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Seen at the Gun Show – 01/24/10

I had the pleasure of attending the local gun show this past weekend.  It was well stocked and attended, and as a bonus, I was able to visit with a long time friend in from out of town.  All in all I had a good day.

However, what I wanted to share with you is this:

I have a love for historic guns, particularly for those from the Old West.  Furthermore, I have a weakness for curiosities; the classic book Firearms Curiosa has been a favorite of mine since I was a very young.   So when I happened across the sawed-off buffalo rifle seen above, I had to grab a picture of it.

The gun is a Sharps carbine chambered in .50-70 Government that has had the barrel cut down to about 12 inches.  Whoever cut it down went through the trouble to reinstall a front sight (more of a bead actually).  Also, it even has the original sling attached.

Most of us at one time or another have wished that a firearm (or other piece of history) could tell its story.  I really wish I knew how the odd Sharps Shorty came to be and how it was used.

Was the barrel cut back because it was damaged or was it meant to be concealed?  Who carried it and were they a ‘white hat’ or a ‘black hat’?   Just how much flame comes out when something like that it touched off?  [Did Matthew Quigley have a cousin that was an Oompa-Loompa?]

O.K. maybe not the last one.

Of course, I’ll never know the real story behind it but I consider it a real treat just to happen upon something so unusual.

More on the .50-70 Govt cartridge here

2 Responses

  1. WOW. What a truly awesome find. My comments purely speculation but the most immediate guess would be that it was an Indian Gun.

    It was very common for the plains Indians to lob off the barrels of rifles with little regard for sights when they hunted buffalo. Since they did so on horse back they would ride along side and point shoot. Though generally these guns have heavy ornamentation to them, but hey not everybody likes the same thing.

    The other (and slight) possibility is that it could have been given to a child either as a toy or the old straight walled Black powder cartridges loaded and carded with bird shot for rabbits.

    While the “toy” option may seem unlikely if you talk with old timers who grew up out west you would be surprised that this was often the case. After the turn of the century as smokeless powder made its big push a lot of 19th century guns simply got left behind and, ammo for them dried up. I’ve heard stories of guns being “sawed off” for kids to play with or used as fence posts.

    Though given the condition of that particular piece I would think that is unlikely. What a shame the old gun can’t talk. I bet there are some stories there.

    Thanks for posting it. Very much enjoyed it.

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