I have a deep-seated love for single action revolvers in all shapes and sizes. Not that I don’t have affection for other guns, but the single action was my first love. The one that still lingers. Other guns come and go, but I always have a good single action.
So you want to experience a gun that the pistoleros of old carried? The wheel guns of lawmen and outlaws alike was the Colt 1873. Original Colts are getting more and more expensive and then there is the risk of shooting a 100 plus year old revolver. But there are options to get the next best thing. Thanks to some of our Italian brothers, we can shoot reproductions of the classic old west guns without fear for safety, damaging a collectable, and with out breaking the bank.
That brings us to one of the most well known and trusted names in the world of reproduction 19th century arms, A. Uberti. Uberti has been in business since 1959. They have been the primary supplier of parts for the likes of Taylor’s, Cimarron and Taurus for years. But in the last few years, I have seen more and more Ubertis for sale under their own name. This is one of those.
The Cattleman line of revolvers is Uberti’s take on the Colt Peacemaker. They offer the Cattleman in a number of different configurations and finishes, not that much different from how Colt did it 100 years ago. Be sure to check out their online catalog to see all the styles available. They add some from time to time as well.
Two styles of 6 guns
So the review gun is one of the Cattleman. There are two main types of the original Colt 1873. I don’t have room here to get into all of the different generations, but we need to make mention of the two that were made during the 19th Century. There are the pre-1896 ones and those after 1896. The early ones are sometimes referred to as the black powder model. The two main differences are how the cylinder pin is held in place and the ejector. On the early, black powder, style revolvers, the cylinder pin is held in place with a screw. On the newer ones, a spring-loaded latch that holds it in place. Almost all modern single actions use the latch; Ruger Blackhawks for example use this style.
The extractors changed too. Not really the function, but the shape. The early style is bigger, sometimes called the bull’s eye style. Where the post 1896 ones are smaller and more of a crescent shape.
The review gun is Uberti’s take on the older, black powder, style. They make both styles, new and old. Is one better than the other? Not really. The extractor’s shape is more of a personal preference thing. The cylinder pin retainer… there is a good reason they changed the design. It is possible for the recoil to loosen the screw and it can even fall out. You can still make it go bang without the screw, but it would be far from reliable. This is not really a big deal for a range-only type gun. But if it would ever be used in a home or self-defensive roll, I would opt for the newer style. One less thing that could go wrong at the worst possible time.
The same as the real thing?
There are a few differences from the original Colts. The good is that they are made from stronger materials than the originals. But there are a few design changes that mostly involve safeties that the originals didn’t have.
The cylinder pin has an extra notch that can be used as a kind of lock safety. If the pin is pushed in all the way, to the second notch, it extends out of the frame far enough to keep the hammer from falling all the way.
The other safety is on the hammer itself. This is sometimes called a “Swiss Safety”. This is a small bar on the hammer that blocks it from falling when on half cock. Although more reliable than the tiny and fragile safety notch on the originals, I would still only carry this one with the hammer over an empty chamber. The transfer bar system is the only one I trust to load six. Of course, safe and responsible handling is the most important “safety” and can’t be replaced with a mechanical one.
The review gun
Ok. Enough about how this stacks up to an Original. On its own this is a very nice, and good-looking single action revolver. Here are the specs.
- Cattleman Charcoal Blue Old Model
- Charcoal blue finish on barrel, cylinder and grip frame
- Color case hardened frame
- 1 piece walnut grips
- .45 Colt (or Long Colt is you prefer to call it that)
- 5.5” barrel
- weight of 2.3 lbs.
- 6-shot fluted cylinder
Fit and Finish
In my opinion, Uberti does the best finishing of the Italian reproduction gun makers. That is not to say this is of the quality you would expect from a Turnbull finished gun. But for the price, it is very nicely done. The grip frame fits to the frame square, the handles fit well and the charcoal blue has the bright colors it is suppose to. The case harden finish is great, with plenty of color. Some of the Italian made guns can lack on the colors in the case hardened parts, but not this one.
Everything on this example is nice and tight. The lock work is strong and it is timed correctly. The trigger breaks between 4.5 and 5 lbs. It is not the best trigger in the world and could stand a little work. It is a bit gritty with a touch of creep. I prefer a single action trigger around the 3 lbs mark that is smooth. I could live with the weight on this one if the grit and creep was gone. But these are super easy to work on. I wrote a DYI Ruger single action trigger job article awhile back. If there is enough feedback I will do one for the Colt and clones.
Single action revolvers are one if the most reliable handgun designs there are. Yes, things can go wrong but that just doesn’t happen all that often. They are also super easy to fix. I didn’t have to fix anything on this revolver. We ran a number of different loads though it with out an issue.
It shoots like a fixed sight single action revolver. The rear notch is on the top of the grip frame and the front sight is a wide blade soldered to the barrel. Adjusting the sights usually involves a file. This example didn’t need an adjustment. With the top of the blade flush with the top of the rear sight notch, it would shoot where you aimed. Our groups were not super tight, but not bad at all with the slightly heavy and gritty trigger. We shot Winchester white box, Hornady Cowboy and some Remington SWC. All of the rounds grouped around 1.5″ at 15 yards and around 2.5″ from 25.
If you are looking for a fun and slick looking single action revolver, you could so a heck of a lot worse than this Uberti Cattleman. With a little bit of trigger work it trigger work it would be even better. If you are looking to get into Cowboy Action Shooting, get one with a shorter barrel to clear your holster faster. Other than that, this would be a good choice. If you are looking for a single action to carry, get a Ruger and load 6 safely. But a Ruger is not a true clone or copy of the old Colt Peace Maker. That is why you buy a Cattleman. For a fun range gun you could do a lot worse.
The Cattlemen line starts around $470 MSRP. The charcoal blued review gun is $659 MSRP. The base model Hombres can be found for as little as $250 from time to time.