It took me a while to get to this Evil Roy model from Cimarron Arms because I didn’t have any cowboy ammo for it. Fiocchi has introduced a new line of all cowboy ammo in most cowboy calibers, and they also have a wadcutter round pefect for clanging or dropping steel plates at short distances. You can shoot jacketed or semi-jacketed rounds at most cowboy clubs, but some require lead, and in the spirit of the sport, lead bullets are true to the cowboy period, where all bullets were lead and lead alloys.
The Evil Roy is made in Italy by Uberti and carries many of the standard Colt markings from 1873 when the gun was introduced. This is a “slicked up” model, custom fitted to SASS World Champion Evil Roy.
The 5 1/2″ version of the old cowboy Colt is considered to be the most well balanced by competitors, and it clears the holster much faster than a 7 1/2″ gun.
Side by side with an open top conversion replica from Cimarron/Uberti. History buffs like the long guns because that was the standard Army issue, but the civilian “Peacemaker” guns came in many sizes, 5 1/2″ being one of them.
You can get holster rigs as cheap as $69 online that work fine and are legal for SASS, but many people spend several hundred on a nice double rig, either historical, with belt level holsters, or movie rigs with drop holsters that are equally welcome in competition. All that matters is that it looks like some sort of cowboy holster. The choice is up to you how elaborate or simple you want to go.
The low velocity .38 Special wadcutter loads from Fiocchi worked the best in the Evil Roy, shooting into under 2″ at 10 yards. Very few SASS targets are ever further away than this.
The Evil Roy utilizes a fixed firing pin, much like the original Colts. Decades of experience has shown that Colts with a fixed firing pin will fire when dropped on their hammers if the hammer is carried down on a loaded chamber. This has led to guns like the Ruger Vaquero that use a transfer bar to hit the firing pin. In Cowboy Action you never leave the hammer down on a loaded cylinder, and the guns are always pointed downrange, so this is not a concern. The transfer bars, while safer, tend to break after thousands of rounds.
This was the average group shot from my Hyskore Parallax Pistol Rest with both the .357 Magnum and .38 Special Fiocchi cowboy loads at 10 yards. Note that these Colt copies don’t have adjustable sights, so if you want it to shoot to other than point of aim out of the box you have to bring it to a gunsmith or send it back to Cimarron for work. Most poeple generally develop a sight picture based on their sights the way they are, and this gun shot a couple inches low, and slightly to the left as the center of the group. This is actually pretty good for a Colt or Colt copy. Many of them shoot 2 feet high, especially the cap & ball guns.
Click the picture to make it bigger and you will see the hole in the powder disks of this new powder from IMR called Trail Boss. It is on the shelves at Bass Pro, and it really takes a lot of the powder position sensitivity out of low powdered loads. It is also nearly impossible to double charge a case, but if you are using a progressive press note that the powder measure empties quicker than you are used to and it is easy to pump out some empty shells if you are not mindful of it.
Even with a single stage press, reloading for Cowboy Action Shooting is worth the time. If you got to a weekend match with side matches and the main match stages you can burn over 500 rounds in your revolver/rifle ammo.
Wadcutters are a strange bullet. They are big and long like regular bullets but you push them all the way into the case and crimp over them.
Your carbide .38/.357 dies probably came with two seater plugs, one for round nose bullets and one for wadcutters. .38 cal wadcutters have been popular in shooting sports for decades.
Three different shell and bullet combinations all shoot well in the Evil Roy, and any other .357 Mag. revolver.
Hornady .38 caliber wadcutters loaded into .357 Mag. cases and .38 Special cases with the same 2.2 grains of Trail Boss produced roughly the same velocity as the Fiocchi wadcutter loads.
Be patient with figuring out the right setting for your seater/crimp die using lead bullets. You will most likely get some shaves at first, but if you bell the case mouth a lot it makes it much easier, though this may decrease brass life down the road. One of these days we’ll do an article on annealing cases, but until then just Google it.
We are often so focused on the black guns these days that sometimes you miss what is going on in other parts of the shooting and hunting world. A lot of it is deeper and a more enjoyable than all of the tactical stuff combined.
Cimmaron Firearms specializes in cowboy era firearms, from the percussion age of the 1830s through the cartridge guns from Colt, Winchester, Smith & Wesson, Marlin, Sharps, and others to the turn of the 20th Century. The dawn of the repeating firearm is not only a lot of fun historically, you can actually live it and breath it through a very popular shooting organization called the Single Action Shooting Society, or SASS. Cowboy Action Shooting is a lot of fun, and if you are of the competitive bent, at the regional and national level the competition is fierce.
This “Evil Roy” model of the 1873 single action Colt Peacemaker is engineered to meet the needs of the discriminating SASS competitor. More than 90% of the people who shoot Cowboy Action are not competitive and have no interest in winning anything, but we all like to shoot good. And for that small percentage of serious competitors, they are really serious and like to shoot perfect, not just well, and win the prized trophy SASS belt buckles. All of the SASS shooting is on metal plates, not paper, and the plates are set as close to the shooter as is safe for splatter. This makes Cowboy Action really easy to shoot well, so the competition really boils down to speed. Hit the metal plates, every time, as fast as you can.
In SASS, everyone goes by an “alias.” I won’t tell you what mine is, but “Evil Roy” is the alias of a world champion SASS shooter named Gene Pearcey. He has gone on from the sport to set up his own shooting school and release his own approved brand of firearms and Cowboy Shooting accessories. For someone who wants to get into the sport and buy the right gear the first time, you can’t go wrong with the Evil Roy guns, and they aren’t that much more expensive than an off the shelf replica Colt with no branding. The Evil Roy is a Model “P” from Cimarron if you would prefer to have the extra work done yourself.
You may be asking, why not just buy a real Colt? The answer is that they are seldom available due to a very limited production, and when they are available, they are very expensive. There are other US makers of reproduction Colts, and Ruger makes a very popular Vaquero in the US that many SASS shooters love, but if you want a gun that has the same function and guts as the original Colt Peacemaker, or Single Action Army (SAA), the most affordable option is an Italian copy.
The Evil Roy is made by Uberti, considered by most to be the highest quality of all the Italian replica brands for revolvers. Every Uberti I have ever owned or encountered works great out of the box, and whether you buy the Evil Roy or a standard Model “P” Cimarron, it will be a nice gun. The Evil Roy is just slicked up in advance. If you want to really fly across those steel plates at a SASS competition (check out youtube they move so fast you can’t see), the Evil Roy series are probably a worthwhile investments, whether you ever win a buckle or not.
The caliber on our review guns is the most common competition caliber, .357 Magnum, not the more traditional .45 Long Colt or .44-40 Winchester that were originally released in the black powder cartridge era of 1873-1890. Low recoil loads are absolutely required for fast shooting in SASS, and though many clubs have “power factor” rules like USPSA and IPSC, you can usually get away with pops instead of bangs in SASS, mostly because the guns don’t have to cycle a slide like with a semi-auto pistol.
If your revolvers are .357 Mag., you can buy a lever gun in the same caliber and shoot the same low powder loads without having to worry about inserting the wrong shell. The bigger and more traditional cowboy calibers are available in the Evil Roy, both .44-40 and .45LC, but the .357 Mag. has become standard for most serious SASS competitors. I think this is mostly because of concerns over ammo inconsistency with low powdered loads.
Before IMR released a new powder called Trail Boss (see below), the small amount of powder you use for low powered loads with a flake powder like Unique will ignite differently depending on where the powder is sitting in the case relative to the primer. The case capacity is much smaller with a .357 Mag. than with a .45LC or .44-40, making powder position less of an issue. Now that we have Trail Boss the issue of .357 vs. .45 Colt or .44-40 isn’t as much of an issue, so buy the caliber that makes you happy. Just remember that .44-40 is a necked case, so they sometimes have to be resized and they don’t last as long.
The barrel length of the Evil Roy is 5 1/2″, which is one of the original lengths that Colt produced in the 1800s in civilian guns, so it is historically valid. You generally want a shorter barrel for competition so it clears the holster faster when you draw it, but most people find the even shorter and also historically accurate 4 3/4″ and 3″ inch guns not as comfortable and balanced to shoot. For most competitors in SASS, the 5 1/2″ gun is just right.
The other differences with the Evil Roy besides the fine checkered grips are mostly internal. Anyone who wants a competitive gun will generally “slick it up” so the hammer is easier to pull back and the trigger has a clean and light break. Almost no factory Colts or Italian replicas come with nice hammers and triggers. Also, those who shoot Ruger Vaqueros often replace the transfer bar system with a fixed firing pin hammer like the original Colts, so this Evil Roy has the original firing pin hammer design. The Colt 1873 has always been a working gun, not just a piece of history, and the transfer bar is an important safety feature if you want to keep 6 rounds in the chambers, but for SASS you never load more than 5, leaving the hammer on an empty chamber, and the gun is never pointed anywhere but downrange. Transfer bars almost universally break when you fire thousands of rounds through a gun like SASS competitors do, so it is best to not have one for the long run.
As you can see from the pictures, I use a holster rig made by Ted Blocker, and I generally shoot a full 7 1/2″ or even 8″ gun (1858 Remingtons). This Evil Roy fits great in the 5 1/2″ holster I had made for my significant other, but this is not a competition design. Evil Roy has a line of holsters from Mernickle, and they have steel inserts inside the leather to keep the opening wide when you remove and replace the revolver in the holster. I am not competitive, so back when I bought my holsters the design and color were my priorities.
Shooting the Evil Roy
This article sat on the shelf a while because I didn’t have any cowboy loads to shoot in the Evil Roy. At some point I hoped to make some reloads, but I hadn’t gotten to it yet. So it was a huge coincidence, or Divine Providence, depending on which way you lean, that we recently developed a relationship with the ammo company Fiocchi, also from Italy. They have a complete line of Cowboy Action ammo and they sent me two versions of .38 Special (you can shoot .38s in any .357 Mag.) and a .357 Mag. specifically downloaded for shooting in SASS competition.
Usually when you clock velocity from a chronograph you are looking for the bigger number the better, but with competition ammo it is the opposite. You always want to have the lowest powered load you can get away with, either according to the rules, your own conscience, or pride, because you don’t want to be labeled a gamer with mouse fart loads. Fiocchi makes 3 loads for the .357 Mag. revolver and rifle that are tailored to whatever you are looking for as a competitor.
Not all lever rifles will cycle a .38 Special reliably in a gun created for a .357 Mag. The difference in the case lengths is only about 1/8th of an inch, but if you gun is tailored for .357 Mag., you are better to shoot that shell in it. The 158 gr. Fiocchi .357 Mag. cowboy load clocked nearly the same as the 158 gr. .38 Special load, about 825 to 870 feet per second, out of the Evil Roy. I would guess they use the same powder charge for them. This is normal muzzle velocity for a .38 Special, and about half of a normal full snot .357 Mag.
Fiocchi also offers a very low powered option for your revolvers, a .38 Special 148 gr. wadcutter bullet that clocked at only 560 or so feet per second, just over mouse fart and enough to drop a steel plate for competition that requires you to knock them over, not just clang them. The wadcutter bullet is something you may not be familiar with if you are new to shooting. The design is perfectly flat in front, giving you the full caliber width to hit your target, and the cylinder style bullet is pushed all the way into the case. They are called wadcutters because of punching “wads” out of paper targets. They make a clean hole, and if you need to touch a ring to score on a paper target, you get the widest possible punch. On steel, wadcutters give you a full strike even on a glancing hit, so you may drop a plate with a wadcutter where a round nose bullet would not.
You can generally use regular .38 Special and .357 Magnum jacketed or hollow point ammo at Cowboy Action Shoots, though some clubs may have some homemade plates that you are not allowed to shoot with jacketed ammo. If you can find the Fiocchi cowboy, it is probably your best bet from what I have seen. There is a dealer locator on their website, and I have seen it for sale at the usual suspects online at competitive prices with white box and other range fodder.
Reloading For Cowboy Action
At your average SASS shooting event you will shoot at least 250 rounds of your revolver/rifle ammo. This gets expensive, so most people who shoot Cowboy Action reload. As long as you keep your loads downloaded at least somewhat, .38 Special, .357 Magnum, and even .45 Long Colt brass cases will last nearly indefinitely, and as long as you keep your velocities low, which is all you need for close SASS targets, just about any lead bullet you can buy or make will work just fine.
I recently discovered a new powder from IMR powder called Trail Boss. It is engineered for bulk, so that even a couple grains of it fill up the case enough to take away most position sensitivity you would find with a common flake powders. It has a hole in the little round gunpowder disk, increasing surface area and bulk at the same time. I had an old box of 148 gr. Hornady wadcutters (excuse the old box design please Hornady) so I tried to duplicate the Fiocchi cartridge with the Trail Boss. I found that 2.2 grains produced about the same velocity, average 525 feet per second, with the 148 gr. wadcutter bullet, as the Fiocchi ammo with the similar bullet. My reloads may not look as pretty as the Fiocchi ammo, but they worked pretty well.
With a more commmon lead bullet, the 158 gr. Hornady semi-wadcutter that has a flat point, 3.4 grains of Trail Boss produced about 740 feet per second in velocity in both .357 Mag. and .38 Special brass with standard Winchester primers. This is a little under the standard Fiocchi load, but still plenty of punch that nobody will ever say is a gamer load. As always, WE DO NOT GIVE RELOADING ADVICE. for legal reasons in this crazy lawyer controlled world, so please visit Hodgedon/IMR/Winchester powder and use their information exclusively. The semi-wadcutter is a good design that will cycle reliably in your lever gun and not set of primers in the magazine tube the way a round nose bullet can.
Getting involved with Cowboy Action shooting is as easy as joining SASS and buying 4 guns (yay). You need two revolvers, a lever action rifle in a pistol caliber, and a shotgun that was designed before the year 1900 (yes the pump Winchester replicas are allowed and very common, as are the lever action 87s). The rules are simple. You dress up in at least a semblance of cowboy clothes, with a hat and boots and go shoot cowboy style. Cheap holster rigs can be found on GunsAmerica, Ebay and by Googling around online for well under $100, and you don’t have to start with competition quality guns to have fun. But if you are inclined to buy the right gun first, you won’t go wrong with these Evil Roy revolvers, or the Brush Popper Evil Roy rifle that we have yet to review but that I have heard good things about. Cimarron Arms is a company 100% dedicated to Cowboy Action shooting and the mystique of old west firearms, and you really can’t go wrong with any of the guns they elect to brand with their name. I started with a Cimarron Single Action Army, and most people I know started with a Cimarron. Black guns are effective, but boring. A cowboy gun from Cimarron carries over 100 years of history, and they don’t make them in black plastic.