The four-shot, breech loading, pepperbox pistol was a true gun of the Old West. It is associated with the gamblers, ladies of the evening, and as a hide-out gun of the outlaws and lawmen of the time.
It was produced in .22, .30, .32 short, and .32 long calibers.
Barrel lengths varied from 2-1/2" to 3-1/2", although it is estimated that only approx. 25 weere made in the 3-1/2" length. The 4-barrel cluster slides forward ffor opening, The firing pin rotates, mounted in either the hammer or on the frame, depending on the model. Frames were case hardened iron, brass, or silver-plated brass. Grips wwere usually walnut or gutta-percha.
Many thousands of these breech-loading, 4-shot pepperbox pistols were made by the C. Sharps Company and the Sharps & Hankins Company, beginning in 1859. Production of the Sharps 4 shot Pepperbox Pistols ended in 1874.
Firing Pin in the top left barrel firing position (L.)
and in the lower left firing position (R.)
Click on an image for a larger version
Sharps Pepperbox, ready to load
Photos of Sharps Pepperbox, courtesy of
Flint Westwood, SASS #94
One of the model variations, the Sharps 4C, silver-plated with a birds-head grip, 3" barrel, chambers 32 long rim-fire.. Markings are "C. SHARPS PATENT JAN.25, 1859" on the right frame.
Top: Model 1A .22 caliber pepperbox; Bottom: Model 4B .32 Long caliber. Rotating firing pins are mounted in the hammers on both of these.
On the Model 1AThe original gutta percha grips have been replaced with ivory ones. The unengraved frame is silver over brass and the barrels are blued. The overall measurement is 5-1/4" with the barrels measuring 2-7/16".