1874 Military Carbine


Rob McCormack
March 21, 2003, 07:19 PM
I was looking at the Shilo catalog the other day and thought their rendition of the 1874 military carbine was interesting.

I realized I don't know anything about these guns. I always thought the army went from the Trapdoor to the Krag.

Is this a knock off of the Springfield Trapdoor? Or did Sharps actually produce a firearm for the army?

If so, how many years were they in service?

Any good reference books to recommend?

Any and all info would be appreciated.



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Jim K
March 22, 2003, 12:25 AM
I have not seen the Shiloh catalog, but Sharps made both a rifle and a carbine in what they called a "military model" version of the Model 1874. As far as I know neither was ever adopted or used by the army. The "Model 1874" was a company term, not indicating military adoption. I assume that the Shiloh gun is a reproduction of the Model 1874 Sharps.

The Sharps is an entirely different action from the "trapdoor" Springfield; it is what is generally known as a "falling block" action.

Sharps did, of course, make large quantities of rifles and carbines for the U.S. during the Civil War and copies were made in the C.S. for southern forces. Those were breechloaders, but were percussion guns, not metallic cartridge arms as was the 1874.

During the period 1873-1892, the army bought and tested a number of rifles and actions, but never adopted any for general issue until adoption of the Model 1892 (Krag).

A good general source is Flayderman's Antique American Firearms, which is available at many gun shops and book stores or at on-line book stores.


Rob McCormack
March 22, 2003, 02:36 AM
Thank you for the information and quick response.


March 22, 2003, 06:33 AM
Taken from Rifles of the World On the Sharps


Jim Watson
March 22, 2003, 05:06 PM
From 1867 through 1869 Sharps contracted with the War Department and converted 32,184 of their Civil War percussion breechloaders to .50-70 Govt. Nearly all were carbines - only 1086 rifles - and were issued to cavalry units from 1868 through 1874 along with Spencers and a few trial models of other makes.

There were only 341 1870 .50-70 Trapdoor carbines made; it was not until production of the .45-70 1873 carbine got going that there was anything else for the cavalry to shoot.

Sharps only made 456 1874 Military Carbines. Probably the Army preferred the Trapdoors they were set up to build at Springfield over a commercial gun that would surely have cost more.

Jim K
March 23, 2003, 11:38 PM
I did a quick search and find that there is a lot of misinformation coming from the makers and sellers of replical 1874 Sharps carbines. The statements usually say something like "Thousands of Sharps Carbines were distributed to the “Blue Coats” throughout the West" and that they "played a major role at the Battle of the Little Big Horn with Custer’s 7th Cavalry".

The "thousands...distributed" might apply to the converted carbines, but not to the Model 1874, of which, as Jim Watson says, only 456 were made. In fact, I am not sure that any of them were bought by the army or issued. As to Custer, his troops were uniformly armed with the Model 1873 trapdoor carbine. According to one report, there was one Sharps 1874 "buffalo rifle" but it was a civilian gun somehow acquired by a trooper, not an issue weapon.

The Sharps rifle was tested in the army trials of 1870-1871, but was rejected in favor of the "trapdoor" rifle. These Sharps were converted rifles with barrels made or lined by Springfield and other work done by Sharps. Of a certainty, the Sharps Model 1874 was not formally adopted by the army.

So what we have here is history by advertising. It is best ignored.

Jim Keenan

Rob McCormack
March 25, 2003, 10:32 PM
Thanks again fellas! I certainly appreciate your expertise.

Your responses helped me settle a quandary regarding a standing order I have with Shiloh.

After waiting for a little over a year, I had begun to rethink my order but now I believe I will stick with the #3 sporter with extras.

Take care,

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