First Look: New Barra Schofield Part 2

First Look: New Barra Schofield Part 2

Almost aged to perfection

By Dennis Adler

At a distance one would be hard pressed to decide if this was an old S&W Schofield revolver or the new aged Barra Schofield hanging on the wall with an old hand tooled leather holster and cartridge belt.

If we are going to look at the new model as just a finish option it will need to perform as well as the original and nickel Schofield models, both with BB shells and the rear-loading pellet shells. First, let’s review what those guns delivered for velocity.

Colt v. S&W

Compared to a 7-1/2 inch barrel length Colt SAA, the Schofield and Colt are comparably balanced but almost everyone to a man will find the Colt faster to cock because of the larger hammer and longer hammer spur. I’ve never found the difference that significant when drawing from a holster – strong side or crossdraw (my personal preference) –especially since the Schofield’s hammer has a shorter length of travel to cock the action. The real difference for me is in re-cocking the gun after firing the first shot, and here the longer Colt hammer has a slight advantage. Of course, one learns how to work with what they have. If all you carried back in the day was an S&W model you got fast with it. It just depended how fast the guy with the Colt was.

The dark side of the Barra Schofield family looks like an old gun against the limited edition, hand engraved Bear River “Texas Jack” model (top) and a nickel hand engraved Umarex Colt Peacemaker. The hand engraved guns were done for Pyramyd Air by Adams & Adams. The dark horse(soldier) version looks like a gun that was pulled from a U.S. Cavalry holster in the late 1870s. An aged gun like this costs a lot less than a custom engraved version and shoots just as well.
The real value in the aged Schofield model is that like the nickel, hand engraved one above, it can shoot the rear-loading pellet cartridges (1). The standard BB cartridges that come with the gun (2) hold the BB in the nose of the cartridge by pressing it into the hollow point opening. Like the real Schofield vs. the Colt Peacemaker, the rear-loading pellet cartridge (3) is not the right size to fit the Schofield. Historic irony!

When I tested the original Bear River Schofield model in 2016, the gun averaged 418 fps with Hornady Black Diamond black anodized steel BBs. A year later a test with a nickel gun hand engraved by Adams & Adams (sold as the “Texas Jack by Pyramyd air), the Schofield clocked an average of 387 fps to 402 fps. The 7-1/2 inch pellet-cartridge Peacemaker in that test, also hand engraved by Adams & Adams clocked 359 fps to 376 fps with 7.0 gr. lead wadcutters. The Colt was rated at 380 fps. The new 2020 Schofield model is factory rated at 410 fps with steel BBs. The original Schofield test gun had a short, light hammer draw of 3 pounds, 13 ounces, and a light 3 pound, 5 ounce average trigger pull. The rebounding hammer on the CO2 model has no firing pin, another visual tell, along with the hammer setting slightly the back from the frame, but it does have a nicely checkered hammer spur. One point about a flat hammer face (though this does not apply to the CO2 Schofield) is that you will see a flat hammer face on certain Single Action Army (Colt) style pistols equipped with a modern transfer bar. The transfer bar is intended as a failsafe to prevent accidental discharge if a loaded gun is dropped and the hammer is resting on a loaded chamber. The transfer bar does not move out of position blocking the frame-mounted firing pin from the hammer, until the trigger is pulled. The Great Western Single Actions c.1950s used flat face hammers with a floating firing pin in the frame. [Now, if you follow your John Wayne movies you know he used his own engraved Great Western revolvers in The Shootist, and they are often mistaken for actual Colts because they had firing pins on the hammers. How is this possible? Wayne’s Great Westerns were modified to use Colt hammers, a fact later verified by Wayne’s costumer, Luster Bayless. Later on, Great Western offered the modification for an extra charge]. The Schofield CO2 models have a flat hammer because the firing pin is the valve at the back of the frame. The Colt CO2 models have a short firing pin (more of a firing nub) which strikes the valve release incorporated into the firing system at the back of the hammer channel.

There are some big differences between the Umarex Colt Peacemaker and the Barra Schofield, aside from the obvious, starting with the hammers. The Colt is faster for a second shot but the Schofield is just as fast cocking the hammer as it clears leather, especially from a crossdraw. The Colt CO2 model gives you three clicks, the Schofield a genteel two and with almost half the time to rotate the cylinder and lock into battery. Another point, and why the Colt pellet cartridges won’t work in the Schofield is the gap from the back of the cylinder to the recoil shield. The Schofield is a tighter fit because of the gun’s topbreak design. The Colt has a much large gap and the cartridges have deeper rims.
Other noteworthy differences are in the makeup of the firing system. The Peacemaker has a small nub of a firing pin on the hammer (2) which strikes the long spring in the frame’s hammer channel (1) transferring the impact to the release valve underneath. This piece also functions as a mainspring when the hammer is cocked. The longer frame of the Schofield allows a completely different design and a flat faced hammer that directly strikes the release valve (serving as an internal firing pin). Compared to the Colt, the Schofield actually rotates the cylinder and cocks faster. The grip angle and ability to naturally point the gun slightly favors the Colt. In the Old West the Colt was preferred over the S&W, but that didn’t dissuade the men who carried them. Counted among lawmen who liked the topbreak S&W was Virgil Earp.

Average velocity with the latest model averaged the factory spec 410 fps using Umarex Precision steel BBs. The high velocity was 417 fps, the 399 fps. Trigger pull averaged 3 pounds, 6 ounces on the new gun. Hammer draw was a little heavier than the original model, at an average of 5 pounds, 1 ounce, which is still light and very smooth with the long, wide, deeply checkered hammer spur.  

The new Barra model comes in a nice cardboard box just like the Colt Peacemakers, so on that count the box is a big deal when it comes to storing your new aged finish Schofield.

Switching from steel BBs to 4.5mm lead wadcutter pellets was another repeat performance. With the original engraved test gun in 2017, the ProChrono chronograph recorded averages of 419 to 429 fps for two consecutive 6-round tests, with a high of 446 fps and a low of 418 fps shooting RWS Meisterkugeln 7.0 gr. lead wadcutters. Today’s new Schofield aged model firing the same ammo from rear-loading Schofield/Webley pellet shells clock an average of 429 fps, with a high of 440 fps and a low of 425 fps. Once again much faster with lead wadcutters than lighter weight steel BBs. Why? Two reasons, first the rear-loading pellet shells, which in repeated tests have shown higher velocity than front loading pellet or BB shells (the Schofield uses front loading BB shells). Secondly, the design of the Schofield’s CO2 firing system puts the air valve directly behind the skirt of the pellet in the chambered shell. Thus, the heavier 7.0 gr. lead wadcutters delivers consistently higher velocities than the lighter 5.25 gr. steel BB. The bottom line; if you want to get the most out of the Schofield purchase the pellet shells and shoot pellets. BBs cost less but will give you less.

As a quick draw gun (quick out of a conventional California Pattern holster), the Schofield swings up nicely and is easy to cock on the draw.

Shots downrange

I ran the Meisterkugeln wadcutters through the hand engraved Schofield Texas Jack in 2017 and my best 12 rounds, fired using a two-handed hold, grouped with an impressive 1.24 inch spread and a best 6-shots, all overlapping, at 0.685 inches. The Schofield with the then new rear-loading pellet cartridges almost unseated the rifled barrel 7-1/2 inch Peacemaker as the most accurate pellet firing revolver at 21 feet. The Colt still holds the record with 6-shots at 0.5 inches, but the Schofield only lost by a mere 0.185 inches with its smoothbore barrel!

Old TV westerns were in B&W so I thought I would wrap up this test in period color where the Schofield looks right at home. In TV western history, you won’t find too many S&W topbreaks, but one memorable show had star Robert Culp (as Texas Ranger Hoby Gilman) carrying an S&W in Trackdown. The show aired on CBS from 1957 to 1959 and led to a spinoff series. Anyone remember what that was?

Today’s test, also shot from 21 feet with 6-shot groups delivered a best five rounds at 0.575 inches, and a second six at 1.24 inches with the best five at 0.75 inches. Right out of the box shooting to POA at 21 feet, the new gun Schofield loaded with pellet cartridges can still shoot almost as good as a rifled barrel 7-1/2 inch Peacemaker at the same range. I can only imagine what a rifled barrel Schofield will be able to do.

The Schofield aims as well as a Colt (maybe even a little better with an actual rear sight) and the light trigger pull makes it easy hold on target.

Finish notwithstanding, this latest aged Schofield can also hold its own against the earlier nickel and limited edition engraved versions. And honestly, much as I like engraved guns, a well worn gun doesn’t trouble you as much as accidentally putting a mark on nickel or a more expensive hand engraved one. 

My best two 6-round groups were tight and had multiple overlapping hits with Meisterkugeln 7.0 gr. lead wadcutters fired from Schofield/Webley rear-loading pellet shells.

Looks like we’re in for nasty weathering…

Next week in the Part 3 conclusion, we add some more distress and minimize the white lettering on the newest Barra Schofield CO2 model.

Have a safe Labor Day weekend. The Airgun Experience will be back next Thursday, September 10th.

5 thoughts on “First Look: New Barra Schofield Part 2

  1. First the spinoff was Wanted Dead or Alive, spun off after Steve McQueen did a guest star appearance as bounty hunter Josh Randall. What a difference a finish makes on the Schofield. Glad Barra is remarketing what is one of the great must have airgun replicas. My experience is the Schofield , even with bbs is a tack driver. Barra is run by some nice people. I sent them my out of warranty nickel Schofield, they took it to repair, and emailed me about a problem. While replacing the valve assembly they broke the retaining screws. They had none in stock , and new parts and revolvers would not be available for a few months. They had a nickel display model and they sent me that one as a replacement , and only charged me for shipping. Nice folks. I plan on ordering a pair of Wells Fargo models when available. Now I will have to do something about the finish on my parkerized looking Schofield. Nice shooting. I find that in two handed shooting using the off hand thumb to cock the hammer, the Schofield is fast. The Colt is still faster from the holster, but for a running gunfight like in Open Range, the Schofield is a better choice, as it was for reloading on horseback.






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