.45-120 black powder cartirdge?


Well-Known Member
Jun 25, 2003
Aussie in Italy
I am considering getting a sharps in .45-120. The main reason(motivation) being that I have a bison hunt coming up in Canada this winter and it would be cool to take one like they did in the old days.

That isn't to say that I haven't always had some fascination for these guns for some time.

Does anyone here shoot one? What are they like at LR, which is what I'd end up doing with it after the hunt since there aint no bison here.

The builder IAB, said that in machine rest his rifles produce 5 shot groups with all the holes toughing, but in actual shooting, due to the stight, that he could only manage 12cm at 100 yards.

That doesn't either means they are hard to shoot or the shooting isn't up to scratch. Doesn't it?

What can anyone tell me about this round?
I don't have personal experience with the cartridge but it is essentially a 45-70 plus 200-250 FPS at the muzzle. Recent article at VHA by a fellow that used one one a Speed goat at near 600 yards with success. You might want to shop a bit for your gun though. 12 CM ain't much of a group, and you can't take a machine rest for a hike in the hills.

I realize you're not in the US so I won't regale you with tales of American Guns. I have read that Pedersoli makes some pretty fair Sharps replicas, and I seem to recall one model is chambered for the -120. Regardless of your choice, look to using bullets around 500 grains or so for long range work. I am a big fan of paper patch for this application.http://www.iastate.edu/~codi/PPB/PPB.html

Good luck!
express, maybe I can help. Are you planning on using black powder or smokeless? Cast or jacketed?

The recoil of a 500gr bullet leaving at close to 1600fps is heavy but manageable. With a hard cast bullet of proper nose design, penetration is more then adequate.

There is no reason that you can't get a good quality "vintage" rifle to shoot 2 to 3 MOA with smokeless loads. Personally, I don't like BP due to the cleaning and possible corrosion issues during a Northern Canada hunt.

Range is up to you but it will certainly work out to 500yds. You will need a good range finder like a Leica. Terrain is usually without trees so picking up a reading may be tough with lesser rangefinders. A very good drop table, every 10 to 20yds, will be mandatory. The trajectory of this type of cartridge is very high.

Pedersoli does make some excellent replicas and they run around $1500 to 1650 Cdn. Sharps and like from the US cost around $2500US. So a sig savings.

You might want to talk to your guide to discuss how the hunt will evolve, the terrain you will be up against, the temp/weather, the range they will let you shoot at.

Others have gone on similar hunts with some basically being "cattle" culls - very short range, not really hunting. Some have been on wild bison and have really had an adventure - they are pretty spooky and will run for a long ways.

A great adventure nevertheless. Just be prepared for WINTER. That also includes gun lubes, bullet lubes, and anything that can fail in the cold.

When are you coming over? Make sure you do the firearms permits very early, like right now. We have goofy gunlaws.

Maby this will help express.
I have several pedersolis sharps and Brownings{1885] and love them.
For all out power I load the Browning 1885 in 45/70 with a 500gr hornady rnsp to just over 2100fps using H4895.
But load the 45/110 Pedersoli sharps with The new Triple 7 and a 535gr cast Lyman
The 45/110 with Triple 7 will match the 120
in black powder an is a very clean powder plus brass for the 110 is easy to find I like the smoke but not the mess.
Both rifle typs shoot well under 2MOA when Im at my worst and 1MOA at my best.
Something to think about.
Express I have a I.A.B.1866 sharps in 45-70 with a 32" barrel that I use for hunting deer,elk and bear in Montana if you go smokeless you can load it the same as the 45-120 in BP or smokeless and the brass is cheaper or you can get 45-70 over the counter I shoot IMA 4198 36 grs with a 405 gr lead bullet I have a three inch group at 100 yards the factory sighs for better grouping I am going to put a creedmore sight on the back I.A.B. has the 1866 or the 1874 in 45-70 or 45-120 go with the 1874 have fun hunting
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