Pedersoli 1859 Sharps Infantry Rifle
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Author:  lastchip [ Sat Jun 09, 2012 1:02 pm ]
Post subject:  Pedersoli 1859 Sharps Infantry Rifle

I’ve begun exploring the reproduction sharps infantry rifles available on the market and hope you good people could offer some advice. Although I haven’t the opportunity to examine in person any of the reproductions. I know the Shiloh sharps is at the top end of the food chain, all other sharps are Italian imports and fall short of the Shilohs breach action to continue function after multiple firings.

It would seem the Pedersoli is the best of the rest, from what I read on blogs regarding sharps repros. I also read about a “O ring conversion” that greatly improves the number of shots, both blank and live rounds a Pedersoli can get off before the block must be removed for cleaning.

I’m would like to know peoples opinion of the Pedersoli, its fit and finish, its gas check reliability and smoothness of it block function and shotablity. I would also like to know, if someone can direct me to a site/blog where I can find a description of what exactly this “O ring conversion” is and possible a list of gunsmiths capable of preforming it.

I’m not thrilled about purchasing a new rifle, just to send it out to a smith, to make it usefully functional, but I’m willing to explore to concept considering to price difference between a Shiloh and a Pedersoli.

Thank You

Author:  Bill Skillman [ Mon Jun 11, 2012 1:06 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Pedersoli 1859 Sharps Infantry Rifle

David and Fellow Sharpshooters;

You might try reading the article that I wrote (and Dave Rider generously posted on this website) a couple years back; here is the link: http://www.berdansharpshooters.com/Ever ... Sharps.pdf

It is based on my personal experience with 2 of the three rifles mentioned (Ped and Shiloh). Interestingly, when Brian White and Chad Fuller changed their ammunition from twist tail to flat base blanks, they didn't experience the number of misfires or fouling they previously had with their own Peds. Because the flat base keeps the powder contained, fouling is limited to just the chamber (whereas cut off tail rounds expose the gas check, breech block and associated surfaces to black powder crud). I haven't had the opportunity to see or fire a Sharps with the O-ring conversion, but a number of NSSA guys who post on that website are very satisfied with it. I believe another problem why fouling with our rifles is because of reduced pressure (due to no ball being pushed up the barrel) causes incomplete ignition of the powder charge.

When I make my flat based cartridges, after pouring in the powder, I take a 1x1 inch piece of shirt tissue and seat it over the powder--then, keeping the wood dowel (NO METAL OBJECTS SHOULD BE USED) seated in the tube, I tap the cartridge/dowel combination on a solid surface a couple times to compress the powder. This step appears to help create a more complete discharge compared to just leaving the powder loose (it is also easier to crimp the paper sides during the final steps).

Keep your eye out for used Peds--they come up for sale on the NSSA, Authentic Campaigner, Civil War Reenactor Forum, Gun Broker, etc. You should be looking for a Berdan Sharps, if your intent is falling in with the USSS (though some of us have to cheat by removing the lever catch from our Infantry model NM1859-1863's).

Bill Skillman
Hudson Squad-USSS

Author:  lastchip [ Thu Jun 14, 2012 10:00 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Pedersoli 1859 Sharps Infantry Rifle

Hello Bill

Thank you for the reply to my questions, you’ve given me good information and i do appreciate you taking the time to reply. I have also seen your article and it is a very valuable reading for anyone looking into purchasing a repro sharps.

I have noticed the prices of new peds dropping as the euro suffers in the current world market, making them slightly more attractive. But I do have experience with Italian made sharp repros. Many moons ago, I was gifted a IAB Marcheno Model 1858 sharps sporting rifle in 54 caliber. The rifle is very handsome with very nice fit and finish, but that darn block would start freezing up by the 3rd live round. I’d keep a can of WD-40 on the shooting line to hose the breech down with after each round. As a teenager, shooting with an can of spray lube on hand wasn’t a lot of fun and the rifle became a safe queen.
The very short direction book that came with the rifle, was poorly translated and certainly lacked importing instructions of how to use the rifle. I never even knew a gas check existed or what its function, until the internet arrived with it access to all types of information. I’m still not certain if the gas check of the IAB is removable.

Anyway, this experience with an Italian made repro rifle and lacking any in-depth information about O-ring conversions. Makes acquiring a Shiloh Sharps still my preferred option as of now.

Thank You

Author:  Bill Skillman [ Fri Jun 15, 2012 10:15 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Pedersoli 1859 Sharps Infantry Rifle


The Pederosoli Sharps, in the past, had the gas check seated so tightly into the breechblock that it couldn't move. I used a screw-driver and brass hammer to pry mine free. The Italians (or their advisers) put all their chips on the 'floating' gas sleeve as the best way to seal the breech during ignition.

Richard Lawrence (chief engineer for the Sharps Rifle Mfg. Co. for decades) discovered 150-odd years ago that the sleeve fits too snugly in the recess and can't be removed for cleaning. Gradually, (no matter how obsessively you clean it) black powder crud builds up until the sleeve rusts in place. This, in turn, creates a gap that causes gas, flame and crud to blow back and accumulate on all the surfaces of the breechblock and reciever. Lawrence quickly adopted Conant's invention (consisting of a platinum ring inserted in the face of the breechblock) to reduce the fouling problems. Lawrence later modified this system by creating a 'floating gas check' that was a face plate with a thin ring of steel that fit into the mortise of the breechblock. When the cartridge was fired, gas would push rearward, engage the plate and push it forward, sealing the gap. The 'floating gas check' system was used in all of the New Model 1859 and 1863 Sharps. He ultimately found the combination of the gas check and 1860 Ordnance rounds made the Sharps weapons system the most sought after of the War.

Instead of WD-40, during skirmishes I carried a small plastic bottle of bicycle chain oil in the haversack. When the lever got stiff, I'd dribble a bead between the breechblock face and reciever edge, then work the lever up and down--this usually kept the rifle firing; but with declining performance. The major problem of using the oil was when I went prone and put my hand under the reciever to fire. Hot oil spattered out and caused a second degree burn on my palm. My old comrade, Steve Partlow and I, tried a can of engine block degreaser but the chemical ingredients were so toxic that a Haz-Mat unit should have followed us around during the Gettysburg reenactment.

Best advice, if the Ped you buy is old, pry loose the gas check from the breechblock. Carefully, grind/file then polish the interior surfaces of the gas check where it mates to the block recess. The plate should be easy to remove by finger pressure alone. Then make up the flat base cartridges (Ive got a photo essay on making live rounds coming). This should solve most of your woes.

Bill Skillman
Hudson Squad Mess-USSS

Author:  lastchip [ Sat Jun 16, 2012 4:52 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Pedersoli 1859 Sharps Infantry Rifle

Hi Bill

A period Haz-Mat unit in mop level 4 would be an interesting addition to this years Gettysburg battle reenactment. You mention “if the Ped you buy is old” in describing the gas check surgery. Is there something different in the design of the new Ped?

Certainly, looking forward to your photo essay on making live rounds for a sharps!


Author:  Bill Skillman [ Sun Jun 17, 2012 10:17 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Pedersoli 1859 Sharps Infantry Rifle


Steve and I did a 'body check' after the last battle and were relieved to find no cancerous growths or 'Qurro' creatures hanging off our bodies. But that is the last time we tried the engine block degreaser-cleaner; sharpshooters are controversial enough without attracting the attention of the EPA and OSHA.

Not long after returning from Gburg I bought my Shiloh. Dave Fulcher, who was then Corporal with the New York company, referred me to a guy named Jack King in Georgia. Mr. King was a Shiloh networking guru who linked buyers (unwilling to wait 2-3 years for Big Timber to make them one) to sellers. Having watched Dave and Ken Katta hold off a company of Rebs and laughing at how they both fired + 80 rds each thru their Shilohs (I barely fired 25 before 'fouling out'), I didn't need any more convincing--I HAD to buy a Shiloh. Mine is an Farmingdale, NY model and have never regretted my decision. The only downside is that all Shiohs are New Model 1863 Infantry models (featuring the loading lever latch) and lack the set triggers. To give mine have the same profile as Berdan Sharps, I remove the loading lever latch. A few years back I thought about installing set triggers, and ordered a set from Shiloh. I immediately noticed the trigger bar of the dst didn't mate up with the stock mortise. Shiloh told me they could do it if I sent the rifle to them. I passed.

I had my Ped reconditioned by a NSSA gunsmith. He replaced the old gas sleeve with a stainless steel one. He also replaced the gas check with a new one, grinding/filing off the tooling marks and polished it so it easily popped off the block with finger pressure. I didn't need two Sharps so I sold it to one of my USSS buddies; he is very pleased with it.

Curt Schmidt (a former member of the Ohio Company 'A' 1st USSS) posted his findings on the O-ring conversion on the Authetic Campaigner. Here is the link: http://www.authentic-campaigner.com/for ... idt-O+ring

Hope this helps,

Bill-Hudson Squad-USSS

Author:  Jboring [ Wed Jun 20, 2012 9:25 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Pedersoli 1859 Sharps Infantry Rifle

I took my ped out at Camp Geiger a couple weeks ago and put roughly 100 rounds through it. I was using Bill's flat base cartridges and through the whole weekend, I had problems, maybe 4 times (which isn't bad for an unmodified ped). I dribbled a little water on the rails of the block while it was open and worked it around a little. It ran all weekened. At night, of course, I took it apart and scrubbed a bit on it. If I was really...really looking to get into shooting live, i'd get on the list for a Shiloh, but right now this works for me.

Author:  lastchip [ Thu Jun 21, 2012 10:47 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Pedersoli 1859 Sharps Infantry Rifle

Thank You once again, this time for the link to the informative blog post about O ring work. Really interesting reading in regards to sharps repros.

Thank you for the information about the outing with your ped. A 100 rounds with minor binding seems accept for a day of shooting. I hope you had a good showing on the firing line


Author:  Calum [ Sat Jun 23, 2012 12:41 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Pedersoli 1859 Sharps Infantry Rifle

'afternoon all,

Just made my first dozen of Bill's flat tail rounds (well, they're in the drying stage :)). I have to admit, they were much less work than I initially expected, thanks to the excellent photo instructions. Using the former for my live rounds, so I know I'll have a good chamber fit.

Up until now, I've stayed with the twist tail rounds (both for blanks and for live) because none of my ArmiSport Sharps have any issue with them - I routinely get 80 rounds with only a misfire or two (blanks, I've never (knocking on wood!) had a live misfire). A buddy of mine has a Ped, which locks up tight at about the ten count, and doesn't seem to matter if it's blank or live. After I do an initial run through my rifle, I want to have him try the flat tails in his and see if he gets better results.

Thanks Bill!


Author:  lastchip [ Sat Jun 30, 2012 6:23 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Pedersoli 1859 Sharps Infantry Rifle

Hello Calum

Thank you for the info about your Armi, seems it treats you right and I hope your buddies Ped preforms better with the flat tails. Please do let us know.


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