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.

The holster worn for this article is copied from an original 1870’s double drop loop design. Holsters were not designed for quick draw back then, but rather to cover as much of the gun as possible except the grips. You can see the curve of the throat covers almost all of the triggerguard. The cartridge belt is actually for .38 Colt or .38-40 (.38 WCF) cartridges but works very well with the Umarex Colt BB or pellet cartridges, which have a diameter somewhere between a .32-20 WCF and .38 caliber cartridge.

Since I am planning on writing about this new Umarex Colt model in Guns of the Old West I’ve gone full tilt with photography for this gun test. For those of you who may want to step back in time with me, most of the western clothing I wear in Guns of the Old West and Airgun Experience is readily available, except the old leather fringed pants, which were custom made by Classic Old West Styles (COWS). The brown canvas duster, shirt and bandanna (wild rag) I’m wearing in the photos are also made in Texas by COWS and very affordable. The hat is from Historical Emporium and is known as a Laredo Hat, it’s a soft felt with a crown that can be easily reshaped or left as I am wearing it in the photos. As for the holster by Chisholm’s Trail, they have a wide variety of rigs for 5-1/2 and 7-1/2 inch Colts and the Umarex Colt Peacemakers fit perfectly. They also have a line that will soon be available exclusively from Pyramyd Air.

In a western movie a little extra drama is often needed for the camera, especially in a gunfight, and in fact, if one were wearing a long duster it would have to be thrown back, as the author is doing, to clear the holster. For added effect, like the movies, the coat has been thrown back harder and further than one would necessarily need to clear the holster.

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A little drama

In a western movie a little drama is needed, especially in a gunfight, and in fact, if one were wearing a long duster it would have to be thrown back to clear the holster. In my action sequence drawing the Umarex Colt Peacemaker the flaring coattail adds to the effect as it would in a film or even a still photo. As to “fast draw” there really wasn’t much of that in the Old West. Holsters just were not designed for it, especially in the 1870s. They were built to cover and protect the gun from the elements. Guns sat low in the holster because the throat was cut shallow to cover almost all of the triggerguard, like the 1870’s style example I’m wearing. The best way to increase speed with a period style holster is to wear it crossdraw and sweep the gun across your waist. Pulling a 7-1/2 in shootin’ iron from a vertical holster on the strong side takes a long motion before you can rotate the barrel up. That’s why you see a lot of cowboys (mostly in films) wearing their holster slung low on the hip. You rarely see this in period photos.

Clearing leather with a 7-1/2 inch Colt worn on the strong side takes a bit of doing until the muzzle clears the holster and can be leveled for a hip shot at close range or brought up for an aimed shot with the arm outstretched. There was very little of what we think of as a fast draw shootout. Men were fast alright, but often with shorter barreled revolvers, which made the 5-1/2 inch Colt so popular.
Bringing a 7-1/2 inch revolver up to above waist level for a quick shot was pretty much what happened back in the day. Shooting accuracy at any great distance was limited except for the most skilled of shootists.

The crossdraw sweep cuts drawing time down a little if you’re fast enough; it’s really a personal choice. Most gunfights in the Old West were slow and more often than not, guns were already drawn before any shooting started. Sometimes that was enough to prevent it from starting at all if everyone had their wits about them. The quick draw like we see in TV and movies is mostly exaggerated, and back in the days of the great B&W television Westerns, the fast draw was done from specially designed holsters with most of the triggerguard exposed by a deeply cut down throat and a contoured pouch that allowed the gun to be cocked while it was still in the holster. That was part of the secret.

Fanning the hammer was another seldom used trick by most cowboys because accuracy was even more limited (with the exception of the aforementioned most skilled shooters). The hammers were also coarsely checkered to get a firm hold on with the thumb and fanning the hammer was pretty hard on the hand. If you have run a couple of dozen rounds through the CO2 Peacemakers this way you know what I mean. Those who were practiced in the skill back in the Old West usually had the checkering smoothed down or removed altogether from the hammer.
More often than not, most men had already drawn their revolver well before the shooting started. It was both a warning and a challenge. By this point, as illustrated, the die had already been cast. The Umarex Colt looks like it is ready to sling some lead, albeit 4.5mm rather than .45 caliber.

Richard Boone in Have Gun, Will Travel was a master of the quick draw. Most of the Warner Bros. TV Western stars all used the same style fast draw rigs designed by Hollywood quick draw expert and gun coach, Arvo Ojala. Sometime later I’ll get into a discussion about those designs and practicing with an Umarex Colt Peacemaker.

For the shooting test with the new 7-1/2 inch nickel and gold model the author fired one-handed aiming with the sights at a full-sized B-27 silhouette target set out at about 30 feet. A second set was shot on the same target from 10 feet drawing and fanning all six rounds.

The new Peacemaker speaks

Let’s start with comparisons. Using my 2016 hand engraved 7-1/2 inch Umarex Colt Peacemaker as a baseline; trigger pull on this latest model is nearly a hair trigger averaging 1 pound, 11.6 ounces compared to 2 pounds, 9.6 ounces average for the engraved model. The latest 7-1/2 inh model triggers have the same take up but less stacking and a lighter pull.

Average velocity with the engraved 7-1/2 inch rifled barrel model and Meisterkugeln Professional Line 7.0 gr. lead wadcutters was 416 fps. The new nickel and gold model came up a little slower, clocking an average velocity of 395 fps, a deviation of 21 fps. (I am, however, showing a velocity test from last summer for the engraved model, which was taken outdoors at 90 degrees, vs. an indoor chronograph test with different indoor screens, at a temperature of 70 degrees for the newer gun).

The new nickel and gold model tested had a lighter trigger pull than the earlier all nickel models, one of which was used to make the very first of the hand-engraved Nimschke series 7-1/2 inch models (pictured).

Using a full-size cardboard B-27 silhouette target, the nickel and gold 7-1/2 inch Colt, using a one-handed hold and aimed shots at 30 feet, delivered six rapidly fired rounds at 1.5 inches and a second almost matching group at 1.51 inches all in the 10 and X rings. Shooting from the waist at 10 feet I fanned off six shots that grouped into 1.75 inches, a little low and left of the bullseye. Of course, there’s no recoil with the Umarex Colt Peacemaker, so accuracy is a little easier, especially when fanning!

Using a one-handed hold and aimed shots at 30 feet, I managed two 1.5 inch groups. Firing from 10 feet and fanning the Colt from just above waist level, I placed all six rounds at 1.75 inches. At that distance you can actually see the pellets hitting the target. My shots were almost all a little left and low but good close hits. You can practice fanning with the CO2 Peacemaker but rapid firing can cause a decrease in velocity by super cooling the CO2.

This is all great practice for Cowboy Action Shooting and actually a lot more fun with a Peacemaker than precision shooting at 10 meters! It is also a lot cheaper, much quieter, and easier to clean up after, than firing wax bullets from a centerfire Peacemaker. On the latter topic, this spring we’ll get into fast draw practice with the Umarex Colt Peacemakers using fast draw holsters and drawing techniques.

Saturday another question is answered, “Which is faster, a Single Action Colt or a Double Action revolver?”

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