Peacemaker and Schofield at 10 meters

Peacemaker and Schofield at 10 meters

The Last Gunfight

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By Dennis Adler

The final showdown between the Peacemaker and Schofield will leave no question as to which of these two CO2 pellet cartridge-firing revolvers is the most accurate when it comes to pushing a 4.5mm wadcutter downrange from the 10 meter line.

Alright buckaroos we have come down to the last gunfight, the 7-1/2 inch rifled barrel pellet-cartridge firing Colt Peacemaker vs. the smoothbore 7-inch pellet-firing Schofield. This was the inevitable showdown once the Schofield got its rear-loading 4.5mm pellet rounds to rival the Colt’s rear-loading “silver” bullets. This is the duel, the Peacemaker and Schofield at 10 meters.

Leveling a somewhat un-level playing field

How can you put a smoothbore up against a rifled barreled pistol? The Bear River Schofield has earned its chance to challenge the most accurate pellet cartridge firing single action revolver on the market by delivering groups at 21 feet that are within a fraction of an inch to equaling the best the 7-1/2 inch Peacemaker has done.

Both guns, shown in deluxe hand engraved editions from Adams & Adams, have pellet-firing shells, the 7-1/2 inch barrel Umarex Colt Peacemaker is a dedicated pellet firing model with a rifled barrel and special silver rear-loading pellet cartridges, the Schofield (right) is a smoothbore and can fire either front-loading BB-loading shells or new rear-loading brass pellet firing shells.

To make this a stand-up gunfight for accuracy, the test will be shot at 10 meters (33 feet), the Olympic air pistol competition distance. Of course, in Olympic competition the 10-meter air pistols are not old Colt and Schofield single actions, and the competition is shot one handed from a standing, unsupported position.

The Colt Peacemaker is the quintessential Western revolver, fast, accurate, and carried by the majority of frontier lawmen, cowboys, and outlaws from the early 1870s until the early 20th century. The Umarex Colt Peacemaker is remarkably accurate in its design and fits any 7-1/2 inch barrel length Colt Single Action holster. Cartridge belts need to have .38 caliber size loops to hold the pellet-loading shells.

Part one of this test will be shot exactly the same way, just to see how well either gun can do firing at an IPSC cardboard silhouette. The second part of the test for best accuracy will be shot using a two-handed hold and the third from a rested position. The total scores from all three tests will determine whether the Schofield and Colt pellet-firing wheelguns are equals, regardless of barrel lengths and rifling vs. smoothbore.

Back in the day shooting competitions were fired one handed just as they are today in 10 meter Olympic air pistol competitions, of course, in the Olympic games no one is shooting an air pistol based on a 144 year-old design!

The 7-1/2 inch Umarex Colt Peacemaker has a dual advantage by having a longer internal length rifled barrel. The Bear River Schofield carves down some of that edge by having a slightly better rear sight and a very short, crisp trigger pull. In comparison, the internal barrel lengths are 6.75 inches for the Colt vs. 6.5 inches for the Schofield. Clearing leather, the Schofield has a short, light hammer draw of 3 pounds, 13 ounces, and light 3 pound, 5 ounce average trigger pull. The Colt 7-1/2 inch has a slightly heavier and longer hammer draw of 4 pounds, 8 ounces average, but an almost hairpin 2 pound, 8 ounce, average trigger pull.

To get the highest velocity out of both single action revolvers I shot the tests with lightweight Sig Sauer Match Ballistic Alloy Pellets. The 5.25 gr. cast alloy wadcutters cleared the Peacemaker’s rifled barrel at an average velocity of 423 fps (the gun is factory rated at 380 fps), while the Schofield smoothbore slammed the alloy rounds downrange at an average velocity of 493 fps. Both fast enough to accurately hit the mark 10 meters downrange. Can the silver bullet still beat the Schofield?

The Peacemaker’s most famous competitor was the Smith & Wesson No. 3 American c.1872 and its later variations, including the 1875 Model Schofield, which was carried by the U.S. Cavalry along with the 1873 Colt Single Action Army.
The quick handling Schofield also became a favorite among gunmen and outlaws in the 1870s and 1880s. It was a very accurate handgun that held a decisive edge with its fast loading topbreak design. The Bear River CO2 models are much the same and can also be quickly reloaded with the shells still in the cylinder. The first part of the 10 meter test was shot one-handed.

10 Meters away

The first test fired single handed resulted in six rounds from the Colt covering just a hair over 1.75 inches and six from the Schofield with a spread of 2.50 inches. Switching to a two-handed hold and a Shoot-N-C target, the Colt closed up its group to 1.50 inches and the Schofield delivered a respectable 2.0 inch group. For the final shootout it was as level a playing field as possible with the barrels locked down in a Case-Guard pistol rest. The Colt sent its six downrange into a 1.01 inch group; the Schofield once again put six shots at 2.0 inches. The rifled barrel definitely makes a difference when you get beyond 21 feet.

In the 10-meter two-handed hold shootout the Peacemaker edged out the Schofield again with a 1.50 inch group beating the Schofield’s still respectable 2.0 inch group, highlighted by one right through the center of the bullseye.
In the final test fired from a pistol rest the Umarex Colt with its rifled barrel was able to keep six rounds at just a fraction over 1-inch from center to center in the IPSC target’s A-Zone. Fired just below the Colt’s group the Schofield delivered its six to come in second place with a spread of 2.0 inches. Rifled barrels do make a difference at 10 meters.

The 10 meter test leaves the Colt Peacemaker the still undisputed champion of Single Action pellet-firing revolvers and the Schofield a very good second. Considering it’s a smoothbore up against a rifled barrel, no one around here is going to complain. Second is only bad in a gunfight.

A Word About Safety

Single Action airguns provide the look, feel and operation of their cartridge-firing counterparts and this is one reason why they have become so popular. Airguns in general all look like guns, these two Western models even more so, and it is important to remember that the vast majority of people can’t tell an airgun from a cartridge gun. Never brandish an airgun in public. Always, and I can never stress this enough, always treat an airgun as you would a cartridge gun. The same manual of operation and safety should always apply.

25 thoughts on “Peacemaker and Schofield at 10 meters”

  1. There are two take home points, the Colt is still the king ,and the Schofield need a rifled barrel version. , Would be interesting to pit the Schofield using the pellet shells against a bb Peacemaker using pellet shells. No 7 1/2 incher available, but a 5 1/2 incher would be close

  2. Wow those lightweight pellets really speed things up. I wonder about the velocity difference between these two fine revolvers, the cylinder gap seems signifigantly tighter on the Bear River Schofield revolver. Does that have any bearing on velocity, or is their co2 transfer just more efficient? How about the usable shot count per powerlet is there a noticeable difference between the two?

    • Well the cylinder gap really has no bearing with the CO2 revolvers since the forcing cones are spring loaded on the Colts, they are just as close to the cylinder chamber as the Schofield’s even though the front surface of the cylinder is further back. I don’t know if the CO2 systems differ that much, but you can attribute the Schofield’s higher velocity to the smoothbore barrel which allows the pellets to have unimpeded travel down the tube. With a rifled barrel, the pellet turns as it passes along the lands and grooves of the rifling and it comes out with a flatter trajectory than a wadcutter freely leaving the muzzle of a smoothbore barrel. This goes all the way back to the advent of rifled barrels. Rifles (with rifled barrels) had far greater accuracy at long range than smoothbore muskets. As for total shots I am still clearing them out. I’ll get back with a number later today.

    • I averaged 78 shots on one CO2 cartridge but I tend to pull them early rather than waste pellets when velocity begins to drop off and shots start hitting low. On average I generally get 12 reloads before I change cartridges, but you can get more shots than that.

      • This is what I do. If you try to squeeze mine shots out after60 or so they start sounding weak , hit low and even bounce off the targets . I would like 50- 54 harder hitting shots at say 450 fps with 7 gr pellets and500 with the 5-5.6 gr alloy pellets. My shooting has shown thebestgroups with fresh co2 to round 45 -50 shots

    • That’s interesting to me I was going to order a tin of the sig pellets the other day, and then saw the price. I bought the Benjamin Marauder combo .22 instead. What a sale at P.A.

  3. Both pistols did quite well at ten meters. The guys I shoot with, shoot and C targets at ten meters. Most of their pistols have rifle barrels . At ten meters my BB pistols just don’t cut it. I am looking forward to getting the Schofiled pellet cartridges .Thanks again Dennis for the excellent test and photography.

    • Thanks Harvey. Overall I think the Schofield did well for a smoothbore barrel at 10 meters. It really, it takes a rifled barrel to get consistent accuracy at that distance. Still, the better part of it is the fun of shooting Old West single actions and CO2 powered pellet-firing rounds. You can’t put a price on that no matter what the distance.

  4. A revolver has got to know its’ limitations ,and for the smoothbore firing pellets, it is around 25 feet, after that , the groups open up and the rifled barrel takes the lead.While the Schofield tried , the stress was more than it could bear.

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