First Look: New Barra Schofield Part 2
Almost aged to perfection
By Dennis Adler
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.