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Old December 02, 2017, 23:23   #1
ExCdnSoldierInTx
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Buffalo Guns? Anyone here a practitioner?

The lost art of black powder cartridge rifle shooting, or "long range buffalo rifle" shooting has always fascinated me.
I've had the chance to mess around with a trapdoor Springfield in .45-70 a time or two and a 30" barreled Sharps in .45-70 occasionally, but never really got serious, despite having an old Sharps reproduction in my safe for a few years.

I finally decided to get serious and bought a serious Sharps with the longest, heaviest barrel I could find, with something with a bit more oomph than the old .45-70. Not that it's bad, but by 800yds, accuracy starts to suffer.
So I recently found the Pedersoli in .45-90 with a 34" heavy octagonal barrel. The barrel has ZERO taper to it and it is one heavy son of a gun, tipping the scales at over 14 lbs.
To that, I added a high mount globe front sight and a long range Soule rear sight.
These rifles with the .45-90 carefully hand loaded with 2F Swiss and 550gr non jacketed flat tipped bullets are regularly capable of MOA accuracy out to 1100 yds and beyond.
Today, when getting a zero at 50 yds with the new sights, it took me 5 rounds to even FIND the 4x4 target. Then 5 more to center it.
The next 5 could all be easily be covered by a nickel. And that was with old store bought .45-90 300gr smokeless. Way too light for the big gun.
Next week, we'll try opening it up on the 500 yd range and see if we can hit anything with it.

That's an 1860 Henry for size comparison. It's one seriously large hunk of metal and wood.

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Old December 03, 2017, 06:13   #2
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Yep their pretty cool rifles. I used to have a Shiloh Sharps rifle in the biggest caliber made which is no longer made I believe. It was a 50.140 and it would shoot 600 or 650 grain bullets if I remember correctly.. I shot it with a smokeless load my buddy worked up and boy what a kicker it was. With that metal butt plate it was brutal and I thought that rear tang sight knocked out my tooth once but it just bloodied my lip. I sold it to a guy who has taken bear and big game with it.
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Old December 03, 2017, 08:48   #3
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LOL. I've shot he .45-120 out of a .34" barreled Sharps before, and it was a real thumper, bruising your shoulder blue after a string of 10 or so.
The .45-90 wan't bad at all with the store bought crap, maybe a bit worse than an SMLE or healthily loaded Mauser.
But 550gr cast flat noses with full cases of drop filled 2F?
Well, that'll fix you wagon, Pilgrim.
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Old December 03, 2017, 09:03   #4
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Never had an interest but for one exception, the Quigley rifle. I've always wanted a copy of that rifle.
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Old December 03, 2017, 09:18   #5
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Never had an interest but for one exception, the Quigley rifle. I've always wanted a copy of that rifle.
This one is real close to that one. A few detail differences in wood, etc, and the movie rifle was .45-110, (what did Selleck care, he shot blanks during filming), but same animal, 34" heavy barreled '74 Sharps.
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Old December 03, 2017, 09:21   #6
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image.jpg

The wood on his has no checkering and looks much more beat up. One thing I dislike about mine is the checkered wood.
I told a guy yesterday it makes it look like "A Fine English Fowling Piece" instead of a big bore buffalo gun.
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Old December 03, 2017, 09:36   #7
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Originally Posted by ExCdnSoldierInTx View Post
This one is real close to that one. A few detail differences in wood, etc, and the movie rifle was .45-110, (what did Selleck care, he shot blanks during filming), but same animal, 34" heavy barreled '74 Sharps.
I've read that one of the rifles in the movie was returned to the builder to have the barrel replaced with an aluminum one. Turned out the original barrel was too heavy and hard to swing in the fight scenes.

And I've always been a bit surprised that nobody every sold a licensed collectors edition of the rifle. I'm not a memorabilia collector or Hollywood worshiper but a piece I'd be proud to own would be a replica rifle with an authentic signature by Mr. Selleck.
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Old December 03, 2017, 09:53   #8
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Not sure on that one. The movie rifles were made by Shiloh Sharps of Big Timber, Mt., and they sell an exact reproduction of the movie rifle.
It runs a cool $3500 clams, and as of now, there is close to a 2 year wait for any of their rifles. The wait used to be 5 years...
Every rifle is hand built from scratch, so they're a work of art.

I wanted .45-90, which by many is considered the best all around choice for long range shooting. Stouter than the 70, but not overkill like the 110 or 120. And, you can chamber and shoot regular factory .45-70 if you just want to go plinking on a moment's notice.

I bought the Pedersoli copy simply because the big name shooters use them and love them. Quality of the metal and gun works is absolutely first rate. They make their own barrels in house, and as far as shooting performance goes, are in every way an equal to the top custom Montana guns. With no wait.
The only place they fall down slightly is in finish. If you like "the polished shotgun look", you'll love it, but if you like the worn musket look, you'll be disappointed.
I'll happily shoot this all year long with the idea of eventually re wording it to something more in line with the whole flavor of the thing. Not that it looks wrong as is, but to me, a few of the curves, especially on the highly polished handguard, are slightly off to my eye. And the "highly polished" bit is an issue to. Not my bag that. Maybe for Elmer Fudd, but not me.
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Old December 03, 2017, 10:03   #9
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What blows me away is the absolute accuracy of these old things.

Think about it this way: with the shooter doing his part, 90 grains of black powder pushing a 550 grain hunk of lead alloy over 1/2 mile through the air, and landing hits at MOA accuracy. In the late 1800s. They say the Colt won the west? I say the Sharps did. It cleared the land of buffalo and put the Indians on the Res so settlers were safe. Taking the far ranging nomadic Indian tribes food source away is what did it.
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Old December 03, 2017, 23:08   #10
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Hi, perhaps I can can offer a bit of incite. I have a custom made 45-90 made on the receiver of an original .43 Spanish Rolling Block that I bought in pieces a long time ago.
I wanted to try to compete in the schutsen competitions that were going on at that time in Golden Colorado. My plan was to load it as an Express cartridge using a 300 gr. bullet. I couldn't hit a damn thing with it or any other black powder cartridge until I learned the proper way to load them. Being a muzzle-loading mountain man of sorts I figured this was about the same and easy mush.
UM, not so. First of all you can't get 90 gr.s of FFG in the brass and have room for the bullet. It will only hold about 80 to 82 gr.s and that is if you use a drop tube or tap the powder down carefully to settle it in. Now you add a fiber wad or a felt wad and use a compression die (that you can make yourself) to compress the the powder charge to a consistent pressure. Then you add a grease cookie or just thumb press a wafer of bee's wax over the top of that. Now load your cast bullet that has been lubed with SPG lub or what I use which is 50/50 lamb tallow and bee's wax. Crimp just enough to keep the bullet in place. Blow down the barrel after every shot. The moisture in your breath helps to keep the black powder fouling soft. Swab your barrel about every five shots to keep consistent groups. Try that after you site in at 25 yrds to see where your lateral positioning is. Now work your sights up to 350 or 400 yards. After you get used to fact that now you can hit something. Try the same thing with about 70 to 75 gr.s of FFG and a 405 or 500 grn. bullet.
Work your way out to the long gong and see just who shat in the buck wheat.

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Old December 03, 2017, 23:25   #11
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Yup.
I drop tube load and manage 85 gr or just a bit more of 2F Swiss, then I scientifically compress using a slightly undersize handgun bullet, followed by a touch of grease. I used to crimp the bullets, but now I set them in loose with just enough pinch to keep them from wobbling.
That's how I shot the old Shiloh Long Range Express and it worked well enough.
The SPG Lube I only discovered a few years back. I'd swab after every round. Folks thought I was a fool. I just didn't know better.
I blow it three times after each shot, I think it might be overkill, but it works.

I'm zero at 50 now with this, so we'll reach for 350 in a week, and if all's well, 500+.
I'm ashamed to say it, but I shoot better with these than I do with modern rifles. Maybe it's a state of mind? You're more on your game and know to succeeds, everything must be just perfect.
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Old December 03, 2017, 23:59   #12
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OLD POST I MADE COUPLE YEARS GO ON SHARP'S (I WORKED IN BIG TIMBER, MONTANA ON AN OIL EXPLORATION PROJECT)

I went into Montana on business and stopped in Big Timber to look over some old west sporting rifles. There are two manufacturers of Sharps rifles in this town of 1200 people. There's The Shiloh Rifle Co. and C.Sharps Rifle Co.:



The Shiloh Sharps Rifle Company



The C.Sharps Rifle Company

That is the rifle used by Tom Selleck in the 1990 movie "Quigley Down Under". There were three rifles made for the movie. One to be used by the star, one to be used by the stunt double and the third in reserve in case something happens to either of the first two. The Shiloh Rifle Co. of Big Timber, Montana made the rifles. The Model 1874 Sharps was the base model used and was built in 45-110 cal. (the .45-110, meaning caliber .45 and 110 grains of black powder for a charge. Also called the .45 2 7/8", meaning the caliber was .45 and the case length was 2 7/8"). Oh yeah, Tom Selleck kept one of the rifles as did the producer and director.

The waiting list for the Shiloh Sharps is between 18-24 months. They do have several examples on display:





The C. Sharps Company has several that can be bought "off the rack" (not sure about the waiting list for a new build rifle):







I didn't tour the facilities and not even sure that would be possible. I really didn't have the time but I should have asked anyway. I have to admit that I'm tempted. I may have to return and go over the details and order one (or two?). For a few thousand I could have a very nice rifle. I am considering an 1874 in 45-70 for a hunting rifle - just to spice it up a bit and make for a more challenging hunt perhaps.

I have been thinking of a hunt in south Africa - perhaps South Africa, Namibia or Zambia and using a Sharps for large game. I think taking a Cape Buffalo with a Sharps would be rather cool. Prices for Africa hunts are quite reasonable now and a friend who works at our local Post Office goes every year. Might be a good deal to take a few relatives for a "family hunt".

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Old December 04, 2017, 21:36   #13
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I've never been there, but I gotta go. The folks live in far Southwestern Saskatchewan, so it ain't far if I ever go visit.
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Old December 04, 2017, 22:05   #14
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Not a cartridge gun but I am finally gearing up to shoot my BP boomer. It is a Green Mountain round ball twist .58 caliber barrel on a Renegade stock/lock. Launching those big .570 balls should be a hoot. My other fav BP gun is a little .32, the .40 grain balls out of it are pretty satisfying to shoot as well. Sometimes you just want to shoot slowly.
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Old December 05, 2017, 07:23   #15
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My wife gave me the look last night. Said at my advanced age,.. Ahem,.. I'll soon want a Malcolm tube for the thing too.
Not sure it's needed, though.
Not yet.

A musket would be cool. Knew a guy who double charged one of them once. Once...
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Old December 06, 2017, 17:33   #16
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I traded my 1885 Browning for two Colt ARs. But I still have three 45-70s. I love that round. Used to do a lot of reloading in that caliber. I'm currently looking for a Browning or Winchester 1886 replica. They seem to have dried up
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Old December 06, 2017, 17:50   #17
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Hey ExCan, I've always had a passing interest, but never owned one or even shot one that I can recall.

If you wanted to bring one on Saturday.....
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Old December 11, 2017, 19:51   #18
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I have a Miruku Browning 1885 high-wall 45-70 with the Vernier rear tang sight and bubble front sight that was available for it years ago. I have not shot it in a long time. With practice and the right load it could really reach out there!
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Old December 11, 2017, 21:04   #19
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Quote:
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Attachment 86793

The wood on his has no checkering and looks much more beat up. One thing I dislike about mine is the checkered wood.
I told a guy yesterday it makes it look like "A Fine English Fowling Piece" instead of a big bore buffalo gun.
Have a Uberti catalog that shows their "Downunder" rifle. I would guess that the Quigley name is copyrighted., but it looks about the same. As you say, didn't see any checkering on Selleck's, but Uberti's copy has it too. Looks wrong to me too.

I have a 45-90, but it's a Winchester '86 and a slightly different animal with a 1~32" twist for "Express" loads. Does well with the 300 gr RCBS or 330 gr Gould bullets I cast for it, but doesn't like the heavier 45 cal Sharps type bullets.
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Old December 11, 2017, 21:55   #20
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Fun toys no doubt, I'm more partial to Remingtons myself simply because they were far more popular as "Buffalo" guns than Sharps were. Something to remember is by 1874 the great herds were already getting thin. Just another bit of Hollywood history that Sharps Business Rifles are seen as primary Buffalo killers.

Yeah these things can be rather accurate
You want a real hoot pick up a 1970s Parker Hale two bander with either the Whitworth or Henry bore. They are capable of outperforming the reproduction Sharps rifles.

There are records from the War between the States of kills made at well over a 1000 yards with Whitworths in Confederate hands.
There is still incredible long range matches being shot in the UK with Parker Hale muzzleloaders at places like Bisley

http://longrangerifles.blogspot.com/...t-britain.html

At Bisley they run up to 1000 yards during muzzle loading matches
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Old December 12, 2017, 00:46   #21
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The Remington Rolling Block was a popular buffalo rifle, but it is debatable whether it was a bigger factor in the decline of the herds than the Sharps. It was definitely out there in numbers. As were the various models of Trapdoor Springfields, which found their way into civilian hands in quantity. One thing to note about the Sharps is that the 1874 Sharps was actually produced starting in early 1871 and was given the 1874 moniker later on. So those rifles had been out on the ranges for years prior to 1874.

I should also note that I'm only able to relate this info since I've recently been reading up on the subject. A couple good references are Venturino's book and Sharps Firearms by Frank Sellers (long out of print). My own "buffalo" rifle is on order from Shiloh, a standard weight .50-70 with 28" barrel. Probably still 6-8 months out at this point. If I'm lucky, I might draw a bison tag some year for the interior, but more likely it will be a deer and moose gun. And probably a lot of fun to pop steel with too. I'm planning to load it with black powder exclusively. If I want to shoot smokeless I have lots of other rifles designed for that.
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Old December 12, 2017, 03:19   #22
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The Remington Rolling Block was a popular buffalo rifle, but it is debatable whether it was a bigger factor in the decline of the herds than the Sharps. It was definitely out there in numbers. As were the various models of Trapdoor Springfields, which found their way into civilian hands in quantity. One thing to note about the Sharps is that the 1874 Sharps was actually produced starting in early 1871 and was given the 1874 moniker later on. So those rifles had been out on the ranges for years prior to 1874.

I should also note that I'm only able to relate this info since I've recently been reading up on the subject. A couple good references are Venturino's book and Sharps Firearms by Frank Sellers (long out of print). My own "buffalo" rifle is on order from Shiloh, a standard weight .50-70 with 28" barrel. Probably still 6-8 months out at this point. If I'm lucky, I might draw a bison tag some year for the interior, but more likely it will be a deer and moose gun. And probably a lot of fun to pop steel with too. I'm planning to load it with black powder exclusively. If I want to shoot smokeless I have lots of other rifles designed for that.
Well sorta but no.
The model you are addressing is properly referred to as the 1869 model and was released in rather limited numbers
The 1874 was a slight redesign of the 1869

What should be noted is a sizable number of military percussion Sharps were converted to .50-70 and some of those guns were armory condemned which led to sale as scrap to the civilian market where they were sometimes rebuilt for the Buffalo hunting trade

The same occurred with various models of Trapdoors, mostly 1870 models however as late as the mid 1870s Whitney Arms was using Condemened parts from Springfield Armory to build what are know as Missouri River rifles
sleek sporters in .45 that ran 30" tapered octagons with Sharps sights. It was late enough in the trade that most seem to have ended up in Canada

Old family story
Back in the early 1900s before WWI my Great Grandfather packed up the sons and traveled to the edge of Montana. At the time one of the last herds had ended up isolated on a chunk of land along the Missouri after the spring floods, amounted to a bit over 100 head.
The boys picked out a bull and took turns shooting it from across a draw, that was the last family Buffalo hunt.

Ranchers back then shot them dead. The issue was worries regarding disease plus Buffalo will walk right through most fencing to get to the other side.

another point is it really didn't take much to kill them
many hide hunters were using Spencer rifles as well as Maynards
these could be had somewhat cheaply after the war, Sharps were quite expensive even compared to a new Rolling Block.
Reality was most of the hide market hunters were broke assed saddle tramps. Hollywood and novels glorified these folks painting them in romantic colors but most were borderline bums.

It's the same kalidascope through the Looking Glass view that has most thinking ranch hands well all packing Colt SAAs that would have ran them up to a months wages or more depending on the outfit they signed with. Remember things were inflated in price on the frontier.
If I remember right the 74' Sharps started around $50.00
Then you needed a wagon, a team, staples, what not. The short of it is to start up in the business you needed a sizable wad of cash.

Now some started out with the Railroads supplying meat to the crews. You were not paid a great deal but the Rail companies often provided wagons, even guns and a credit account the hunters could draw against to resupply
Most of my information came from old timers who had parents that were Hide hunters.

Another little component was the WWI Bone drive that occurred across the Great Plains and Canada. See there used to be Buffalo bone everywhere. During WWI it became a patriotic effort to collect it for phosphate extraction needed for explosives production. Sort of like the WWII scrap metal drives.
Seen amazing old photos of endless lines of rail cars heaped with Buffalo bone. These things were a matter of community pride back then with even youngsters picking bone for Victory. There are old photos in museums I visited in Alberta and SK showing vistas and as far as you can see, bone everywhere.

Anyways Buffalo were about gone in the lower Plains by the mid 70s, they didn't last much longer in the Upper Plains and into Canada. Like I noted, they were seen as a dangerous pest by Ranchers and homesteaders. They shot them whenever they had the chance and mostly with good reason.

Some of my family settled into ND as early as 1872, one ran a dray line between Fort Abraham Lincoln to Deadwood's gold fields. Even in the mid 70s Buffalo were becoming a rare sight according to family lore regarding the early days in the Dakotas.
They lasted longer in Canada, early 1890s however the Hide market was mostly played out by the mid 1880s. For whatever reason Horsehide blankets started to replace Buffalo Robes.

Same happened years before when beaver went out of fashion for hats
end of the Fur Trade
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Old December 13, 2017, 00:11   #23
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With apologies to ExCdn for the thread drift, I'm going to call horsepucky on the statements RSS made about the Sharps 1874. Although similar, this rifle is recognized as distinct from the 1869 by historians and collectors, just as it was by Sharps themselves - however belatedly. The model 1874 was on the market no later than early 1871, and was not named the 1874 until the year 1878. In that year Sharps introduced an entirely new model of rifle (the model 1878, also known as the Borchardt). To differentiate the new rifle from the ones they had been selling for the past several years they came up with the 1874 designation for the popular rifle model they had been selling since 1871. Although no one knows for sure why they picked 1874 as the model name, that's what it has been officially known as - since the year 1878.

A bit confusing for sure. However, I don't rely on fuzzy memories or family stories for this type of information - I get it from published, non-internet sources. In addition to the two books previously named, I consulted a newer work: Sharps Firearms by Roy Marcot et al, published 2017. All 3 are excellent references for anyone interested in Sharps rifles.

RSS - please feel free to carry on at this point with whatever new make believe tale suits your fancy. But you may want to cite some reputable sources if you wish to be taken seriously. Hint: long lost Uncle Murray and the "internet told me" don't count.
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Old December 13, 2017, 01:46   #24
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With apologies to ExCdn for the thread drift, I'm going to call horsepucky on the statements RSS made about the Sharps 1874. Although similar, this rifle is recognized as distinct from the 1869 by historians and collectors, just as it was by Sharps themselves - however belatedly. The model 1874 was on the market no later than early 1871, and was not named the 1874 until the year 1878. In that year Sharps introduced an entirely new model of rifle (the model 1878, also known as the Borchardt). To differentiate the new rifle from the ones they had been selling for the past several years they came up with the 1874 designation for the popular rifle model they had been selling since 1871. Although no one knows for sure why they picked 1874 as the model name, that's what it has been officially known as - since the year 1878.

A bit confusing for sure. However, I don't rely on fuzzy memories or family stories for this type of information - I get it from published, non-internet sources. In addition to the two books previously named, I consulted a newer work: Sharps Firearms by Roy Marcot et al, published 2017. All 3 are excellent references for anyone interested in Sharps rifles.

RSS - please feel free to carry on at this point with whatever new make believe tale suits your fancy. But you may want to cite some reputable sources if you wish to be taken seriously. Hint: long lost Uncle Murray and the "internet told me" don't count.
Well your hero Venturino's copy cat shit on various older firearms has been cited and disproven many a time. He is hardly any "expert", just a recent hack so get over it.
Asshole claims to be an expert on all things old west. He is but another East Coast asshole who moved to Montanta promoting romantic notions in conflict with reality.

So who you going to believe ?
Some dickhead from Virgina or those who actually lived there Will ?

Yeah your hero knows every thing about anything western
he doesn't, he's tard writing mythical crap for his tard audience
guys like you are his victims sucking up what some East Coast Montana hobby rancher romantically writes

Spencers volume is Okay on production, that's about it friend
truth be told most "Sharps" writers were far away from the Great Plains
want some truth ?
Most Sharps, Winchesters and Colt SAAs were sold out east
few were those that could afford to purchase these things Will

A basic Sharps was 50 bones in the 1870s at a time men made less then $20 a month

Do the basic math Will

or eat up your romantic crap, I find it comical

then again you mostly breed with anything you read don't you
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Old December 13, 2017, 02:32   #25
Will C
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Keep blathering on RSS - mindless babble is what you do best and it may be the only thing you're good at. You refer to no reputable sources for your ASSertions and just want to stir the pot with baseless assumptions, unsupported statements of "fact" and personal insults. Whatever. I'm done discussing it with you.

Maybe someone will come along and get this thread back on track?
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Old December 13, 2017, 04:23   #26
Riversidesports
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Will C View Post
Keep blathering on RSS - mindless babble is what you do best and it may be the only thing you're good at. You refer to no reputable sources for your ASSertions and just want to stir the pot with baseless assumptions, unsupported statements of "fact" and personal insults. Whatever. I'm done discussing it with you.

Maybe someone will come along and get this thread back on track?
and yours is the known romantic East Coast writing hack Venturino ?

again put your thinking cap on
your base commercial Sharps was up over fifty dollars, that's easily over two grand in todays money.
So Mr. saddle tramp was packing thousands of bucks in hardware.

Guess you think Ganbangers normally pack SIG 210s and AMTs don't you silly

but whatever, as long as you have some east coaster writing shit that supports your romantic Hollywood shit that of course has to be the only truth...
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