Tuesday, January 24, 2006

The Colt Peacemaker and the Great Western II's

A "real" Colt Peacemaker and a pair of Great Western II's, all in .45 Long Colt.

Ever since I sat in the theaters watching the Saturday afternoon shows with all the cowboys, the Colt Single Action Army "Peacemaker" was something I just had to have. Once I got one it turns out they're kinda like potato chips, more than one is better!

The three guns in the picture are from top to bottom:

A "real" Colt Peacemaker from about 1875 with a 5.5 inch barrel with a serial number in the 19,xxx range it is in the first batch made and is black powder cartridge ONLY.

A stainless Great Western II "Colt Clone" with a 4.75 barrel in 45 Long Colt.

A Great Western II Express, 4.75 barrel in 45 Long Colt.

The Great Western II's are manufactured by Pietta in Italy and imported by the EMF Company. Some additional work including special grips is done by the EMF gunsmiths. The result is a very good looking gun with very nice fit and finish. There are a couple of choices in finish, highly polished stainless and a nice deep blue with a color case frame and hammer.

The Express is a new release by EMF and I hadn't even heard of one until a local dealer http://mbkunlimited.com/ said I had to see the new guns he just got in.

He tends to get neat stuff in early and fortunately has good prices. My wife who also shoots both SASS (Single Action Shooting Society) and Cowboy Fast Draw and I fondled a couple of them and each of us walked out with one.

The Express in the name of the third gun refers to the grip which is copied from the 1877 Colt Thunderer. It's kind of like a birds head grip only different. Since the Thunderer was one of Colt's first double actions the Express is actually built on a Single Action frame so that it can be used in SASS (Single Action Shooting Society) events. One thing about the "six shooters" they are really "five shooters" since the firing pin is on the hammer you always carry it with the hammer down on an empty chamber.

You'd have to be some kind of crazy to set the firing pin down on a live round and then walk around hoping that nothing happens to make a loud noise when it isn't meant to happen! 200 to 250 grains of lead down the leg isn't my idea of a good time.

Remember Hop Along Cassidy! Yes, the Colt action does have a "safety" notch that will hold the hammer just off the frame so that the firing pin doesn't actuall touch the primer. But if you have ever looked at the notches on a single action hammer it isn't exactly confidence building. It is awful tiny and they do indeed break.

The only difference between the standard great western and the Express is the grip backstrap. Out of curiosity I tried the bachstrap from the stainless on the Express and it fit just fine. Both of the GW's are about as close to a Colt as you can get but at about half the price, and the parts are interchangeable with Colt parts and are hardened to stand up to a lot of use.

The stainless gun was used in Cowboy Fast Draw last year and I have no idea how many thousands of times it was cocked and fired. Grant you Cowboy Fast Draw uses a wax bullet but it also enjoyed a bunch of live rounds in between. Regardless, fast draw puts a lot of stress on the gun and after all of that it still has all of the same pieces it started with except that two springs were changed. The original springs weren't broken they were just a bit too heavy for fast draw.

Right out of the box the Great Westerns have very nice actions and the cylinders lock up cleanly with zero end shake or wobble. As they come they would be fully acceptable for most shooting but that doesn't stop the urge to make things better.

Before playing with the actions, I just had to try putting some rounds downrange. At about 15 yards which is pretty typical SASS distance, five round groups unsupported were in the 3 to 4 inch size with TEN-X Cowboy ammo. I don't own a pistol vice rest so I can't tell what it would do then but it seemed to hit where I was pointing.

Before getting the Express, I checked with the Cowboy Fast Draw Association (CFDA) to make sure they would be legal. The determination was that since the guns and grips were of a type used back when and it is a factory stock gun they are legal in CFDA. The CFDA rules are pretty simple, it must be 45 Colt and no external changes to the gun except that the front sight can be removed (some of the old time gunslingers did that) but I don't know anybody in CFDA that does. You can clean up the actions and put in lighter springs. but that is about it.

That brings up the one place where the Great Western differs from the Colt. The hand spring in the Colt is quite a fragile leaf type spring, Great western and some others drill a small hole above the backstrap screw and replace the leaf spring with a small coil spring and plunger. You could put a stock Colt hand and spring in there but the coil is much more reliable.

Just remember don't EVER fast draw with live ammunition. CFDA uses wax bullets over shotgun primers in special cartridges.

If you are interested in Cowboy Fast Draw take a look at http://www.cowboyfastdraw.com. For more on Cowboy Action Shooting check out SASS at http://www.sassnet.com/ .

Post and photo by Damiphino.........


At Tuesday, January 24, 2006 10:13:00 PM, Blogger Rivrdog said...

I'm not as big on Colt SA as you are, Mr. C., but isn't that "Thunderer" a copy of a "Sheriff's Model"?

Also, what are your and KeeWee's SASS handles?

At Wednesday, January 25, 2006 8:21:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Rivrdog, Mr. C has commented about your firearm savy. I'm impressed that someone knows that there was a "Sheriff's Model". The Sheriff's Model was basically a Colt SAA but with a shorter barrel most commonly about 3 1/2 inch and sometimes a little shorter or longer. The one thing is that they didn't have an ejector rod or housing.

The Thunderer actually looked a lot like the SAA but it was a double action and was in 41 Colt. For SASS the "Thunderer Model" is built on a Single Action frame the double action isn't useable in SASS.

I never could see an advantage to not having an ejector rod except that under about 4 1/2 in. barrel the ejector doesn't work very well.


At Friday, June 19, 2009 4:55:00 PM, Anonymous daves_daily said...

I have always wondered, and I am not guy, but I do practice drawing fast in case I need to, and I've always wondered, what would be the danger in a fast draw if you didn't employ unsafe techniques, such as cocking the revolver in the holster? As I practice, I make it a point to pull the weapon's business end clear before I cock. And that has become a habit. I have yet to let a revolver fly out of my hand or to fire before I was on target, if I drew with live ammunition; the target being poisonous snakes, so far.

Where I do most of my outdoor stuff is on my family's 450 acre farm in WV. There are cats and bears there too. Nobody has ever seen one, but their sign is clear enough; hence the practice. A copperhead killed my uncle. And I can carry in WV and many other States on three different CHPs. I live in CA, and do not carry here, because we're not living in a free society.

Sometimes I carry a 5.5" SAA. I'm pretty comfortable with that in the cold weather where it can be concealed. I don't carry because I live in fear; I just want to come home at the end of my business trips and rare vacation. It only takes one well placed .45 Colt to defend your life. But I carry mostly because I can. Because we live in the only civilized nation on Earth where I can. I come from a family that's been here for about 400 years or so. From a long line of men who were almost always armed. Nobody ever got shot. As it turns out, my deceased brother, “Mr. Gun Safety himself, accidentally shot himself TWICE (with misplaced rifles) when he was a kid, before I came along. I supposed that’s why he lectured me so much, but it really humored me to hear that from my sister. To me it is the ultimate personal (because I don't carry and tell) expression of that precious Liberty and Freedom that pretty much does not exist anywhere else.

But you never know, someday I may have to draw fast, with live ammunition, in grave situation. It could happen. Almost did once in my life and I'm 55. That was in Fl, hence the Fl permit I got afterward when I realized that my VA and UT permits don't work in Fl. So, it really could happen, and if you do not practice with live ammunition, you may just let go of the pistol or shoot yourself in the foot or worse, because you have no habit at all, or just bad ones, like cocking the gun in the holster.

I'm not saying CFD is a bad thing, I'd love to do it, but there's no club anywhere near where I live in Temecula. And I don't think I'd develop a bad habit, because I am capable of learning more than one way to deploy a weapon. So, I've always wondered, why is it considered unsafe to practice for the gravest extreme, and for the occasional snake, cat, or bear? I know I’m in the vast minority here. But it is my life, and I mean that in two ways: it’s my life if I shoot myself, and it’s my life if I don’t practice. I’m pretty sure the bad guys actually don’t practice much, I count on it. I also assume they still have a good deal of practical experience and confidence in their skill, or they wouldn’t go about bracing full grown top predators, such as myself.

It won’t bother me if you don’t post this, not wanting to disseminate dangerous thinking, but I would appreciate it if you would respond to me personally.

At Friday, June 19, 2009 4:57:00 PM, Anonymous daves_daily said...

oops, what i mean to say is "I'm not a fast draw guy, don't know how that happend.

At Thursday, April 05, 2012 9:14:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

join the Bar T group, we shoot fast draw in Fallbrook ,4 th sunday every month, Double Dean....


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