Colt Fig­ure

John Milewski looks at vari­a­tions on a theme - the Colt SAA from Umarex

Airgun World - - Contents -

The Umarex Colt Sin­gle Ac­tion Army (SAA) was among the most ea­gerly an­tic­i­pated air­guns of 2015 and its pop­u­lar­ity has not waned since. Orig­i­nally in­tro­duced as a 6-shot, BB-fir­ing, CO2-pow­ered replica of the fa­mous Colt re­volver, buy­ers could choose from ei­ther a blued, nickel, or an­tique fin­ish. Umarex have not stood still since 2015 and have since added a plethora of vari­a­tions to sat­isfy shoot­ers, col­lec­tors and western fans. I’m go­ing to look at some of the vari­a­tions of the SAA this month and I sus­pect more of them will fol­low in the near fu­ture.

The Umarex SAA has been held in such high es­teem be­cause it is so re­al­is­tic. It is slightly lighter than the orig­i­nal, but han­dles iden­ti­cally. The only ex­ter­nal dif­fer­ences vis­i­ble at a glance are the ‘at rest’ ham­mer po­si­tion, which is fur­ther back than on the orig­i­nal, and the slightly less an­gled grip. There is also a safety catch un­der the frame, which is un­ob­tru­sive.

The re­volvers re­quire the load­ing of 6 pel­let car­ri­ers that re­sem­ble .38 sized car­tridges, and these are then loaded through a gate on the right side of the pis­tol’s frame in the man­ner of an orig­i­nal. Sights are fixed, but luck­ily, my ex­am­ples shoot close enough to the point of aim that I don’t have to aim off.

Within months of the UK launch, Umarex an­nounced that a pel­let-fir­ing vari­ant would be avail­able, and for many col­lec­tors who also shoot, this ver­sion soon be­came pop­u­lar due to the po­ten­tial for greater ac­cu­racy. I have tested pel­let-fir­ing ver­sions against BB-fir­ing SAAs, and the pel­let vari­ants group their shots a lot closer. For in­stance, I’ll place most shots through a 40mm bell tar­get aper­ture at 8 yards with pel­lets, but maybe half as many with ball, which is fired from a smooth­bore bar­rel as op­posed to a ri­fled bar­rel on pel­let fir­ers. In­ci­den­tally, the ‘shells’ for BB fir­ers are brass coloured, whereas pel­let fir­ers are sil­ver in colour.

LONGER BAR­REL

Ear­lier this year, longer 7½-inch bar­relled ver­sions came along and, iron­i­cally, these were the ear­li­est of the Colts made in 1873. All ini­tially went to the US Army with fol­low-up sales to civil­ians. Af­ter a cou­ple of years, shorter 5½ inch bar­relled re­volvers were in­tro­duced and these are the stan­dard length that Umarex ini­tially chose. The longer bar­relled air pis­tols add around 40 FPS to the muz­zle ve­loc­ity and the longer length helps to align sights more ac­cu­rately. The ac­tual bar­rels are around an inch shorter be­cause the muz­zle in­cor­po­rates faux ri­fling to im­i­tate a

“A lovely, fully en­graved ver­sion has also been made for the US mar­ket”

.45 cal­i­bre re­volver. I added a US Army is­sue hol­ster to house mine when not in use.

These longer bar­relled SAAs are avail­able in NRA com­mem­o­ra­tive mod­els, which have been en­dorsed by the Amer­i­can NRA. They come in an at­trac­tive, an­tique ‘worn’ fin­ish and are as pretty to look at as they are to shoot.

US MAR­SHALL AND US RANGER

The US Mar­shall’s mu­seum en­dorsed a lim­ited edi­tion of 1000 an­tique fin­ish re­volvers, which are marked as such on the frame. The mu­seum saw the lim­ited run as an ideal way to pro­mote the na­tion’s old­est fed­eral law en­force­ment agency. Protek Sup­plies in Bog­nor Regis had a boxed model on dis­play the last time I vis­ited the shop.

A sim­i­lar model has just reached the UK, be­ing sold as the Ranger in com­mem­o­ra­tion of the Texas Rangers. Rather than a US Mar­shall badge pressed into each grip, the badge de­picts the Texas Rangers. US ver­sions of the BB-fir­ing Ranger came with a neat leather hol­ster, but the ver­sions I have seen so far in the UK seem to have omit­ted this in­ter­est­ing ac­ces­sory.

THE DUKE

To many, John Wayne was the iconic all-Amer­i­can cow­boy, and both blued and nickel-plated com­mem­o­ra­tive mod­els have been sold in the USA. The grips are adorned with badges de­pict­ing the Duke’s im­age and the back­strap car­ries the great man’s etched sig­na­ture. Both pel­let and BB-fir­ing vari­ants have been made. A lovely, fully en­graved ver­sion has also been made for the US mar­ket.

SOME­THING SPE­CIAL

For those af­ter a unique piece, Pyra­myd Air in the USA have com­mis­sioned a num­ber of hand-en­graved mod­els by Adams & Adams in the USA. This is a com­pany that spe­cialises in hand en­grav­ing and have worked with the Colt Cus­tom Shop. The re­volvers have been scroll en­graved in the 19th cen­tury Nim­schke style,

which would have been used on orig­i­nal Colts over 130 years ago. These air­guns are sold for be­tween $550 and $600, and are un­doubt­edly an in­vest­ment for the fu­ture.

I have fired 108 shots out of a stan­dard 5½ inch bar­relled ver­sion in 18 – 22 de­gree heat dur­ing July, and around 120 out of the 7½ inch bar­relled ver­sion I tested. The fi­nal shots of these strings were still ca­pa­ble of hit­ting a soft drinks can 8 yards away, al­beit with­out much punch. The re­volvers are there­fore eco­nomic with CO2 as well as ac­cu­rate.

Af­ter the shoot­ing’s done, they make great dis­play pieces, too, as long as they are stored safely af­ter­wards in ac­cor­dance with the law.

Maybe Umarex will make a case hard­ened, 4¾ inch bar­relled ‘Gun­fighter’ model in an­tique fin­ish next. I'm sure we haven't 'herd' the last of these Colts.

This Cus­tom Shop Edi­tion is based on a film prop from The Ex­pend­ables. It is an in­ter­est­ing ‘hide­away’ gun but has no front sight!

Place the re­volver on half cock and ro­tate the cylin­der to load and un­load in the man­ner of an orig­i­nal.

Each NRA com­mem­o­ra­tive model is marked ac­cord­ingly on the back­strap. The 7½ inch SAA has greater ve­loc­ity than the 5½ inch vari­ant, and I found it more ac­cu­rate, too.

This US Mar­shall’s lim­ited edi­tion was still for sale as I wrote this re­view.

Cow­boys used to carry their money in car­tridge/ money belts. This is a fine re­pro­duc­tiom by John Beat­tie Pis­tol Leather.

The most pop­u­lar fin­ish seems to be the blued ver­sion. You can see var­i­ous shades of blue up close.

Con­trary to early Hol­ly­wood in­flu­ence, gen­uine gun leather did not hang half way down the leg!

The nickel is prob­a­bly my favourite fin­ish be­cause the mark­ings are sub­dued.

Pyra­myd Air in the States have com­mis­sioned lim­ited edi­tion, hand-en­graved SAAs such as this ex­quis­ite ex­am­ple. Im­age cour­tesy of Pyra­myd Air.

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