In 1850, when the Sharps Rifle was made, how much did it cost?

1 Answer 1


From a letter, concerning the purchase of breach-loading rifles by the United States Army, dated May 14 1857:

After preliminary trials of a great number of breech loading rifles presented by inventors the following were reported as giving sufficient evidences of merit to authorize a farther practical trial in the hands of troops and orders to supply them for that purpose to the extent and on the terms specified opposite to each were given by this office with the sanction of the Secretarv of War viz 200 of Sharp s at $30 each ordered July 28 1854 200 of Perry's at $25 each ordered February 24 1855 200 of Green's at $30 each ordered May 24 1855 200 of Gibbs's at $30 each ordered November 17 1855 170 of Merrill's at $35 each ordered July 20 1855 200 of Burnside's at $30 each ordered April 21 1850 201 of Syinmes's at $40 each ordered July 18 1855 100 of Howe's at $32 each ordered January 28 1857 200 of Maynard's breech loading arms at $30 each were also recommended by this office after the preliminary trial to be purchased

(emphasis mine).

This, however did not specify a production model. Note the price is what the US government paid, so may not reflect civilian prices.

The next record I find for prices is for Sharps rifles ordered during the civil War.

  • The model 1859

The model 1859 was ordered for Berdans Sharpshooters during the civil war. The slightly modified model,made to Berdan's specs, cost $42.50.
Source:Sharpshooting in the Civil War, By Major John Plaster

  • The model 1874

The model 1874, the model made famous in Quigley Down Under, could be bought in 1878 for $44.00. Source:Mastering the Art of Long-Range Shooting, By Wayne van Zwoll

To put that in perspective, farmers in 1860 earned $10-$14 per month, and a private in the Union Army earned $11.00-$13.00 per month.

  • In Blood Meridian. a character bought one in the 1850s or so and according to the book there was a huge surplus (maybe due to buffalo dying out) and they were not worth mucj.
    – Jeff
    Feb 9, 2017 at 5:47
  • Good answer, but the upvote from me was earned by the Quigley Down Under callback alone.
    – T.E.D.
    Feb 9, 2017 at 18:58
  • private made $13 in union army
    – user29360
    Feb 15, 2018 at 18:58

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