Author Topic: "Typical" Buffalo Rifle?  (Read 41533 times)

Offline Caleb Hobbs

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Re: "Typical" Buffalo Rifle?
« Reply #60 on: July 15, 2011, 11:32:18 AM »
Just to add my two cents worth -- back in the late '80s I did a tremendous amount of research on buffalo hunters and what it would take to set up a proper outfit. I've got every book mentioned here that was published at the time, plus quite a lot that haven't been mentioned. Needless to say, I love to research.

So based on several years of books, microfilm and microfiche, visiting the various sites, different museums, etc., the conclusion I came to was a # 3 Sharps with a #1 heavy barrel (11-12lb rifle) and military butt stock, plain wood, and a rear tang sight such as Grogan supplied a photo of. I think it might have been Billy Dixon who said he shot as many buffalo with this type of set-up as he did with his 16lb rifle. The .50-70 and .44-77 seems to be the earliest and most popular cartridges with the hunters, which opens up Kansas and Texas if you are into re-enacting the period.

For what it's worth, Frank Mayer's book is considered suspect by historians, and I never found any reference to the government supplying ammunition to buffalo hunters for the purpose of promoting the hide trade.

Also for what it's worth, I went with the above set-up, but in a .45-70, which made it a lot easier and cheaper to reload for. And I'd also add that I regretted the military butt, especially for older shoulders. It kicks more than a shotgun butt.

Again, just my two cents worth, but I hope it helps.

Offline Coal Creek Griff

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Re: "Typical" Buffalo Rifle?
« Reply #61 on: July 15, 2011, 11:56:58 AM »
That does help.  Thank you, sir.

CC Griff
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Offline Marshal Deadwood

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Re: "Typical" Buffalo Rifle?
« Reply #62 on: July 15, 2011, 12:44:40 PM »
Caleb,,that is exactly one of the type of Sharps I have......a #3 with heavy barrel,,but in 45-90. The recoil from a 12lb rifle in 45-90 is nill. I indeed call it my 'buffalo rifle'....now if I could just afford a buffalo hunt. But, I've taken whitetails with it.

My other Shiloh is a '74military rifle but in 45-70.

Maybe a carbine some day..who knows.

MD

Offline cpt dan blodgett

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Re: "Typical" Buffalo Rifle?
« Reply #63 on: August 27, 2011, 11:05:01 AM »
I may end up with 30 rifles (original line to which the good marshal commented)
.

That's what I'm tryin' to do ! LOL

The other day in the presence of my wife, my younger son commented I was running out of room in the gun safe.  I am thinking oops Anne does not need to hear that.
Well Anne just says guess we need to get a bigger safe.
Is she a keeper or what.
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Offline Coal Creek Griff

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Re: "Typical" Buffalo Rifle?
« Reply #64 on: August 27, 2011, 01:59:51 PM »
Yay Anne!
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Re: "Typical" Buffalo Rifle?
« Reply #65 on: Today at 09:07:19 PM »

Offline WaddWatsonEllis

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Re: "Typical" Buffalo Rifle?
« Reply #65 on: August 27, 2011, 11:08:57 PM »
Does she have alike minded and single sister?One who kayaks and cycles too? *G*
My moniker is my great grandfather's name. He served with the 2nd Florida Mounted Regiment in the Civil War. Afterward, he came home, packed his wife into a wagon, and was one of the first NorteAmericanos on the Frio River southwest of San Antonio ..... Kinda where present day Dilley is ...

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Offline cpt dan blodgett

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Re: "Typical" Buffalo Rifle?
« Reply #66 on: August 29, 2011, 10:46:46 PM »
Buffalo battery
Busted as well Anne came home and saw the box on the table said "I see you got something new"
Told her I got a good deal - response "I'm sure you did"
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Offline brudford

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Re: "Typical" Buffalo Rifle?
« Reply #67 on: September 30, 2011, 09:07:04 AM »
" ... and that the 1885 Brownings, both hi-wall and lo-wall, cannot be thought of as buffalo guns cause the buffalo were not really around in large numbers by 1885." WaddWatsonE , I guess this is a quote from Mike Venturino ? Maybe a history lesson for Mr. Venturino is in order . John Browning built and designed  what was later to be called the Winchester model 1885 by the Winchester manufacturing company which bought his patent . However , Mr. Browning designed and built this rifle in 1878 and at the Browning Brothers store located in Ogden Utah in which he was partnered with his brothers they sold over 600 of these future 1885's to the public . These rifles were used to hunt buffalo in the 1870's . Even back in the old days companies had marketing departments and they so-named this rifle built and designed in 1878 the model 1885 , I guess because it had a better ring or something to the name . The 1885 is a buffalo rifle .

Offline Coal Creek Griff

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Re: "Typical" Buffalo Rifle?
« Reply #68 on: September 30, 2011, 10:57:38 AM »
I think the key phrase is "in large numbers".  I suspect that there were many unusual guns on the buffalo ranges...   I am, by the way, a HUGE John Browning fan.  My family rolls their eyes when we watch movies and I keep pausing it to point out all the Browning designed guns.  I wish the 1885 was a "typical" buffalo rifle. 

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Offline Caleb Hobbs

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Re: "Typical" Buffalo Rifle?
« Reply #69 on: September 30, 2011, 12:35:10 PM »
I live just down the road from the Browning Museum, in Ogden, Utah. It's well worth a visit if you're ever in the area. I also really like the looks of the Browning 1885. They've got a cool one on display at the museum.

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Re: "Typical" Buffalo Rifle?
« Reply #70 on: Today at 09:07:19 PM »

Offline Skyrider

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Re: "Typical" Buffalo Rifle?
« Reply #70 on: October 06, 2011, 10:26:54 PM »
Howdy Folks! I recently found this place and figured it would be a great place to pick up information about those days of yesteryear when the bison ran wild over the hills around me, a place called Missouri.

I have a Pederosoli 1874 Sharps in the 45-110 soon to be and a 45-90 John Bodine Rolling Block.
The lever rifle I have is dated an 1876 in the 50-90 caliber.............love those big bores I do.
IRISH MIKE

Offline shrapnel

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Re: "Typical" Buffalo Rifle?
« Reply #71 on: October 13, 2011, 11:08:59 PM »
"Typical" may be a bit loose in reference to a buffalo rifle. I have an original buffalo rifle and it is chambered in 40-90 bottleneck. It was originally an 1874 Sharps that Walter Cooper of Bozeman, Montana Territory built with a Davenport barrel chambered in 40-90 Bottleneck. He chambered it specifically for buffalo hunting as that was a popular caliber in this part of the West. I don't know how many buffalo it has killed, but I know I have shot one buffalo, a few deer and a Black Angus cow with it.

I have also shot buffalo with a 45-70, but most buffalo were killed with other calibers than a 45-70.







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Offline Skyrider

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Re: "Typical" Buffalo Rifle?
« Reply #72 on: November 12, 2011, 12:35:39 PM »
I too wanted a .50 caliber in the 110 load but decided that my 50/95 lever gun would do me for know, after all you can only shoot one at a time gents.
IRISH MIKE

Offline Coal Creek Griff

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Re: "Typical" Buffalo Rifle?
« Reply #73 on: September 18, 2019, 05:18:32 PM »
I thought that I'd resurrect this thread after over 8 years.  I was the OP, asking about what features would be typical in an original buffalo rifle.  Since then, I came across a Pedersoli Sharps in 45-70 at a low(ish) price.  It has served me well over the years.  I pretty much only do casual target shooting and plinking so that I can have the experience of shooting historical-type firearms.

Now, though, I find myself back here again, researching the same topic.  I finally placed an order for a Shiloh Sharps and I now have a little more than a year to figure out exactly what I want.  I've done a lot more reading in the past 8 years, so I have a much better idea of what I'm after, but I find it interesting that I'm still wrestling with the same topic.

I will comment that the replies that I got in 2011 have still helped me a lot.  I just wish that the pictures were still available...

CC Griff
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Offline Drydock

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Re: "Typical" Buffalo Rifle?
« Reply #74 on: September 18, 2019, 06:35:14 PM »
As you have a serviceable .45-70,  Time for something different.  I really, really, really recommend the .50-70.  Easy to load, superbly accurate, sufficiently powerful and easy on your shoulder.  The vast majority of buffs were taken out by it and the .44-77. (The .44-77 is a modern reloaders, well, not nightmare, but it is a difficult beast.) The longer .50 case rounds have an aura of romance about them, but very few were actually built, recent research indicates less than 100 made it out of the Sharps factory.

But what do you want to do with this?  Carry it in the field?  Bench shoot?  Silhouette?  Long range past 500 yards?  The gun needs to be tailored to your application.  This is nothing new, the orginals were largely custom built as well.

I'd venture to say, for a general purpose single shot, I'd get a straight case .45 or .50  (Again, love the .50-70) with a 30" barrel, and a shotgun butt.  Everything else is up to you.
Civilize them with a Krag . . .

Offline Ranch 13

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Re: "Typical" Buffalo Rifle?
« Reply #75 on: September 18, 2019, 08:51:03 PM »
There is nothing any more difficult about the 44-77 than any other cartridge
Eat more beef the west wasn't won on a salad.

Offline Coal Creek Griff

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Re: "Typical" Buffalo Rifle?
« Reply #76 on: September 19, 2019, 02:16:42 PM »
Drydock:

The venerable 50-70 is on my short list of cartridges (see below). 

Ranch 13 has a little insight into my thoughts because we've discussed this project a little bit offline.

To fuel the discussion, and maybe fuel the fires of dispute, here's what I'm thinking of so far.  Keep in mind that some of these thoughts change on a nearly hourly basis and I still have over a year to confirm the details.

1874 Hartford Model
32" heavy octagon, polished
Standard wood
Military buttstock
Distant Thunder Sporting Tang sight
Globe front sight
Semi-buckhorn barrel sight

Caliber... Let's see...  I'm after a chambering relatively common in the early years of the buffalo hunt, which brings me down to three main calibers: 50-70, 44-77 and 50-90.  Each has their positives and negatives, but I'm leaning towards 44-77 at this point.  Brass is much more difficult to obtain, but otherwise it shouldn't be much more difficult to load.  My final decision depends in part on how available brass is over the next year.  50-70 and 50-90 are readily available, which is a big advantage for those two.

My goal, remember, is to have a rifle typical of the period rather than for competition or hunting.  I've made a couple of concessions to personal tastes in the barrel length and the front sight--those appear to be less common. 

All of the above is, of course, subject to change (and likely will--several times).  Again, that is just what I'm thinking at this moment, so feel free to convince me to change my mind...

CC Griff

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Offline Black River Smith

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Re: "Typical" Buffalo Rifle?
« Reply #77 on: September 19, 2019, 07:26:11 PM »
I would suggest that you get ahold of a copy of the book 'Sharps Rifle - The Gun that Shaped American Destiny' by Martin Rywell, if you do not have it already.  In the book are Sharps catalog advertisements.  I have read the book cover to cover about 4 times and still find bits of info.

The main reason for adding this, is that by your summary post about your desired configuration, it is not a 'typical' rifle from the period.  According to the book, the standard barrel lengths for hunting and sporting rifles in any caliber were 26", 28" or 30" from the factory.  I do not see an option for adding extra barrel length, just increasing the barrel weight.  The only 32" barrels listed were on certain models of the Creedmoor rifles.  It was my understanding that you wanted an atypical buffalo hunting style rifle.  I therefore thought of this book for its very specific Sharps factory written ad's.

I also have a Pedersoli 45/70 Sharps 1874 with a 32" barrel.  I really thought about cutting those 2" off to make it more period correct but then thought better of it.

Just food for thought.

I also like your decision about the 44/77 caliber.  It was the earliest caliber next to the 50/70.  The 50/70 - 1874 was a follow-up from the cartridge conversion period of Sharp military rifles.  I always liked the 44/77 myself, too.

Good luck on your 'investment'.  It is one that I could never make and now it is too late to enjoy.

BRS
Black River Smith

Offline Coal Creek Griff

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Re: "Typical" Buffalo Rifle?
« Reply #78 on: September 19, 2019, 10:20:25 PM »
Thank you for the book suggestion!  I'll look for that one.

As I mentioned, I knew that the barrel length is not standard and I'm still debating that (along with most of the other details).  I've spent a fair amount of time with Volume 2 of Sharps Firearms, by Roy Marcot and Ron Paxton.  There are a of rifles with 32 inch barrels pictured in that book and listed as having shipped in the early 1870s.  As I mentioned, the globe front sights are also less common, but not unheard of either.  I'm still thinking of the possibility of a blade front sight and a 30 inch barrel.  Hmmm.  A lot to think about.

As far as the investment, I didn't think that I would be able to spend that kind of money on a gun either.  My lovely bride, however, wanted to spend nearly that much to celebrate my retirement next year.  I decided that I could make up the difference with some overtime before I retire.  We were in Big Timber last month and visited the shop.  After we left, we had a long conversation about possibilities, then stopped back in before closing time to pay the deposit.  Now the decision-making has begun.  That's good, though.  It will give me something to do while I wait...

Thanks again.  I'll look for that book and wrestle with the options!

CC Griff

EDIT: The book is on order.
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Offline Black River Smith

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Re: "Typical" Buffalo Rifle?
« Reply #79 on: September 20, 2019, 09:18:21 AM »
I have the Sellers book but not the one by Marcot.  Never did see that one written about or advertised, so I missed it.  Amazon listing is $149.

In the Sellers book he has a lot of 1874's photo'd but he does not id the barrel length on most.

Anyway, your decision will be the best...
Black River Smith

 

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