Three guns at 10 paces Part 2

Three guns at 10 paces Part 2 Part 1

How important is barrel length?

By Dennis Adler

Loaded with Colts for every distance, a lawman might have carried both a 7-1/2 inch and a 5-1/2 inch Peacemaker, and even a Sheriff’s Model in a shoulder holster for a backup. With the fine Umarex CO2 models, 7-1/2 inch holstered, 5-1/2 inch deluxe Nimschke hand engraved model tucked in my belt, and the “Almost a Colt” Ace in the Hole in the c.1890s Al. Furstnow-style skeleton shoulder rig, optimum range for accuracy is 10 meters, no matter what the barrel length. The question is how much difference does barrel length make with the CO2 Peacemakers?

Although Colt’s offered many barrel lengths, the company only considered the 1888 Sheriff’s Model with 3-1/2 inch barrel, the 4-3/4 inch, 5-1/2 inch and 7-1/2 inch barrel lengths as “standard” models, everything else was a special order barrel. The 5-1/2 inch and 4-3/4 inch were introduced in 1875, technically, three years after the 7-1/2 inch model designed by William Mason was accepted by the U.S. Ordnance Department as the Army’s new military issue sidearm. That was in 1872 not 1873. While the Peacemaker is regarded as an 1873 model, the first patent was granted on September 19, 1871. A second patent was received on July 2, 1872 and both patent dates were stamped on the left side of Singe Action Army frames produced through 1875. That year Mason and Colt’s were granted a third patent for the design dated January 19, 1875. All three patent dates were stamped on frames beginning early that year. This was known as the three line patent date stamp and 5-1/2 inch models have three patent dates on their frames. read more


Three guns at 10 paces Part 1

Three guns at 10 paces Part 1

How important is barrel length?

By Dennis Adler

“Whenever you get into a row, be sure not to shoot

too quick. Take time. I’ve known many a feller to

slip up for shootin’ in a hurry.”

                                                 – James Butler Hickok

I was just finishing up a 2-day photo shoot for Guns of the Old West, so it seemed like the right time to bring out the Umarex Colt Peacemakers and get in some authentic looking photos for Airgun Experience with these three Umarex models. You have to give a little latitude for the Ace in the Hole in the shoulder rig, which isn’t officially a Colt-licensed model and not entirely authentic looking either. But it gets the job done.

In his famous July 20th, 1865 Springfield, Missouri, gunfight with ex-Confederate David Tutt, Wild Bill Hickok carefully rested his 7-1/2 inch barreled Colt 1851 Navy over his left arm and, after first being fired upon by Tutt, who missed Hickok by several inches, returned fire killing the man where he stood with a single shot through the heart at a distance of 75 paces. Just what exactly is a “pace?” Webster’s defines it as “…any of various standard linear measures, representing the space naturally measured by the movement of the feet in walking: roughly 30 to 40 inches.” Thus 75 paces across the Springfield town square was a distance of anywhere between 175 to 250 feet. Let’s call it an average of 200 feet from the muzzle of Hickok’s Colt Navy, fired from the corner of South Street, to David Tutt taking aim at Wild Bill from in front of the courthouse and the corner of Campbell Street. This was the gunfight that established Hickok’s legend as a shootist, a reputation that served him well as a lawman, giving many a man facing him a moment of clarity before reaching for a gun, but later in life prompted others to try a make a reputation by killing him. Jack McCall took the cowards way out and murdered Wild Bill in Deadwood, North Dakota Territory on August 2, 1876 by shooting him from behind. McCall eventually hung for his deed. read more


A Boring Topic

A Boring Topic

When you can and can’t shoot a .177 caliber lead BB 

By Dennis Adler

The caliber conundrum, when is a .177 caliber not 0.177 inches? When it is a steel BB (far left) which actually has a diameter of 0.173 inches (average) or 4.3mm, compared to a lead round pellet (center) which is just slightly larger at 4.5mm, or a wadcutter pellet (right). The difference in diameter is what keeps you from loading a lead ball into a .177 caliber, magazine-fed blowback action pistol designed for steel BBs. This is the same whether it is a stick magazine or a self-contained CO2 BB magazine; that .2mm difference is a lot with an air pistol.

The operative word in Airgun Experience is experience, and the way you get experience is by doing things and often doing them wrong. Failure is the best teacher, and hopefully it isn’t always costly, just educational. One of the early mistakes I made was trying to shoot .177 caliber lead BBs from a semi-auto pistol chambered for .177 caliber steel BBs. Lead BBs don’t fit. An air pistol that shoots steel BBs and is marked .177 caliber (4.5mm) does not actually shoot a .177 caliber diameter BB. Now, if it is a pellet-firing rifled barrel pistol it can, because the bore on a .177 caliber BB pistol and a 4.5mm pellet pistol are not exactly the same. A steel BB will drop right through the barrel on a smoothbore blowback action BB pistol. A 4.5mm pellet won’t even fit if you try to insert it, whereas with a pellet firing pistol you can actually push the pellet into the barrel. read more


Perchance to Dream

Perchance to Dream

If we had our way

By Dennis Adler

You can do the same thing with a Colt licensed CO2-powered Peacemaker as was done with the original guns in the Old West; in other words, make them more than the sum of their parts through engraving. The real 3rd generation Colt Nimschke New York engraved model at top, engraved by Adams & Adams, was the inspiration for the current hand engraved CO2 model (bottom) available from Pyramyd Air.

If we were to interpret the meaning of this line from Hamlet in the context of “to have versus to want,” then the question is, “is it better to give up than face the troubles?” Not our troubles, but those of airgun manufacturers with a global market. A lot of us are expecting a renaissance in airgun design for the American market, but the Renaissance took place in Europe the first time, and that is where it is happening again, at least for airguns that have the greatest appeal to readers of the Airgun Experience. We covet what we cannot have, it is human nature, and more so the nature of collectors and enthusiasts. What many of us envision as the “next logical step” is, in fact, logical, but it is not always practical, “…ay, there’s the rub.” read more


Winning the Cold War

Winning the Cold War

The battle between CO2 and the thermometer Part 3 Part 2 Part 1

By Dennis Adler

Back in the Old West guns had to work no matter what the temperature. With CO2 powered Peacemakers it isn’t quite as cut and dried. Depending upon the gun, CO2 can be problematic at temperatures below 50 degrees (CO2 works best at between 70 and 80 degrees), but as this cold weather test will show, there are always exceptions. (The custom 5-1/2 inch Colt holster by Chisholm’s Trail is now available from Pyramyd Air)

Using Nitrogen in place of CO2 has its benefits if the temperature is well below minimum for CO2. But there is another question, CO2 super cools when rapid firing is involved, this could be fanning a single action, like the 5-1/2 inch Umarex Colt Peacemaker or using a select fire semi-auto, such as the Umarex Model 712 Broomhandle Mauser. I have put these two classic 19th century handguns (the Broomhandle was initially developed in 1895), into a 21st century battle to see how well Nitrogen survives the ultimate test of an air pistol. read more


Deluxe Colt 7-1/2 inch Peacemaker Part 3

Deluxe Colt 7-1/2 inch Peacemaker Part 3 Part 2 Part 1

Which is faster, a Single Action or a Double Action

By Dennis Adler

In the photo are centerfire 5-1/2 inch and 7-1/2 inch Colt Peacemakers (the CO2 models top and third down) and a .455 Webley MK VI (bottom left) for comparison with the comparable CO2 models, making this a legitimate standoff c.1915, the year the Webley MK VI was introduced.

To conclude this review of the latest 7-1/2 inch Peacemaker from Umarex and Colt, I’m going to answer a question that has loomed over revolvers since 1877 when the Colt’s Patent Fire-Arms Mfg. Co. introduced the first American cartridge-loading double action revolver. “Is it faster than a Single Action?” The answer depends upon a great number of variables, the greatest of which is, who’s doing the shooting?

The legendary exhibition shooter Ed McGivern set a record shooting two S&W Model 10 double action revolvers on August 20, 1932 and emptying both in less than 2 seconds. The following month he set another record firing 5 rounds from an S&W Model 10 at 15 feet in 2/5ths of a second and grouping his shots close enough that he could cover them with his hand. He was actually faster with a double action revolver than anyone with a semi-auto! So, if the question is “which is faster, a single or double action revolver” and the person pulling the trigger was Ed McGivern, the answer is Ed McGivern. (You should check out on line videos of McGivern’s shooting exhibitions in the 1930s. They are unbelievable). read more


Deluxe Colt 7-1/2 inch Peacemaker Part 2

Deluxe Colt 7-1/2 inch Peacemaker Part 2 Part 1

Getting your cowboy game on

By Dennis Adler

Going all out with the Umarex Colt Peacemaker, the author gears up to test the latest 7-1/2 inch rifled barrel pellet model using an authentic 1870’s holster and cartridge belt. In colder weather or on a dusty trail cowboys often wore long coats or dusters. These provided added protection for firearms and clothing but also made it harder to reach for that smokewagon if the need arose. Most learned how to tuck the side of the coat behind their holster. In later years a few holsters were made with high back panels that made it easier to tuck the side of a coat.

Rather than doing my usual slow fire accuracy test with CO2 handguns, I decided to go Old West with this latest rifled barrel, pellet-firing Umarex Colt Peacemaker and shoot it like a real .45 drawn from the holster and fired duelist style at a man-sized silhouette target at 10 paces (Old West for about 27 to 30 feet; determined by the average distance of a man’s step). I want to see what this latest 7-1/2 inch pellet-cartridge model can do in a gunfight scenario, also, we all know how darned accurate this thing is at 10 meters with a modern two-handed hold, so going with a one-handed Western shooting stance will be more challenging. If you are into Cowboy Action Shooting, practice sessions with the 7-1/2 inch CO2 Peacemaker (indoors especially) is time well spent working on drawing and aiming. And if you’ve got the gear, playing the part to the hilt adds that much more fun with CO2. read more