Colt – Sharps Borchardt & P.O. Ackley

Les Bowman
Les Bowman worked for Colt on the Sharps Borchardt project. Photo from Randy Selby collection.

The July 2017 issue of Rifle Magazine contains an article by John Barsness, “21st Century Rodent Rifles”.  The first page of the article has  a great picture of a guy shooting a Colt-Sharps rifle.   Unfortunately the article does not tell anything about the gun.  These guns were made by two companies from 1969 to about 1971, markings vary.

Colt Sharps Borchardts are relatively rare.  I tell the story of how the company came about in P.O. Ackley, America’s Gunsmith.  EMDEKO started trying to produce a modern version of the Borchardt. Arthur Swanson had managed to get the backing of EMDEKO for his idea or reviving the Sharps with a modern design.  Swanson met P.O. Ackley while in Salt Lake City and asked him about finding a company to prototype his new design.

They went through two companies in the process of prototyping.  By 1969 they had a working prototype that was shown at the National Sporting Goods Association Show in Houston.  EMDEKO produced a small number of rifles during development of the project.  It soon became obvious that this project was a little more involved and expensive than they had planned on.

When Colt showed interest in the Sharps EMDEKO took the opportunity to exit the project and move on to a simpler arrangement with P.O. Ackley.  I have seen reports that the EMDEKO company was in financial trouble, this is not the case, they simply did not see the project as profitable in the near future. Colt purchased and  moved the project back to their facilities and Les Bowman, a friend of Ackley’s, who was helping with testing and ballistics went back East for about a year to work on the Sharps.

One of the cartridges that Bowman tested for Colt.  17/222 Magnum.      Photo from Randy Selby collection.

Colt produces some guns but the cost of production was high.  At the time demand for single shots was not high and offering a ‘Cadilac’ rifle made the niche even smaller for the guns.  Eventually Colt shelved the project and Bowman went home to Montana.

There are many more details about this & more in the book, P.O. Ackley, America’s Gunsmith.

11 thoughts on “Colt – Sharps Borchardt & P.O. Ackley

  1. I have one of these rifles .Marked Sharps..I want to sell it. I need to know the value. it is in mint condition

    1. According to the BlueBook of Gun Values the Serial # should be between CS000 & CS502 for Deluxe Models.
      Standard Models have a serial # range of CS2000 and up. They were deliverd in a case with acces. + a Leopold scope and bases.
      Price can range from $1600 to about $5000. Of course it is worth what someone will pay.

  2. Is there a way to tell, like a makers mark on an action or barrel that was made by P.O. Ackley. My father had a custom gun made in the early 1970’s and said he was the one that built it.

    1. When Ackley installed a barrel his standard practice, at least in Salt Lake, was to stamp the barrel with the caliber and a one piece stamp that simply read; P.O. Ackley There is a picture of a stamping on a barrel in the book, “P.O. Ackley, America’s Gunsmith.

      Hope that helps.

  3. I have CS 004, in 30-06— the gun was assembled by Colt Shop with Sharps Rifle Co parts- the real difference is in the forearm – my configuration has a steel bar, integrated to the front of receiver ,and the forearm attaches to that- not the barrel- making zero stress from screws- floating the barrel—-the lug on later receivers-isn’t there. I had plain wood , but purchased a triple xxx set from Numrich ,at very nominal price –I went there and picked the sticks- had to adjust, for the lug less front , fill the stock in there. am looking for a real lucky and found the correct scope ramp, dumb luck, too a few months before I bought the rifle, at the flea market – 10.00 bucks.

    1. Always fun to hear from shooters who are lucky enough to own a piece of history.

    2. Hey Ralph – so you have a Sharps Sporting Rifle from the Sharps Arms Company, Hartford, CT in 30-06 and the SN is “CS004” or just “004”? I am assuming it is not a Sharps 78 of Slat Lake City, UT origin?

  4. For your kind advices how to disattach the block from the receiver, I would be very grateful. The extractor of my CS 243 Win (#435) needs to be adjusted, as it is so sloppy sideways, that it slips over the case rim of a fired cartridge. According to Numrich’s part scheme, there should be an extractor adjustment screw on the right side of the block, which I need to reach. However, every tip how to fix the extractor is welcome.


    1. Sorry, these are not very common, so I have never had to take one apart.
      Best of luck with your project.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *