A new Schofield
The game is afoot!
By Dennis Adler
We wait patiently for things we want, and sometimes just when our patience is almost exhausted a glimmer of hope appears on the horizon. Of course, a glimmer isn’t always what you expect as you get closer, but when it is a new Schofield model that provides some balance to the new found weight of the Colt Peacemaker, it is a welcomed addition. The Schofield we have tested in the past is not changed, it is still the same barrel length, still the same fine construction and operation (worthy of going up against the Peacemaker even though it remains a smoothbore gun), but now the awful original finish has taken a second seat not only to the handsome nickel version but a brand new weathered finish model. If this sounds awfully familiar, you’re right; it is the same slow evolution that we saw with the Webley MK VI. And that begs the question, “Can a rifled barrel Schofield be too far off?”
In the pecking order
Colt has always ranked first among guns of the old west, first choice of the U.S. military from 1855 to 1985, but never too far behind Colt was Smith & Wesson. Throughout the late 19th and early 20th century, many western lawmen, outlaws and cowboys showed a preference for wearing a brace of Colts around their waist, and with as many different revolvers as there were at the time, Colt, S&W, Remington, Merwin-Hulbert, Hopkins & Allen, and an endless array of cartridge conversions, the Colt was more often the gun of choice. For Smith & Wesson, it was always hard to be number two, and S&W held that position for over a hundred years as other brands faded into history in the wake of Colt’s enduring success.
The Schofield was created as a means of retaining the .44 caliber S&W Model 3 American as a Cavalry pistol (first adopted in 1872) alongside the new Colt Peacemaker. The Colt finally won out because the .45 caliber Schofield used a different cartridge and the military preferred the slightly more powerful .45 Colt over the shorter .45 Schofield round. Even so, S&W left an indelible mark on the American West.
Doubling up on .177 Caliber
In the world of airguns, we have the opportunity to recreate that remarkable history of Colt Peacemaker and S&W Schofield with BB and pellet cartridge-loading models; the 7-1/2 inch Umarex Colt Peacemaker pellet model and 7-inch Schofield BB model revolver, now in its new suit of deliberately tattered clothes.
The 7-1/2 inch Umarex Colt Peacemaker can now be built as an “Ol’ Reliable” in a full weathered pellet version with the Airgun Builder as a counterpoint to the new Bear River (Barra) Schofield weathered model. You can also build an all nickel 7-1/2 inch Peacemaker (as a BB model no less) to rival the bright nickel finish Schofield. All the options are on the table now.
An age old rivalry
Almost since Umarex and Colt teamed up to produce the Peacemaker as a .177 caliber BB cartridge model, there have been hand engraved special editions available. With the addition of pellet firing, rifled barrel models in 2016, even more engraved versions were added to the John Wayne signature series, including “The Shootist” model, and a very limited edition 5-1/2 inch gold and nickel plated L.D. Nimschke hand engraved Peacemaker from Adams & Adams. Following the introduction of the 7-1/2 inch Peacemaker and Schofield, it only seemed fair to dredge up the old 1870’s rivalry between Colt and Smith & Wesson that had begun with the U.S. Cavalry.
Working with Adams & Adams engraving, Pyramyd Air was able to build a limited edition of hand engraved Peacemakers and Schofields, in the grand tradition of American arms making. With new Schofields in the pipeline and the Airgun Builder making it possible to create almost any configuration of SAA, it is likely we will see some new engraved examples in the future. To be true to the period Adams & Adams has used the same L.D. Nimschke and Cuno Helfricht patterns as were seen on many original Colt and S&W models. Recreating these historic designs on the CO2 Peacemakers and Schofields is no different than working on the original single action six-guns. The end result still combines the flowing scrollwork, foliate designs, and punch dot backgrounds necessary to cover the frame and topstrap, barrel, ejector housing, triggerguard and backstrap. The first of each done when the CO2 models were first introduced is shown here as an example of what can be accomplished.
Both the Colt and Schofield are copied from original cartridge models and have the approximate weight and balance of the real guns, and operation is virtually identical to the Colt and Schofield.
Food for thought
This is a sampling of original 19th century Colts that were factory engraved and a few 20th century factory guns to show how engraving and interpretations of engraving and gold inlay styles evolved. All of these combinations are possible (though not financially reasonable using real gold for the CO2 models), but there is very little that was done in the past that cannot be done in the present, and some of these designs have been reproduced by Adams & Adams and other noted American engravers. With the Airgun Builder the possibilities are much greater than ever before. Imagination and a willingness to spend some money to create a CO2 model that is uniquely yours are all it takes.
Peacemaker & Schofield comparisons downrange
With the new weathered Schofield adding some new blood to the competition, I wan to review the shootout I did between the engraved guns a couple of years ago because in that respect the guns have not changed. I shot the test at 25 feet, more or less splitting the distance between 21 feet, ideal for the smoothbore and 33 feet, ideal for the rifled barrel Colt.
The Schofield has a short, light hammer draw of 3 pounds, 13 ounces, a light 3 pound, 5 ounce, average trigger pull, and a very easy to operate topbreak latch that releases the barrel to swing down for reloading. The rebounding hammer has no firing pin, but does have a nicely checkered hammer spur, and an added manual safety mechanism discretely placed at the base of the hammer that rotates into a locked or unlocked position with the thumb. The one important alteration to the gun’s operation is a modification to the ejector design which stops short of kicking all six shell cases out of the cylinder; one concession to the original design you’ll be glad they made since empty shell cases have a habit of vanishing, and the air pistol’s are made to be reloaded. The BB shells are the same as those used in the Webley topbreak revolver so extra rounds are readily available.
The Schofield has a rear notch sight cut into the latch, rather than at the back of the topstrap channel like a Peacemaker. Conversely, the Colt has a taller and easier to see front blade sight, so in the end it’s almost a draw when it comes to taking careful aim.
As to which gun is faster on the draw, the Colt has always maintained a slight edge for speed, balance in the hand, and for pointing naturally, while the S&W’s grip angle and hammer shape make it a little less agile. Those who swear by the S&W will disagree because the hammer travels less distance to rotate the cylinder and cock the action. And of course, when it comes to reloading, the S&W leaves the Colt in the dust.
The 7-1/2 inch Umarex Colt tested has a light hammer draw of 4 pounds, 8 ounces average, and an almost hairpin 2 pound, 8 ounce, average trigger pull. The large hammer spur has nice heavy checkering, and as with the first CO2 models, the manual safety is very discretely hidden under the front of the frame forward of the triggerguard. For what it’s worth the manual safety on the Schofield, while a bit more obtrusive, is faster to work.
For the shootout between the smoothbore BB cartridge Schofield and rifled barrel pellet cartridge 7-1/2 inch Peacemaker, I selected Umarex .177 steel BBs and Meisterkugeln 7.0 gr. Professional Line wadcutter pellets. The target was a Birchwood Casey Shoot-N-C set out at 25 feet. All shots were fired using a two-handed hold for better stability. Both guns were chronographed with a six shot string, the Schofield averaging from 387 fps to 402 fps, the Colt 359 fps to 376 fps. The Schofield is factory rated at 410 fps and the Colt at 380 fps.
I fired two six round groups at the same target with each gun and the best average for the Schofield was 12 shots measuring 2.28 inches center to center with a best six covering 0.875 inches. I expected the Colt pellet model to do better at the same distance and it punched a dozen shots into 2.20 inches and a best six just a hair wider than the Schofield’s BB at 0.95 inches but with a pair in the X bull.
In the end both guns are shooting sub 1-inch groups at 25 feet with a marginal variance in accuracy between them. So, just as it was in the 1870s, choosing between a Peacemaker and a Schofield remains a matter of personal preference, and for those who carried both revolvers in the Old West, they drew which ever gun was fastest. Last, and most noteworthy, the difference between smoothbore BB and rifled barrel pellet revolvers remains a close decision once again. As for me, I continue to ascribe to Doc Holliday’s philosophy, …“I have two guns, one for each of you.”
THE WINNER OF THE 3-1/2 NICKLE PEACEMAKER
This was a tough contest and only few were willing to step up to the table and try and answer the 10 questions on Colt history. Most, but not all, of the answers could be found by reading the articles on the Colt CO2 Peacemakers (and the answer to question 2 is actually on the gun’s patent dates!), but a little extra research or a knowledge of Colt history was needed to get all 10 correct. We congratulate Lawman67 for correctly answering all 10 and even adding a little added detail. It is a job well done.
Who designed the Colt Peacemaker?
In what year was the first patent for the Peacemaker (Single Action Army) granted?
Sept. 19, 1871
In what year did Colt’s build its first Sheriff’s Model without an ejector?
What was the barrel length on that first Sheriff’s Model?
In what year was the Transverse Cylinder Latch design introduced on the Peacemaker?
We know the first caliber for the Peacemaker was .45 Colt. What was the second caliber introduced in 1875?
The first Limited Edition John Wayne Shootist CO2 model (blued and hand engraved gun with presentation box) was based on the guns Wayne used in his last film, The Shootist. Who built those engraved .45 Colts for John Wayne? Here’s a hint, it wasn’t Colt!
In what year did Colt’s introduce 4-3/4 and 5-1/2 inch barrels?
When did Colt suspend manufacturing of the Peacemaker?
When did Colt reintroduce the Peacemaker?