Sharps Large Frame Breech-Loading Pistol


Physical Description:

This .36 caliber rifled breech-loading single shot percussion pistol was made by C. Sharps & Co. It has a dropping block lever activated action, and two piece wooden grips. The mountings are iron.

Under the hammer is stamped “C. SHARPS & COS/GUN WORLD/PHILA PA”. On the opposite side is the stamp “C. SHARPS/PATENT/1840-1852”.


Christian Sharps created his company in 1858 on the Wire Bridge in Fairmount, located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. During the Civil War, C. Sharps & Co. produced 80, 512 pistols and rifles for the U.S. Government. The company was changed in 1863 to Sharps & Hankins but remained at the same address and was still listed in the 1875 directory as C. Sharps & Co. This company was made famous for their self priming pistols and rifles.

850 of this type of pistol were created between 1854 and 1857. It is based on the Model 1848 Sharps Pistol. The lever activated action is basically the same as on a carbine or a rifle. Only a limited number were made because there was not a market for this type of pistols when they were manufactured.


Flayderman, Norm. Flayderman’s Guide to Antique American Firearms…and their Values, Gun Digest Books, Iola, 2007. 9th edition.

Gardner, Robert E. Col. Small Arms Makers: A Directory of Fabricators of Firearms, Edged Weapons, Crossbows and Polearms, Crown Publishers Inc, New York: 1963, p. 174.

Date Made: ca 1855

Maker: Sharps, Christian

Location: Currently not on view

Place Made: United States: Pennsylvania, Philadelphia

See more items in: Political and Military History: Armed Forces History, Military, The Bitter Collection of Firearms, Military


Exhibition Location:

Credit Line: The Adriana and Edwin W. Bitter Family Collection

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: 1989.0748.05Catalog Number: 1989.0748.05Accession Number: 1989.0748Serial Number: 681Collector/Donor Number: P100

Object Name: pistolpistol, percussionOther Terms: pistol; Firearms; Caliber .38; Percussion

Physical Description: steel (overall material)wood (overall material)Measurements: overall: 10 1/4 in; 26.035 cmoverall: 1 1/2 in x 10 3/8 in x 5 3/8 in; 3.81 cm x 26.3525 cm x 13.6525 cm


Record Id: nmah_1057597

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