Colt Peacemaker vs. Schofield Topbreak Revolver

.177 caliber Colt Peacemaker vs. Schofield Topbreak Revolver

Two Gun Lawman Part 1

By Dennis Adler

One gun or two, that was a decision a lot of lawmen made in the 1870s and 1880s, usually it was two, one with a shorter barrel, but occasionally, it was a pair of long barreled six-shooters. In this case a mix of Colt Peacemaker and Schofield. (Custom holsters by TrailRider Products)
One gun or two, that was a decision a lot of lawmen made in the 1870s and 1880s, usually it was two, one with a shorter barrel, but occasionally, it was a pair of long barreled six-shooters. In this case a mix of Colt Peacemaker and Schofield. (Custom holsters by TrailRider Products)

While most men preferred, or could only afford to carry one handgun or rifle, others chose to wear a brace of pistols around their waist. Outlaw Jesse James famously wore a pair of S&W single action topbreaks, while his brother Frank preferred two 1875 Remington .44-40s. Legendary pistolero and lawman James Butler “Wild Bill” Hickok always sported a pair of 1851 Colt Navy models around his waist, (though he also owned an 1860 Army .44 Colt cartridge conversion and an S&W Model No.2 Army .32 rimfire pistol); El Paso, Texas lawman and Deputy U.S. Marshal Dallas Stoudenmire was another shootist who preferred a brace of six-guns, he favored a .44 S&W Model 3 American topbreak and a Colt Richards-Mason .44 centerfire conversion, with the barrel cut down to 2-5/8 inches. He carried the latter in his left front pocket butt forward. read more

Airguns of the American West Part 8

Airguns of the American West Part 8

So, you hate the finish on the standard Schofield airgun?

Here are the finishing touches to an authentic looking antiqued version

By Dennis Adler

Is it a real vintage Schofield? Nope, this is the Bear River model with the anodized charcoal black finish polished off and various parts of the gun faux color cased and blued to match an original civilian model Schofield.
Is it a real vintage Schofield? Nope, this is the Bear River model with the charcoal black finish polished off and parts of the gun faux color cased and blued to match an original Schofield.

It’s later on the second day and I am starting with the gun as completely polished out as possible. You could stop here, but since I have an original photo of a nickel plated civilian model, I know there is more that can be done to make the Schofield airgun more authentic in appearance.

Polishing and more polishing

It is necessary to polish out the entire gun, even parts that are not supposed to be polished, because they will have the wrong finish if left in charcoal black. This includes the top latch, which is one of the trickiest parts to polish, as well as color caseharden. Did I say color caseharden? Well, not really. If you actually had the equipment to do it, it wouldn’t work; just like Parkerizing, it’s not applicable to aluminum alloy. (The temperatures necessary for bone charcoal color case hardening also exceed the melting point for the cast aluminum alloy used in airguns.) But one of the many little tricks I learned antiquing black powder guns was how to create a faux color casehardened look on steel, that also just happens to also work on aluminum alloy! And it doesn’t require anything other than cold blue and gun oil mixed in the correct proportions. read more

Airguns of the American West Part 7

Airguns of the American West Part 7

So, you hate the finish on the standard Schofield airgun?

Here’s how to make your own antiqued model like the author’s.

By Dennis Adler 

The standard finish Schofield airgun has a slightly reflective charcoal gray finish that is far more modern than the gun’s 1870’s design. Bear River also offers a nickel version, but the gun pictured above is not nickel, but a polished out standard model with a few features that are more akin to the original design of the civilian model Schofields.
The standard Schofield airgun has a slightly reflective charcoal gray finish that’s far more modern than the gun’s 1870’s design. Bear River also has a nickel version, but the gun pictured above is not nickel, it’s a polished out standard model with a few features that are more akin to the original civilian model Schofields. Also, note the lengthy manufacturer’s info on the right side of the frame. This is also polished off with the finish.

Like many Western airgun enthusiasts, I was thrilled to see a Schofield model introduced this year. When I received the first one I was immediately taken with the accuracy of the gun to an original. I made comparisons, and the job done by Bear River is exemplary. And I see no reason why they had to opt for an incorrect finish on what was a remarkably close copy (save for the manual safety behind the hammer) of the S&W Schofield military revolver. Finish aside, it feels very much like a real Schofield in the hand; the hammer and trigger pull are close, the grip design excellent. The top latch is a little light on resistance and you can inadvertently open the gun if you over reach when cocking the hammer (harmless but embarrassing), and the shortened travel of the extractor is a good choice to prevent those re-loadable BB cartridges from flying out. It is a job well done. And Bear River quickly came to market with a nickel plated version for those who found the charcoal black finish unappealing. But for those of us who already have the charcoal black guns, and a couple of days to devote to refinishing it, you can make it into an even more authentic looking gun than the nickel version, just like the example pictured above! read more

Airguns of the American West Part 6

Airguns of the American West Part 6

Shooting the Schofield Revolver

As close as it gets to the real thing!

By Dennis Adler 

The S&W topbreak revolvers, including g civilian models of the Schofield, found their way into the holsters of lawmen, like Virgil Earp and Dallas Stoudenmire, cowboys and cattlemen, as well as notorious outlaws like John Wesley Hardin and Jesse James. The nickel plated Bear River Schofield is an extremely accurate copy of the famed S&W .45 Schofield Model. (Holster by .45Maker, cartridge belt by John Bianchi Frontier Gunleather)
The S&W topbreak revolvers, including civilian models of the Schofield, found their way into the holsters of lawmen, such as Virgil Earp and Dallas Stoudenmire, cowboys and cattlemen, as well as notorious outlaws like John Wesley Hardin and Jesse James. The nickel plated Bear River Schofield is an extremely accurate copy of the famed S&W .45 Schofield Model. (Holster by .45Maker, cartridge belt by John Bianchi Frontier Gunleather)

The .177 caliber Schofield revolver is a page right out of Western history, the gun that beat Colt’s to market with the first larger caliber single action cartridge loading revolver, and in 1870 got the bulge on Colt’s with the first U.S. Cavalry orders for a new post Civil War handgun. The topbreak S&W Schofield and No. 3 American models may not have been as famous as the Colt Peacemaker, but they certainly wrote themselves a chapter in the story of the American West. The new .177 caliber Schofield models bring that same heritage to the Western airgun market with two well built and accurate six-shooters. read more

Airguns of the American West Part 5

Airguns of the American West Part 5

The Schofield Revolver

Colt’s perpetual rival

By Dennis Adler

By the early 1870s S&W had become the first American armsmaker to offer a large caliber, cartridge-loading revolver. This S&W Second Model American with nickel plated finish and 8-inch barrel is pictured in this daguerreotype portrait of a man holding a nickel plated S&W American. (Mike Clark Collection/Collectors Firearms)
By the early 1870s S&W had become the first American armsmaker to offer a large caliber, cartridge-loading revolver. This S&W Second Model American with nickel plated finish and 8-inch barrel is pictured in this daguerreotype portrait of a man holding a nickel plated S&W American. (Mike Clark Collection/Collectors Firearms)

By 1870, the self contained metallic cartridge introduced by S&W, had grown up from an anemic 7-shot .22 Short pocket pistol in 1857, to the man-stopping .44 caliber top break revolver. And S&W beat Colt’s to the draw by almost two years, introducing America’s first large caliber cartridge revolver in 1870, the .44 caliber S&W Model 3 American.

S&W’s control and enforcement of the Rollin White patent for the bored through cylinder, which they purchased in 1855, prevented Colt’s or any American arms maker from producing a breech-loading cartridge revolver until 1869, by which time S&W had established itself as the leading manufacturer of cartridge-firing arms in the U.S. read more

Airguns of the American West Part 1

Airguns of the American West Part 1

Colt, Smith & Wesson and Winchester – Delivering Western Justice 

By Dennis Adler

Author’s note: This series of articles is based on the books Guns of the American West and Colt 175 Years, and chronicles the history of the original models that inspired these new western airguns, and how through their development a dramatic chapter in America’s history is being rewritten for airgun enthusiasts the world over. 

The Guns that Won the West included single action revolvers from Colt and Smith & Wesson, and Winchester lever action rifles. Modern CO2-powered Old West guns not only provide the look but the feel of the original 19th century designs. Pictures at top the Umarex lever action rifle, far left two nickel plated Schofield revolvers from Bear River, center two hand engraved Umarex Colt Peacemakers with a Western Justice holster and cartridge belt, and at lower right the standard blued model Umarex Colt SAA with a Cavalry holster and belt by John Bianchi Frontier Gunleather.
The “Guns that Won the West” included single action revolvers from Colt and Smith & Wesson, and Winchester lever action rifles. Modern CO2-powered western guns provide both the look and feel of the original 19th Century designs. Pictured at top, the Umarex lever action rifle, far left, two nickel plated Schofield revolvers from Bear River, center, two hand engraved Umarex Colt Peacemakers with a Western Justice holster and cartridge belt, and lower right, a blued model Umarex Colt SAA with Cavalry holster and belt by John Bianchi Frontier Gunleather.

There are three names in American firearms history that are known the world over: Colt, Winchester, and Smith & Wesson, but of all the legendary American armsmakers over the last 180 years, none embodies the genius or the history of Samuel Colt and the Colt’s Patent Fire-Arms Manufacturing Company. Colt is the American handgun. read more