Review: The .25-45 Sharps: Cui Bono?

 

 

Variety is the spice of life.  In the firearm industry, there is a hell of a lot of variety when it comes to cartridge selection, particularly out of the nowadays ubiquitous AR15 platform.  One of the newer cartridge choices for medium game hunting out of the AR15 is the .25-45 Sharps. For in-depth analysis on the .25-45 Sharps cartridge, including the the providence of it’s rather unconventional nomenclature, Nathaniel F. has written two articles on the subject that can be found found here and here.  Sharps Rifle Company was nice enough to send us one of their uppers chambered in this caliber for testing, along with some of their 87gr loads with Speer Hot-Cor SP bullets.

Initial Impressions

The upper came with a nice list of features.  The build included Sharp’s Relia-Bolt, (a great product in its own right), combined with SRC’s Balanced Bolt Carrier and Diamondhead handguards.  The barrel was a stainless steel 20″ with a matte black oxide finish.  Twist rate was 1:10  and the muzzle was threaded 5/8″x24.  I attached the upper to a LaRue OBR lower, and the fit was absolutely tight with no rattle or movement.

Very tight fit between upper and lower

Very tight fit between upper and lower

NP3 coated Relia-Bolt, nice touch of the caliber-marked dust cover

NP3 coated Relia-Bolt, nice touch of the caliber-marked dust cover

P9232666

Range Time

P9232673

This happened a lot

I was determined to find out the velocity of the round so I could answer Nathaniel F.’s previous questions regarding how it could be as fast as it was claimed to be.  Testing velocities at 3,000ft above sea level with doppler radar, the cartridge was averaging 2952 ft/s with the 87 grain Speer Hot-Cor load.  This is very close to their stated velocity out of 20″ and 24″ barrels.  I have seen an interview with a SRC employee who states that they get a full burn in a 20″ barrel.  Over 10 rounds, the extreme spread was 36 ft/s with a standard deviation of 13.2 ft/s.  Not a bad spread for a factory load.  Moving on to the accuracy and reliability portion of the test, things did not go so well.  Shot seated off a front and rear rest, the rifle printed 5-shot groups in the 1.5-2 MOA range at 100 yards.  Other testers have experienced the same accuracy issues with this same specific load.  I also experienced 6 failure to feed malfunctions out of 100 rounds fired.  The malfunctions occurred with Pmags, GI mags, and HK mags.  It should be noted that Sharps Rifle Company does offer 3 other loads:  100gr “Swine Smasher”, 87gr FMJ, and 70gr Blitzking.  Unfortunately,  I did not have any of these rounds on hand for testing.

again?

again?

Examining the rounds themselves, I discovered that the tips of the soft point ammunition were badly scarred.  The rounds themselves were not feeding or chambering properly, something I have experienced many times before in AR-style rifles using soft-point ammunition.  The scarring of the bullets most probably led to the accuracy issues downrange as well.  I only wish that companies that select soft point bullets as one of their primary loads spend more time optimizing feed ramps to work better with them.  I also tested the upper with a Gemtech Sandstorm suppressor.  The .257 caliber rounds suppressed pretty well with the .30-caliber suppressor.  If one already owns a .30-cal can, no need to go buy or make a can specifically for this round.

Scarring had a definite effect on accuracy

Scarring had a definite effect on accuracy

P9232672

With a Sandstorm Suppressor attached

With a Sandstorm Suppressor attached

Overall Impression:

The .25-45 Sharps does have utility in that it is legal for hunting use in 48 states, and does provide reasonable performance for medium-size game at short to medium ranges.  That being true, I can’t help but think of the questions already asked of it.  What does it do better than other cartridges that fit within the AR15 platform?

Besides seeing that the the stated velocities come somewhat close to their factory numbers, I have seen nothing new to suggest that this is the be-all, end-all round for hunting at range out of the AR15 platform.  120 and 123gr 6.5 Grendel loads surpass the Sharps 87gr load right out of the muzzle in ft-lbs of energy, and at 400 yards in velocity.  This is without factoring in that I’ve been able to get consistent .5 MOA groups out of my 6.5 Grendel, and haven’t encountered the same issues with SP ammo in that caliber. Sure, the stated goals of the cartridge are met handily.  The .25-45 Sharps does indeed provide acceptable medium sized game performance with a cartridge that “Makes any MSR legal for big game hunting in all states where centerfire rifle hunting is permitted”.  (Edit: it has since been pointed out that this may not fit the requirements of Indiana or Ohio) While the .25-45 Sharps has utility, it’s not the best solution for the purpose it seeks to take on.  P9232655

Pros:

  • Suppresses well
  • Reasonable cost per round ($1.25 avg)
  • Outperforms most .223 rounds at short range
  • Uses standard AR15 magazines
  • Good fit and finish

Cons:

  • Not terribly accurate
  • Numerous Failure to Chamber malfunctions
  • Outmatched by other AR15 compatible loads such as 6.5 Grendel
  • Small selection of loads
  • Velocity drops off at a significant rate after 300 yards

MSRP as tested: $720.00



Rusty S.

Having always had a passion for firearms, Rusty S. has had experience in gunsmithing, firearms retail, hunting, competitive shooting, range construction, as an IDPA certified range safety officer and a certified instructor. He has received military, law enforcement, and private training in the use of firearms. He is fortunate enough to have access to class 3 weaponry as well.


Advertisement

  • Anonymoose

    50 state legal? EXCUSE ME, but Ohio does not allow you to shoot deer with anything but .357+ PCCs (along with .38-55, .45-70, and .50-110), shotgun slugs, .357+ handguns, bows, and muzzleloaders, Indiana has an approved caliber list that starts at .30″, and Pennsylvania does not allow you to shoot deer with any kind of semi-auto rifle. The whole point of .25-45 was to skirt Tennessee laws which have since been changed, so the cartridge is basically pointless now. There are a few states which still don’t allow calibers under .243 for deer, but they will see the light eventually, and in the meantime we have the much more versatile .300 Blackout.

    • Rusty S.

      All good points! Forgot about those straight-wall cartridge states. on Indiana, I believe these are now allowed:
      6mm-06
      6mm BR Remington
      6mm PPC
      6mm Remington
      .240 Weatherby
      .243 Winchester
      .243 Winchester Super Short Magnum

      • InfidelCrusader

        I live in Indiana. Any round legal for hunting must be at least .357 in diameter. I don’t believe that any of the rounds you have listed are legal for hunting here. The only exceptions are for hunting feral hogs and coyotes, both for which there are no caliber restrictions. You can hunt hogs with .22lr and coyotes with a .45-70 if you were of a mind to do so.

        • Rusty S.

          Those calibers were listed as approved for deer as of April 2016 by Indiana DNR. Did they reverse their own decision? I’m curious to know.

          • InfidelCrusader

            I’m not sure. I’ll look into it and get back to you.

          • InfidelCrusader

            This is from the 2016/17 INDNR hunting guide:
            “New Legal Rifles
            A new state law allows rifle cartridges that meet the following requirements to be used for deer hunting only on private land during the firearms, youth, reduction zone (in zones where local ordinances allow the use of a firearm), seasons:
            The rifle must have a barrel length of at least 16 inches
            The cartridge must have a case length of at least 1.16 inches.
            The cartridge must fire a bullet with a diameter that is .243 inches (same as 6mm) or .308 inches (same as 7.62 mm).
            Bullets with a diameter smaller than .243 inches (same as 6mm), larger than .308 inches (same as 7.62 mm) or in between .243 and .308 are not legal.
            A hunter may not possess more than 10 cartridges for each of these rifles while hunting deer.
            Full metal jacketed bullets are illegal.
            So under certain conditions (on private land) those calibers would be legal. If you hunt on public land as I do the .357 rule still holds.

          • marathag

            So no SKS with 312 bullets?

          • InfidelCrusader

            I suppose that if you’re using soft-points the rangers are not carrying around micrometers and writing citations for being a few thousandths of an inch over the limit.

    • Ebby123

      So much this. New things are cool, and being different is cool, but
      1 – Serving a purpose while being different and new is even cooler.
      2 – New Cool that’s less reliable than Old Cool is not cool at all.

    • Evan

      They just passed a law in PA allowing for semiauto hunting. Not in time for this year, but next year it’ll be legal.

      • Anonymoose
        • Evan

          Eh, I’m starting law school next fall and may not even be in PA by then. If they’d have passed that law a couple years ago I’d be happier.

      • Raginzerker

        This is not for deer I believe though

        • Evan

          My understanding is that they haven’t determined what game it will be legal for yet. There’s no hogs, elk, moose, or anything else worth hunting with a rifle in PA, so I assume it will be for deer, unless they decide to be gay about it and only allow semiauto for small game.

          • Raginzerker

            We do have hogs and elk, just in certain parts of the state, it’s be a huge contriversy, even a lot of hunters want the ban to stay

          • Evan

            We have a single herd of elk somewhere in Western PA, but you’re not allowed to hunt them. And where are there hogs? I’ve never heard of hogs in PA at all. Also, I’ve never heard anyone say anything in favor of a ban on hunting with semiautos. It’s just a stupid restrictive law with no point. And I hunt with a bolt gun in states that allow semiauto hunting.

          • Raginzerker

            There’s small groups of feral hogs in southern PA, I know quite a lot of people who are against, they think people will start blasting off rounds like they’re at war, personally I have no problem with auto guns.

    • FightFireJay

      Washington is one of the states that requires larger than .223/5.56 for big game hunting. Given our current make up of politicians in office, I don’t think that will be changing anytime soon.

      • Devil_Doc

        Bullet diameter of .24 or greater. It’s why I got started with 6.8.

    • Lou

      The author wrote “hunting” NOT “deer hunting” as being legal in 48 states. He also stated that it was for medium sized game, deer are considered large game. This caliber is fine in Ohio for any other game besides deer or game birds and there is no restriction if you want to hunt other small or medium sized game in Ohio with an MSR even a 30rd mag or larger is OK. Our rifle straight walled case list is more extensive and includes .38 Special if used in a rifle.

      • FightFireJay

        And what definition of “medium game” is applicable to 48 states?

        Clearly the author has made a faux pas on his nomenclature, but I think we can all agree that he meant “large game”, specifically deer sized creatures.

  • JustAHologram

    I always thought that this was a bit of a gimmick round, it really does nothing that better than already existing rounds do just as well or better

    • Amplified Heat

      6.5 SDT (Same Damn Thing). I swear, there’s like ten of these 6-7mm intermediate rounds that are practically identical at this point.

      The one saving grace for SPC & Grendel both existing is that even though their performance totally overlaps, their marketing choices have essentially forced them into separate niches (suppressed SBRs are the raison d’etre for SPC carbines, long range precision that hits harder than most intermediate cartridges for Grendel rifles) that they are ever so slightly more adapted to.

  • schizuki

    $720 MSRP? Are you sure that isn’t $1,720?

    • Rusty S.

      Yes, that’s the price of the upper reciever they sent me as configured.

      • schizuki

        My bad, I misread the article.

  • pithy

    The gimmicky name alone makes my eyes roll so far back into my head that I can count the hairs on my neck.

  • iksnilol

    Just its naming convention sentences it to death for me.

    • G

      I think it fascinating that people write “.25-45” when it clearly says “25-45” on the barrel and ejection port cover.

      25-45 Sharps is the model name of the cartridge. Just like 307 Winchester, 7mm-08 Remington, 250-3000 Savage, 22-250 Remington, 221 Remington Fireball, 222 Remington Magnum, 224 Weatherby Magnum, 30-06 Springfield, 6.5-284 Norma, 338-06 A-Square, 35 Whelen, 356 Winchester, 358 Norma Magnum, 308 Winchester, 300 Norma Magnum, 376 Steyr, 378 Weatherby Magnum, 375 Ruger, 244 Remington, 6mm Remington, 240 Weatherby Magnum, 243 Winchester, 25-06 Remington, 6.5-06 A-Square and so on.

      None of the cartridges that have been standardized by CIP or SAAMI have names that begin with a decimal sign. That’s because the number in front is a model number and not a measurement.

      • iksnilol

        I think the number in front on 7mm-08 is a measurement. 😛

        But yeah, do tell me what the model number stands for then ?

        • Giolli Joker

          Same for 6.5-284 Norma, 6mm Rem, 6.5-06 A-Square…

          • G

            The bullet diameter of most, but not all, “6.5mm” cartridges is .264″ or 6.7mm. The bullet diameter of “6mm” cartridges is .243″ or 6.17mm

          • Giolli Joker

            Of course all of those, mm or inches, are nominal diameters, not actual; nevertheless they are indication of diameters.

        • G

          The bullet diameter of “7mm” cartridges like 7mm-08 is .284″ or 7.21mm.

          • iksnilol

            And 7.21 mm shortened is…. 7mm.

            Also, you discount the bore diameter from land to land. Which might be 7mm and the 0.21mm fills the grooves.

          • G

            Then I would like to point out that European and American 7mm cartridges have been standardized with different barrel dimensions.

            Don’t try to make sense of cartridge names.

          • iksnilol

            Eh, it does make sense if you aren’t being pedantic about it.

          • G

            Every single name makes sense by itself. The problems starts when you try to apply the logic of one name to another. That might actually be dangerous.

            Can I use the bullets that I used for my old 256 Newton in my 256 Winchester Magnum as well?

            Can I load my 8x57I rifle with ammunition for 8x57IS?

            I just bought a double rifle in 9.3x62R. Can I load it with the same bullets as my 9.3×62 Tikka T3?

            And so on.

          • iksnilol

            You can actually load the same bullets if handloading 9.3. Tho a rimmed 9.3×62 doesn’t exist, a 74mmR does exist tho.

            and 8×57 and 8x57IS are literally the same thing, IS stands for “Infanterie Spitzer” which means infantry spitzer (bullet). Only thing to be careful about is the pressures of old vs new ammo and rifles.

            Only one of your examples is valid, and that is 256 newton and 256 winmag which has a 0.5mm difference in bullet diameter. So 1/3, that’s bad arguing from your side, buddy 🙂

  • TechnoTriticale

    Were all of the malfunctions with soft-points?

    I have seen similar issues with 55gr Rem .223 SPs in an old Colt AR15 SP1 that would feed FMJs and OTMs with no complaint. That sort of suggests that it’s the round, and not the rifle, but in the case of the old ‘AR, the owner gave all the remaining SPs to a 3-gun relative, whose race gun ate the SPs with no issues.

    • Rusty S.

      Yes, SPs were the only rounds they gave me

      • TechnoTriticale

        Roger that. Thanks.

        The 25-45 appears to be a cheap-fix (barrel swap only) workaround for some state hunting laws that may have since changed (such as Kansas, which used to have a .24 cal lower limit, but no longer does).

        The two prior linked threads seem to have exhaustively explored the value proposition on this ctg, including participation by someone claiming to work at Sharps.

  • ShootingFromTheHip

    I believe you meant “provenance” not “providence” in your nut graph.

    • Rusty S.

      Ah, foisted by my own autocorrect, it seems. Thanks for the catch.

  • Goosey

    SRC advertises 2,970 ft/s from a 20″ barrel, IIRC. Here it clocked quite close.

    On what do you base the expected velocity change, from 2,952 ft/s to the estimated 2,838 ft/s, when going down from 3000 ft to sea level?

    • Rusty S.

      That was an error. I was calculating for loss of retained velocity due to barometric pressure, as the LabRadar calculates velocities based on 6 downrange readings. After discussing the matter further with Nathaniel F., he advised me that it would not make a difference at the ranges that I got the Doppler readings from. I will issue a correction when I get back to my computer. Live and learn.

      • Goosey

        It’s interesting, because in his article Nathaniel F. voiced serious doubts about SRC’s performance claims for the 25-45 round, pointing to inconsistencies in various reviews and SAAMI’s velocity and pressure data which showed only 2,850 ft/s from a 24″ barrel. I pointed out various chrono tests showing higher figures from 20″ barrels in the comments, and he raised the same suspicions there (quote: “The SAAMI and AR15Hunter data indicate that SRC and BSG are lying about their numbers, or the numbers don’t come from real factory ammo.”) Would be interesting to see what pressures these factory rounds run at.

  • Gary Kirk

    In best Australian accent.. “At’s not a Sharps, this is a Sharps”..

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/e53ab22941753bae54b2198abc6325cd8b6bf36e0fe4bd434be203b0662b3ca7.jpg

    Actually, it’s a Pedersoli..

    • Marcus D.

      I’d take this in .45-70 over the new Sharps cartridge.

      • Gary Kirk

        I want one in 45-110

      • marathag

        To be more accurate to the name, 25-45 should be loaded with Black Powder.

        • Michael Powers

          Not sure why it should be loaded at all….

          • Twilight sparkle

            I swear I heard a snare drum and a symbol when I read this comment

          • Michael Powers

            Another round that does nothing special compared to what is available….sorry twilight, serious as a heart attack.

          • Twilight sparkle

            No I agree with you, I just thought that comment was funny because it’s true

          • Michael Powers

            Ah the bad part of blog’s. ..can’t always hear the tone of voice

  • George

    I am using a Sharps 20″ barrel on an AR-15 platform (with an A2 buffer assembly). In October, I came in third in a informal club competition scored at 100, 200 and 300 yds. After the competition I placed a lemon at
    300 yds. and hit it with three consecutive shots. First it was standing
    on one end on a railroad tie. After the first shot it jumped about 6
    inches and fell laying on the tie so I could only see half a lemon. I
    again hit it and same thing. The third time i hit it and it rolled off
    the tie and out of sight. I had lost half of the lemon at some point. That lemon shooting is on video. I routinely shoot 3 or 5 shot groups under 0.5 MOA with my reloads and either Speer HotCor or TNT in 87 grain over H322 (the TNT is seated out to 0.025″ short of the rifling), and at targets at 300 yds. I foul my barrel and try to keep the fouling at a level that gives me consistency in accuracy over a couple hundred shots. Another other point, I have so far used up a box of 750 pieces of 87 grain TNT and five boxes of 100 pieces of 87 grain HotCor and just received my second supply of the same. I have never had a failure with a developed load. My scope is an SWFA SS 10×42 with side parallax. One other interesting point, a week ago I was conducting a ladder test on my new batch of powder and bullets with 23.6 to 26 grains of H322 powder (nine shots each at 0.3 grain steps) of the Speer 87 grain HotCor. I did two sets and thought I should run the sets by OnTarget for a spread analysis because I noticed that the grouping was rather small. One was 1.632 MOA and the other 1.343 MOA shooting down at the 300 yards range.

    • Lou

      Awesome info! Your post is a great case for a second opinion! Great shooting !

      • George

        See cost of reloading added tonight to my post ($0.32). Thanks for your comments. To take a rifle and load up at the range and to expect accuracy out of one or two boxes of ammo isn’t a fair test. Of course, other things like a scope that may be suffering from unstable setting, the way the rifle is held while shooting, etc. can contribute to inaccuracy. I have learned a lot over the last three years about holding pressures on a rifle, anticipating recoil, paying attention to the way it is supported, etc. If I was going to write a report on the performance of a firearm, I would put all that knowledge into play and keep “me” out of the equation as much as possible.

  • gunsandrockets

    Okay, that surprised me. I really didn’t think they could squeeze that much power out of that cartridge in that short a barrel.

  • Julio

    Thanks for the review. I can see that damaged tips on SP bullets would be expected to impair accuracy, but I’m surprised you didn’t try single loading rounds directly into the chamber and shooting at least a couple of groups with undamaged bullets. Did you notice the deformation too late in your ammo supply for this to be possible?

  • M1911

    The answer to a question that I’ve never asked.

  • David169

    This was all done before in the 1970s. There were three cartridge cases used the 222 Remington, the 223 and the 222 Remington Magnum. The 222 Remington and the 223 could be had in 6mm and 25 caliber. The 222 Remington Magnum was used with 6mm, 25 caliber and 6.5mm. I had a good friend who had a 25 Copperhead which was based on the 222 Remington case. He used this in an ultra light Sako as a survival rifle.

  • Dan Michlig

    Just a simple barrel swap and my home defense gun is legal for deer here in Washington State.Sizer die was cheap and all the 223 and 5.56 brass is left in piles of 30 everywhere. If you don’t like it don’t buy it. If it suits your purpose then go for it.