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feature By: Steve Garbe, Photos by Sheryll Garbe | December, 21
The 1877 was fairly well received by mostly long-range shooters of the time, but was not long in production by Sharps as they were determined to bring out the New Model 1878, which used a hammerless action. Whether or not the introduction of a hammerless firearm was a marketing mistake when the vast majority of riflemen were used to exposed hammer firearms will be forever debated among today’s single-shot rifle aficionados. However, from the standpoint of a sleeker, more efficient design, the Model 1877 was definitely a step in the right direction.
Jump forward in time to a present-day manufacturer of Sharps firearms, namely the Shiloh Rifle Manufacturing Company. Shiloh decided in 2011 to begin the time-consuming process of reproducing the Model 1877, authenticity to original production being the paramount consideration. This isn’t surprising, since the folks at Shiloh have for years been making arguably the best and highest quality version of the Sharps Model 1874 rifle. So, a number of Sharps collectors were consulted, original pieces reviewed and measured, tooling was made and in 2013, the first Shiloh Model 1877 rifle was shot in competition. The new rifle was warmly welcomed by the single-shot community in general, and by Sharps aficionados in particular, consequently, the orders started rolling in.
We were fortunate enough to be able to review one of the Shiloh Model 1877s and to say that we were impressed would be a huge understatement. Having a bit of experience in firearms production and quality control, I can say without reservation that the Shiloh 1877 represents exceptional quality. The wood was properly proportioned and excellently finished, case colors are brilliant and the inletting looked like the wood grew around the metal. This sort of quality doesn’t just happen; it takes true craftsmanship and a dedication to detail by all involved to create a firearm with this level of fit and finish.
The engraving on this particular rifle was done by Master Engraver Suzi Bradley, and as one can see by the photos, is impeccable. Suzi has been engraving Shiloh rifles for a number of years and her experience really shows on this particular rifle. I’m very picky when it comes to engraving; a mediocre engraving job can ruin the looks of the best firearm. This engraving is of the highest order and further compliments the fine lines and beautiful finish of this exceptional rifle.
For years, Shiloh has been making its own barrels and those same barrels have been performing very well in both the field and on target ranges. Out of curiosity, I slugged the barrel on this particular 1877 and found it to be very uniform from breech to muzzle; no tight or loose places at all. Given Shiloh barrels reputation for accuracy, this is what I expected. The grooves measured .4065 and lands were right at .399 with a 1:16 twist, perfect for bullets weighing up to 425 grains.
Immediately, I noticed that the trigger pull was clean and light, with no creep or mushiness. A trigger pull gauge showed a pull of 1.2 pounds. I was surprised that the pull was this light until I remembered that the rifle had actually been used in competition. Measuring 10 pulls showed an average let-off of 1.27 pounds and the pull was very uniform from break to break. I am very fussy about trigger pull and usually prefer set triggers, but the single trigger on this 1877 was all I could ask for.
This particular Model 1877 featured a round barrel with Rigby flat. It’s no secret that I prefer round barrels, so I particularly liked the look of this one. The Shiloh catalog stated that the 1877 can be had with round, octagon or half-octagon barrel. The Rigby flat is a special order item but it looked so good that I wouldn’t order an 1877 without it.
Like the Model 1874, Shiloh offers many custom options available to the Model 1877 including upgraded wood (up to and including extra-fancy English and Turkish walnut) bone charcoal casehardening, Rigby barrel flats, polished barrels, heat-blued screws, ebony forend tips, steel buttplates, double-set triggers, flared forearm panels and a host of others that let you fully customize your rifle. The truth is, the firearms from Shiloh are virtually all top-quality, custom-built rifles.
Prices for the Model 1877 start as of this writing, at $2,250 for the 1877 Number 1 (pistol grip version) and $2,150 for the Number 2 (straight grip) Model. These prices are for the plain versions with standard wood, but still represent a huge value because the same attention to detail and quality goes into every firearm that Shiloh builds. I scanned through the order sheet and applied the upgrades that I would personally prefer and ended up with a final price of $4,174 for a firearm that would be extremely handsome, but at the same time, a competitive match rifle. For the options that I added, including a wood upgrade and extra finish, pack hardening, Rigby flat, steel buttplate, polished barrel, flared forearm panels and pistol grip schnabble, I consider this price to be an extremely good investment. Given the quality, these rifles will hold their value very well and, in all likelihood, will be worth more than their initial cost in a few short years.
Sadly, as this article was going to press, we heard the devastating news of the death of Suzi Bradley. I think all who knew Suzi personally were shocked and saddened; my wife Sheryll and I certainly were. Suzi’s passing has left a huge hole, both in her professional career as an engraver and in her personal life.
She was a familiar face at the Shiloh rifle matches and never failed to brighten everyone’s day with her infectious laugh. In light of this tragic news, we are very honored to be able to present one of Suzi’s works of art in the form of this Model 1877 Sharps rifle.