Subscribe To the GunsAmerica Digest and News This Week

Cowboy Time Machine: Uberti Replaces SAA Transfer Bar w/Glock Style Floating Pin – Cattleman II Review

Send to Kindle
The Uberti Cattleman II is a revolutionary take on this classic designed, featuring a retractable firing pin that allows the use of a full six rounds.

The Uberti Cattleman II is a revolutionary take on this classic design, featuring a retractable firing pin that allows the use of a full six rounds.

From a distance all Colt and Colt-style Single Actions look about the same. The new Uberti Cattleman II closes the distance. The Uberti is pictured in an El Paso Saddlery Tombstone Speed Rig shoulder holster based on the .c 1895 Al. Furstnow design. (Hat courtesy Golden Gate Western Wear)

The new Uberti Cattleman II gives modern shooters a new take on a classic design. It is pictured in an El Paso Saddlery Tombstone Speed Rig shoulder holster based on the .c 1895 Al. Furstnow design. (Hat courtesy Golden Gate Western Wear)

In the latter days of the American West, shortly after the turn of the 20th century the Colt Model 1911 was fast becoming an option for lawmen and gunmen, as well as the U.S. military, which had adopted Colt’s new semiautomatic pistol as its standard-issue sidearm. There was, however, one early cautionary caveat; the 1911s were to be carried with an empty chamber in a flap holster, making them both slow to draw and slower still to get into action. This gave the “old reliable,” Colt’s legendary Peacemaker, an extended lease on life, even though military protocols also required carrying the Colt Single Actions with the hammer rested on an empty chamber.

There was a sense of elegance and simplicity to the Peacemaker’s original design. The mechanics were confined to only nine parts: mainspring, hammer swivel, hammer, short sear, short sear spring, long sear, lifter with spring (operates the lifter and long sear), trigger, and trigger spring. The remaining components of the SAA were cylinder pin and retaining screw, triggerguard and backstrap, hammer roller and hammer screw, hammer cam, hand (pawl), bolt, trigger, firing pin, and ejector assembly. The exterior bore three screws in the frame (one of which was the hammer screw), the retaining screw for the cylinder arbor, and the backstrap (2) and grip strap (1) screws. When one piece grips were replaced by two-piece grips, a grip screw was added to the parts list.

Between 1873 and the early 1900s the Colt’s Patent Fire-Arms Manufacturing Company had made literally dozens of improvements to the Peacemaker, including the most noteworthy change from the original Wm. Mason-designed “black powder” frame to the improved “smokeless powder” frame in 1892, which was symbolized by the new transverse cylinder latch replacing the original frame screw used to secure the cylinder pin. However, Colt’s did not formally pronounce the new models “safe for use with new smokeless powder cartridges” until 1900.

The Uberti Cattleman II with retractable firing pin has an authentic look when viewed from behind the hammer (shown at half cock).

The Uberti Cattleman II with retractable firing pin has an authentic look when viewed from behind the hammer (shown at half cock).

The Uberti Cattleman II, as with all Uberti SAA models, have the Colt’s Patent dates stamped on the lower left of the color casehardened frame.

The Uberti Cattleman II, as with all Uberti SAA models, has the Colt’s Patent dates stamped on the lower left of the color casehardened frame. Also note the later transverse cylinder latch used on Colt SAA models produced after 1897.

 

The Cattleman II is offered with color casehardened frame and brass triggerguard and backstrap or with blued steel triggerguard and backstrap as shown.

The Cattleman II is offered with color casehardened frame and brass triggerguard and backstrap or with blued steel triggerguard and backstrap as shown.

Prior to 1900 Colt stated that their revolvers were not designed for smokeless powder and in October 1898 this was a noted owner’s precaution. Beginning in 1900, Colt’s announced that their revolvers (serial number range beginning at approximately 192000) were guaranteed against smokeless powder. This had become necessary by the turn of the century, as the more powerful and cleaner-burning smokeless powder cartridges pretty much dominated the market.

Nearly all of the improvements Colt’s had made to the 1873 Single Action Army had been minor design alterations to cylinder flutes, front sights, ejector assemblies, hammers, grips, and choice of calibers. Nothing had ever been done to make the gun any safer to carry with the hammer resting on a loaded chamber. It was the nature of the beast, and a wise cowboy carried his Colt with only five chambers loaded unless he was getting ready for a fight or reloading in the middle of one. This is no doubt the origin of the cinematic cliché of the gunman opening the loading gate and checking his cylinder before a fight. In reality, it was a good time to add that sixth cartridge!

SPECS
Calibers: .45 Colt (tested), .44-40 WCF and .38/.357 Magnum
Barrel: 4¾ , 5½ and 7½ inches
OA Length: 10-13 inches
Weight: 35 ounces (average)
Grips: One-piece walnut
Sights: Fixed
Action: Single-action
Finish: Blued, case colored frame
Capacity: 6
MSRP: $549-$559

Making Changes

More than 140 years after the Colt SAA was invented, Uberti decided it was high time to change the rules and engineered a solution to the historic problem of having to “safely” carry a Single Action with the hammer resting on an empty chamber. And more to the point…since this has been done by other armsmakers for years using floating firing pins in the frame and transfer bars…to accomplish this feat without compromising the original Colt design by using a clumsy hammer safety or transfer bar to impinge on the otherwise classic lines of the original Colt hammer, firing pin or frame. For a proper Colt Single Action Army design you can’t have a hammer safety or transfer bar, thus for Colt the old empty chamber rule, like the gun itself, has pretty much survived for more than 140 years.

The Cattleman II's internal safety mechanism disengages the firing pin when the gun is not cocked, thus allowing it to float free in the hammer.

The Cattleman II’s internal safety mechanism disengages the firing pin when the gun is not cocked, thus allowing it to float free in the hammer. Cutaway images courtesy of Uberti.

As the illustration shows, the firing pin can only extend and strike a chambered round when the hammer is cocked.

As the illustration shows, the firing pin can only extend and strike a chambered round when the hammer is cocked.

Once the gun is fired and the trigger released, it returns to its free floating condition.

Once the gun is fired and the trigger released, it returns to its free floating condition.

The designers at A. Uberti (one of Italy’s oldest and most fabled makers of western handguns and rifles, which was founded by its namesake, Aldo Uberti, in the 1950s), have developed an internal hammer mechanism that works with a retractable firing pin floating free within an internal guide. When the hammer is not cocked the firing pin floats inside the head of the hammer and cannot exert any forward pressure on a chambered round. In order for that to happen, the hammer must first be cocked, and only then will the sear that engages the firing pin allow it to lock in the forward position. As soon as the gun is fired, or the hammer is lowered, the firing pin floats free again. Think of it as a Glock trigger safety inside of a revolver’s hammer. The best part is that from the outside the retractable firing pin allows the hammer and frame to look exactly as they should (and did back in the day), allowing this new line of Uberti Single Actions to look exactly like their historical predecessors.

On Target

Shoulder holsters were becoming very popular by the late 1880s. Just before the turn of the century, Miles City, Montana holster maker Al. Furstnow developed his famous “Sheriff’s Lightning Spring Shoulder Holster,” which became the first “skeletonized” shoulder holster design. (Holster by El Paso Saddlery)

Shoulder holsters were becoming very popular by the late 1880s. Just before the turn of the century, Miles City, Montana holster maker Al. Furstnow developed his famous “Sheriff’s Lightning Spring Shoulder Holster,” which became the first “skeletonized” shoulder holster design. (Holster by El Paso Saddlery)

Uberti offers its new Cattleman II with retractable firing pin chambered in .45 Colt, .44-40 WCF and .38/.357 Magnum with a choice of 7-1/2 inch, 5-1/2 inch or 4-3/4 inch barrel lengths. The guns feature a case colored frame and hammer, and choice of a brass triggerguard and backstrap for $549; or with case colored frame and blued steel triggerguard and backstrap for $559. Matched sets of Cattlemen II Steel, in .45 Colt or .38/.357 Magnum, are also available for $1,159.

The 7-1/2 inch model tested proved to be a well-balanced gun with standard-sized Single Action grips, and weighing in at 39.5 ounces (unloaded). The finish was highly polished for a good, deep blue gloss and the chemical case colors on the frame and hammer were rich in shades of blue and gray with hints of red.

One of the characteristics that often separate Colt Single Actions from Italian reproductions is the sound and feel of the hammer. A Colt hammer has a distinctive and audible four clicks as it is thumbed back. The Uberti, while comparatively smooth for a standard (un-tuned) action, has only three steps and a resistance of 7 pounds, 11.5 ounces, Colt actions average 7 pounds 2.5 ounces, so overall hammer draw on the Uberti is very close in feel if not sound. Trigger pull on the Uberti Cattleman II averaged a light and very crisp 3 pounds, 9.4 ounces.

The Cattleman II comes with attractive Walnut grips. The author tested the version with the steel grip frame.

The Cattleman II comes with attractive Walnut grips. The author tested the version with the steel grip frame.

The heart of the innovation of the new Uberti Cattleman II is the firing pin system.

The heart of the innovation of the new Uberti Cattleman II is the firing pin system.

The result is an attractive and appealing revolver for Old West enthusiasts who want a classic-style gun that they can actually shoot. From its deep blued cylinder to its case colored frame to its attractive Walnut grips, this Uberti Cattleman II is a truly appealing gun. Add in the new firing pin safety mechanism that takes a retro classic design and brings it into the 21st century, and you have a gun that offers a lot to the modern-day shooter.

The Uberti Cattleman II has the heft, feel, and action of a smokeless power frame Colt Single Action and proved to be just as fast to handle and just as accurate.

The Uberti Cattleman II has the heft, feel, and action of a smokeless powder frame Colt Single Action and proved to be just as fast to handle and just as accurate.

For the range test, shot at 15 yards (45 feet), aiming at a 20×16 inch cardboard target and firing one handed, gunfighter style, the ammo choices were divided between Ten-X .45 Colt 200 gr. RNFP, Goex Black Dawge 235 gr. RNFP black powder, and new Freedom Munitions’ Leadville 200-grain RNFP. Ten-X always has modest recoil and traveled down range at 621fps average. Black Dawge, the smokiest black powder cartridge around and guaranteed to provide a loud bark and commensurate kick, clocked a muzzle lifting 850 fps average, and the new Leadville, with the mildest recoil of all three .45 LC rounds, sauntered downrange at 601 fps average. With no appreciable recoil from the 7-1/2 inch Uberti SA, Leadville punched five rounds into the target at 1.5 inches with two overlapping pairs, Ten-X offered up its usual get-the-job-done accuracy with five clustering around a 2-inch circumference, and Goex slammed five into 2.18 inches with an overlapping pair. Shooting accuracy with Uberti Single Actions is always pretty good and the new Cattleman II was right up to snuff with these cowboy loads hitting the target just about point of aim from 45 feet. Bottom line, you can take this gun right out of the box and shoot a competition match. Might not be a fast as a tuned action (which one can always get done), but for $550 retail (and who pays retail?) this is one of the best Single Actions Uberti has ever built, and also one of the most authentic.

Screen Shot 2016-06-17 at 4.54.21 PM

 

Uberti has been manufacturing superb Single Actions for decades and with the latest Cattleman II offers up a model that is not only accurate on the outside, but accurate in detail when you cock the hammer.

Uberti has been manufacturing superb Single Actions for decades and with the latest Cattleman II offers up a model that is not only accurate on the outside, but accurate in detail when you cock the hammer.

 

For more information visit http://www.uberti.com/.

To purchase a Uberti Cattleman II on GunsAmerica.com, click this link: https://www.gunsamerica.com/Search.aspx?T=cattleman%20II

{ 25 comments… add one }
  • Sorcerer January 26, 2017, 7:31 am

    So who is right about the case coloring ?

  • Robert C. December 1, 2016, 8:01 am

    I noticed in the review that there was no mention to the grips as being the same size and configuration as Colts or the original Cattleman. Anyone know about this? Please leave info.

    • Don_W December 9, 2016, 1:46 pm

      As far as I know, the grips on the new Cattleman II are the same as on the previous Cattleman version. And, as far as I know, the grips are based on the original one-piece grips of the Colt SAA. It wasn’t long (not sure how long) before Colt switched to a 2-piece grip. My guess is that the 2-piece grips used less material and were cheaper to produce than a solid, single piece grip.

  • Don W November 26, 2016, 9:53 pm

    When I decided to purchase a SAA clone, I chose the Uberti Cattleman because of the level of authenticity it seemed to have. As I searched around for the specific model I wanted (.45 cal, Case Hardened frame, 7.5″ barrel), I found none available, new or used. I spoke with Uberti’s USA reps and was told the Cattleman II would be the only version offered from this time on. I pre-ordered one from the next production run and I just got it today. It’s a beautiful gun, but I was more than a bit disappointed when I pulled the hammer back and heard only 3 clicks. What a let down! For a company like Uberti that prides itself on the authenticity of its reproductions, how hard would it have been to engineer in a “quarter cock” just for old times’ sake? It may look like a SAA, but it definitely doesn’t feel like one. The previous version had the signature “C-O-L-T” feel and sound. With the Cattleman II, all I get is “C-O-L”. I’m a bit T’d off. Still, as I said, it is a great LOOKING gun. I can’t wait to take it to the range tomorrow.

  • Robert Smith June 23, 2016, 11:49 am

    I am glad Uberti has joined the club on a internal saftey. Pietta is using a transfer bar on their newer Traditions line. Ruger, EAA and Herritage have been doing it for years. An empty chamber is 17% less capacity on a 6 shot revolver, and that’s significant. Not being able to carry six on the original SAA was a design defect. Yet, some modern cowboy shooters still embrace it in the name of authenticity. As for me, I’ll safely take all six in my six-shooter, thank you.

  • Luke June 20, 2016, 10:33 pm

    Wow. That ‘music’ at the beginning of GA videos is really impressive. I’m sure glad GA didn’t choose anything too obnoxious. ‘Might give folks the wrong impression of those of us who value life without drug abuse.

    Great review. I once had a .22 Peacemaker. Couldn’t hit the broad side of a bull’s ass with it. Wasn’t his fault though. Nice gun.

  • Robert June 20, 2016, 2:19 pm

    A good review of a well made and innovative take on an old revolver design.

    I do take exception to the marketing of this article. There is NOTHING about this Uberti firing pin safety that is in ANY way related to any part of a Glock pistol. To try to use the Glock name to imply they invented a safer trigger is misleading. Even the Glock safe action trigger was copied from the 1930s Mauser HSC.

    Apparently the writer, for all of his western repro dude, has either:

    Not the faintest idea how either a Glock or a SAA works,
    Or
    Worse, is so ill informed about his readers that he throws the word Glock in to try to get readers to read an otherwise well written article on the new hammer and firing pin.

    Kudos to Uberti for making a traditional looking SAA that appears safer than a traditional fixed firing pin. I still recommend loading five.

  • BJG June 20, 2016, 2:15 pm

    Why is the velocity so low now days in .45 Colt? If I remember correctly the old Winchester factory were around 850fps or so
    I once had around 20 old UMC semi-b head cases and could get 40 gs. of 3f along with a 250gr Remington hollow base bullet in them Out of a 71/2 Ruger they got over 1,000 fps. with 2f around 850 fps Usually used 8 to 9 unique. for 900 -1000fps.

    • Mark N. July 1, 2016, 1:55 am

      You are correct about the loads being light. Originally the .45 Colt was loaded with 40 grains of black powder (3f I believe, but not sure), but reduced that to 35 grains at the Army’s request. With a full load, speeds were typically in excess of 1000 fps.
      Today, many commercial rounds are loaded light for cowboy action shooting, where speed and accuracy are preeminent, often no faster than 750 fps. As one would expect, it is harder to make accurate fast shots with more powerful loads. I have seen hot loaded rounds, but what I’ve seen runs well north of $1 per round (even $1.60!). One would do better reloading with 3F powder and cast lead bullets, light rounds (185 or 200 gr) for targets/cowboy shooting, Keith’s 250 or 300 gr for hunting.

  • LG June 20, 2016, 2:09 pm

    Now, I would not want my comment to be misinterpreted or perceived as a criticism or negative description of Uberti products. I only report the facts I experienced. Back in the 60s, I bought in Italy a brand new Uberti Single action revolver in 357 Magnum. After approximately 20 rounds, the cylinder got out of adjustment, moved slightly sideways and it would take two hands and some real force to cock the hammer and turn he cylinder. After deliberation the “gun” ended in the water in the port of Naples.
    I only mention this as my personal experience with ONE of Uberti’s products and do not intend to mean that ALL Uberti hardware has fatal flaws. Many seem delighted with these and I may very well have the unlucky one who happened to get the only one ever Uberti gun that was totally defective. Also that was 50 years ago. Who knows. perhaps their production today is totally perfect. One thing, I shall NEVER acquire at any price one of those foreign made Old West style imitation implements. I got myself a genuine Colt SAA, 3rd Generation in a 5’8″ barrel and also a genuine Colt Buntline 3rd Generation in 45 LC. No problem ever. I would also seriously have considered Ruger but after all if you want a Colt “Peacemaker” there is only one COLT. The rest is only ersatz.

    • Paul Helinski June 20, 2016, 2:14 pm

      Most likely Uberti made your “Colt” parts. One gun from the 60s influenced your purchasing? It’s enough to even comment as well? I don’t see it.

      • LG June 22, 2016, 2:23 am

        Would you buy a second Yugo ?

    • Mark N. June 22, 2016, 2:15 am

      A 5 foot 8 inch barrel? I ain’t never seed one o’ dem. Plus the Third Gen Colts (black powder) were not actually Colts, but Italian parts (most likely Uberti) assembled in the US, with finishes to Colt spec by Colt Blackpowder Arms Co. of NY:
      COLT BLACKPOWDER ARMS CO. Previous manufacturer and retailer of 3rd Generation Colt Black Powder pistols and muskets located in Brooklyn, NY 1994-2002.
      All 3rd Generation Colt blackpowder models are also referred to as Signature Series Models.
      A reprise of the original Colt Blackpowder line, along with historic models not offered in the 2nd Generation, and a new series of Commemoratives, each model (with the exception of the Heirloom Tiffany 1860 Army and 1842 Texas Paterson) bears the Sam Colt signature on the backstrap. These 3rd Generation models were manufactured under an authorized licensing agreement with Colt Firearms by Colt Blackpowder Arms Company – the same company (and many of the same craftsmen) responsible for the 2nd Generation Colt revolvers. Although parts for the Signature Series were cast in Italy, they were fully assembled and hand finished in the United States using the proprietary Colt formulas for bluing and color case hardening.
      Colt Blackpowder Arms Company Signature Series revolvers are regarded as authentic Colt pistols. The 3rd Generation models have original Colt markings, including the barrel address and serial number stampings. There are no foreign proof marks on these authentic Colt models.

      • LG June 22, 2016, 1:08 pm

        Dear Mr. Mark M.
        My sincere and deep apology for the errors contained in my comments. I would only wish to remind myself that the old saying goes ” a shot of Jack Daniels with a mug of Pilsen do not mix well with keyboards”. I shall therefore humbly make the necessary correction.
        1- I do not recall making any reference to Colt 3rd Generation BLACK POWDER. Though imbibing the aforementioned noble spirit may have altered my recollections as well as magically removed said BLACK POWDER alleged statement.
        2- I am most grateful for your correction and astonishment at the mention in my comment about the existence of a mythological, magic and homeric Colt with a five foot eight inch (5’8″) barrel. I must extend my sincere and humble compliment for your highly praised expertise and vigilant eye for detecting such an enormous misstatement on my part. I indeed must now give all the noble experts here present the true size of this Colt I am honored to possess: FOUR INCHES AND THREE QUARTER (4″ 3/4), according to Colt data. I unfortunately do not spend any my precious hours and minutes measuring gun barrels, being occupied with reloading and shooting. Any possible error in the barrel length may addressed to Colt directly,

        I am forever in your debt for gracing us and I in particular for your esteemed knowledge and your learned weaponry expertise as well as the mention of Colt BLACK POWDER.
        Thank you

  • Tug June 20, 2016, 2:05 pm

    I own a Cattleman in .45LC and looking at the photos I couldn’t tell if my pistol had the firing pin safety.
    Is there a way to tell or find out weather or not that system is applied to my gun? Also can it be done aftermarket like Ruger did with the transfer bar safety system?

    • Paul Helinski June 20, 2016, 2:25 pm

      It is too new to have an aftermarket. Yours is just a fixed firing pin gun.

  • Grant Stevens June 20, 2016, 11:55 am

    “Load one, skip one, load four.” A simple refrain for a simple single-action. Why complicate the mechanics of a revolver that has proven itself reliable for nearly 150 years? Uberti makes fine reproductions of Colt’s famed single-action, but for someone seeking nostalgia and originality of function, the company may have solved a problem that does not exist. If they have, they are a little late to the table. Bill Ruger’s single-action has been loading six for decades. Authentic reproductions should be authentic in every detail, idiosyncrasies and all. Or to put it another way, “Don’t fix it if it ain’t broke.”

    • Tom April 6, 2017, 5:08 pm

      Try and be a high-volume gunmaker and sell to the very litigious American market. After the 10th time you get sued by some idiot who shot himself in the nuts because he loaded all 6 in a 6-shooter, an internal safety system becomes a necessity. This ain’t the 1880’s, Toto.

  • Mark N. June 19, 2016, 1:01 am

    Ingenious. I have two Piettas with the transfer bar safety, and yes, they look just a little bit odd. Interestingly enough, Pietta recommends only loading five, even with the bar. And the bar does effect the trigger; there is a slight extra “catch” when the trigger is released after firing. It is not too hard to tune out the scraping sound it makes when it rides up and down, but I really like Uberti’s idea here. I just wish they could get their case hardening up to the rich colors that Colt makes these days.

    • shrugger June 20, 2016, 8:31 am

      I concur. Great design.
      The color case hardening on Uberti isn’t the real deal like it is on Colts.

      • Paul Helinski June 20, 2016, 8:41 am

        In what way genius? There is really only one way to case harden steel and I can assure you that Uberti does a gorgeous and high quality job in old world facilities in Italy. Uberti has made most of the SAA and BP Colts for a generation.

        • bison1913 June 20, 2016, 12:31 pm

          Well stated… Uberti’s color case harden is just as gorgeous, if not prettier than some of Colt’s work.

        • Robert June 20, 2016, 2:23 pm

          You can case harden via actually hardening the metal in the presence of carbon, or you can pour chemicals on the steel which impart colors that look like color case hardening. The latter is how the Italian makers do it.

          • Paul Helinski June 20, 2016, 2:27 pm

            That is so not true. They are charcoal case hardening just like everyone else. You can’t get blues and purples with a chemical.

        • Mark N. June 22, 2016, 2:08 am

          I have both Uberti and Pietta pistols, plus I have looked at a large number on display. Most of the Ubertis I see are more gray than anything else, with a puddle of blue here or there on the frames. Piettas are usually better. For rich color, compare either of these to a Colt or Turnbull; the Italians do not compare (except in their advertising). Why one has better color than others is a mystery to me.

Leave a Comment

Send this to a friend