gave it up before I got the chance to use it in the field. Accuracy is great with that load so I never changed it. I have a tang sight on it.
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    Last edited by varsity07840; 02-01-2020 at 09:13 AM.

  4. #4
    Boolit Master

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    I have a Pendersoli Sharps Berdan. I did exactly the same as Varsity07840, sent it to Charlie Hahn, he did his outstanding work to the chamber, and I use his paper tubes also. I have a "Moose Mold" boolit. Use pure lead or 50/50, COWW/ lead, I see no difference in accuracy.

    Before I sent it to Charlie Hahn, it had terrible blow-by at the breech block. Tried the Pendersoli brass cartridges, and they were a waste of time and money. Mr. Hahn is an expert on these rifles, and his mods cured the problem.

    When I am shooting well, the Sharps Berdan will put 3 boolits into a 2 inch group off a bench-rest @ 100 yards, consistently. 60 gr of 2f powder in a Hahn tube. Now at 65 yr old, I am having a hard time seeing the fine sights clearly. I have been thinking of selling it.

    Have taken deer with rifle. Thumb sized hole, in and out, 30 to 50 yard run and down.
    Last edited by Hickok; 02-01-2020 at 10:31 AM.
    Maker of Silver Boolits for Werewolf hunting.

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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hickok View Post
    I have a Pendersoli Sharps Berdan. I did exactly the same as Varsity07840, sent it to Charlie Hahn, he did his outstanding work to the chamber, and I use his paper tubes also. I have a "Moose Mold" boolit. Use pure lead or 50/50, COWW/ lead, I see no difference in accuracy.

    Before I sent it to Charlie Hahn, it had terrible blow-by at the breech block. Tried the Pendersoli brass cartridges, and they were a waste of time and money. Mr. Hahn is an expert on these rifles, and his mods cured the problem.

    When I am shooting well, the Sharps Berdan will put 3 boolits into a 2 inch group off a bench-rest @ 100 yards, consistently. 60 gr of 2f powder in a Hahn tube. Now at 65 yr old, I am having a hard time seeing the fine sights clearly. I have been thinking of selling it.

    Have taken deer with rifle. Thumb sized hole, in and out, 30 to 50 yard run and down.
    69 year old eyes here!! That's why I went to the tang sight.

  6. #6
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    John in PA's Avatar
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    Strong additional vote for the Hahn rework of the percussion Sharps breech. Many of these guns are used in N-SSA competition, and pretty much all of the guys serious about shooting a Sharps have had their guns worked over by Charlie. You will not be disappointed.
    John Wells in PA

    Peabody's and Peabody-Martini's wanted
    Also shoot a 10-PDR Parrott Rifle in competition

  7. #7
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    An acquainted question.

    Those experiencing poor ignition with their paper cartridge Sharps rifles,has anyone tried fabbing a nipple to take modern rifle primers? Should be simple enough me thinks? Just a nipple large enough to take a primer within,and in turn with a cutout to remove the spent.
    That and a dent in the center of the hammer.?

  8. #8
    Boolit Master

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    Never had any trouble with poor ignition with my Sharps Berdan. I really clean out/dry the flash channel before shooting after it has been in storage. When hunting, I remove the nipple, add some black powder down the flash hole, and replace the nipple. Good musket Musket caps throw a pretty good flame. I use RWS musket caps, and they work great.

    Stay away from the CCI "re-enactor" musket caps.
    Maker of Silver Boolits for Werewolf hunting.

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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Racing View Post
    An acquainted question.

    Those experiencing poor ignition with their paper cartridge Sharps rifles,has anyone tried fabbing a nipple to take modern rifle primers? Should be simple enough me thinks? Just a nipple large enough to take a primer within,and in turn with a cutout to remove the spent.
    That and a dent in the center of the hammer.?
    How do you prepare your cartridges? If you make the tail type and you're getting poor ignition against the exposed powder, you have a bigger problem than with the nipple. If you cap off the ends with tissue paper, etc., poke a hole in the center with a sharp pencil.

  10. #10
    Boolit Master
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    I modded mine for rifle primers ,for reliable ,instant ignition,and also because rifle primers are about 1/5 of the price of musket caps......never bought or tried the #10 or #11 caps ,but I think the big hammer would bust a smaller nipple anyway.....My preference is for the berdan type rifle primers,they have a mighty blast ,and will easily penetrate a paper cartridge,no need to cut ends off,or have loose powder spilling.A thick paper cartridge can cure the leakage/fouling problem too,as can a few grains of nitro powder in the black.

  11. #11
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    My issues with an IAB .54 carbine were/are it's oversize bore diameter....makes it not compatible with Pedersoli size bullets unless you have a custom mold made for Sharps type oversize bullets. I worked around that issue with a trio of LEE bullet molds....a .562" round ball mold...a 380gr .54 REAL mold...and Lee's oversize modified mini .54 mold 540/415. The round ball and REAL bullets make fine plinkers….the mini really works best in my huge bore IAB. Good accuracy with 60gr 2F

    Technical issues with my IAB included reliable ignition....after the first few shots it just quit firing! Cleaned the breech block and got a 1/2" drill-shaving out of the firing channel! That really helped...but real black powder was the key to reliable ignition. I just use CCI caps both the old six-wing caps and the newer 'reenactor' caps...work fine for me. Forget BP subs...too many hang-fires/no fires

    How many shots can a guy fire before his Sharps locks-up?? Hmmm...not many before you have to clean the breech block of crud. The best advice I've found is to fill the breech block cavity with grease. I use my really thick 'Emmert's lube'...just melt some and pour the cavity full making sure to keep the flash hole clear(toothpick in the hole)….The carbine will run and run with the block filled with grease....keeps it sealed and don't have to send it off for an o" ring job....I have no idea why the first shot doesn't just blow all the Emmert's lube out the bore with the first shot but it doesn't. I've fired the IAB as many as 40 consecutive shots and still have lots of lube in the breech block.

    I use a flush fit cartridge with a tissue paper plug(nitrated paper tube)...I simply heavily lube a bullet and seat it in the tube...let the lube keep the bullet in place. I don't bother poking a hole in the tissue plug...cap fires the cartridge just fine through the tissue...plus you can un-load this style cartridge without powder going everywhere. I keep a cleaning rod with a worn 20ga brush on it to scrub the crud every few shots...a length of 3/8" dowel rod works well as an un-loading tool to push an un-fired cartridge out of the chamber.

    I could go on and on about my Sharps shooting and learning experience....but the two best words of advice I've received was use real BP and fill the block with grease!!

  12. #12
    Boolit Grand Master

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    Check out Black Powder Cartridge News this month is Original Sharps 1851 with amazing accuracy.

  13. #13
    Boolit Master
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    I have fired my IAB so many times over the years (about1973?),there is an erosion ring on the check and the sharp edges are cracked and crumbling from heat damage.......My only complaint about the gun was the pitiful sights......i might add,many years ago,the gun was used at a Boy Scout range day shoot and fired around 300 shots with no issues ,along with a couple of muzzle loaders too.........about midday ,we had to stop and mine the backstop for lead ,and recast another 50 lb of bullets for the afternoon shooting.....simple to keep firing....a bucket of water ,dunk the block ,and a squirt bottle.

  14. #14
    Boolit Man yulzari's Avatar
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    I am not a Sharps user but it occurs to me that a Terry type paper cartridge would seal and clean it in use.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Essentially a paper tube with a closed end with a thick greased felt pad glued to the rear. On firing the paper comes put of the bore behind the bullet. The felt pad remains in place. When the next cartridge is chambered it pushes the felt pad ahead of it and, upon firing, the felt pad is pushed out of the bore. Both wiping and greasing the bore. One Terry Carbine is recorded as firing 1,800 rounds without cleaning and was fit to continue.

  15. #15
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hickok View Post
    I have a Pendersoli Sharps Berdan. I did exactly the same as Varsity07840, sent it to Charlie Hahn, he did his outstanding work to the chamber, and I use his paper tubes also. I have a "Moose Mold" boolit. Use pure lead or 50/50, COWW/ lead, I see no difference in accuracy.

    Before I sent it to Charlie Hahn, it had terrible blow-by at the breech block. Tried the Pendersoli brass cartridges, and they were a waste of time and money. Mr. Hahn is an expert on these rifles, and his mods cured the problem.

    When I am shooting well, the Sharps Berdan will put 3 boolits into a 2 inch group off a bench-rest @ 100 yards, consistently. 60 gr of 2f powder in a Hahn tube. Now at 65 yr old, I am having a hard time seeing the fine sights clearly. I have been thinking of selling it.

    Have taken deer with rifle. Thumb sized hole, in and out, 30 to 50 yard run and down.
    just wait till you get to 70+++++, it doesn't get better!.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by yulzari View Post
    I am not a Sharps user but it occurs to me that a Terry type paper cartridge would seal and clean it in use.
    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Terry&Calisher cartridge.jpeg 
Views:	4 
Size:	52.6 KB 
ID:	257538
    Essentially a paper tube with a closed end with a thick greased felt pad glued to the rear. On firing the paper comes put of the bore behind the bullet. The felt pad remains in place. When the next cartridge is chambered it pushes the felt pad ahead of it and, upon firing, the felt pad is pushed out of the bore. Both wiping and greasing the bore. One Terry Carbine is recorded as firing 1,800 rounds without cleaning and was fit to continue.
    The Monkey Tail used a similar system.

  17. #17
    Boolit Man yulzari's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by varsity07840 View Post
    The Monkey Tail used a similar system.
    Works a treat in my Monkey Tail Carbine.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by yulzari View Post
    I am not a Sharps user but it occurs to me that a Terry type paper cartridge would seal and clean it in use.
    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Terry&Calisher cartridge.jpeg 
Views:	4 
Size:	52.6 KB 
ID:	257538
    Essentially a paper tube with a closed end with a thick greased felt pad glued to the rear. On firing the paper comes put of the bore behind the bullet. The felt pad remains in place. When the next cartridge is chambered it pushes the felt pad ahead of it and, upon firing, the felt pad is pushed out of the bore. Both wiping and greasing the bore. One Terry Carbine is recorded as firing 1,800 rounds without cleaning and was fit to continue.
    I would like more info on this cartridge. Ignition through the rear wad? Cartridge traveling out the bore with the boolit?

    Have yet to get a percussion Sharps ... but am very interested. Have gravitated towards one for several years now.
    WHEN ALL IS SAID AND DONE...MORE WILL BE SAID THEN DONE

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigted View Post
    I would like more info on this cartridge. Ignition through the rear wad? Cartridge traveling out the bore with the boolit?

    Have yet to get a percussion Sharps ... but am very interested. Have gravitated towards one for several years now.
    The Monkey Tail cartridge is ignited from the side. The carbine had a typical side lock percussion bolster. The wad was pushed out by the next round.

  20. #20
    Boolit Master Nobade's Avatar
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    That wouldn't work in a Sharps. The fire couldn't get through the wad. If you did somehow get it to ignite it would shove the wad into the breech block and tie up the action.

    Sent from my SM-J737V using Tapatalk

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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