Sunday, June 26, 2011
Range Report - Sharps .50-90
Unsurprisingly, it became very popular with Buffalo hunters. So much so that it was the rifle used by Billy Dixon at the Battle of Adobe Walls, where he took down a Comanche attacker at the distance of a mile.
Long time readers, knowing my very modest marksmanship skills will know that this rifle is much, much more accurate than I ever will be.
The rifle is a single shot action (i.e. no magazine), where the lever that doubles as the trigger guard opens the breach by dropping a massive block. This "falling block" design made the rifle extremely strong, and able to stand up to the pressures generated by the massive cartridge.
This is a reproduction that Ye Old Furt graciously let me shoot. The case hardening was so sweet that I was afraid I was going to drool on it. The trigger is pretty interesting. You can use the trigger normally, in which case, you simply squeeze the front trigger like you would on any rifle. Alternatively, you can use the second trigger to "set" the first, making it a hair trigger. The hunters would do this when they were shooting at very long distance, and had to wait for that instant when their target was in their sights.
Given the, err, exuberant recoil this rifle packs, I didn't quite dare. Plus, I was shooting at a measly 100 yards, which was no test of the rifle at all. Me, that's a different story, although aiming at center mass delivered a hole in center mass. Rather gratifying, actually.
The ammunition is spendy, I'd imagine. The cartridge is obsolete, and so you either need to reload or buy from someone who does. It's also dirty - it's black powder, after all. The barrel didn't seem to get fouled with the dozen or so rounds we jointly launched down range, but this isn't a clean-your-gun-once-a-year deal like a Glock.
So let's see: obsolete, loud, dirty, and kicks like a mule. I want one so badly that I can taste it. Come to think of it, this may be a rifle that matches my own temperament: obsolete, loud, dirty, and kicks like a mule.
What would hold me back (other than the obvious downside of the expense) is knowing that I cannot come close to shooting this rifle as well as it deserves. This looks like something that gets comfortable at 500 yards or more, sort of like a Porche that never feels like it's quite alive at 55 MPH.
But there was a puddle of History on the ground, where it had been dripping off this rifle. And there's no denying that shooting it drew a crowd, in a way that no AR ever will. Thanks to Ye Old Furt for sharing a bit of history with me.
* Trivia: the last rifle introduced by the Sharps Rifle Manufacturing Company was designed by Hugo Borchardt, who went on to design the first auto-loading pistol.