Schofield and 1875 Remington Part 1

Schofield and 1875 Remington Part 1

The 4.5mm pellet-firing cartridges will determine the top smoothbore six-shooter

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By Dennis Adler

And so it comes down to two guns, the Bear River Schofield Texas Jack, hand engraved by Adams & Adams, and the new old gun on the block, the Crosman Remington Model 1875, both equipped with steel smoothbore barrels, and loaded with pellet-firing cartridges. Back in the day their cartridge-firing ancestors were carried by everyone from lawmen to famous outlaws and were pretty much an even match.

This is like a western where all the anticipation has been building for the big shootout at the end only there are no good guys vs. bad guys here, just two very well made CO2 powered six-shooters facing each other down to see which smoothbore single action is the most accurate when loaded with pellet-firing rounds; the Schofield or the 1875 Remington in the ultimate test, the John Wesley Hardin faro card shoot.

The two latest CO2 powered pellet cartridge firing models have two things in common, smoothbore barrels and rear-loading brass cartridges, and that’s about it! In every other way other than being single action revolvers they are entirely different from loading to handling. (Holsters and cartridge belts courtesy John Bianchi Frontier Gunleather)

The John Wesley what?

Outlaw turned lawyer John Wesley Hardin had what could easily be described as a “colorful” life, which like most gunfighters ended with his murder, not in a shootout, which in all probability he would have won, but rather being shot from behind, the same fate as another colorful western character, Wild Bill Hickok. Wanted for a murder, one among some 27 he personally admitted to, and all justified according to Hardin in his memoirs, he was captured by Texas Rangers in the summer of 1877 and sent to trial for the May 26, 1874 fatal shootout with Brown County Texas, Deputy Sheriff Charles Webb. After a year long appeal on the grounds that Webb drew first, a jury found that Hardin had provoked the fight and he was convicted on the lesser charge of second degree murder and sentenced to 25 years in the State Penitentiary at Huntsville. While there he became a model prisoner and studied the law. His parole finally came at the urging of not only Hardin and his attorney W. S. Fly, but from petitions to the Governor for his release received from almost every county in East Texas. Signatures included those of more than 27 respected lawmen, several judges, prominent businessmen and politicians, all who had befriended Hardin in his early years and had known him to be a good man at heart, albeit one with a temper, a weakness for liquor and a fast gun. A description that could have fit any number of Southern Gentlemen at the time, but John Wesley Hardin, the son of a Methodist preacher, had reformed, and was ready to resume a normal life if given the chance. By the early 1890s it seemed as if the whole of Texas wanted him set free, including outgoing Texas Governor James S. Hogg, and thus Hardin walked out of Huntsville on February 17, 1894 after spending almost 16 years behind bars.

For the shooting test of these two legendary western revolvers I am going to take a page from John Wesley Hardin’s life and duplicate his July 4, 1895 “card tricks.” Hardin was one of the fastest guns ever, and not only had the reputation, but a long list of deceased opponents, from lawmen to fellow gunmen, who had tried to outdraw him.

Five months later on July 21st the District Court of Gonzales County, Texas, and a committee of attorneys examined and found Hardin acceptable and capable in his knowledge of the law, and he was licensed to practice in any of the state’s district and lower courts. For a man once wanted for multiple murders, cattle rustling, and robbery, it was as complete a turnaround as possible. He moved to El Paso, Texas, where he set up a small legal practice.

A little of Hardin’s legacy emerged in the early 1980s as part of an exhibit in John Bianchi’s Frontier Museum. The guns, playing card and copy of his memoirs, published after his death, are now part of the Autry Museum collection in Los Angeles, California.
(Photo courtesy John Bianchi)

Hardin owned several Colt SAA revolvers, 1877 double actions, and S&W revolvers. On the 4th of July 1895 used one of those guns for a demonstration of his shooting skills. Hardin put faro cards on a tree, stepped back five paces and emptied his pistol. After the exhibition, he sold the signed and dated cards. In very small print at the bottom of the card pictured, it read, “5 paces”. This is the test I have chosen for the final shootout between the Bear River Schofield and the Remington Model 1875 CO2 revolvers with their respective rear-loading 4.5mm pellet cartridges.

After a life of crime and a long prison sentence, John W. Hardin pursued a career as a lawyer in El Paso, Texas. On July 4, 1895 he performed a shooting exhibition drawing his revolvers and firing at playing cards tacked to a tree from a distance of about 15 feet. He signed, dated and sold the cards to spectators. This is one them.

Crosman introduced its 1875 Remington model this year with both rear-loading BB and pellet cartridges. Having a smoothbore barrel, some customers were a little disappointed that the gun did not come with a rifled barrel since it was intended from the start to shoot 4.5mm lead pellets. The rationale on rifled barrels and steel BBs, as passed on to me from Umarex, is that shooting steel BBs through a rifled barrel will, over time, erode the rifling. Remington and Crosman opted to let the pellets in the 1875 ride down a smoothbore barrel since it shoots both BBs and pellets. Underscoring that point, it’s worth mentioning that some manufacturers have introduced semi-auto models with rifled barrels that shoot either lead pellets or steel BBs, including Umarex, but, when it comes to their Colt Peacemakers, Umarex sells two separate models and does not recommend shooting steel BBs from the pellet versions. Interestingly, accuracy with the Remington Model 1875, fired from 21 feet to 10 meters with 4.5mm lead pellets, has not suffered greatly from the revolver’s 6-3/4 inch (internal length) smoothbore barrel. Now the question remains, how will the Bear River Schofield stand up to the test with its newly introduced 4.5mm rear-loading pellet cartridges?

These two revolvers don’t even have the same rear-loading pellet cartridges in common. As it was in the Old West, the .45 Schofield requires a different cartridge than a .45 caliber Colt or Remington. With the rear-loading pellet rounds the Crosman cartridge has a much broader and thicker rim and narrower pellet retaining ring. The 1875 cartridges will not fit in the Schofield cylinder and allow the gun to close. The Schofield rounds, which have a thinner rim and larger pellet retaining ring will, however, fit in the Remington.

In the BB test between these two models, (Airgun Experience No. 115) the 1875 Remington just edged out the Schofield for accuracy delivering two decisive shots in the X-ring for a tighter 6-shot 1.25 inch total spread.

With the Schofield and Remington loaded with Meisterkugeln Professional Line 7.0 gr. lead wadcutters the guns are ready for a trip to the range and a date with a pair of aces in Part 2.

In Part 2 I’ll step off 5 paces and firing one-handed give the two six-guns a whirl at John Wesley Hardin’s faro card test. I’ll also do a straight up 21 foot test for a final comparison to find out whether the Schofield with its new rear-loading pellet rounds can outshoot the Remington Model 1875.  

8 thoughts on “Schofield and 1875 Remington Part 1”

  1. How about the cylinder gap difference, I noticed in the very well lit photo of the two revolvers that the Schofield gap is considerably tighter than the gap on the Remington.

    • You have to remember that the forcing cones are spring loaded, so although the frame to barrel spacing on the Remington is greater than the Schofields, the forcing cones on both guns are up against the front of the cylinder chamber. The Schofield design closes that gap between cylinder and barrel but the forcing cone on the Remington is still just as close to the cylinder.

    • Since there is no functional difference, despite the visual difference, the answer is no. All things are equal; it comes down to individual gun design and performance, but not the forcing cone, cylinder gap.

  2. Accuracy is the final word in a gunfight. The Schofield can be as fast as a Peacemaker or Remington on the first shot. One flaw in the design is that it cannot be fanned like a Peacemaker. I have been practicing with the Umarex Peacemaker and to a lesser extent with the Schofield . I can draw and get off a first shot with both in just over a third of a second. With the Peacemaker I can get off another two fanned rounds in under a second . Not with the Schofield. The Schofield for a quick first and over will do the job ,and gets the nod in a longer fight where reloading may be needed. In the Old West could see a short barrel Peacemaker for quick work and a second long barrel revolver , either a Colt , Remington or Schofield. Then again a double draw with a pr of Schofields throwing two quick rounds could work. Been playing with that too.

    • Your last comment reminds me of the remake of 3:10 to Yuma with Ben Foster playing a very evil Charlie Prince armed with a brace of Schofields that he was able to quick draw and fire with proficiency. I have practiced quick drawing the Schofield and I’m pretty good (but having seen videos of you fast drawing, I wouldn’t go up against you even with a BB gun!) but I can fan the Schofield. Not as quickly as a Colt or the Remington, but it can be done. Fanning was not practiced a lot in the Old West, it was done, but not by many. Accuracy with the Schofield is at least equal to a Colt or Remington in the world of cartridge-firing handguns and it clearly wins on reloading. As for the pellet gun versions, we’ll find out tomorrow in Part 2.

      • Haven’t had much luck trying to fan the Schofield but will try again . Fanning only works up close , I believe Tom Selleck was stretching it with a Colt1860 Army in the final shootout of Quigley Down Under. Dave Tutt , I believe made the mistake of fanning 6 shots at Bill Hickok.

        • No, Tutt made the mistake of shooting one shot at Hickok and missing, Hickok aimed his 1851 Navy over his left arm to steady it and shot Tutt just above the heart from over 200 feet away (about 75 yards across the town square in Springfield, Missouri). I actually duplicated that shot in Guns of the Old West about 8 years ago but it took me three shots to hit the man sized silhouette in the heart. Hickok did it in one shot and under the pressure of being shot at again by Tutt. It took me more than a minute; Hickok did it in a heartbeat!

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