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Old November 10, 2014, 05:26 PM   #1
Join Date: June 11, 2006
Location: North Central Florida
Posts: 2,462
Stupid Sharpes question

Was just looking at an article by Gary James (other than Mike he seems the only one that gets us) and was looking at his illustrations. He commented that the Linen cased ammo fit the chamber so that it did not protrude to be cut off. The photo of a linen cartridge he had with the article seemed to show a hole in the base of the linen cartridge like those found on Maynards, smiths, bursides and whatever out side primed cartridge firing carbine.

The thing that struck me was that the breech had a spout for the transmission of the primer flash and blast to the center of the Sharpes cartridge, but this spout wsa in a largish hole in the breech.

This would appear to leave a large air space in the Sharpes breech when firing.

Given the importance folks put on leaving no airspace in a muzzle loader when loading, how come the Sharpes did not blow up?

Am I missing something?

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Old November 11, 2014, 08:24 AM   #2
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Target shooters who breech seat the bullets routinely have a space between bullet and powder. They do not seem to have a problem. And then there is a fellow who was able to ring a chamber on demand by leaving a space. The answer is somewhere in between. I believe it depends a lot on how big the space is.

Also, the problem is greatest in muzzleloading rifles. Breechloaders seem to be a bit more forgiving.
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Old November 11, 2014, 08:44 AM   #3
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The powder charge column in the sharps is firmly up against the bullet. So while the igniting powder can freely move a pressure wave backward against and into the breech block cavity, the pressure wave to the front sees only continuous bullet movement up into/throughout the barrel length.

Incidentally, we still make Sharps paper cases with a flat/no-cut end made of EZ-Wider cigarette paper. Tough case, tough end-cap, but the musket cap cuts through it like a welding torch.

Last edited by MEHavey; November 13, 2014 at 01:39 AM.
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Old November 13, 2014, 01:37 AM   #4
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I make my Sharps cartridges with Charlie Hahn's tubes sealed at the end with curling paper and kids stick glue.

MEHavey's explanation makes sense to me.
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Old November 13, 2014, 07:41 PM   #5
Join Date: May 7, 2014
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it's permissable to have a minor airspace behind the powder in a breech loader as this.
At one time there was a paper, linen cartridge and tinfoil and indian rubber cartridges for the sharps and of course we now have the plastic and brass.
In many cases the closing of the breech would indeed tear the linen. It was quite thin.
Same with the tinfoil.
The rubber one was like the brass and plastic today. A small hole in the rear for the flash.
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Old November 16, 2014, 02:03 PM   #6
Jim K
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The Sharps breech is made in such a way that some of the gas pressure is directed forward, sealing the breech more tightly than it would be with just the block rails. That forward pressure goes away when the bullet exits the barrel, and allows the breech to be opened easily.

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Old November 16, 2014, 05:07 PM   #7
4v50 Gary
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What Jim said. The Civil War Sharps had a floating plug that sealed the breech. I'll have to find some book to re-read about that innovation.
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Old November 19, 2014, 12:34 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Jim K View Post
The Sharps breech is made in such a way that some of the gas pressure is directed forward, sealing the breech more tightly than it would be with just the block rails. That forward pressure goes away when the bullet exits the barrel, and allows the breech to be opened easily.

It is much more than that. The PC Sharps has a floating gas seal which is based on PSI derived from total area of the gas seal being much greater than the small ring area where it seals at on breech. But, it is not a foolproof seal, so do not have a hand above or below breech area when firing.
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Old November 22, 2014, 03:20 PM   #9
Join Date: November 4, 2006
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Charlie Hahn I believe is a member of this forum. Charlie owns Charlies tubes, you can google and contact him. Id say Charlie is an expert on Sharps. He does a lot of work for rein actors. He worked on my paper cutter and I'm able to shoot a long time without swabbing the bore or cleaning the breech. He has a good video for making cartridges.
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