The Single Shot Rifle Journal

Feature Of The Month


Making Of The Single Shot Classic: 2003

By R. Dale McGee

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I received a phone call from stockmaker Bernie Harrell recently. He told me that he had received the barreled action and profiled wood for the ASSRA’s 2003 Single-Shot Classic, and did I want to take some pictures of it? I immediately replied in the affirmative (I said “yes!”). So I drove up to Springboro, Ohio, which is about 45 minutes from my home. I had my digital camera and sturdy tripod along with me.

As a bit of background on this project, the ASSRA ran into some problems while trying to complete a donated Sharps-Borchardt action, so Al Story came to the rescue with a NEW Badger-Barreled Sharps-Borchardt of his own manufacture. It has a long .40 caliber barrel, chambered for the classic .40/70 Sharps Straight.

When I arrived at Bernie’s, I examined the Story-Borchardt action carefully. It is machined of 4140 from a steel billet. The machine work was excellent and the action was well polished (flat on the flats like it is supposed to be) and perfectly square screw holes. It was a completely professional job. In short, extremely well made. I am by no means an expert on the Sharps-Borchardt, but I have looked at more than a few of them.

This Story-Borchardt is a paneled action and has an adjustable trigger. Story tells me you can easily adjust it to 2.0 lbs. or less. When operating the lever, I noticed that this action is very well fit up. It feels smooth and tight with NO slop. It almost feels like it works on ball bearings. Story also explains that the action is set up so that the first movement of the lever retracts the firing pin. Unlike many original Sharps 78s, there should be no stuck firing pins with this action. I would like to try to emphasize how truly excellent that this action is. But words nearly fail me. Bernie Harrell was so impressed that he wants a couple of them!

The barrel on the 2003 Single-Shot Classic Sharps is a half-octagon contour and the interior is as smooth as any match barrel that I have ever viewed. This Badger looks very nice indeed. In fact, I have three Badger barrels on my own rifles and their accuracy leaves nothing to be desired. The outside finish of the Single-Shot Classic’s Badger barrel was very well finished, and will only need a bit of polishing to be ready for bluing.

The stock wood has lots of figure and was donated by George Petersen of Treebone Carving (find his ad in the Journal). You can see much of the swirling figure in the pictures, but to truly appreciate its beauty, you have to see this wood in person. It’s spectacular. And typically, as with any stock from Treebone, the profiling was nicely done. Bernie had most of the inletting finished and about half of the outside sanded by the time I’d arrived. I could see that the pistol grip area was nicely profiled, as Bernie had not yet sanded that area. You can see that in the pictures. The wood is extremely well profiled on the interior also. It required minimal work to finish the inletting according to Bernie. The pictures also show some of the interior of the wood’s inletting.

After Bernie finishes fitting the wood to the metal, the action will be sent to master engraver Ken Hurst who will install sterling silver side plates and engrave both the sideplates and the action. When it’s finished, this rifle will be a bonafide replica of a late 1870’s and 1880’s Sharps-Borchardt Creedmoor. Arguably, these rifles represented the state of the art in long-range rifles for the period. The difference is that This Sharps-Borchardt Long-Range will be made of better materials and to closer tolerances than the originals!

Al Story said he has purchased a new CNC workstation to manufacture these actions to high tolerances with excellent production capacity. He also said that they will be available in either 4140 or 8620 steel, depending on customer choice. I presume that if you want the action case-colored you would choose 8620. Or, if it is for a high pressure cartridge, you would probably prefer 4140. The Sharps-Borchardt is as strong a single shot action as you could want. It is suitable for about any normal rimmed cartridge, including high pressure cartridges. Further, it has the desirable attribute of being a striker action with very short lever throw. And lock time is very quick. The action will make a dandy foundation for just about any single-shot sport except BPCR Silhouette, which requires an exposed hammer. The Sharps-Borchardt Single-Shot Classic will be just about perfect for long range (1000 yards) black powder cartridge use. Of course, that is what the original Creedmoor Sharps were used for.

Carmen Axtell, of The Riflesmith, has donated an original style long range sight for the 2003 Single-Shot Classic Sharps. And Classic Guns will do the metal finish work after master engraver, Ken Hurst, finishes embellishing the rifle.

ASSRA is extremely appreciative of all the folks who are making this 2003 project possible. Individually, all of us can show our appreciation by patronizing these people and their businesses. I have in the past. And I certainly intend to do just that in the future.

Finally, everyone should remember that the 2003 Single-Shot Classic Sharps Long Range rifle will be won by a very lucky individual who holds the winning ticket in the drawing to be held at this Fall’s National Championship Shoot at Etna Green, Indiana. And the rifle itself will represent the best of its kind, anywhere in the world: beautiful, classically styled and uncommonly accurate. My mouth is fairly watering to see it in the finished condition.

By the way, the line for entry forms begins right here. So step right up folks, and get your tickets NOW! The more chances you buy, the better your odds of winning one of the finest single-shot rifles ever made!

(Entry forms for the 2003 Sharps-Borchardt Long Range drawing are printed on the inside front cover of the SSRJournal mailing wrapper. Each entry is only $10. Copy the form for multiple entries. – Ed.)