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Login Name Post: Sharps or muzzleloader ?        (Topic#187834)
36 Cal.
Posts: 62
12-09-05 07:55 AM - Post#203266    

I ask my question here because it seems to be right place.I know this is forum for ML only but I asked at Shilo forum and nobody replied me.
Next year our black powder community in Poland are going to organize long range shooting at military area.
We don't have any experince with this styly of shooting.We want to shoot at 300,500,800 and 1000 yards.Nobody of us was shooting at this distance before,so it will be our first try.
Due law reasons we can only use a pre 1850 muzzleloaders or Sharps 1859 and 1863. No BPCR or other cartridge rifles are permitted.
My question is which rifle is more suitable to shoot at this distances ?
Sharps or ML like Gibbs or Mortimer Witworth.
I'm going to buy new rifle for this competition and I must choose one.I'm thinking about Sharps Sporting .45, Gibbs.45, Mortimer Witworth .45 or Tryon Creedmoore .45 . All of them from Davide Pedersoli
What would you suggest ?
Any advice ?
Best regards

58 Cal.
Posts: 2388
12-09-05 08:23 AM - Post#203276    

    In response to Sebastian

The most accurate rifle of the 1860s is the Whitworth. The British were able to hit a target a 1880 yards with it. Now, some of our own marksmen were able to hit at about 4 kilometers distance, but that was with a bench rested target rifle that had a barrel that could be 40 mm thick. It wasn't portable like the Whitworth.

But the Whitworth isn't easy to shoot either. Check out what Joe Bilby has to say in Civil War You have to find the right bullet, wad and powder combination. Some use drop tubes for the powder too.

40 Cal.
Posts: 145
12-09-05 09:27 AM - Post#203324    

    In response to Sebastian

Insofar as I know there are no organized competitions for percussion breechloaders such as the Sharpes, and they do not appear to be nearly as popular today as the BP cartridge guns. It is a known fact that muzzleloaders shooting conical bullets can be made to shot very accurately out to 1000 yards, and target grade rifles, molds, reloading tools, etc. are easy to find. In theory the Sharpes breech loader shoots a bullet which is much too short to hold its velocity at long range, and breech seating that short bullet is likely to result in its being slightly misaligned with the bore, and therefore not capable of great accuracy.
Berdan's Shooters preferred the percussion Sharpes over the Whitworth and other very accurate muzzloaders--that's a pretty good endorsement, but in target shooting I'd pick one of the muzzleloaders you mentioned.

Posts: 6528
12-09-05 01:04 PM - Post#203445    

    In response to Sebastian

The Brits are into long range muzzleloading shooting.

If me, I would go with a Gibbs type rifling ML, excepting for the faster twist, the rifling is more traditiona as to lands and grooves and they are just as accurate as the Whitworths.

The hex type Whitworth rifling can become a bit of a bear when loading the speciality bullets.

Posts: 26194
12-09-05 07:02 PM - Post#203663    

    In response to TANSTAAFL

The options are: Sharps Sporting .45, Gibbs.45, Mortimer Witworth .45 or Tryon Creedmoore .45.

I don't have information on the Pedersoli Sharps Sporting .45 but I do know the original breech loading Sharps had a reputation for leaking around the primitive breech seal. Because they are loaded from the breech with the bullet inserted first, they limit the amount of powder you can use. This might impose limits on their suitability for shooting at 1000 yards.
The only Sharps New Model 1859 Dixie shows is in .54 caliber shooting a .544 conical bullet.

The Dixie catalog says the Pedersoli Mortimer Whitworth Rifle does not have the hexagon bore usually associated with Whitworth rifles.
It is a 5 groove .451 bore, .461 groove barrel with a 1:21 twist.
The gun in the photo has a tang peep sight, but this sight, in my opnion would probably not work for shooting at 1000 yards distance.
Pedersoli makes some suitable tall ladder style adjustable tang mounted sights at very reasonable prices. Of course, places like Montana Vintage Arms also makes some excellent tang sights for some very high prices.

The Dixie catalog says the Gibbs was "Made in 1865 by English gunsmith George Gibbs..."
I hope that doesn't knock it out of the eligible guns for you.
Although a bit expensive, it is a nice looking rifle. It's 1:18 twist might be more suitable for the long heavy bullets which work well in 1000 yard matches.
the Gibbs also comes with a rear tang sight which is more suited for the long ranges you are considering (although, as I mentioned, the tall ladder style Pedersoli tang sight can be mounted on the Mortimer and Tryon.

The Tryon Creedmore looks interesting with it's .450 bore, .006 deep grooves and 1:21 twist.
Although I don't own this rifle, I do own the Tryon in .50 caliber (roundball gun). It's well made and I have not had any problems with mine.

All in all, if money and politics were not an issue, I think I would try the Gibbs.

Posts: 6528
12-10-05 02:01 PM - Post#204077    

    In response to Zonie

You are point on Zonie as to the paper cartridge gas seal leaking on the percussion Sharps. C. Sharps had an ingenious idea to effect sealing the breech, but it was not perfect.

Also, after several shots, the sliding gas seal has a tendency to foul, badly. I found on mine (and it had a stainless steel gas seal) I had to disassemble the breech and clean with water to remove the fouling & free it up.

With the original type .54 Sharps bullet which had the groove at tail for tying the paper cartridge to, it did have good accuracy, but no where so good as I wished.

I later reworked the rifle into a breech loading .45-70 by machining out a different breech block of my own configuration and installed a sleeved Ruger #3 .45-70 BBL. I cut the original hammer off, riveted/hard silver soldered on a hammer adaptation to work for the two piece firing pin.

Made a world of difference as a tack driver, even with the short Ruger #3 bbl. I never shot it with anything but BP & 500 grain hard cast bullets, gave it to the son in law and he loves it.

62 Cal.
Posts: 2842
12-10-05 02:40 PM - Post#204096    

    In response to Sebastian

Dear Mr Sebastian - I suggest you do a search on this forum for the words of David Minshall, near-Chief Panjandrum in the Muzzle Loading Association of Great Britain, champion long-range rifle shot and all round bon oeuf. He shoots long range rifle on a regular basis, and has some very sound advice to somebody like you right at the beginning of your interest in the sport. I have a Parker-Hale Whitworth in .451", but with the standard military sights, that I shoot out to around 600m with some degree of success - but you really need a good quality tang sight, like the Soule, with a LOT of adjustment, to get the best out of these weapons. I also shoot a patched hexagonal 595gr bullet, made by the Polisar Bros of New Mexico, having tried all the others that I could either make or buy. I started the day with an eight shot sighter group at 100 that measured just over 7/8th of an inch [[22mm] - following their instructions to the very letter.
You can, if you wish, shoot the Lyman 535gr multi-groove bullet in it, if it is pure lead - it upsets to the shape of the hexagonal bore just as though it was always that shape...but if you are going to shoot a cylindrical bullet, to me that defeats the fun of having a tetchy Whitworth. Parker-Hale also made a very fine three-band .451" rilfe and a two-band Volunteer as well - both are very hard to find. I ahve my own opinion about he so-called Parker-Hale weapons that were not made by Parker-Hale in their entirety, and I'll say no more about them. The weapons that Zonie mentions are all very fine items, but be aware that the Pedersoli Whitworth is designed for the DSB/MLAGB standing 100m match, NOT shooting 1000yards...or so I'm told.
An acquaintance of mine, Mr Martin Tebbs, makes Gibb-style rifles in their entirety, but like any hand-crafted weapon, don't expect to get it hceap - set aside $4000-5000 plus another $500-800 for the sights and you might pry one out of his paws...a lot of American LRML shooters have managed over the years.

I wrote a few words myself about shooting the Whitworth, but they were virtually worthless compared to the pearls of wisdom from Mr Minshall, and I would ignore them if you happen to come across them in the search for something more appropriate.

Here in UK, BTW, we DO have two matches for the Sharps - the Quigley and the Billy Dixon, both shot at representative targets [we are prohibited by our laws from shooting at a representation of the human outline... ]

Best wishes from rural Eastern England


Edited by tac on 12-10-05 02:42 PM. Reason for edit: No reason given.

36 Cal.
Posts: 62
12-12-05 02:28 AM - Post#204835    

    In response to tac

Thank you all for yours responses.
There's no doubt,I'm going to buy long range tang sight also.Pedersoli's Sharps Sporting have fast twist 1-18 that should stabilize .45 bullet very well.The only one problem is gas leakage.Maybe brass cases could resolve it?
In other way ML is very reliable gun,but with complicated loading.
It's hard to decide.

45 Cal.
Posts: 530
12-12-05 03:12 AM - Post#204840    

    In response to Sebastian

Hi Sebastian,
I have owned and used both P-H Withworth (with Henry-rifling) and a Tryon Creedmoore by Pedersoli. Not used on long,long distances though.
In the options you gives I would today take Pedersoli Gibbs. Prefer ML, not cartridge-guns.

Posts: 26194
12-12-05 06:13 PM - Post#205121    

    In response to Sebastian

"...Pedersoli's Sharps Sporting have fast twist 1-18 that should stabilize .45 bullet very well.The only one problem is gas leakage.Maybe brass cases could resolve it?..."

The problem (IMO) with the Sharps is inherent in the design.
A brass cartridge or a tube sealed at the rear to prevent leakage would make the gun inoperable.

If I may go briefly thru the workings of the 1863 and earlier Sharps?

The Sharps design used a paper cartridge which contained the bullet and the powder.
The paper was treated with Potassium Nitrate (Salt Peter) so it would burn when the gun was fired.

This cartridge was inserted into the breech of the barrel. When the breech block lever was raised it would cut off the rear of the paper cartridge, exposing the powder. (This in itself presented problems because often the powder would drop down into the action and ignite when the gun was fired. There was a recommended method of loading to minimize this and the solders quickly learned to follow this or suffer the consequences.)

Although several ignition methods were used, the recreations of the gun use a standard Musket Cap.

This cap is placed on a musket nipple which is built into the top right rear of the sliding breech block.
When the hammer fires the cap, the flame travels thru a hole in the breech block to the front of the block. The exit of this hole is in line with the exposed powder in the bore.

As should be noted, a clear path must exist between the nipple and the powder. Any sealing device such as a cartridge or a tube with the rear sealed would block off the flames path to the powder.

To get around this, the Sharps used a sliding tube, or ring, which is supposed to be forced against the forward face of the breech block thereby containing the gas inside the barrel.
This worked with limited success and was subject to the fouling produced by the powder burning.
Of course, if it became fouled, it would stop sealing the rear of the barrel which made the gun very distracting to the shooter. This in itself could make the gun very difficult to shoot at very long ranges.

As I mentioned before, the basic design is made for one powder charge, that being, the distance from the rear of the bullet to the breech block face. If this amount of powder is not correct for shooting the long distances you which to shoot at, you would be stuck with it.

The Solders who used the Sharps were, for the most part, not very happy with the gun.

Johnny Tremain 
50 Cal.
Posts: 1045
Johnny Tremain
12-12-05 10:56 PM - Post#205245    

    In response to Sebastian

Parker Hale Withworth
It will do the job at 1000 yards all day long.

David Minshall 
45 Cal.
Posts: 884
David Minshall
12-16-05 01:05 AM - Post#206911    

    In response to Sebastian

  • Sebastian Said:
I'm thinking about Sharps Sporting .45, Gibbs.45, Mortimer Witworth .45 or Tryon Creedmoore .45 . All of them from Davide Pedersoli

Get the Pedersoli Gibbs. This is equipped to shoot out to 1000 yards out of the box. I have actually fired mine at 1200 yards and still had spare elevation.

The Sharps won't be competitive against BPCR and is not eligible in muzzle loading matches, so if you travel outside Poland to compete then you'll be at a disadvantage.

The Mortimer Whitworth does not have hexagonal Whitworth rifling. It is called 'Whitworth' because that is the name of the international ( ) competition for 100m target rifle and that is the the market it is aimed at. It is a bit light and the sights will be inadequate for long range work.

The Tryon Creedmoor may do better than the Mortimer for weight, but there is a lot of drop on the stock which may make for uncomfortable long range shooting. Sights will ned upgrade.

For basic tips on long range shooting see my web site: - Long Range Muzzle Loader.

If you need help, email me at dbm @


Edited by David Minshall on 12-16-05 01:07 AM. Reason for edit: No reason given.

David Minshall 
45 Cal.
Posts: 884
David Minshall
12-16-05 02:26 AM - Post#206925    

    In response to Gary

  • Gary Said:
The most accurate rifle of the 1860s is the Whitworth. The British were able to hit a target a 1880 yards with it.

Whitworth's hexagonaly bored rifle was supplanted by the shallow grooved Gibbs-Metford and Rigby match rifles during the latter part of the 1860's.

The Whitworth rifle can be made to shoot well but the straight military stocks of those currently readily available on the repro market may not suit all. The open sights will need replacing with aperture sights to get the best from the rifle at long range. Getting the right bullet seems to be the key to long range success with this rifle, other than that managment of the rifle is the same as any other match rifle.

No repro Whitworths were used in September's MLAIC World Long Range Muzzle Loading Championships held in the UK. The Pedersoli Gibbs was strongly represented and various custom built rifles with Metford or Rigby rifling.

Two Whitworth match rifles were used in the 'Original' rifle class. At 900 yards the top three places in the orgininal class went to 1.Metford 2.Whitworth 3. Metford, and at 1000 yards 1.Rigby 2.Whitworth 3.Whitworth.

The twice 2nd placed shooter was using a swaged cylindrical bullet with a deep base cavity. The Whitworth shooter placed 3rd at 1000 yards was using a cast hexagonal bullet. All medal winners used paper patched bullets.

I don't know what the 1880 yard shooting was for, but Whitworth did not compete in the NRA (GB) matches at 2000 yards held at Gravesend in 1865 and 1866. The only successful rifle was Metford's .50 cal muzzle loading match rifle.


Edited by David Minshall on 12-16-05 02:42 AM. Reason for edit: No reason given.

36 Cal.
Posts: 62
12-16-05 05:54 AM - Post#206961    

    In response to David Minshall

Thank you for all your answers.
One more question.
On Pedersoli's page Gibbs is described as 1865 build rifle.We can shoot only pre 1850 rifles and replicas.Somebody told me that it is not real Gibbs replica because hasn't original Metford rifling.He called it "quasi english target rifle".
I can buy and use it, but if someone let me proove that it is pre 1850 rifle (produced or developed before end of 1850) I have problem do this.

36 Cal.
Posts: 62
12-16-05 06:33 AM - Post#206980    

    In response to Sebastian

  • Quote:
if someone let me proove

It should be "let me proof" of course.
My mistake.I'm sorry

David Minshall 
45 Cal.
Posts: 884
David Minshall
12-16-05 09:11 AM - Post#207050    

    In response to Sebastian

Whitworth did not commence his experiments with rifling until 1855. The NRA in Great Britan was not formed until 1859 and their first rifle meeting was in 1860. Metford's match rifle was brought to public attention in 1865 and Rigby's match rifle modified after Metford's design appeared in 1867. These are all gun makers/designers who developed rifle with the long range accuracy potential you are seeking.

Even the P/51 Minie Rifle and the more familiar P/53 Enfield post date you 1850 criteria.

If you want to learn about the time frame of rifle development and long range shooting see: Long Range Shooting: An Historical Perspective.

Maybe you should start petitioning the authorities to have you period for muzzle loading rifles extennded to 1870! Tell them you wish to compete in Muzzle Loaders Association International Committee ( ) European and World Championship events. Write to the Secretary General of the MLAIC about your predicament and see if you can get any assistance there.


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