.50-140 Sharps -- Used in which rifles?

I’ve read that Winchester introduced the .50-140 Sharps in 1884 – three years after Sharps ceased making rifles. So which rifles chambered the cartridge back in the 1880s? Remington Rolling Blocks? Many thanks!



Actually, the cartridge should be called .50 3 1/4, because, as you say, it made it’s appearance after the demise of Sharps Rifle Manufacturing Company…JMHO. Would it have been chambered in the Winchester Single Shot High Wall…??


The 50-140-473 was one of the Model 1885 Express cartridges. Winchester never actually chambered any of the rifles for it, otherwise we would have cartridges. A few board dummies are known to exist, but no live ammunition. The Sharps version used a 700 grain bullet. Many of the outfits building the wonderful Sharps and Remington rifles today offer that chambering.

When I collected UMC cartridges, I had several loaded rounds, both unheadstamped and with U.M.C. S H .50 - 3 1/4. headstamp. I believe loaded cartridges ( as well as board dummies ) also exist with W.R.A.Co. 50-140 EX. headstamp?


At least one single Winchester High Wall rifle was actually chambered for this cartridge and loaded cartridges are also known by collectors. Williamson notes indicates it was first loaded in 1886.

Cool! Everything I read lead me to believe that board dummies were the only samples in existence. Thanks for the info.




Not that it is particularly helpful, but Giles and Shuey’s book lists the .50 3-1/4 as being one of the Winchester 1885 (single shot) rifle calibers. It offers no further information or pictures.

Herschel Logan mentions it, and states it “…is possible that this was developed for use in the big .50 Sharps rifle and the Winchester single shot rifle.” He lists it as having a 473 grain paper patched lead bullet. He shows HSs as “W.R.A.Co. 50-140 EX.” and “UMC S H 50 - 3 1/4” He also states that UMC also produced boxes of 50 primed empty cases and 700 grain paper patched bullets. He speculates that some .50-90 Sharps rifles may have been rechambered for the .50 -3 1/4, but in any event, few rifles were produced for this caliber.

My guess would be that most of the not-very-numerous rifles chambered for the .50-140 were produced by rebarreling already existing Sharps rifles. There’s no question that Sharps was out of business before this cartridge was offered and yet the ammunition was produced to some extent by WRA and UMC.

There was actually a fair cottage industry in the U.S. in the last quarter of the 19th century rebarreling Sharps and Springfield trapdoor actions for sporting use. I recall an article by Elmer Keith in the American Rifleman in the late 1930s in which he described and tested a .50-140 Sharps but don’t remember if he described the rifle in great detail. Jack

It makes one wonder what the intended purpose of this cartridge was, as by the date of its introduction, there was no game left in North America requiring its use. But management at UMC and Winchester must have believed that somewhere there was a viable market for the big .50. I can’t understand why. Africa, perhaps? I wonder the same thing about today’s various large-bore magnums. Are there really enough Elephant and Cape Buffalo hunters to support marketing a .458 Lott or a .460 Weatherby? Or are there just many moneyed guys around that want bragging rights that go with having the biggest available bores regardless of their utility? (Mine’s bigger than yours)

Its always possible that the bigger calibres were carried for protection rather than hunting. Bears come most freely to mind in remote areas. Many of the British big game calibres fell into that catagory. "What if " rifles

In the end, I don’t know how useful a rifle in 50-3 1/4 was. As said, even for Buffalo, this cartridge was over powered. I know of 3 modern long distance shooter’s, where they use large bore “Buffalo Guns”, who have ordered modern remakes of rifles in this caliber, who, after 3 or 4 shots, have hung the $2000+ rifles up on the wall and said “No More” because of the truly brutal recoil. These people are used to heavy recoil, but claim the 50-3 1/4 is beyond the pale and so unpleasant that they just will not shoot it.

Sharps replica. The shooter says that he shoots rounds loaded with 133 grains of blackpowder and a 700 grains lead bullet