sharps percussion ?


April 3, 2012, 07:31 PM
hello to all,
is there anyone on this great forum who has any experience with the
sharps percussion rifles , i mean the replicas of them ?
i find this very interesting rifles and i would be interested to know if they
could be loaded with loose powder instead of the paper cartridges .
could a filler be used to reduce the power of the load , like one would do with the metallic cartriges such as the 45/70 gov.?
ive learned from the net that they come in the .54 cal for the rifles , and in
.45 cal for the carbines , so how much powder would fit behind the bullet in both these calibers ?
there seems to be little info on the net about these rifles.
i am just asking out of curiosity by the way , i dont own one.

If you enjoyed reading about "sharps percussion ?" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!
Jim Watson
April 3, 2012, 07:59 PM
I am not a capping breechloader shooter so I refer you to the Shiloh Sharps forum on the subject:

I will say that it is possible to load a Sharps with loose powder.

I would not recommend an inert filler. When you load a cartridge or a percussion revolver with a layer of non-gunpowder garbage*, the load is compressed and the powder cannot mix with the junk*. The powder charge in a Sharps is not compressed and the powder could mix with the crap* causing erratic combustion.

*You may notice that I use unfavorable terms for non-gunpowder material in firearms ammunition. I don't use it, I don't recommend it, and I don't approve it.
Some people do.
Internet Cream of Wheat Experts can explain their procedures themselves.

April 3, 2012, 09:18 PM
Repro Sharps Rifles come in 45 50 and 54 Calibers if you include all the makers over time. Yes the Sharps can be shot with the powder loose. There are tubes made to allow you to pre-load your rounds. The problem with shooting loose powder is inconsistent burn and inconsistent grouping.

There are Combustable tubes, pre-made, that allow you to make paper cartridges relatively easy.

In addition to the Shiloh web site, Check the N-SSA web site ( Bulletin board for good info.

Steel Horse Rider
April 3, 2012, 10:33 PM
You can easily make paper cartridges for your gun.

1. Soak a sheet of copy paper in a solution of tap water and potassium nitrate for about 30 seconds. Hang it up to dry. The solution should have enough potassium nitrate to leave the paper feeling grainy when dry. I used about a quarter cup of PN to about a quart of water and used a disposable foil oven pan so the paper could lay flat. Don't soak it too long or the paper will come apart when you hang it to dry. Save the extra solution in a plastic coffee can or glass jar for future use. You can warm the solution in a microwave for 20 or 30 seconds to keep the crystals in solution before dipping the paper.
(Potassium Nitrate, also known as saltpeter can be purchased over the counter as stump remover - read the label)

2. Determine the diameter your paper cartridge needs to be by measuring the OD of the bullet. Find a piece of copper tubing or some other suitable round pipe or rod and use electrical tape to fine tune the diameter.

3. Determine the length and width of the paper you will need to give you about 3/16" of an inch overlap and enough paper to close over the bottom end. Mark the pipe at the prescribed length to speed the rolling process.

4. Cut your dried prepared paper into the appropriate sized pieces and roll it snugly over your mandrel securing the overlap with craft glue. Fold the free end over, I use a three way fold and seal the last portion down with a drop of the craft glue. I use Beacon 3 in 1 advanced craft glue available from Hobby Lobby. It is a bit pricey but sticks to the treated paper and doesn't leave bad residue in the chamber after firing. It also sticks immediately so you can remove the cartridge from the mandrel.

5. Add your powder. I was shooting Pyrodex in the paper cartridges I made for my Podewils-Lindner so I measured the appropriate volume and then weighed it. I then set my powder measure to dispense that weight directly into the paper cartridge. I then coated the bullet with mink oil paste and slid it into the cartridge. If you made your mandrel the proper size the bullet will fit snugly and the mink oil will hold it in place without destroying the paper.

6. Go shoot and have fun!

hang fire
April 3, 2012, 10:54 PM
Yes, one can shoot loose powder in it. Or get the stump killer at Home Depot etc., it has more than enough potassium nitrate in it to make combustible paper cartridges. Dissolve the granular stump killer in plain warm water until it reaches saturation, (won't dissolve anymore) soak paper in solution, then let dry, good to go.

But more important, is the boolit. The only projectile I found accurate in my .54 was the Lyman #557489 copy of the Sharps original ringtail boolit, unfortunately it is no longer made. The ringtail is for tying off the paper cartridge.

April 4, 2012, 01:11 AM
It took sone time to find the correct mold and cost me $125. If I remember correctly. The go to guy is charlie Hahn. He works on sharps and does gunsmithing for alot of reinactots...He is mentioned frequently on the Shiloh Sharps blog

April 4, 2012, 03:09 AM
I use Top or Bugeler ciggaret papers, and they work just fine. I use two to a cartridge, and get complete combustion.

April 4, 2012, 04:13 PM
great info on the mentioned links..:
thanks , now ive got some reading to do :D

April 7, 2012, 03:35 PM
Dixie Gun works has a good little instructional book [they call it a book, it's more of a pamphlet] on making paper cartridges.

April 9, 2012, 06:50 AM
steel horse rider mentioned "crafts glue ".
would that be the glue one uses in the modelbuilding , like those plastic
model you have to glue together?
i saw a real nice .45 perc. sharps replica made by pedersoli italy.
i believe its called the civillian carbine , and that one really got my attention.
as mentioned , its a .45 caliber. what kind of bullet would go nicely with this carbine , as i looked at the lyman site for some options i saw there were some intended for the .45/70 cartridges and they were kind of heavy bullets.
there were also .45 bullets for the handguns , and theyre a lot lighter.
anyone has some experience with these two?
im kind of leaning towards the paper cartridge now , maby it aint so bad after all
by reading the shiloh forum im not sure if the sharps is a system to start with
its kind of a complicated little gun..
maby a better start in blackpowder shooting would be a zouave or enfield .58 musket with a minie bullet ? :confused:

Steel Horse Rider
April 9, 2012, 12:11 PM
edwin: The glue I used is for paper crafts and is similar to rubber cement in feel but sticks to the saltpeter impregnated paper and dries quickly. The glue you are referring to is for plastic and I am not sure it would stick to paper. You could try though.

April 10, 2012, 01:18 PM
The Sharps percussion breech loaders have a "floating chamber" so that there is a good tight seal in the breech to keep gases from excaping into the shooters face. Besure to throughly clean the floating chamber components so they don't sieze up on you.

The floating chamber on my IAB is the square plate with the hole in the breech block.

Here is a pic of my "loads".


April 11, 2012, 12:48 PM
great pictures loosenock !
makes things a little more understandable , as im a sharps nitwit...:D
thanks for posting them.
the bullets i see on your picture , is that the previosly mentioned ringtail ?
if not , how does it attach to the paper cartridge , as i dont see a string ?

April 11, 2012, 12:54 PM
oh , yet another question loosenock,
when you start with a cleaned breechblock , and use pyrodex powder , how many shots
can one aproximally take before the block needs to be cleaned again?
seems to me its not the kind of thing one would do on a gunrange , hence the question.
and i still would like to know how much powder one could fit behind the bullet of a 54 and 45 cal rifle...

rusty from italy
April 11, 2012, 03:00 PM
Hang fire, Pedersoli do it
both caliber .451 and .547.

April 11, 2012, 04:04 PM

As far as shots go.....I dont think you have to worry about that. I think you should worry about time. The residue buildup will harden and fester into a corrosion. The longer you wait the bigger headache your going to have. I bought my IAB had never been cleaned. It took about a week soaking and brushing. At first the sharp edge of an exacto blade was all I could use to coax the sliding chamber out a little bit. When I got a teenie crack between the chamber and the falling block I could get more penetrating oil in it. It was wiggle, oil and soak for awhile. It started coming along a little faster until I got it separated.

I now clean it within a day or two of shooting it and it only takes a matter of a few seconds or minutes to get it apart.

The cartridge.
Here is a better picture of my paper cartridge. As you can see it does have a string.

If I remember right, I've got about 60 grains of FFg in these. My chamber will take alot more, probably over a hundred grains. But I didn't want to just dump a load of powder in the breech. I got a 1/2" dowell....dropped a bullet in the breech so it just started to enter the barrel. I then placed the dowell behind the bullet and marked it at the back of the open breech. My paper cartridges are long enough that the bullet is touching/just entering the barrel and the very back of my paper cartridge is out of the breech about 3/32 of an inch. When I close the breech.... the paper cutter (also my floating breech) neatly slices off the back of my cartridge and contains the powder in place until firing.

These breeching loading percussion Sharps are very fun to shoot. The "cool factor" is way up there. If your shooting at a public range it won't be very long until you'll be discussing all about it to very interested spectators and doing more talking than shooting.

I bought my nitrated paper from dixie. They have a "kit". I bought the kit, but after I knew what I wanted to do I use a short dowell instead of the kit. I also bought the ringtail bullets from dixie also. Good bullets! shoot well.


April 11, 2012, 07:36 PM
Shiloh has the same kit for cheaper as well as refill papers for less than Dixie.

April 13, 2012, 03:18 PM
thanks loosenock
youre comments are very usefull for a sharps nitwit like me!
i see that the bullet you use is a ringtail , correct ?
looked at the pedersoli site and saw these are still available .
do you dip the bullets in a wax or something , or lube them up just prior to loading them in the chamber ?
you mentioned that your gun would hold somewhat a 100 gr of powder , and you use 60 gr , what kind of filler are you using for the remaing 40 gr?

April 13, 2012, 05:50 PM
It has been awhile since I had one to test, but I used both paper cartridges and loose powder in the one I shot. It did just fine with either.

April 14, 2012, 02:05 PM

Yes I use the ringtailed bullets. On these paper cartridges I donot use any filler. But the paper cartridge holds the powder. On these I have not noticed any problems with the excess chamber area. I do put some lube in the grooves of the bullet before shooting the cartridge. Lube is very messy and sticky and I find it easier to clean off my fingers than the insides of the compartments of a cartridge box.

Pedersoli makes a very fine replica. If I can remember right, I think they sold some cardboard tubes for shooting in breech loaders. They could have even been some kind of brass tube???

Also I think Pedersoli's floating chamber is in the chamber itself and not located in the breechblock as on my IAB. You need a special removal tool to remove it for cleaning. You should get one when you buy the gun. I really like those Pedersoli breech loading carbines. I think they have several Civil War Sharp replicas. You cant go wrong with a Pete.

duelist is right about using loose powder. I find that its just a little quicker and convient with the paper cartridge at the range. But when you figger in your time at home making the cartridges....loose powder is quicker.


April 15, 2012, 11:11 AM
google solid bullet lube.if you could get a lubasizer that would work with your sized bullet,you could size them with a solid lube that would not be so sticky and messy,then paper patch them.

If you enjoyed reading about "sharps percussion ?" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!