Sunday, August 23, 2009

Good stuff -- Kiergarten Armoury model 1874 Sharps rifle

I love getting a new toy, especially when it turns out that the item is as decidedly nice as this one. So many things in SL prove to be a real disappointment. To be honest, a lot of what is made in-world outright sucks. It's fun to get to review something like this that most definitely Does Not Suck.

It's my latest acquisition -- a model 1874 Sharps rifle, in caliber .50-90 (the "Big 50" favored by buffalo hunters), made by Kiergarten Armoury in New Babbage.

Kiergarten Armoury products are the work of Mr. Jasper Kiergarten. The vendor identifies this particular item as the "1874 Sharps Creedmore Rifle."

The use of the term "Creedmore" refers to the style of vernier tang sight that this weapon has mounted on the wrist of the stock, as well as being a reference to the fact that historically, the model 74 Sharps was used both as a hunting weapon and as a target competition piece at places such as the famous Creedmore range on Long Island.

Anyhow, back to the review: I gotta tell ya, this example of Mr. Kiergarten's work goes way beyond the "Does Not Suck" category, and is well into the realm of what is generally known as:


You know, most attempts at recreated historic firearms in SL range from fucking dreadful mutant travesties, to the occasional act of brilliance. There are not too many of the brilliant gun makers who really care about authenticity and detail, though Lock Mortlock and Caed Aldwych leap to mind. Well kids, I now have another gunmaker to look up to with starry-eyed admiration: Jasper Kiergarten.

Even the better gunmakers have things they struggle with. The shapes of pistol grips and rifle butt-stocks seem to frustrate many: they may get close but they are not quite on the money. Others struggle with shaping hammers and lock plates correctly. Well, holy shit on whole wheat toast, I want you to look closely at the action on this Sharps that Mr. Kiergarten has made. This is in the realm of museum quality 3-D modeling.

The shapes are correct. The proportions are correct. It's a fucking work of art.

And it shoots well. Nice flat trajectory--the sumbitch hits what you point it at, and does so over decent distances. I was shooting deer targets in the hills above Deadwood and was taking them down at 70 meters, which ain't bad for SL shooting. But the real joy of this piece is the look of it. The detail is super: octagonal barrel, tang rear sight, and double set triggers. At the same time, I will confess there are a few details I wish were different. One is that the trigger guard/loading lever on this version is brass, and I'm just not sure about that -- it seems most of the rl Sharps rifles I have seen have a steel lever. Also the color of the metal parts is a dull grey...I would kind of like it if they were blued (or on some parts, colored to represent case hardening) like the originals. But then I also realize that doing so would probably hide some of the detail and outlines of component parts.

The poses and anims with the piece are basic, but appropriate. Like many SL firearms, this weapon comes with two guns in the set: the one you attach to your hand and which is used in holding/firing mode; and a "slung" version. Something that I really like about the Kiergarten Sharps is that the latter version of the piece is attached so that it looks like it is actually slung over your shoulder -- not stuck in one of these goofy-ass-looking back scabbards that so many SL gun makers give you with their rifles.

For a woman sharpshooter, some serious adjusting is necessary to get it to look as right as possible when you are holding it and firing the piece. But Mr. Kiergarten states in his vendor information that he is well aware that there is an issue there, and that he is considering a version adjusted for female avies. So updates may be expected, and in fact, the rifle comes with an updater gizmo that will enable the buyer to get improvments as they are introduced, or fixes for when LL does another goddam dumbass update to the software that will inevitably break things like gun scripts.

There is one other thing about the weapon that I hope Mr. Kiergarten will change at some point: it would be nice if he were to offer a version with the Deadwood combat bullet in it. The version sold now has a bullet that works fine for target shooting (which is all I am likely to use it for) but will not interact with the Deadwood combat system. Mind you, I'm happy as a pig in poop with the gun the way it is, but I know there are people out there who would like to have a good-looking firearm like this that is set up for their particular rp community's mutual killing fun.

Jasper also makes two models of Martini-Henrys and a whole slew of revolvers. I gather he is also in the business of making artillery and other implements of extreme diplomacy, which I shall have to check out.


  1. Wow, some seriously nice work there. From my experience, serious craftsmen in SL love to work with passionate and inteligent consumers so I'm guessing he'll love your honest feedback.

    Now just don't go shooting some poor bystander in the ass, missy ;-)

  2. *grins in a quietly evil way and places some Purina Antelope kibble on the ground in the clearing, then hides in the nearby bushes at about, oh, 70 yards*

  3. Just went to check out the store Dio, fantastic! if he would add Deadwood bullets it would be super.
    Have set my heart on the pearl handled M&H .44 purely for personal protection of course.

  4. Ha! You'll never catch me out like tha.... ooo! kibble!

  5. Hey Billy,
    yeah I didn't even really get into looking at the handguns being as I was so smitten with the Sharps, but just quickly glancing at them, they looked really good...

    I bet if enough people asked politely, he'd consider the possibility of putting out a DW version of any of the pistols that would be historically correct for the 1876-79 period

  6. Hello! I followed a link here from HBA's blog. I'm sure you won't remember me but we did actually meet once in Deadwood, oh, must be a year ago now. Lovely review!

  7. Hey Bamika,

    yes, actually I do recall you coming by. It's a pretty unique handle you've got. Thanks for coming over to look. I'm glad you liked the review. Did I see something somewhere to the effect that you do some joint work with Jasper?

  8. No, no, the only firearms maker I was ever involved with was my Aunt Laura Flintlock who made a punt gun for cleaning chimneys. I can't recommend it to you, however, as they're still looking for some of the bricks from my mother's chimney.