By Lars Dalseide | October 21 2013 17:00

Highly engraved rifle found fame during the days of the plains buffalo hunts

The action of an 1873 pattern Sharps rifle at the National Firearms Museum

Fairfax, Virginia - Almost 3,000 guns are on display at the National Firearms Museum. What you may not know, however, is that a portion of these guns don't actually belong to the NRA. Some are simply on loan. Such is the case for the subject of this week's Curator's Corner — an 1873 pattern Sharps Rifle.

"This rifle has one of the finest engraving and figuring of wood I've ever seen," said Senior Curator Philip Schreier.

Sitting beside NRANews Producer John Popp in the Museum's Roosevelt Room, Schreier explained what made this rifle so special.

"November has many anniversaries. Not only is it the NRA's birthday on the 17th, but November 2nd is the 155th anniversary of the day William Coffee won this rifle at the very first Sharps Target Excursion in 1858."

The sights and hammer of an 1873 pattern Sharps rifle at the NRA National Firearms Museum in Virginia

Sharps first came on the scene back in 1848. Designed and produced by gunsmith Christian Sharps, the percussion, breech loading, single shot rifle was known to reach over 1,000 yards ... with an experienced hand of course. All thanks to the open ladder or Vernier Tang sights.

"You can tell it was of the earlier design, versus the more well known 1874, because of the slanting breech. That was changed once they went to the '74."

Loaned to the Museum by Peter Dowd of Massachusetts, the Sharps can currently be seen in the museum's American West Exhibit.

But if you'd like a close of view of your own, tune in around 5:40 this afternoon to the Sportsman Channel for the latest episode of Curator's Corner on NRANews.

Senior NRA Museum Curator Philip Schreier happily rests with an 1873 pattern Sharps rifle at Beretta Gallery in Fairfax, Virginia

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