Charles Daly .45 Colt “Little Sharps” Single Shot Rifle


by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & Boge Quinn

January 7th, 2009




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The name “Charles Daly” has been associated with fine imported firearms for about 134 years now, beginning with quality Prussian double guns, and eventually including rifles, shotguns, and handguns of all types. Today’s Charles Daly guns are imported by K.B.I., Inc. of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and includes an extensive line of magazine and double shotguns, pistols, and lever and single shot rifles that are suited for the Cowboy Action games, but also serve very well for hunting. The subject of this piece, and one of the most unique and interesting rifles to bear the Daly name, is their Little Sharps.

I first laid my hands on a Daly Little Sharps almost one year ago at the 2008 SHOT Show, and had been anxious to try one out ever since. The Little Sharps is built by Armi Sport/Chiappa Firearms in Italy, and is a handy little rifle, balancing perfectly and coming to the shoulder like a light bird gun. Back in September of 2008, I was visiting with The Swede in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, when Ernie Lindsey from Wilderness Sports called and said that a Little Sharps had arrived for The Swede, so we headed for town and picked it up. Chambered for the .45 Colt cartridge, that Little Sharps was a real sweetheart of a rifle, and a joy to shoot. While on the subject of the Upper Peninsula, I had always thought of Michigan as being pretty much like Detroit, all crowded and noisy, but I was wrong. That upper part of Michigan should be its own state. It is both geographically and socially very different from the lower part of the state, and the folks up there seem more like Southerners with a Canadian accent; very hospitable and friendly, but with an unusual language all their own. They are pretty independent people, and there is some real wilderness up in that area. It is a great place to be most of the year, but I have never spent a Winter there. I would most likely not survive, even with a Stormy Kromer atop my head.

Back to the rifle, the Little Sharps is modeled after the 1874 style Sharps rifle, but is about twenty percent smaller, and a whole lot lighter, weighing roughly half what the full size 1874 weighs. While in the U.P., we fired that Little Sharps at targets from twenty-five yards out to three hundred and fifty yards, and the diminutive rifle proved to be amazingly easy to fire accurately, even at extended range. Taking turns with the Little Sharps, Al Anderson (The Swede), Chuck Smith, Terry Murbach, Boge, and myself, all tried to wear it out, loading it with every type of light and heavy .45 Colt ammunition that we had available. The day after me and Boge ( I realize that is not grammatically correct, but it just seems more natural) headed South, The Swede’s lovely daughter, Meg, took a bison with that Little Sharps at Hog Wild Hunting Preserve. She used a hard cast lead 260 grain Keith bullet running about 1175 feet-per-second from the muzzle of the Little Sharps, and the bullets gave complete penetration through the ribs of that nine-hundred pound buff. Dave Van Elsacker runs a fine operation at Hog Wild. He has some of the best Russian boars that I have ever seen, along with bison and several species of exotic sheep and goats. He has some trophy four-horn sheep that are the best that I have ever seen, from anywhere in the world, and his prices are very reasonable as well. I will put his contact info at the end of this piece, in case you might be interested in a hunt at Hog Wild. I will also list the contact info for Wilderness Sports in Ishpeming. Ernie runs a well-stocked gun shop, has good prices, and he knows his guns.

After returning from the U.P., I put in a request for a Little Sharps to do a full review, and finally it arrived, also chambered for the .45 Colt cartridge. In addition to the .45 Colt, the Little Sharps is chambered for the .17 HMR, .22 Long Rifle, and .22 Magnum rimfire cartridges, and for the .218 Bee, .22 Hornet, .357 Magnum, .44 WCF, .30-30, and .38-55 centerfire cartridges. The rimfires wear twenty-four inch barrels, and the centerfires wear twenty-six inch barrels, all being of octagon configuration and made of blued steel. The finish on the barrel is a deep polished almost black, and the receiver, buttplate, lever, triggers, and hammer are color case-hardened. The screws are blued. On the sample rifle, the barrel measures .832 inch across the flats at the breech, and tapers to .710 inch at the muzzle. The barrel is drilled and tapped for Malcolm scope mounts, and Daly sells a Malcolm scope to fit the Little Sharps. The front sight is a blued steel blade dovetailed into the barrel and adjustable for windage correction, and the rear is a medium-range sliding Vernier type, adjustable for elevation. The stock on the Little Sharps is of straight-grained walnut, well-finished to a satin sheen. The Little Sharps wears set triggers, as it should, and the crisp release makes hitting distant targets much easier. The pull weights on the sample gun measured just under six pounds in non-set mode, and one pound, five ounces set, and the set mode pull weight is adjustable. I left the trigger just as it was as delivered, as I found it perfectly suited to my liking. The sample rifle weighed in at five pounds, five ounces, and is a delight to handle and shoot. I have always liked the 1874 Sharps rifle, but they are too heavy for me to like to carry afield. Fine at the range for shooting distant targets, but I prefer a lighter weight rifle to lug over the ridges, and the Little Sharps is just the perfect size and weight for a hunting Sharps. Retaining the same delightfully simple single shot action of the 1874, but with half the weight, the Little Sharps is so much handier to use than its big brother. Shooting the Little Sharps at targets for accuracy testing, I tried several different loads, both factory and handloads. The twenty-six inch barrel delivers between three hundred and four hundred feet-per-second (fps) more velocity than from a typical .45 Colt revolver, depending upon the load. One load that proved very accurate in the test gun is the Buffalo Bore Heavy .45 Colt load, item number 3A. This load pushes a 325 grain hard cast lead bullet listed at 1325 fps from a revolver, but clocked 1620 fps at twelve feet from the muzzle of the Little Sharps. For those not familiar with a Sharps action, it is very simple to operate. First, place the hammer at half cock by thumbing it back to the first notch. Pushing down on the lever/trigger guard drops the breech block to insert the cartridge. Closing the lever raises the breech block, then the hammer is pulled back to the full cock position. At this point, the weapon can be fired with a pull of the trigger, or the trigger can be set for a lighter pull by pulling the rear trigger until it clicks into the set position. The action is as reliable and trouble free as a device can be, and this Little Sharps is no exception. No malfunctions of any kind were encountered during my sessions with the rifle. It proved to be both reliable and accurate, grouping on paper as good as I can see with this type of sight. Doing my part, the Little Sharps would cut one ragged hole at fifty yards, with the Buffalo Bore load listed above, and it would do just as well with my handloads using the Mt. Baldy 270SAA Keith-style bullet.

I am really glad to see this Little Sharps on the market. It seems to be a well-made little rifle, reeking with nostalgia, yet a very trim, svelte, and handy Sharps replica that is much lighter and quicker-handling than any original.

Check out the Little Sharps and other products online at:

For the location of a Charles Daly dealer near you, click on the DEALER LOCATOR at

To order the Little Sharps online, go to

To inquire about hunting at Wild Hog in the U.P. of Michigan, call Dave at: 906-238-4368.

For the best gun shop in the U.P., check out Wilderness Sports in downtown Ishpeming, 906-485-4565.

To order the Buffalo Bore Heavy .45 Colt ammo, go to

Jeff Quinn


For a list of dealers where you can buy this gun, go to: To buy this gun online, go to:


Al "Swede" Anderson with a full-size 1874 Sharps, and daughter Meg "Swedie" Anderson with her Little Sharps.





The Little Sharps compared to full-size 1874 Sharps .50/70.





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Click pictures for a larger version.


Meg Anderson with her buffalo, taken with the Little Sharps.





The Little Sharps is lightweight, handy, and perfectly balanced.





Rear sight is a scaled-down folding Vernier type.



Barrel is factory drilled & tapped for scope mounts.





Double set trigger.





The Sharps design is very simple and reliable.





Buffalo Bore's Heavy .45 Colt ammo.