Skip to main content

Review: Lyman Ideal Model Sharps

Review: Lyman Ideal Model Sharps
The Ideal Model Sharps would make a great lightweight companion to your Sharps collection, or a great way to start one.

The Ideal Model Sharps Rifle derives the first part of its title from the iconic Ideal Tool Company, which evolved into Lyman Products — an industry leader in reloading, firearms accessories, and related shooting products.

Lyman's new cartridge rifle — its first — has nothing to do with the old Stevens Ideal single-shot, which used a center-hammer falling breech block design. But it has everything to do with the much stronger side-hammer Christian Sharps design of the late 19th century, in which twin locking bolts drop down on either side of a solid falling breechblock. This was one of the most versatile rifles of its day, chambered for everything from the .40-90 to .50-100, and was a favorite of such famous buffalo hunters as Bat Masterson and Billy Dixon.


However, while the Lyman Ideal Model Sharps follows the exact form and function of the famous "buffler gun," it is noticeably slimmer and sleeker. In fact, it is approximately two-thirds the size and is correspondingly lighter, tipping the scales at a scant six pounds — a noticeable deviation from the nine-pound weight of a full-size Sharps .45-70. Here at last is the perfect companion piece for your original or replica Sharps, as well as for anyone of small stature, or who can't (or doesn't want to) tote a heavier gun all day.


Of course, with its smaller stature come limitations on the cartridges this mini-Sharps can handle. Lyman has chosen to chamber the gun for both the .22 Hornet and the .38-55, clearly pegging this rifle as either a varmint gun or a medium-size big game rifle, respectively. I ordered a .38-55 for testing.

Made in Italy exclusively for Lyman by Chiappa Firearms, the Ideal Model Sharps is a handsome rifle, featuring a deeply blued 26-inch octagon barrel with a 1:18 twist, nicely figured uncheckered European walnut stock and Schnabel fore-end, and double set triggers.

All of the metal parts are machined from solid block steel. The receiver is polished silver-gray, with simple but attractive Victorian-style design elements and a graceful "Lyman" etched on both sides, along with "Ideal Model" on the lock plate.


Also of interest is the ram's head and "Lyman 1878" deeply embossed in the polished steel shotgun-style buttplate. But the telling features that this is a Lyman product are the sights. A Lyman No. 2 adjustable peep sight graces the tang, while a Lyman 17A globe sight perches near the muzzle. Yes, I know the 17A isn't prototypical, but with its seven interchangeable inserts, ranging from clear yellow to thick post, it makes this a very versatile — and accurate — rifle indeed.

Loading is quite simple. First put the hammer on half-cock to prevent the breechblock from snapping the protruding firing pin, or a potential accidental discharge with a sensitive primer upon closing the lever. Swinging the trigger-guard lever down drops the breechblock, which exposes the breech. Fully insert a cartridge, close the lever, press back on the rear trigger to "set" the front trigger, bring the hammer to full cock, take aim and fire.


The trigger can also be used in the unset position, and care should be taken when adjusting the "set" screw not to create too light a trigger pull. I opt for 2½ pounds for target shooting, and 3½ to four pounds for hunting.

After firing, dropping the lever will extract (not eject) the spent casing. For cleaning, simply depress the spring-loaded lever pin plunger on the right side of the receiver, rotate and withdraw the lever pin, and the entire breech block and trigger guard assembly will drop out. Reverse the procedure to reassemble, taking care to line up the trigger guard link hole with the lever pin.

At the range my test gun performed flawlessly, although I have to admit as someone who has spent decades hunting with

full-size Sharps rifles, I experienced muscle-memory difficulties getting used to the slimmer, lighter feel of this mini-Sharps. But using factory ammunition, I had no trouble keeping all my shots in the 9 and 10 rings at 100 yards, both offhand and on the bench. The fact that the barrel is drilled and tapped for a scope means serious paper punchers and squirrel hunters who like to "bark 'em" will want to be among those who consider adding Lyman's newest "old" rifle to their gun racks.

 Fast Specs

  • Type: falling block single-shot centerfire
  • Caliber: .22 Hornet, .38-55 (tested)
  • Barrel Length: 26 in.
  • Overall Length: 42 in.
  • Weight: 6 lb.
  • Stock: European walnut
  • Finish: blued barrel; polished, matte-finished receiver, lever, trigger, buttplate
  • Sights: Lyman No. 2 adjustable peep tang rear w/2 apertures; Lyman No. 17A globe front w/7 inserts
  • Price: $1,595
  • Manufacturer: Chiappa Firearms
  • Importer: Lyman

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Steyr Arms Announces Sniper Rifle in 6.5mm Creedmoor

Steyr Arms Announces Sniper Rifle in 6.5mm Creedmoor

Scott O'Brien from Steyr Arms sat down with Michael Bane at SHOT Show 2018 to take a look at Steyr's new tactical heavy barrel sniper rifle in 6.5mm Creedmoor.

Tactical Solutions Introduces New X-Ring Takedown SBR Rifle

Tactical Solutions Introduces New X-Ring Takedown SBR Rifle

Keith Feeley of Tactical Solutions sat down with Michael Bane at SHOT Show 2018 to talk about the new X-Ring Takedown SBR .22LR rifle.

Delta 5 - Daniel Defense

Delta 5 - Daniel Defense's New Precision Bolt Action Rifle

Those looking to explore precision rifle shooting without going broke will be well served by Daniel Defense's new Delta 5.

Black Hills Evolution of Rifle Cartridge: .308 Win. 175 Gr. Match

Black Hills Evolution of Rifle Cartridge: .308 Win. 175 Gr. Match

David Fortier talks with Jeff Hoffman of Black Hills Ammunition about the evolution of the .308 Win. 175 Gr. Match bullet.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

The handloading question: With large availability factory ammo on the market, why bother with reloading? Craig Boddington offers a few answers.Reloading Ammo – Why? Reloading

Reloading Ammo – Why?

Craig Boddington - March 26, 2019

The handloading question: With large availability factory ammo on the market, why bother with...

The road to the famous Remington 700 rifle was paved with classics like the models 725 and 30s.Before the Remington 700 Historical

Before the Remington 700

Payton Miller - August 20, 2020

The road to the famous Remington 700 rifle was paved with classics like the models 725 and 30s.

You're only as good as your weakest link; heed these to tips to make sure your shooting skills don't hinder your rifle's accuracy potentialHow to Shoot Your Best from a Benchrest Shooting Tips

How to Shoot Your Best from a Benchrest

Keith Wood - August 05, 2014

You're only as good as your weakest link; heed these to tips to make sure your shooting skills...

The new Hammerli TAC R1 22 C, an AR-15 style .22 rimfire rifle, is the first product in the company's new Defense line.Hammerli TAC R1 22 C Review Reviews

Hammerli TAC R1 22 C Review

James Tarr - August 12, 2020

The new Hammerli TAC R1 22 C, an AR-15 style .22 rimfire rifle, is the first product in the...

See More Trending Articles

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the RifleShooter App

Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All RifleShooter subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now