Skip to main content

Gun Stories : The Sharps Rifle

There is something quintessentially American about the Sharps rifle. A direct line back to the civil war and the opening of the west. More importantly, Christian Sharps' invention is quite simply a better mouse trap, and the world did indeed beat a path to his door.

Christian Sharps apprenticed under John Hall, who designed a breech-loading flintlock in 1824. Sharps was obsessed with speeding up the loading process, and the result was his first patent of the Sharps breech-loader in 1848. But it was in the Civil war that the sharps proved its metal. One of the great advantages of the breech-loading Sharps that might not stand out to modern shooters, is that it could be loaded with relative ease from a prone or covered position.

A question we've often considered here at Gun Stories, is which gun truly won the West? I think we can make a strong case that the most important gun in the opening of the American frontier was neither Mr. Colt's revolver nor Mr. Winchester's repeater, but rather Mr. Sharps' amazing single shot rifle.

The Sharps Big .50 caliber buffalo rifles probably accounted for more buffalo than all the other guns put together. At 12-16 plus pounds, the rifles were legendary for their long-distance accuracy.


No history of the Sharps would be completed without a mention of 'the shot', the one taken by American scout and buffalo hunter Billy Dixon, at 1,538 yards in defense of Adobe walls in Texas on June 27, 1874.


There is no living person more associated with the Sharps than Matthew Quigley. Actor Tom Selleck, whose long-range shooting in the movie 'Quigley Down Under', triggered a run on reproduction Sharps that continues today. Shiloh Sharps, who created Quigley's magnificent rifle, still has backorders on their Quigley Model Sharps. Not bad, since the movie premiered in 1990. There are now more Sharps rifles being manufactured than at any time since the Civil War. Literally dozens of calibers are now available, from the big .50 down to .22 long rifle.

Current Magazine Cover

Enjoy articles like this?

Subscribe to the magazine.

Get access to everything Guns & Ammo has to offer.
Subscribe to the Magazine

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Air Gun Reviews: Why Shoot Airsoft?

Air Gun Reviews: Why Shoot Airsoft?

In this Guns & Ammo TV segment, Gun Tech Editor Richard Nance and Pro-Shooter Jim Tarr discuss the benefits of airsoft training for uniformed professionals and armed citizens alike.

Red vs. Green Lasers: Visibility in Bright Light

Red vs. Green Lasers: Visibility in Bright Light

In this segment of “At The Range,” Handgunning Editor Jeremy Stafford and contributor Patrick Sweeney compare the visibility of red and green lasers in outdoor, sunny conditions.

Guns & Ammo TV: Cameras Don

Guns & Ammo TV: Cameras Don't Lie: 9mm vs .45 ACP

The age-old question, 9mm vs .45 ACP. For some, this has been asked and answered already. For others, the debate goes on. In this segment of “Cameras Don't Lie,” competitive shooters Patrick Sweeney and Jim Tarr head to the range to put the vaunted loads on record, and then consider the footage.

Cameras Don

Cameras Don't Lie: Subsonic 9mm vs. .300 Blackout

In this segment of "Cameras Don't Lie," a subsonic-ammo showdown, 9mm vs. .300 Blackout fired from AR rifles.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

The story of a confederate sniper’s revenge and an exclusive look at his rifle.The Story of Civil War Sniper Jack Hinson and His Rifle Historical

The Story of Civil War Sniper Jack Hinson and His Rifle

Kyle Lamb - January 12, 2018

The story of a confederate sniper’s revenge and an exclusive look at his rifle.

The first in this new family of Springfield Armory rifles is the Model 2020 Waypoint, the result of years of engineering, testing and evaluation, combined with premium grade components found on rifles costing thousands of dollars more.First Look: Springfield Armory Model 2020 Waypoint Bolt-Action Rifle Rifles

First Look: Springfield Armory Model 2020 Waypoint Bolt-Action Rifle

Guns & Ammo Staff - September 29, 2020

The first in this new family of Springfield Armory rifles is the Model 2020 Waypoint, the...

Rugged and affordable, SIONYX color night vision cameras are a must-have for every hunter, shooter, and outdoor enthusiast. SIONYX Aurora Night Vision Cameras Review Optics

SIONYX Aurora Night Vision Cameras Review

Brad Fitzpatrick - December 23, 2020

Rugged and affordable, SIONYX color night vision cameras are a must-have for every hunter,...

Whether you're going hunting or to the range, hitting your target is more fun when you have a zeroed rifle scope. Here's how to sight in your rifle scope setup in five quick-and-easy steps.How to Sight In a Rifle Scope in 5 Steps How-To

How to Sight In a Rifle Scope in 5 Steps

Craig Boddington - June 04, 2018

Whether you're going hunting or to the range, hitting your target is more fun when you have a...

See More Trending Articles

More Handgun

The new Federal Syntech Defense and Training Match loads push the Syntech line into bold new territory.Federal Syntech Defense and Training Match Pistol Ammo Handgun

Federal Syntech Defense and Training Match Pistol Ammo

Eric Conn - September 05, 2019

The new Federal Syntech Defense and Training Match loads push the Syntech line into bold new...

9mm and .380 ACP ammo are hard to find, but .38 Special might be challenging them as the ultimate buy-it-when-you-see-it pandemic ammo purchase. It's worth considering a gun purchase to include .40 S&W police trade-ins or a pistol in .45 to better round out your options if you don't already own handguns in those calibers.Ammo Update: Panic Buying Continues COVID-19 Tracking

Ammo Update: Panic Buying Continues

Brad Fitzpatrick - August 06, 2020

9mm and .380 ACP ammo are hard to find, but .38 Special might be challenging them as the...

If looking for value guns and ammo, look no further than Hi-Point Firearms and Barnaul Ammunition.Take Note: Hi-Point Firearms and Barnaul Ammo Offer Great Value SHOT Show

Take Note: Hi-Point Firearms and Barnaul Ammo Offer Great Value

Guns & Ammo Staff - January 29, 2021

If looking for value guns and ammo, look no further than Hi-Point Firearms and Barnaul...

When it comes to ammunition for personal defense, the Winchester Silvertip Jacketed Hollow Point (JHP) is a time-tested, proven round.Winchester Silvertip Ammo Features New Look, Pack Size in 2020 SHOT Show

Winchester Silvertip Ammo Features New Look, Pack Size in 2020

Guns & Ammo Digital Staff - January 28, 2020

When it comes to ammunition for personal defense, the Winchester Silvertip Jacketed Hollow...

See More Handgun

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Guns & Ammo App

Other Magazines

See All Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Guns and Ammo subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now