The .25-45 Sharps represents the positive attributes of the 5.56mm, but with increased accuracy and ballistic efficiency.
Perfection, a state of completeness and flawlessness, something that only the most conscientious designers and manufactures strive for in their craft. Searching for the perfect tool to solve a multitude of problems, a tool and cartridge combination that goes beyond the norm and fills obvious voids. The quest for perfection is likely more important than attaining it because true perfection, at least in the world of weapons development, would have given us Captain Kirks Phaser years ago, something that go from stun to kill with the flick of a switch and works 100% of the time, and we would have missed all trials and tribulations that have occurred over the centuries.
Of course when we talk of new developments and designs, particularly for tactical or military weapons, what we consistently see are adaptations of Stoner’s original AR platform, after all designers and manufactures are taking advantage of a tried and true weapon design with a well reputed level of reliability and effectiveness. Of course this is not to ever suggest that military weapons or even the AR platform are guiding examples of the apex of weapons design, after all they are not without their problems, but the bulk of research and development has been done and current technology allows companies and users to pretty much adapt an AR to any situation they want, resulting in the bestselling rifle platform in the United States, as well one of the most heavily issued military weapons worldwide. This demand on AR platform rifles has caused countless manufactures to jump on the AR bandwagon, offering a surfeit cavalcade of new and “improved” weapons, each attempting to put their own unique twist on the design. Whether or not they are gas impingement or piston driven, or what side of the argument you find yourself on, the AR platform is a firmly entrenched system in our culture.
Norman Vincent Peale once said “Problems are to the mind what exercise is to the muscles, they toughen and make strong”, and holding to this statement, often times there comes tools that are so well thought out that they reach near perfection in both concept and function. Recently, I had a package show up containing a freshly built rifle from Black Forge Armory, the first of their products I have ever had. I freely admit it, Initially I thought “Oh great another AR”, but shortly after uncrating it I realized that I was holding something different, something unique, something I was going to like greatly. The rifle was fully adorned with common, yet functional Magpul furniture and a lean and sleek Diamondhead VRS™ “T” 15.0″ Free-Floating Versa Base hand guard. The rifle is built on one of the beefy Black Forge BF15 receiver sets, and while they speced that it had a hard anodized finish, it is without doubt unlike any government issued weapon I have ever had in my hands, with a shade of black that is so deep and dark I swear I thought it was some form of aftermarket finish. Along with the Black Forge rifle came 1000 rounds of what is destine to be the next big thing in caliber development, .25-45 Sharps. That’s right Sharps! As in the legendary rifle designed by Christian Sharps in 1848, this company, based in Cody Wyoming, is pushing a strong comeback as a mainstream member of the firearms industry and has this new cartridge at the fore front of their efforts.
The .25-45 Sharps represents the positive attributes of the 5.56mm, but with increased accuracy and ballistic efficency. While the basic AR is hard to beat for the shear reliability of putting rounds down range, the world has griped and lamented over the virtues, or the vices of the 5.56mm. For some time development has focused on adapting an AR to larger more powerful calibers, but the increase in size and weight of the receiver, ammunition and accessories has created its own series of drawbacks. This is where rounds like the .25-45 Sharps step up to the plate, because the weapon remains the same, in weight and configuration, only requiring a barrel change to accept the .25-45 Sharps. The .25-45 is essentially an intermediate cartridge, sitting somewhere between the 5.56mm and the larger 7.62mm, while maintaining the use of standard AR receiver. The .25-45 Sharps was developed from the .257 Roberts, a legendary round that has been reputed as the best compromise between the low recoil of smaller calibers and flat trajectory and hard hitting power of larger calibers. The idea of the .25-45 Sharps is to maximize the performance of modern AR platform, with much greater muzzle velocity and a harder hitting projectile. The .25-45 Sharps is currently available in 65 and 87 grain bullets (our test rounds were 87 grain Speer Hot-Cor soft nose), and after pushing several through a chronograph its apparent the .25-45 Sharps is a real hot rod, with an average velocity of just a little over 3000 fps, but even with the heightened velocity the .25-45 Sharps produces outstanding down range performance, letting me keep groups at 1.25” or less out to 200 meters. The .25-45 Sharps can be loaded into standard AR magazines and the only real change to the weapon is a simple barrel swap.
The Black Forge
The rifle from Black Forge is heavy duty AR built on the foundation of a Black Forge BF 15 receiver set, it is a direct impingement system with a 16” heavy free floating barrel. Built deep within mil-spec standards, the rifle came chambered in .25-45 Sharps via an E.R. Shaw precision barrel and was fitted nicely with a Hogan Gold Standard trigger with a crisp 3.5 pound pull weight. The rifle was topped off with a Magpul MOE butt stock and a lean Diamondhead VRS™ “T” 15.0″ Free-Floating Versa Base hand guard. The fit and finish of the Black forge was outstanding, honestly for a world heavily inundated with every flavor of snap together leggo-like model AR it’s refreshing to find one that really rocks you back on your heels, while the Black Forge is an all business rifle built by a company known for building heavy duty military weapons, it is a stunningly gorgeous rifle, but beyond the aesthetics of the rifle the Black Forge had a very unique feature. The complete bolt carrier group (BCG) has a new and proprietary industrial coating from Black Forge. The new coating is a chemical bond of nickel, phosphate, and Teflon with a higher purported wear co-efficient than nickel boron, with higher self-lubricating properties. The folks at Black Forge call the finish NiPhos and this finish is so new that it hasn’t even been released yet by Black Forge so stand by for an official release announcement. During my test runs I ran hundreds of hot .25-45 Sharps and cleaned the BCG completely with roughly 4-5 drops of Seal1 and a rag, leaving a remarkable clean BCG.
On the range
My first time on the Black Forge or shooting the .25-45 Sharps was during a recent training event we did at the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Departments range in Las Vegas NV. This closed law enforcement training center is a neat and organized array of ranges and training sites, where everything from handgun training to explosive breaching is conducted, giving me plenty of opportunity to put this rifle and unique round through their paces.
I executed a variety of drills, all through a Leupold Mark 4 HAMR mounted on the Black Forge. The ammunition for this trial run was limited to the current production available from Sharps, an 87 grain Soft tip using the Speer Hot-Cor bullet. The first thing we did was set up a chronograph and put ten rounds of the supplied .25-45 Sharps through it, with an average velocity just a little over 3000 fps, I was impressed, further the Black Forge was shot from a bench during the use of the chronograph using a target at 100 meters as a point of aim and easily kept the .25-45 Sharps at tight 1” groups at that distance, in fact backing distances out to a full 200 meters my groups grew to nothing greater the 1.25”. Then the Black Forge was ran through a series of drills requiring rapid fire, multiple targets and rapid transitions from firing shoulder to firing shoulder. The rifles handling characteristics allowed for very fast double and triple taps on selected targets, especially at close quarters distances. The.25-45 Sharps had slightly more recoil then a 5.56mm, but substantially less than a 7.62mm. While there are no serious side by side comparisons of the .25-45 Sharps to other cartridges, it appears that this new round is well suited for relative long range use as it is for close quarters applications.
Sharps decision to launch the .25-45 represents an earnest attempt to fill a real world void of a round with better accuracy and stopping power over the 5.56mm and with the .25-45, particularly in the user friendly AR platform, law enforcement in the U.S. should be taking a closer look at it as a very capable patrol rifle and tactical carbine. This new caliber in conjunction with the accuracy and reliability of the Black Forge rifle provide a very dynamic combination. The Black Forge rifle has a “normal” AR look, but it disguises an upgraded device with outstanding handling characteristics and above average accuracy. This translates into a functional and marketable instrument for any law enforcement agency looking to equip personnel with an AR style rifle that is capable of many roles.
The combination of the.25-45 Sharps and the products produced by Black Forge, whether for close quarters, patrol or precision engagements, make for a first-rate choice. The .25-45 Sharps provides enhanced ballistic performance, allowing agencies to forego rifles chambered for 7.62mm. The combination is difficult to argue against in terms of shear utility for law enforcement, military personnel, or security minded civilians. Everyone should take an educated look at the .25-45 Sharps and the Black Forge rifle for their primary weapon due to power, accuracy and multi-roll capability. For more information on the .25-45 Sharps and Sharps Rifle Company call 877-256-4794 or visit www.broadswordgroup.com. For information on the products from Black Forge Weapons visit www.blackforgeweapons.com.