Modern Intermediate Calibers 007: The .25-45 Sharps

The .25-45 Sharps flanked by the 5.56mm M855 and Mk. 262 rounds.

The .25-45 Sharps flanked by the 5.56mm M855 and Mk. 262 rounds.

On the heels of the 7.62x40mm WT, we are now going to take a look at another former wildcat based on the 5.56mm case, the .25-45 Sharps, a round I’ve discussed before. This .25 caliber round existed for years as the .25-223, a niche quarterbore caliber used mostly for predator hunting and similar rounds like John Wooters’ .25-222 Copperhead and Wayne Blackwell’s .25×47 have existed since the 1960s. However, the .25-45 Sharps is the first time the .25 caliber bore and the .222 Remington case family (in this case, .223 Remington) have been united in a factory offering, and one of the first .25 caliber rounds to be marketed to law enforcement and the tactical world, in addition to hunters. That makes it a candidate for this series, so let’s take a look at some ballistics:

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Comparing the .25-45 Sharps to just the other light ball loads for the 6.8×43 SPC and 6.5×38 Grendel, it is actually the best performer, with the highest ballistic coefficient and velocity in between the other two. However, the .25-45 Sharps has no real provision for better-performing heavier ball loads, and compares much less favorably to the 5.56mm Mk. 262 round which has a higher ballistic coefficient. This makes it (from a ballistic perspective) a sort of unhappy medium between 5.56mm and larger and more common AR-platform rounds like the SPC or Grendel which can use heavier projectiles.

Weight-wise, though, the Sharps isn’t bad at all, coming in at 13.7 grams per shot for the 87gr Hot Cor load, less than any of the other rounds we’ve looked at so far, besides 5.56mm.

Note: All ballistic calculations are done with JBM’s Trajectory calculator, using the ballistic coefficient appropriate to the projectile being modeled, and assuming an AR-15 as a firing platform. Also, keep in mind that there is no single true velocity for a given round; velocity can vary due to a large number of factors, including ambient temperature and chamber dimensions. Instead, I try to use nominal velocity figures that are representative of the capability of the round in question.



Nathaniel F

Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. In addition to contributing to The Firearm Blog, he runs 196,800 Revolutions Per Minute, a blog devoted to modern small arms design and theory. He can be reached via email at nathaniel.f@staff.thefirearmblog.com.


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  • Giolli Joker

    We all know this is your favourite!

  • Kelly Jackson

    I’m just gonna say it, AR15 in .45-70

    • Anon

      .458 SOCOM? (Yes, I know that you mean the cool factor of having a gun that will fire .45-70 semi-automatically).

    • Jared Vynn

      You would have to enlarge the ejection port significantly which could compromise it’s structure. A dragunov or ak pattern shotgun could be done though.

      • ostiariusalpha

        Or you could just shoot it out of a .308-AR, because that’s the action length you would need for the round. No ejection port alterations necessary.

        • Anon

          If you have the option of .308, then what advantage does .45-70, or .458 SOCOM for that matter, provide?

          • Anon

            Oh, great, I forgot about subsonic ammo.

          • ostiariusalpha

            KNOCKDOWN POWER, BRO!! Just kidding. Yeah, the big bore projectiles suppress nicely. The .45-70 would have a super cool nostalgia factor in a wood furniture, bespoke AR.

          • Anon

            I’ve always thought ARs with wood furniture looked badass.

          • That is one classy darn firearm right there.

          • iksnilol

            Not really, a bigger bore means more gas escapes behind the bullet. so it doesn’t suppress as nicely. Though you do get way more weight for the bullet which helps with terminal effect though.

          • ostiariusalpha

            With a sensitive enough meter, you can indeed detect the decrease in efficiency of a suppressor on a big bore rifle. But with the human ear, you would be hard pressed to tell the difference between a 19.5g projectile going 300m/s, whether the caliber was 7.62mm or 12.7mm.

          • Porty1119

            Easier reloading and use of cast projectiles due to the straight-walled case and lower velocity.

          • Rap Scallion

            Have you ever hunted with either cartridge??????

          • Anon

            No, what’s your point? A .308 can still kill anything you’d encounter in North America, not that it makes either of them useless by any means (see subsonic ammo and reloading options).

          • Pastor Dan

            Kill anything but a rumor, you mean.

          • Anon

            Fudd lore never dies, sadly.

        • Jared Vynn

          With a single stack magazine and smaller loadings you could fit it in an ar15. The ejection port is the biggest issue as the rim could never fit, but if you made it a bottom ejection with side fed upper it could work.

          • ostiariusalpha

            Seems dubious. In order to fit in even a Precision Reflex mag, the bullet on the .45-70 would have to be seated so deeply as to be barely peaking out of the case.

          • iksnilol

            Barely peeking out of the case?

            We need to make an upsized nagant revolver to take advantage of this. 😀

      • CS

        50 Beowulf is supposed to mimic the ballistics of the 45-70 in an AR platform.

        • Jared Vynn

          The 50 Beowulf also needs an enlarged ejection port as the base is roughly .535 while the standard ar15 ejection port is .500 making ejection impossible.

          • JSmath

            And all the more reason why swapping uppers instead of barrels is a huge convenience factor for the platform.

          • Jared Vynn

            Very true, the only other issue would be the buffer and spring. An adjustable gas block on each upper tuned to a single spring buffer combination could work. Would need to be a heavier buffer though like an h2 as a balance.

          • DrewN

            Eh, I’ve had a ‘wulf forever and it’s not particularly buffer sensitive. I’ve swapped it onto plenty of friend’s lowers without issue. I will say .458 Socom seems to have won this segment though and I’d recommend that over Beowulf any day.

          • Sunshine_Shooter

            That’s a good idea. One buffer assembly, adjustable gas blocks on each upper for reliable operation. Smart.

          • iksnilol

            But the upper is like half the gun + the optics. Seems waay more expensive to me.

          • DrewN

            There are tons of rock solid repeatable QR mounts though. I switch my old MK4 back and forth between 10 or 12 guns and you’d be surprised how close it is between a 5.56 AR,a .308 AR, and a .260 700. And even on much different platforms with very different calibers it’s rarely out of the black and always on the paper.

          • JSmath

            It is half the gun. If you already have an AR, and want something that shoots a caliber like .458 SOCOM or .50 Beowolf, for whatever reason, it isn’t outside of reason to opt for just the upper and deal with swapping, instead of buying a whole other rifle.

          • iksnilol

            I’m just trying to say the lower is usually the cheaper half of the rifle.

            So might as well just get another lower and LPK.

      • Giolli Joker

        Uhm… Dragunov… the 7.62X54 R rim is only 0.04″ smaller than the one of 45-70… maybe the swap would not be particularly hard.

        • Paul Epstein

          I’ve seen Mosin-Nagants converted to .45/70 on youtube, so I think the bolt is probably not a huge issue. Bigger problem would be the gas system, at minimum you’d need a custom gas block and tuning it to work with more than a few of the loads available might be a serious challenge. Barrel, gas block, possibly other gas system parts, if you’re unlucky it might require a new front trunnion, and I’d guess a new recoil spring. Not a weekend project, but someone could probably do it.

        • iksnilol

          PKM… do that one instead 😉

  • MPWS

    Looks like real interesting shot. Just wish that values were in both units so I do not have to do conversions.

    • MPWS

      It seems to me that values for drop should be one order down; tens not hundreds of inches.

  • Joshua Knott

    The new Sharp’s bolt carrier groups are bar none, being a fan of the .25 sharps I just don’t see it taking off commercially as you pointed out with current mk262 rounds being available. Personally even with 7.62×39 being my go to, I think the benefits of 6.5 Grendel outweigh all other fore mentioned calibers.

    • DrewN

      Except reliable feeding. It’s not bad, but not great either.

      • ostiariusalpha

        Mine feeds fine, even with the stupid ASC mags. I had to buff the feed lips a bit, but that’s not the cartridge’s fault.

        • Stan Darsh

          Are ASC mags bad in general, or is it just when it comes to feeding 6.5?

          • ostiariusalpha

            In general, both their aluminum and steel body magazines are slightly inferior to what is offered by top end manufacturers. Their mags are not “the worst” or anything like that, but if you want a really good aluminum mag you’d be better off looking at what D&H has to offer or the Okay Industries’ SureFeed magazine; as for steel mags, the ones from E-Lander have a better coating and those from Precision Reflex have the most COL allowance of any AR-15 magazine.

      • iksnilol

        I’m thinking how much velocity would you lose by just necking down 7.62×39 to 6.5? I mean, the slight velocity loss would be worth it for the much more reliable feeding (due to tapered case).

        • DrewN

          There must be a reason they went the way they did, maybe COL or something.

          • iksnilol

            The straight case is just to feed better out of the straighter AR mags.

          • ostiariusalpha

            It did have more to do with case capacity and COL. The Grendel uses proprietary mags, so if the cases had more taper then they would have put more curve in the mag body like 7.62×39 AR-15 mags have.

          • LilWolfy

            Straighter case walls also reduce bolt thrust. Many Russians are asking why they didn’t go with a 6.5mm for their intermediate cartridge after seeing the 6.5 Grendel outclass the 7.62×39 by a factor of at least 3, with the same basic cartridge profile and bullet weight.

        • Sunshine_Shooter

          Isn’t the 6.5 Grendel case based on the x39? I think it is what you just described.

          • iksnilol

            Yeah, but it has a much straighter case and shoulder (think Ackley Improved).

  • Pedro .Persson

    Just for the sake of it, it would be nice to make an articicle on the .204 Ruger and the .20 PPC, specially with the 55gr bullet.

  • Rap Scallion

    Sounds a lot of reinventing of the wheel, or to give some legitementcy to all of the odd sized bullets stuffed into the 223 POS case! Come up with something new and DIFFERENT, or leave the 223 die a natural death!

    • Jared Vynn

      I don’t think .223 is in any danger of dying off.

      • Anon

        It really isn’t, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this guy is the type to carry a .45 ACP for “muh knockdown power” too.

    • Dr. Longfellow Buchenrad

      The reason for the .223 case is that everyone has tons of them so making brass isn’t a huge ordeal, and they fit in an ar15 which everyone also has. There are many superior cartridges of .308 length but you would most likely need to buy a new rifle platform which probably can’t be had for ar15 prices.

      Also I will have to second that .223 isn’t going anywhere.

      • Sunshine_Shooter

        Continue that thought, that only the better case designs should succeed, and eventually all we’d have left is .959 JDJ necked down to every caliber known to man. Which would be funny to see, but a nightmare to afford.

        Count me in the “pro-.223” column.

    • Anon

      Do tell, how is .223 dying? Are you making stuff up as you go?

    • Pictured: Dying a natural death:

      http://i.imgur.com/PabIJbm.jpg

  • Joel

    6.5 MPC!
    Just kidding. The Mk 262 or the Razor Core 69 grain are great all around performers.

  • Dr. Longfellow Buchenrad

    The largest appeal I see for the .25-45 is for those who want to hunt with an AR in states that have a .25 cal minimum. That being said I wouldn’t mind doing a dmr build with it, but only after my 5.56 carbine and .300blk sbr/pistol were worked out.

    • Sunshine_Shooter

      Exactly.

    • jcitizen

      Anything close to 6 mm is superior in my book, but then I’ve been a Colonel Hatcher fan for my whole life.

  • Goosey

    You are using 2,885 fps here, however, it’s worth noting the same guy who clocked those speeds has later reported 2,960 fps and ” just shy of 3000fps” with “new 20″ barrel and ammo combination”, which is close to the speed SRC has claimed (2,970 from 20″ bbl).

    • I am using 2,885 ft/s because that is both a cited figure and it is close to what I consider a reasonable velocity figure for that round.

      I haven’t been able to find the “2,970 ft/s” figure from the same fellow, but it doesn’t really matter anyway as a figure like that makes no sense to use for the .25-45, regardless of whether someone did or did not happen to record it with a chronograph once. Is it possible? Maybe. Is it normal? Absolutely not, regardless of what Sharps Rifle Company claims.

      I go into more detail on this subject in the comments here: http://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/2016/06/26/25-45-sharps-worst-new-ar-round/

  • Gary Kirk

    Love the fanboys that come out with every one of these posts.. “My caliber is the best”.. I just enjoy the information, thanks for the work you’re putting in..

    • Giolli Joker

      .338 Spectre is clearly the best and I demand an article on it!
      And on the 7.62×37mm Musang as well!
      🙂

      • iksnilol

        … Musang looks like a gosh darn it to heck handy cartridge for its role.

        • Giolli Joker

          A home-grown Pilipino .300 BLK.
          It will likely have more usage than the 7.62x40WT, though.

          Regarding the .338 Spectre, if I could, that would be my choice for a suppressed toy… 300grs VLD just below supersonic speed sounds nice.

      • Cymond

        500 Phantom!

  • Jeff Brown

    I friend of mine runs this round on a AR platform here in NZ and finds it very efficient on game with suitable bullets. Modern powders have really upped the ante on small capacity cases.

    • jcitizen

      Powders is the whole thing I’ve been arguing for years, but I got to admit, the early two part ignition powers were for early cartridges I’ve forgotten the nomenclature for. They were larger capacity cases, with sharp shoulders and shortened quite a bit into an intermediate category closer to short .308 case capacity – just commenting from the past – nothing knowledgeable here – just move along.

  • I’m surprised the Sharps has been covered, but not the 5.45×39.

    • ostiariusalpha

      I’m pretty sure he’s going to get to them, best for last and all that.

      • Jared Vynn

        Best at copying others? I kid, I kid.

        Probably wrote the calibers onto a slip of paper and pulled them out if a hat to decide the order.

        • My list was originally just the seven I have done so far. I chose them based on how different they are from each other, how representative they are of modern intermediate calibers in general, and whether I had specimens to photograph.

          5.45×39 didn’t make that first list because it is so similar to 5.56. However, I’ve decided to cover several more calibers, including 5.45.

  • Don Ward

    So the .25 Sharps is the ballistic equivalent of Barack Obama tossing a baseball?

  • Stan Darsh

    They must have found a remaining lebensborn kids to forge Teutonic space magic into the ammo since 2014. When Sharps debuted the round 2 years ago, they were claiming ballistics of 87gr @ 3000 fps and 1700 ft-lbs from the 24″ bbl, not the 20″ bbl. Compare that to 6.8spc 90 gr from a 20″ bbl @ 2984 fps and more than 1700 ft-lbs.

  • iksnilol

    It came from hell… the name terminology of it.

  • Wes Bielinski

    What happened to Modern Intermediate Calibers 006?

  • jcitizen

    I’ve always wondered if an intermediate 260 Ruger wouldn’t be in order now-a-days.

    • Sunshine_Shooter

      What is .260 Ruger?

  • Cmex

    Huh, I see more of what you were saying about this round before — it’d be nice if you could use heavier loads for it. I still wonder where it gets all the extra performance, but that is why there are Chronographs to see if somebody is pulling our legs. Good writeup. I’m very much enjoying this intermediate cartridge series, as much as I love to gripe about you and your ideas and conclusions. 🙂