Question about a Sharps Carbine
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Author:  KangViper [ Tue Dec 29, 2009 1:30 am ]
Post subject:  Question about a Sharps Carbine

At a local antique shop I found a Sharps Carbine for sale. It's in good shape and moves very smoothly. The one thing though is that is nickel plated. I can't really remember correctly but wasn't there carbines specially made for the navy? And were they nickel plated so that they wouldn't rust? This is the only thing that I would come up with as it looks like it has been used after the nickel plating. Thanks for your help guys!

Author:  Calum [ Tue Dec 29, 2009 3:21 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Question about a Sharps Carbine


I don't have any written documentation of this, but a member of my former unit has a nickle plated 1842 Springfield. According to family history, it was carried by his great grandfather in the war, and after the war he and his buddies had their muskets nickle plated for honor guard purposes - so they didn't have to spend a lot of time polishing them. The bayonet is also nickle plated. Since it was used for honor guards, it was fired after it was plated. Only the exterior is plated, not the bore. Don't know if that might be a possible answer for your Sharps...


Author:  BrianTWhite [ Tue Dec 29, 2009 5:32 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Question about a Sharps Carbine


You may be thinking about the tin-plated Spencer rifles used by the Navy; see Echoes of Glory: Union pages 50 - 51.

There is another nickel plated Sharps firearm on this page http://www.gunsinternational.com/Unusua ... =100083128 that is claimed to be a rifle converted into a "shotgun" for use at Wild West shows.

Author:  Bill Skillman [ Wed Dec 30, 2009 10:05 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Question about a Sharps Carbine


I haven't found anything in my research of the NM1859 and NM1863 Sharps firearms to show that some were given nickel-plating by a U.S. Arsenal for purposes of protection from the elements. All of the Sharps arms' metal surfaces were either 'cold blued' or case hardened at the Sharps Rifle Mfg. factory before being shipped out to Arsenals>the Front.

Christian Sharps (after leaving the Sharps Firearms Mfg.) designed and created a second breechloading rifle that fired metallic cartridges; it was later manufactured under the Sharps & Hankins nomenclature. The S& H carbines and rifles issued to the U.S. Navy featured leather sleeves in place of a wooden forestocks to allegedly provide protection from the salt air. However, I don't recall that they were nickle-plated as an additonal measure for protection. I will have to recheck McCauley's Civil War Sharps Rifles and Carbines, published by Thomas Publications. Said carbines were pretty popular among the US riverine forces for their reliability and accuracy.

Brian is correct, the Spencer rifles made for the U.S. Navy had the metallic surfaces tinned to impart protection. Our local USCG Air Station Honor Guard carry M-1 Garands that have all the metal surfaces nickle plated and the wood polished to a high sheen. Very impressive--but I still like the old battle-worn M-1's carried by the Eagletown VFW vets instead.

Nickel was a 'poor mans silver' and it is possible that the weapon was treated with the metal and given as a presentation? Usually such presentation arms would also feature engraving on some surface of the firearm (like the sentiment etched into the backstrap of Caspar Trepp's Colt revolver by his admirers of Co. 'A' 1st USSS) or a brass plaque attached to the buttstock (in this case the reverse side). If there are a pair of equi-distant holes combined with a squarish/oval discoloration on the wood-that could be a clue.

Joe, another thought just occurred to me. My NM1863 carbine has all of the original bluing worn off-the metal surfaces are a dull silver. Is it possible somebody decided to go nuts with a buffing wheel and rouge and highly polish the metal surfaces of your weapon to such a high sheen so that they look like nickel?

Hope this helps,

Bill Skillman
Randolf Mess-USSS

P.S. Happy New Year Sharpshooters, hope to see you on the skirmish line in 2010.

PPS. Somehow the Mods have decided I deserve the rank of Corporal. However most Sharpshooters can attest that my typical duty is bugler, aka Foe of Morpheus (God of Sleep). Cheers!

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