The Mini "Buffalo Gun"

The big Sharps is back as a little rifle.


Click image above for larger view

When most people think of the Sharps rifle, it’s a good bet they probably think “Buffalo Gun.” The “Old Reliable” Sharps single-shot rifle was generally the first choice with hide hunters of the late 1860s through the 1870s.

These big, heavy rifles—some weighing over 12 pounds and chambered for some of the biggest blackpowder cartridges of the day such as the .44-77, .45-70, .45-110, .45-120, .50-90 and .50-140—were certainly the big guns of the buffalo-hunting era. The romance of these powerful, straight-shooting rifles lives on today with collectors of original arms and through high-quality replicas with modern shooters.

However, there’s a new kid on the range, and it looks just like the old-time 1874 Sharps buffalo guns, with one exception—it’s a lot smaller. That’s right, Lyman now offers a spittin’ image of the legendary Sharps buffalo rifle, but in a reduced size that is ideal for hunting medium-sized game, varmints or just fun plinking. In fact, it’s called the Lyman “Ideal Model” Sharps. This scaled-down Sharps replica weighs in at just around eight pounds and has an overall length of 42 inches with its 26-inch octagon barrel that uses a fast one-in-18-inch rate of twist—perfect for the .22 Hornet or .38-55 cartridges the Ideal Model requires.

Manufactured in Italy by Chiappa Firearms, Lyman’s Ideal Model Sharps sports a blued barrel, a bright finish receiver, hammer, lever and double-set triggers, as well as a brightly-finished, shotgun-style butt plate. The rifle is fitted with Lyman’s famed globe front and adjustable tang rear sight. Additionally, this elegant little rifle has a handsome European walnut stock and schnabble-type forearm. The handy mini-Sharps is also attractively decorated on the receiver with laser-engraved artwork that is somewhat reminiscent of the buffalo hunting era, while the butt plate bears an attractive laser engraving of the Lyman bighorn sheep circular logo with the legend “Lyman, 1878.”

Of course, this famous old reloading and shooting accessories company offers the perfect complements for the Ideal Model mini-Sharps with its loading tools and die sets for both the .22 Hornet and the .38-55 caliber rifles.

I had the opportunity to handle one of Lyman’s Ideal Model Sharps rifles and found it to be a well-made, handsome and handy rifle with a comfortable heft that should give good service. Reduced in size and weight from the big Sharps rifles of yesteryear, the new Ideal Model should appeal to lots of shooters and hunters. Pardon the pun, but I have to say it’s a really sharp-looking gun!


Phil Spangenberger writes for Guns & Ammo, appears on the History Channel and other documentary networks, produces Wild West shows, is a Hollywood gun coach and character actor, and is True West’s Firearms Editor.

True Westerners

Rick Wallner

Rick Wallner

The best book on Bent’s Fort is David Lavender’s Bent’s Fort , although Mark Lee G...

Justice for Jack

Justice for Jack

Pioneer Jack Swilling should be remembered for his many contributions to Arizona...

Liberty, Not Death

Liberty, Not Death

Children soothed their thirst by scraping their fingernails on barrack windows t...

MAY 2015

True West Magazine Issue May 2015
Buy This Back Issue: May 2015

JUNE 2015

True West Magazine Issue June 2015
Buy This Back Issue: June 2015

JULY 2015

True West Magazine Issue July 2015
Buy This Back Issue: July 2015


True West Magazine Issue August 2015
Buy This Back Issue: August 2015


True West Magazine Issue September 2015
Buy This Back Issue: September 2015

True West Site Guide


True West captures the spirit of the American West with authenticity, personality and humor by linking our history to our present. Whether you call it the Wild West, the Old West or the Far West, America's frontier history comes to life in True West, the world's oldest, continuously published Western Americana magazine.

Western movie fans, re-enactors, history buffs and road warriors, we got your history covered: outlaw, cowboy, Indian, lawman, gunfighter, fur trapper, miner, prospector, gambler, soldier, entertainer and pioneer. Check out these True Westerners now!

Product of the Month

The Illustrated Life and Times of Wyatt Earp

Wyatt Earp

"Your book is fascinating, coupling your powerful illustrations [and] tracking...from birth to Tombstone to the legend [Wyatt] had become;...even Wyatt would approve." --By Hugh O'Brian, of the TV series The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp

"Hands down the definitive books on Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday." --By Allen Barra, New York Newsday