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Cas City Forum Hall & CAS-L  |  Special Interests - Groups & Societies  |  The Barracks (Moderators: Delmonico, Pitspitr)  |  Topic: Chiappa Sharps M1863/1868 50-70 carbine (now with pictures) 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. « previous next »
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Author Topic: Chiappa Sharps M1863/1868 50-70 carbine (now with pictures)  (Read 1136 times)
Drydock
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« on: January 08, 2018, 07:58:09 pm »


I've wanted a .50-70 carbine for some time, but as I focus on military rifles, its always been a particular .50-70, the Post war Sharps conversion. This constituted the vast majority of .50-70 carbines issued, supplemented by a few trials versions of the various marks of Trapdoor.

Originals I can neither afford, nor wish to abuse.  This leaves replicas.  Much as I love the Montana riflemakers, they don't make what I want right now.  (Should they in the future, I will get in line)

The only maker of what I want, in the caliber I want, Is Chiappa/Armi Sport.  And even this is spotty.  So when one popped up in Buds Gun Shop online, at a very reasonable price, I plunked down the plastic as soon as my Christmas money cleared the bank.  (fwiw, I was actually tracking 6 sites, with Buds having the best price.  As soon as I bought it, they all listed out of stock.  Seems they were all selling the same carbine)  My Chiappa Spencer has given good service, so I'm willing to try it.

It arrived this last friday.  Impressions: Its a solid chunk, a good 1.5 lbs heavier than my .45 TD carbine.  I would guess most of that is in the barrel.  This likely accounts for most of the impression of gentle recoil the 50 Gov gives.  It balances well between the hands, and carrys lighter than it weighs, thanks to its compact length.

Wood to metal is very good!  Not as organic as a Shiloh, but better than most any mass produced wood stocked rifle I've handled lately.  Case hardening is very attractive.  Not sure if it's true case hardening or a chemical treatment, but it is well done.  Nice straight grained american walnut, oil finished, not the reddish stain that sometimes afflicts Italian guns.  Small parts look like castings, big parts, forgings.  The firing pin is a 2 piece unit, with a separate small diameter pin, well supported.  I like this design, should reduce if not eliminate pin breakage.  The barrel is 6 groove, .510 diameter.  That is interesting to me, the orginal Sharps Percussion barrels were 6 groove, .54, as opposed to the 3 groove .515 nominal Springfield supplied liners.  The lockplate vaguely suggests the Lawerance priming system, which is as much as any maker does.  All the proper patent stampings are there, including the Lawerence patent.  The top of the barrel between the action and sight is marked "New Model 1863".  Dark even blueing.

One jarring thing:  The hammer is wrong!  It is simply the Percussion hammer with the nose filled in.  The orginal was a unique piece that split the difference between the Percussion and later Cartridge designed guns.  This one is too tall, too long, and hits the striker at an awkward seeming angle.  It works fine, but someone cheaped out here, a few bucks more would have looked a lot better IMHO.  Butchs Antique Gun Parts has original Sharps Conversion hammers, ($20!) my calipers tells me it should work, so one is ordered, and will be sent off for polishing and case hardening.  Another cheap feature is the striker is the same part number as Chiappa's M1874, thus is shorter vertically than the original.  Again, works fine, but c'mon!  The barrel band was just a tad loose, a playing card shim fixed that.  I end up doing that to a lot of Military barrel bands.

The Trigger breaks at just over 5 lbs.  Just a touch of creep, fine for a military arm.  The tumbler does have a fly, works quite well.

Midway just down the road provided Starline brass, and a Lee 515-450 mold.  Unsized at .514 with my alloy, loaded over 65
grains OE 3f, down a 30" drop tube.  No wad, light compression, OAL 2.20".  Got off work at 1630, sun sets at 1700.  A quick run out to the farm gave me just enough light to get off 5 rounds at 50 yards.  Nice group low centered on an 8" paper plate, just under 2".  With no load development, this is acceptable right off the bat for GAF skirmish work.  (Finally a use for my formerly useless Lyman .56/50 dies!)

A nice feature is a tall front blade, secured to the sight base with 2 tiny roll pins.  The Lawerence rear sight is ok for skirmish work, and this one has enough tension on the ladder slide to hold under recoil.  It is drilled and tapped for a tang sight, I can see a Marbles going on here for serious down range work.

At half the price of the lowest price Montana 1874, this seems a good gun for GAF work in the appropriate time period.  Its a natural platform for the Grand Old .50-70.  We'll see how it holds up.


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RattlesnakeJack
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« Reply #1 on: January 08, 2018, 08:52:59 pm »

Chuck, Old Chap:
It is “very bad form” and “simply not done” to post such a detailed and interesting account of a newly acquired firearm without suitable photos!  Please remedy this gaffe forthwith!  Grin  Wink
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Drydock
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« Reply #2 on: January 08, 2018, 08:58:08 pm »

It shall be done, once I get my wifes new camera figgered out . . .
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« Reply #3 on: January 09, 2018, 04:34:15 pm »

Welcome to the world of 50-70 Sharps carbines! The more you shoot it, the more you'll like it.

It was my wife's suggestion when I was first diagnosed with cancer to give me something to look forward to. I ordered it with a 24" barrel at Kirk's suggestion for a little more sight radius and weight up front.  It's a good companion piece for my Shiloh '63, also in .50 calibre.

You are definitely better off with a carbine in 50-70 than a '63 in .54. They have cavernous powder chambers and lob a huge Xmas Tree ball. I had a lovely Shiloh '63 Sporter in .54 that I sent more time admiring than shooting. Loading it to capacity was a recipe for self abuse. Loading it down with reduced loads was an extra step I could do without.

I started out with the Lee 515-450 mould, shot as cast. Now I size the Lyman 515141 to .510 for both. 65 grs FFg, no wad and just the compression from the bullet works just fine.

If I may be so bold .... try 28 grs 5744 as a smokeless load. I use it with both the Lyman 515141 and a 375 gr Rapine bullet. Makes the clean up chores a lot easier.

I enjoy ringing the 100m and 150m gongs off hand at our range with my carbines, which is all I expect of them. Both have the factory ladder sights which are adequate for the purpose.

They carry well in the field and I look forward to taking game with either.
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« Reply #4 on: January 09, 2018, 07:19:47 pm »

The main point that I got out of this is that, since I have a useless set of Lyman .56-50 dies, I need a .50-70 or they'll just go to waste.  I care too much about the environment to allow that kind of waste.  I think that a nice .50-70 carbine might make the world (my world anyway) a better place.  Thank you for that slight justification (it doesn't take much justification for me to start shopping).

CC Griff
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« Reply #5 on: January 09, 2018, 08:13:54 pm »

I momentarily considered ordering a 50-70 Sharps Carbine because that's what they gave the teamsters etc back in the days after the Civil War.  I also watched Mike Beliveau's You Tube, and looked at the prices of 50-70 brass at Starline (2.5x to 45-70).  Then the Moment was OVER.  I'm getting started in the process of loading some 45-70 brass with the wondrous black for it since its that or compete with Krag shooters. 

Working on 30-40 loads too.  I need to order 220 lead, I have some 220 jacketed.

Later
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Drydock
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« Reply #6 on: January 09, 2018, 08:22:48 pm »

Thats pretty much how I started out, Griff.  A set of dies is a terrible thing to waste.  And whaddya know!  They crimp .50-70 just fine!.

Yep, PJ, I have 5744 standing by.  But I actually enjoy cleaning a rifle after a BP session.  It's a personal problem I've learned to live with.   Tongue
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« Reply #7 on: January 10, 2018, 09:05:29 am »

Its a solid chunk, a good 1.5 lbs heavier than my .45 TD carbine.  I would guess most of that is in the barrel.  I would suspect that accounts for most of the impression of gentle recoil the 50 Gov gives.
Quote

I don't know about that. My only .50-70 Gov is my NYS Remington Rolling Block which is lighter than my Trapdoors, yet is much more pleasant to shoot.
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« Reply #8 on: January 10, 2018, 04:14:30 pm »

Considering that with proper care and annealing, 50-70 brass will last indefinitely, the cost of it is immaterial. Price .338 Lapua brass if you want real sticker shock.

Today I ordered 500 Starline 44-40 cases. Total cost including taxes, S&H, plus 4% because I used Mastercard was $229.79. That's the cost of shooting and why I do not go to events where you are not allowed to pick up brass.

I have a higher attrition rate with 44-40 than I do 50-70, usually because some bonehead steps on my brass.


I momentarily considered ordering a 50-70 Sharps Carbine because that's what they gave the teamsters etc back in the days after the Civil War.  I also watched Mike Beliveau's You Tube, and looked at the prices of 50-70 brass at Starline (2.5x to 45-70).  Then the Moment was OVER.  I'm getting started in the process of loading some 45-70 brass with the wondrous black for it since its that or compete with Krag shooters. 

Working on 30-40 loads too.  I need to order 220 lead, I have some 220 jacketed.

Later

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« Reply #9 on: January 10, 2018, 10:14:08 pm »

Looking forward to a complete review. I know where there is a ne2 Chiappa 50-70 that I’m lusting over. But concerned about the bad press a Chiappa garners. But for $1100...... how baD can it be?
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Drydock
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« Reply #10 on: January 11, 2018, 12:56:36 am »

I have owned 2 Shiloh Sharps, and consider them worth every penny.  I sold my first one off to pay for a new truck transmission.  The 2nd I traded straight up for an M1884 Trapdoor rifle and a US M1917 Eddystone, this when I decided to concentrate on Military weapons.  I once ordered a Shiloh 1874 3 band infantry rifle, but Shiloh returned my down payment when they discontinued the military models.  Damn!

However, I see nothing in this carbine to make me think it will disappoint me.  Everything is properly aligned, everything that should be hardened, is.   I hear trigger pulls can vary, I seem to have a good one.  Compared to Beliveaus video 5 years ago, the case colors appear far more varied and bright than his.  He was pleased with how it shot, and so far am I.  I stripped it down, and found no shavings or sloppy machining, though the degree of polish is not at the Montana makers level.  Nor would I expect it to be.

My complaints are cosmetic, centered around a hammer style I know is wrong, but that 99% of folks would never notice and not care.  It has actually grown on me a bit, as it enhances the percussion style of the gun.  So I'm in no hurry to replace it, though I suppose I will someday.  

And, if you want a US M1868 Sharps Conversion, in .50-70 Government, this is literally the only game in town.  It is not a precision long range rifle, but then neither were the originals.   Any changes I may make, will only make it more my own.  
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Drydock
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« Reply #11 on: January 11, 2018, 01:03:19 am »

I would also point out that it is the nature of the internet, that for every shrill complaint, there are usually 99 or so folks happy with what they have, but with no need to go on line to speak of it!
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« Reply #12 on: January 11, 2018, 06:52:39 am »

From the ones I saw and shot at the Muster, I was pretty impressed with the quality.  As far as the precision part, from watching and shooting them a little, you'll be able to regularly hit the 300 yard target once you figure out the sights, and that's what it was designed for, to hit a man sized target at reasonable ranges.  I think you're going to love it!
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« Reply #13 on: January 11, 2018, 07:59:23 am »

While I have a Shilo Business Rifle, and it is my favorite single shot, I also have a Chiappa Sharps 63 that I love and shot last year at the Muster.
It shot way better than I did and I have no complaints with it. I haven't had a hiccup with it in over 500 shots.
                                                                   My trigger was not real good, but a little smoothing sure helped.

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Drydock
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« Reply #14 on: January 11, 2018, 11:21:52 am »

BTW, Midway has Starline .50-70 brass on sale right now.   Grin
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« Reply #15 on: January 11, 2018, 11:47:28 am »

Hi, my Mike Beliveau y comment was ONLY concerning the $110.00 for a box of 20 rounds, which is why I have that sucker in r5-70.

Later
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« Reply #16 on: January 11, 2018, 12:14:24 pm »

Kirk at Shiloh told me that it was common in the day for Sharps to use up the old stock of percussion parts in conversions and rebuilds.
I had asked about the high half cock on my Farmingdale Business Rifle compared to the low half cock of later model '74s. This had been criticized by an 'expert' as being potentially unsafe.

That was an example of Wolfgang Droegge using up percussion parts when he started making cartridge guns, just like on the original Sharps. The high half cock allowed clearance under the hammer to place a percussion cap.

When you consider the number of 'smiths doing conversions and repairs in the era, it's not difficult to envision any number of odd ball combinations.


My complaints are cosmetic, centered around a hammer style I know is wrong, but that 99% of folks would never notice and not care.  It has actually grown on me a bit, as it enhances the percussion style of the gun.  So I'm in no hurry to replace it, though I suppose I will someday.  
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« Reply #17 on: January 11, 2018, 02:26:29 pm »

All true!

Day off today, so out to the farm again.  5 rounds at 50 yards made a 1.5" group this time.  3 shots over the chronograph were 1204, 1210, 1209.  I don't think there is an easier cartridge to load than the .50-70-450.

The remaining rounds in my pocket, I went over the ridge to look for armidillos.   Found one!  A 50 Gov't does a serious number on a 'dillo.  First time I've not seen one jump 2 feet in the air after being shot.

This is Starline brass, WLR primer, Lee 515450, a Lee 4.0 cc dipper of OE 3f, leveled with an old credit card, though a 30" drop tube, lightly compressed with the bullet to an OAL of 2.20.  The Lee design has a slight flare at the base of the ogive, perfect for a light crimp over.  I've measured the twist rate as 1-26.
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« Reply #18 on: January 11, 2018, 02:41:03 pm »

The 50-70 makes a believer out of you pretty quick! I recommend a copy of Croft Barker's book on the 50-70. He spent a lot of effort into making a silk purse out of a sow's ear, turning a NY State Militia rifle into a real shooter.

I've got some brag targets on my gun room wall fired with my .50 carbines , percussion and brass cartridge, that are impressive.

The only game I've taken with a 50-70 fell to my Military Rifle - two large black bears and six point Mule deer. You can eat right up to the bullet hole.
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« Reply #19 on: January 11, 2018, 03:37:01 pm »

Hey Drydock, can you actually USE the ladder on your ladder sights?  Mine Flopped up and down or back and forth so I got a Pedersoli sight with notches. 

Later
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« Reply #20 on: January 11, 2018, 03:52:47 pm »

Surprisingly, it is useful.  There's not a whole lot of friction in the slider,  but just enough it seems.  It does have a very strong spring, that holds it ridged both upright and folded.  I would not call it a high quality sight, but it is usable.  However, should I feel the need to shoot past 200, I'll put a tang sight on it.  

Just as an aside, one other cartridge I'm trying to work up now is the 11mm French Gras.  As easy as the .50 Gov't is, the French round is a Cast Iron Bitch to load, brutal to shoot, with it's whole design raison d'etre seeming to be "Eet mus be beegger zan ze Bosche!"
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« Reply #21 on: January 11, 2018, 05:01:07 pm »

Just got off the phone with Carrico Leather.  A Fair Weather Christian Prairie Belt is on the way, type B with tent canvas loops.  This should also work well with my Spencer.
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« Reply #22 on: January 11, 2018, 05:22:23 pm »

Hi

This is a bit of a hijack, but it IS for this rifle but in .45-70.  I need to work up a black powder load for the Chiappa I used at the 2017 Muster.  No reason to shoot against Repeaters if I don't have to.  

From what I've been reading in Lyman's black powder loading book and Paul Matthew's book, you don't really work up an accuracy load for a 45-70 like you do a .38 Special.  For example for a Bullseye load in .38 Special I made 100 rounds of 3.1 grains of Bullseye, 100 of 3.2 grains of Bullseye, 100 of 3.3 grains, and 100 of 3.4 grains and if this global freezing abates, I'll see which work in which revolver.  I have 4 to try so far.  

So, from Paul's book, I get a grease cookie or a a fiber wad, load the cartridge with powder (of the black sort) and mainly make sure that there's no air space between the powder and the bullet so that I don't ring the barrel.  Not loose, not packed solid, but like the three bears it has to be JUST RIGHT.  I learned about shooting from a bench rest shooter so even thinking this way almost hurts.

Is this right or what?

Thanks


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« Reply #23 on: January 11, 2018, 05:38:56 pm »

Pretty much thats it.  For skirmish shooting I don't bother with the wads either, just put enough powder in the case that seating the bullet lightly compresses it.  Military rounds were loaded just that way.  Consistant loading this way can get you to 3 MOA pretty easy.  Make sure the bullet is a BP design that carries plenty of lube.

Now, for long range precision work, there's enough here to make a BR shooter happy.  Different grades and brands of powder like different amounts of compression.  Wads can stick to the bullet base, so some put circles of newsprint between the wads and bullet.  Some rounds/rifles like hot primers, some like standard primers, some swear by pistol primers.  Dare I mention paper patching . . .
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« Reply #24 on: January 11, 2018, 05:41:00 pm »

Thanks, but I'm not totally sure I like shooting well enough to do paper patching.  I also don't' do wall paper.

Just sayin'
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