Sharps New Model 1863 Serial Number identification help

Joined
Mar 18, 2019
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#1
I have a Sharps New Model 1863 Conversion carbine with the Serial Number C, 16731 (116,731). It has the initials HLK in the forestock.

I had the pleasure of speaking with a Dr. Richard J. Labowskie, M.D. in Philadelphia, who was most helpful, however did not have this Sharps serial number in the records he has.

I purchased this for our Sea Scouts (part of Boy Scouts of America) black powder shooting program.

Is there anyone or organization you might recommend whom I might be able to contact who might be able to give me any history of this carbine? Thank you in advance for your kind assistance, it is greatly appreciated.

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WJC

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#3
Welcome! Very nice piece! Sorry, your question is beyond my meager abilities: I look forward to the answer from some of our colleagues!
Meanwhile, I'm very interested in the sea scouts program you mention. Maybe later you can tell us more about it and how this piece performs in their hands!
 
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#4
Gentlemen, Thank you for your kind welcome. Yes, the Sea Scouts (part of the BSA) has been co-ed for 60+ years for ages 14-21. Sea Scouts worked long and hard with the NRA to help establish a very comprehensive firearms program, including: Rifle, Shotgun and Pistol.
Interestingly the young women in our Sea Scout Ship were very interested in all three, especially Pistol, for personal protection and target practice. I'm a NRA Life Member and an NRA Certified Pistol and Home Safety Instructor as are two other of our SSS Leaders. Several of us own antique and reproduction black powder firearms, with the Sea Scouts looking forward to learning about them, their history and shooting them this spring. Thank you for your interest, I will follow up.
 
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#6
Jobe,
Thank you for your kind words, they are much appreciated my friend. Our amazing maritime and military history unfortunately is not being taught in schools they way many of us might wish perhaps it should be. In a 1948 speech to the House of Commons, Churchill said, “Those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it.”
 
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#9
I'm quite taken by the kind individuals that participate on Civil War Talk. THAT is quite refreshing! I am including a few more photo's that might be helpful with the identification of any history that might be associated with this Sharps. Thanks to all of your for you kind and generous assistance.

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#11
I would think your best bet would be to contact the NRA headquarters in Fairfax, being that you're a life member in addition to the Sea Scouts' association with them as well.

Or maybe some real knowledge member of the N-SSA. I used to shoot with John MacAulay that authored a great book on CW era carbines. We were members of the same N-SSA team, 7th Regt VA Vols., Potomac region, back in the mid 80's. John was also a contributing author of many articles concerning CW weapons that appeared in the "American Rifleman" for a few years. Best of luck!!!!
 

frontrank2

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#12
According to the book Civil War Sharps Carbines & Rifles by Earl J. Coates ( former N-SSA commander ) and John David McAuley, when the Sharps company reached 100,000 in 1863, they incorporated the Roman numeral "C" for 100,000 and started to renumber with 1. So that would mean yours is the 116,731 Sharps produced. Unfortunately, that number does not show up in any of the rosters of the units that were issued a Sharps, at least according to my book.
 
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byron ed

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#13
...I purchased this for our Sea Scouts (part of Boy Scouts of America) black powder shooting program
Whoops, hold on. You'd use an 1870s artifact for a Scouting blackpowder shooting program? That seems questionable, when there are so many fine-shooting 1863 Remington repros out there for a lot less money; more reliably safe than some 150 year-old museum antique (which btw has a pretty high collection value such that you'd think would be cleaned and waxed for preservation in a collection). There's Springfield and Enfield repros out there as well if price isn't as much an issue for a non-profit program (which I would think it would be if organization funds are being used for equipments).

At the very least assure us that this gun will be professionally scoped and the mechanism, materials and metrics checked thoroughly before some teenager handles it in a live shoot. Right? And of course the parents of these kids are fully-informed that their children will be using a more-than-a-century-old museum antique for their son or daughter to charge and fire a live round. Did someone say legally culpable? Insurance policy?
 
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Joined
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#16
Everyone,

Thank you for your kind words and thoughtful advice my friends, all are appreciated.

Jobe: My Sharps has 6 narrow lands and grooves. Hope this is helpful with your research.
JPChurch: Thank you for your suggestion of contacting the NRA and referral to the N-SSA, much appreciated!
frontrank2: Thank you for your info. I'm familiar with the Roman Numeral "C" being used after passing 100,000. I appreciate the names Earl J. Coates and John David McAuley they will help with my research.
byron ed and Lubliner: Thank you for your concerns about shooting antiques, reproductions, insurance, cost and safety, all of which are a components of safe utilization and any participation in all of our scouts firearms programs.
usvrelics: Thanks, happy to share!
 

Jobe Holiday

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#17
Capt. Dave, thank you for the response regarding the 6 lands and grooves! What you have is a Sharps Carbine that still has the original bore, with a diameter of no more than 0.52". When the Springfield Armory altered these Carbines from percussion to cartridge the decision was made that if the bores were 0.52" caliber or less they would not be reamed and lined to 0.50" caliber, as was done for everything above 0.52" caliber. Sharps was notorious for very poor quality control on their bore diameters which ran from 0.52" to 0.56" caliber, which is why they made a bullet for it that had all three diameters in one bullet! Today, your Sharps Carbine is known as a "52-70". The bullet the government used in their .50-70 cartridges was just about 0.52 caliber, so they said it was "Close enough"! I just thought this piece of historical information might add to the background of the Carbine and be of interest to your Sea Scouts.
J.
 
Joined
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#19
Jobe,
Thank you for your most thoughtful information, it provides great insight on the history of my Sharps. I purchased two boxes of 20 - "50-70 Sharps Black Powder Ammo 425 Grain .512" from Buffalo Arms with the intention of using them, following a very close inspection from a recognized authority gunsmith on black powder firearms, who will test fire it first. Yes, being able to tell the history of each of our black powder firearms will be a very important part of our firearms experience for our Sea Scouts. Thank you!

Gary,
Congratulations on your nephew making Quartermaster! Having received my Eagle Scout in 1972 and helping many youths earning theirs since then and moving onto Sea Scouts and helping youths earn Quartermaster it is my opinion and my opinion alone, that it is much more challenging to earn Quartermaster than Eagle. Both are exceptional awards benefiting scouts for the rest of their lives.
 
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#20
I am trying (I realize it may well be a total shot in the dark) to identify the individual who carved the large initials "HLK" in the foreshock my Sharps New Model 1863 Conversion carbine with the Serial Number C, 16731 (116,731). Based on what I've learned, the Sharps company reached 100,000 in 1863, they incorporated the Roman numeral "C" for 100,000 and started to renumber with 1. So that would mean mine is the 116,731 Sharps produced. Having said that, it appears it was manufactured in 1863 after they reached 100,000 or in early 1864.

The initials could have, perhaps, been carved by the first one to use it or someone at anytime thereafter. With the advent of Sharps being used in the Civil War and by the US Calvary thereafter and in particular the Indian Wars, as well as many being used by the Texas Rangers, does anyone know any recourses where I might research the serial number of the Sharps and the initials "HLK"?

I did reach out to Dr. Richard J. Labowskie and he has no record of my Sharps Serial Number. Thanks for any help you folks can share with me!
 



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