Home of Lil' Reliable and the Birth Place of the ORIGINAL LITTLE SHARPS
How Much Fun Can You Have With Your Clothes On? by Julie Lybeck
Through the ages, the miracle of birth has stirred even the hardest of souls. A new “baby” has been born into the gun world and given the name Lil’ Reliable, and what a sweetheart she is. She has the reputation of being known as the newest innovation in the gun world in over 25 years. Little Sharps Rifle Manufacturing, founded in 1996 and located in picturesque Montana, produces handmade replicas of the classic big bore buffalo gun made by the Sharps company in the 1800’s.
The Sharps rifle is noted as the most accurate and powerful hand held weapon produced in the 1800’s, and still holds the long range record at 1000 yards. After the buffalo were gone, the gun was too big for anything else and the Sharps factory went out of business in 1884. For over a century now, the dependable old reliable design of the original Sharps rifle has been begging to be manufactured in a lighter caliber.
The owners of Little Sharps Rifle Manufacturing, Ron Otto and Aaron Pursley, decided that for the weapon to be practical for use today it would need to be reduced in size about 20%. It also needed to be capable of firing modern ammunition. The manufacturers had an original Sharps Buffalo Gun and measured it down 20% to create the Lil’ Reliable.
The Lil’ Reliable is a dream to handle and shoots with such accuracy and integrity that even the novice shooter quickly understands what a piece of work they are handling. Unlike the original Sharps which was pretty much used only for shooting buffalo, the Lil’ Reliable is quite versatile. Besides being used for general hunting, she makes and excellent single shot long range rifle for the Cowboy Shooting craze, has piqued a huge interest in the Black Powder Silhouette Shooting world, and has excellent off-hand capabilities. She is a rifle for young and old alike, and is an ideal Ladies gun. The Lil’ Reliable is manufactured in 11 different calibers, .22 LR, .22 Mag, .22 Hornet, .218 Bee, .219 Zipper, 25-20, 25-35, 30-30, 32-20, 32-40, and the 38-55.
One of the advantages of the downsizing of the Sharps is the change in the weight. An original Sharps Buffalo Gun weighs around 14 pounds. The 38-55 caliber Lil’ Reliable with full octagon barrel weighs around 8 pounds or approximately 6 1/2 pounds if manufactured with a 1/2 octagon, 1/2 round barrel.
The little rifle in the 38-55 caliber, shooting lead bullets and black powder, has already proven itself at the Annual Quigley Shoot which is held in Forsyth, Montana. The Quigley has a gathering of about 320 of the top black powder silhouette shooters in the Northwest. Sheri Moore of Ekalaka, MT now of Big Sandy, MT took top honors in the Women’s Division in 1998, and second in 1999 using the Lil’ Reliable. Also in 1998, T.J. Scalese, 14, placed 2nd in the Juniors division with the Lil’ Reliable. This caliber rifle is recommended for hunting Bear, Elk, Deer, Antelope and Moose all at moderate range.
Lil’ Reliable has caused quite a stir in the gun world. She is a versatile charmer and not only performs well in the competitive world, but is a real thrill to handle in the field. The .22 rim fire is a treat to varmint hunt with, with its open sites and superior accuracy, the day only gets better with each shot fired.
The .218 Bee is the superior small varmint caliber for gophers and prairie dogs. It is extremely well built and is top of the line quality. After spending the day with the Lil’ Reliable .218 Bee and acres of gopher country, my first reaction was “Are you sure this is legal? I didn’t know you could have this much fun with your clothes on!!”
Hunting varmints and predators the “new” old fashioned way with the Lil’ Reliable and cross sticks has added a new dimension to the entertainment value in the gun world. The .219 Zipper, used with this combination of old and new styles to shoot long range prairie dogs, increases your accuracy and enthusiasm for the sport. The .219 Zipper can also be used for larger predators such as coyotes.
The Lil’ Reliable is also manufactured as a carbine for the younger shooters in a .22 caliber, which weighs only 4 1/2 pounds. The enthusiasm exhibited by the younger generation while using this well-balanced rifle is undeniable.
Little Sharps Manufacturing hand builds these rifles at their factory. The stocks are made with a shotgun butt or military or carbine style butt out of walnut in grades of plain to 4X, which is the fanciest grade. McGowen Precision Barrels of Kalispell is provides the octagon barrels which are of the highest quality. The Lil’ Reliable in the 38-55 caliber shoots a 330 grain lead bullet designed by Steve Brooks which is propelled with blackpowder. Vernier sites and long range hunting sites are available from Montana Vintage Arms.
These superior quality rifles are case hardened and can be finely engraved and gold inlayed to the purchaser’s request. Aaron Pursley is a Professional Engraver, with over 50 years of experience, and is willing to detail the Lil’ Reliable to a spectacular piece of Art or just add a few initials or gold inlayed rifle barrel bands. Little Sharp’s Manufacturing can be contacted at 1-406-378-3855.
Keep your eye out for this little sweetheart, the Lil’ Reliable is taking the gun world by storm and has the capabilities of fulfilling many a gun lover’s dream.