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Special Interests - Groups & Societies => BROW => Topic started by: ccarley on July 28, 2019, 09:44:29 pm

Title: New guy with a Sile Sharps
Post by: ccarley on July 28, 2019, 09:44:29 pm
Howdy all,

It's been a few years since I picked up this old Sile Sharps.  I was then a member of a muzzleloader group here in Sonoma County (SVML) shooting a 50 cal Thompson Hawken, when one of the guys was retiring from shooting his BPCR guns asked if anyone was interested in his Sharps.  At the time, I jumped on it!  Nothing special for sure being a Sile/IAB Sharps with plain wood and round about a 28" barrel, but it's mine nonetheless.  The gentleman threw in a box of 50 rounds 45-70 to go with it.  At the time, all I knew was they were the right cartridges for the rifle.  Took a few shots with it at the range and wow, the thing kicked with those hand loads but was accurate enough to hit steel at 200 yards (all I had at the time).

A lot of reading later... and more reading... I learned a bit about these guns.  The hand loads I got with the rifle are probably too hot, I recall he mentioned they were some grains BP along with some grains smokeless.  Looks like a 500 gr lead bullet.  Those cases swell upon firing.  I picked up some Federal 300 gr hunting loads which do not swell and am now reloading with 405 gr lead lubed bullets and smokless powder for the time being.  Haven't shot any of those loads yet, but I may need to pick up some more brass since those original 50 rounds seem to be loaded too hot.  I may not even shoot the rest.

As for the action, it's been worked on.  There's a custom set trigger assembly, that only cocks & fires once the set trigger is set.  Pulling it apart, the primary trigger will only release the set trigger which has too much tension on it, so the set trigger needs to be pulled to cock the hammer.  I'm really hoping to find a better solution for this but missed out on a double trigger set online a while ago.  I noticed that the hammer can be released from the half-cock position as well; I need to look at that notch more to see what's up there.  The barrel though looks great.  I believe the PO shot silhouette with it.

I'll do some disassembly and get some photos of the internals.  Here's some photos of the rifle as it is now though.

Clay Carley
Title: Re: New guy with a Sile Sharps
Post by: ccarley on July 28, 2019, 09:46:54 pm
Had to rotate a couple of the photos.
Title: Re: New guy with a Sile Sharps
Post by: Coffinmaker on August 14, 2019, 11:26:41 am

First .... A CAVEAT:  I don't personally shoot BPCR any more.  Unless you count my 38-55 Handy Rifle as BPCR.  My serious BPCR rifle, I gave up years and year ago.

My concern is the ammunition you were sold (given) with yours.  Duplex loads are NOT SAFE.  I con't care who loaded them.  If you're not associated with a Ballistics Lab, one has no business even thinking about doing duplex loads.

So my strong suggestion to you, is take those duplex loads apart.  Salvage the case and primer for your own use.  Use the unknown powders for fertilizer (works great in the garden).  DO NOT shoot them.  NOT in any rifle.
Title: Re: New guy with a Sile Sharps
Post by: Reverend P. Babcock Chase on August 14, 2019, 09:55:01 pm
Howdy CC,

Without having the triggers in hand I have to guess that the tension on the rear trigger has the extension sitting too high and is holding the lock's sear out of engagement. Look for a small screw on the trigger plate between the two triggers. Turning it up and into the plate should both let the trigger extension sit lower and reduce the tension on the rear trigger. The other screw ( in front of the front trigger) is just to adjust the trigger sear (not the lock's sear) engagement. Try fiddling with that middle screw with the trigger plate out and see if that helps.

Based on an ancient history with muzzleloaders, that's all I understand about what I know about that.

Reverend Chase
Title: Re: New guy with a Sile Sharps
Post by: ccarley on April 10, 2020, 12:14:09 pm
Thanks for the advice.  It's been a while since I posted here but well, we've been a bit busy.

I decided to not shoot those duplex loads.  Especially since the few that I did shoot swelled up near the rim of the case.  I've since been loading my own using the Lee Loader.  405 grain semi-wadcutters have been shooting nice out this gun, with no swelling, and I recently ordered some Starline brass and some 500 grain Spitzer bullets to load over some 5744 powder (according to the trap door charges in my Lee manual).  I finally decided to start loading my own after purchasing a Cimarron El Malo (chambered in 45 Colt of course); between that and the new CA laws about ammo purchases, I just want to load everything myself now. 

I've found that I have to work on the cobbled together rear sight.  It's a mess.  I'll probably be ordering something better for it soon but I could not get enough windage out of it to get POI to POA.  I was consistently shooting 5" right at 50 yards (!) even with the rear sight all the way left.  It had an old rusty set-screw in there holding that position.  It shot nice groups there, but nowhere near where I wanted them to go. 

As far as the trigger is concerned, I'll have to get a pic of it.  I'll do some adjusting so that it works better; I was hoping to locate an entire trigger assembly for this rifle.  Years ago I did find one, and last year or so I think I finally tried to order it, but it was at that point out of stock. 

Thanks all,
Title: Re: New guy with a Sile Sharps
Post by: Kent Shootwell on April 10, 2020, 06:16:06 pm
I’m very familiar with Sharps but not the Sile Sharps. None the less maybe I can help, the rear trigger may have an adjusting screw for the set spring. If so screw it in a bit will lower the trigger bar to allow the lock to be cocked without first setting the trigger. This photo of a set trigger with this screw shows where to look.
( ( ( by Oliver Sudden (, on Flickr
Title: Re: New guy with a Sile Sharps
Post by: ccarley on April 12, 2020, 05:58:14 pm
I pulled my trigger assembly for a photo this afternoon.  The screw behind the rear trigger is actually screwed in from the top side and holding the leaf for the main trigger (release).  The rear spring just seems to be at a set tension; I tried loosening that tension slightly but don't want to go too far.  It works but requires disassembly to make any adjustment, which may not be a real adjustment anyway. 

My searches this afternoon came up with an assembly from Dixie Gun Works:,520,521,531/product_name/YP0906+Trigger+Assembly+-+Doule+Set+%28repro.%29+For+Dixie+1859+Sharps+Rifle+%26+Carbine+and+1874+Sharps+Sporting+Rifles+%28Reproduction

That might actually either work or be tweaked to work in my rifle.  I'll have to wait a while before spending... I just keep reminding myself this is an old gun!

Title: Re: New guy with a Sile Sharps
Post by: Kent Shootwell on April 12, 2020, 07:22:47 pm
I see that your triggers are indeed set up to only work by setting before cocking. Here’s a standard set of triggers for a Sharps. They can be used either set or unset.
( ( ( by Oliver Sudden (, on Flickr
Title: Re: New guy with a Sile Sharps
Post by: Kent Shootwell on April 13, 2020, 07:49:34 am
Your lock may not have a fly in it so requires the type of trigger you have. The rear trigger holds the sear out of the way as the tumbler turns if there's no fly. Adding the tumbler with a fly will allow other type of set trigger to work.
Title: Re: New guy with a Sile Sharps
Post by: ccarley on April 13, 2020, 07:51:51 am
Thanks for the info!

I'll have to do some more disassembly and see what else is going on with this rifle.  I appreciate it!

Title: Re: New guy with a Sile Sharps
Post by: Black River Smith on April 13, 2020, 01:28:40 pm

I sat back and watched this posting for awhile now.  I had an IAB Sharps some 23 years ago and really liked the looks but the rifle had a 'real problem' from the manufacturer.  I believe your rifle has/had the same problem, that I determined in mine (I am not a smith but) and it appears the previous owner of yours' took a more 'drastic action' then I did.

The overall problem with the rifle(I owned) was the hammer would not go into or stay in full cock.  "The trigger group was set too deep into the bottom of the stock with respect to the hammer plate/mechanism."  The issue was -- when cocking the hammer the L shaped sear would hit the top of the main trigger plate and then automatically disengage from the full cock notch.  I 'corrected' mine by filling off about 1/4 of height from the top of the main trigger plate where the sear made contact.  That allowed full engagement of the L sear and allowed for both main and set triggers to function.  There was nothing wrong with the fly.  I did not shoot it that much and the main trigger held without any additional hardening.  What I suspect with your rifle is the person went to a full extreme or the trigger broke, if he filed it down some, and he then just reshaped to what you presently see as the front trigger shape.

I really did not see this issue posted on the internet about these rifles but I did not have internet back ~20yrs ago when I had and worked on my rifle.

Hope this helps you understand or formulate a solution when measuring your own rifle.

Again, I am not a gunsmith but do understand mechanics and seen enough of how these side plate rifles should work.

PS -- I do not believe investing in a new trigger group would solve your issue.
PSS -- Kent if you read this -- I really - really like the Sharps you just finished for yourself.  Sir, you do beautiful work and have great talents.
Title: Re: New guy with a Sile Sharps
Post by: ccarley on April 13, 2020, 02:18:10 pm
Thanks to all who replied, much appreciated!

For the cocking, if I set the rear trigger I do get 1/2 cock (seems more like 3/4) as well as full cock.  I think you are correct, Black River Smith, as to the previous owner of my rifle taking some drastic measures with it.  I'm not sure if it originally had a single trigger or the set trigger set but this trigger assembly is definitely not a factory piece. 

Since we are all sheltered in place and can't go anywhere anyway, I'll have some time soon to do some more disassembly.  I'm still deciding on the rear peep sight for the gun, don't think it's going to be too fancy at all but anything will probably be better than what's on there now. 

How much work do I want to put into it before I decide to put something big on my credit card?  This rifle has been a good shooter and it groups well; with it's age any other problems have already been dealt with. 

Although my first experience seeing a Sharps was in Quigley, I'd say my favorite story is that of Billy Dixon.
Title: Re: New guy with a Sile Sharps
Post by: ccarley on April 14, 2020, 02:10:22 pm
After making some adjustments to the set trigger spring, it turns out that it needs the tension it had on it before.  Anything less and the sear catches the 1/2 cock notch, which wouldn't be good.  So, I'll just leave it like that since it's been that way for who knows how long.  I'm guessing a pretty long time considering the wear on the blueing.

Nice day today here in Rohnert Park CA (about an hour North of San Francisco for those not familiar), so I grabbed some photos out in the sun of the Sharps and the El Malo.  I had been thinking the wood was awfully dark on the Sharps, but it sure seems like a match for the El Malo!  Midway says I should have my brass & lead before the end of the month.  Maybe next month I'll be able to hit the range again... if it's open.

Title: Re: New guy with a Sile Sharps
Post by: ccarley on April 18, 2020, 08:19:26 pm
After lots of reading, I discovered some more info about this rifle.

Sile was the importer, it's from I.A.B  in Italy.  The date code stamped on the barrel shows it's likely from 1979, and I.A.B. started producing these around 1975.  From what I read, these earlier ones are pretty decent, with the later versions having some problems (It's Always Broke?).   I haven't seen another one with a factory recoil pad on it, most seem to have a plastic or steel butt-plate.

I received the Pedersolli 5" tang sight today which should be just right for this gun.  Our local range goes to 300 yards (though you need permission to go past 100; last time I had permission the dude next to me didn't believe I was hitting paper with iron sights. He got real quiet when I brought the target back), while the range up North in Ukiah goes out to 400 yards (BLM land with an un-manned range).  The front globe sight has a post in it, I'll probably order a card of inserts for it.  Waiting on brass & lead still of course. 

We're still stuck indoors here in Sonoma County.  I'm still working thankfully (I work in IT) but I can't say the same for most around here.  But hey, saving money on fuel now and have more time at home to work on projects without the commute.  Really hope this is all over soon so that life can get back to some sort of normalcy!