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Axtell 77 Sharps


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Ive been shooting black powder cartridge rifles, BPCRs, for a few years and have owned various designs, rolling blocks, Winchester falling blocks and the more well know 74 Sharps seen in films such as Quigley Down Under, Valdez is coming and Legends of the Fall


For anyone whos never handled these guns there is something about the big single shot with its artillery like breach and long (normally) straight walled case that just feels right - big grins all round.


My current rifle is the Sharps 1877 also known as the English Sharps as the side lock action was made in Birmingham and shipped to Sharps. It is a slimmed down actioned version of the 74 resulting from the target shooters of the day wanting more weight in the barrel while still meeting the upper weight limit for the Creedmore Match




(FYI the name Creedmore came from the fact that when the US hosted the first international match they did not have a range but located a suitable site on Creeds Farm, the vista prompted one of the organisers to say it reminded him of the moors of England, Creeds Moor = Creedmore)


The rifles was built by the Axtell Rifle Company and is in 45-70 or more correctly 45 2 1/10. It fires a 510g cast bullet (20:1 lead to tin) over 60 grains of powder to give a modest 1050fps MV. As I do not shoot BPCR past 600 yards these days this is enough.




The action is a falling block which is operated by the under lever, exposing the back of the barrel, cartridges are simply pushed home and the breach closed. NB making sure the hammer is on first male chicken!




When ready to fire you pull back the hammer to full male chicken, set the trigger using the back trigger, aim and trip the front trigger. Recoil is a push, lots of smoke (nice) and a sold thump on the back stop. These rifles can be very accurate much to the surprise of some (eh BD :) )




The sights on these rifles are typically vernier tangent with a .001 graduation; this combined with the 36 sight radius gives a 1/10 adjustment at 100 yards. Windage is taken care of by a lateral vernier in the base of the rear sight, known as a Soule, and also you can make adjustments in the foresight for large offsets, keeping small adjustments on the rear this also keeps your head positioned on the CL of the stock. The foresight also hoses a spirit level, most important with the long vernier as this can induce large cants.




The wood on my rifle is English Walnut and the gunsmith added some nice touches with ebony insert, fine checkering and classic curves in the right places.




The colour case hardened action, half round/half octagon barrel finishes things of nicely.




The rifle shoots very consistently and is used for fun, but I do have it on an open ticket so some 400g bullets over Accurate 5744 should do the trick I feel at sub 100 yards.


Reloading a BPCR is a little bit more involved than its smokeless cousin, I would recommend the BPCR cartridge reloading primer by Steve Garbe and Miek Venterino. Once youve got it right they simply work. Cleaning is a doddle, easier than smokeless (honestly) and casting your own bullets can be addictive.



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  • 2 months later...

These rifles can be very accurate – much to the surprise of some (eh BD :)


Thought I should add this here from trip to Cornwall:


Beautifully made….and just like loading and firing a miniaturised field gun.




I was having one of those ‘pulse’ days. Couldn’t bughole the AW; so pretty awestruck to shoot this group with Terry’s fantastically prepped ammo (groups calibrated by finger. Left hand group = open sighted 45-70; right hand = AW with 25 power scope…..what a waste of time the AW is!!)


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