Howard Delo

Occasionally, I find myself in a predicament of my own making. The outcomes usually run about 50-50 as to a good or not-so-good ending. My most recent situation ended with a good outcome, although I wasn’t planning to spend the money. Let me explain.

Last December, I was browsing the blackpowder cartridge rifle listings on the GunBroker internet website. I like to periodically look to see what is available, especially for Sharps and Remington Rolling Block rifles, and see if something like what I currently own is listed and for how much.

I was looking through the Sharps rifle listings when I spotted a rifle for sale which looked intriguing. The description of the firearm indicated it was a Shiloh Sharps No.3 sporting rifle with a 30-inch heavy, octagonal barrel. The wood was AA Fancy with a hand rubbed oil finish and the rifle stock was fitted with a steel shotgun buttplate. The receiver was color casehardened with the fancier process, the fore end had the pewter nose cap, and the escutcheons were brass instead of steel. These are all significant upgrades over the standard rifle model. The seller said the gun was unfired.

There were other upgrades but the most significant one was that the rifle was already fitted with a Montana Vintage Arms model 3000, 6-power, 28-inch long, old-style rifle scope in fully adjustable “silhouette” mounts. MVA scopes are the top of the line replicating the old “Malcomb-style” rifle scopes used on these type rifles from the 1860 to mid-1880 buffalo hunting era.

Surprisingly, no caliber was listed. I sent the seller an email asking. His reply was a little confusing. I sent a second email explaining what potential caliber options existed and where to look on the rifle to find the caliber. The seller replied that he had been thinking of another rifle he was selling and that, in fact, this rifle was marked 45-2 1/10, which translates into being a 45-70 caliber rifle. He thanked me for explaining the situation. I wished him well on his potential sale and complimented him on the beauty of the rifle. I went back to looking at listings.

Apparently, the auction time expired a few days later with no bids and the auction was not renewed. I received another email from the seller a week later asking me what I might offer for the gun. I hemmed and hawed, and with my wife’s encouragement, sent him an offer. A week went by and then two with no reply to my email. I figured the seller had declined since I had only offered him about two-thirds of what he had originally paid for the gun/scope combination.

About a month later, out of the blue, I received an email from the seller explaining he had just found my reply email and that he would accept my offer if I was willing to pay shipping and insurance. That was a no-brainer for me. We exchanged phone numbers and mailing addresses.

I was gone to a meeting and we didn’t talk on the phone for about another week. When we did connect, we worked out all the details and I got a certified check for the cost of the gun, shipping, and insurance, along with a hardcopy of my FFL in the mail to him. I was on pins and needles when I learned the gun had been shipped ground rather than by air because of the weight of the package, but it still arrived in about a week’s time anyway.

After the rifle arrived, I weighed it on my wife’s electronic scale and the rifle and scope, alone, weighed 13.5 pounds. The hard case the firearm was shipped in probably added another five to six pounds (I didn’t weigh the case). I was anticipating 12 to 15 pounds total shipping weight. The actual shipping weight ended up being almost 21 pounds. No wonder the gun went ground rather than air freight!

Upon my inspection, I noticed that the scope, while properly mounted, had not been adjusted for shooting. Obviously, the gun had never been fired. The seller had included all the paperwork for both the gun and the scope in the shipment. Having the instructions on how to properly adjust and set up the scope proved invaluable in getting the firearm fully functional.

I’ve started inventorying my reloading supplies and clearing space on my reloading bench. I’m looking forward to shooting this rifle at the Alaska Territorial Matches this coming June!

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