Schofield and 1875 Remington Part 2

Schofield and 1875 Remington Part 2

Dealing out an Old West shooting match

By Dennis Adler

Rarely did a gunman carry two different types of revolvers (especially in two different calibers), but it wasn’t uncommon for some to own different guns. Frank and Jesse James carried Colt Peacemakers, Remington Model 1875s, S&W Americans and Schofields. Jesse also owned at least one .44-40 caliber Merwin Hulbert. The Bear River Schofield and Crosman 1875 Remington certainly look like their famous Old West predecessors.

Old West gunfights were rarely quick draw affairs like we see on TV and in movies, in reality, more often one or both men had their guns already drawn, but in the instances where two men actually had the time to think about it and step apart, the distance was often referred to in paces, and usually 10 paces, the historically based gentleman’s dueling distance, take 10 steps turn and fire. While more of a British and European dueling tradition, it was sensationalized in American history on July 11, 1804, when U.S. Vice President Aaron Burr shot and mortally wounded political rival Alexander Hamilton in a pistol duel. For the Schofield vs. the 1875 Remington shootout, the distance from the target, which is a pair of playing cards, will be 5 paces, the distance chosen by John Wesley Harden for his shooting exhibition in 1895. So what exactly is a pace? A pace is determined by the average distance of a man’s stride, which according to Webster’s is “roughly 30 to 40 inches.” I come in right at 30 inches, so my 5 paces would be 12-1/2 feet, but we’ll split the difference and average it out at 35 inches, which makes the shooting test distance 14-1/2 feet.

For an aimed shot fired one handed there is a solid advantage to the Schofield’s design with the large dished rear sight built into the barrel latch, a long, well defined center rib down the barrel and a crescent-shaped front sight that fills the rear notch. The Remington follows the Colt design with a notch and rear frame channel and large blade front sight. The Schofield’s rear sight is a little faster to align, especially with a nickel plated gun.

Comparisons

The Remington has an internal barrel length of 6-3/4 inches which gives it a slight edge over the Schofield’s 6-1/2 inch internal barrel. External barrel lengths are 7-1/4 inches for the Remington and 7.0 inches for the Schofield. In my first test of the Schofield pellet cartridges (Airgun Experience No. 128) the gun delivered a best 6-shots at 21 feet all overlapping, at 0.685 inches. That’s the benchmark for the Schofield in this test with the same rear-loading pellet cartridges and 7.0 gr. Meisterkugeln lead wadcutters. While the Remington bested the Schofield with steel BBs, the topbreak single action is the odds on favorite in the pellet comparison.

The Remington weighs in

The pellet loading cartridges for the Remington are of the preferred rear-loading type which places the pellet right in front of the CO2 valve when the gun is fired. In repeated tests this has proven to produce a higher velocity than with front loading pellet cartridges. For this test I am again using Meisterkugeln 7.0 gr. lead wadcutters. They chronographed from the Remington’s 6-3/4 inch barrel at an average velocity of 361 fps with a high of 396 fps and a standard deviation of 27 fps for six shots.

Remington followed the lines and humped back frame style and grip contour of its 1858 black powder Army and Navy models and 1873 Colt Peacemaker. S&W on the other hand truly rewrote the book on handgun design with the No. 3 American and Schofield by using a topbreak design for faster reloading, a shallow hammer with a slightly curved spur, and a more rounded and flowing backstrap that changed the way the gun was held in the hand and aimed.

The Crosman Remington Model 1875 uses a traditional (as in Colt-style) rear frame notch channel sight and a rounded blade front sight. As on the Peacemaker, this sight is relatively easy to acquire, especially with a nickel plated pistol like the Remington. Trigger pull on this test gun averaged 3 pounds, 2.4 ounces, and it is a fairly tight trigger with full resistance during 0.25 inches of travel. The hammer drops hard on this revolver.

Fired duelist style at 5 paces, the 1875 put all six rounds into the Ace of clubs with a spread of 0.937 inches. At 21 feet fired offhand using a two-handed hold, the best group of six rounds measured 0.562 inches.

Bringing the Schofield up to aim, the large rear sight is easy to align with the front blade. This works very well with a nickel gun since the rear sight is integral with the blued topbreak barrel latch.

Schofield’s advantage

The Bear River Schofield has an average trigger pull of 2 pounds, 15.5 ounces and a very short 0.187 inches of travel, light resistance and very little movement when the hammer drops. This is due, in part, to the S&W-based frame, hammer, and trigger design, and their relationship in the shooter’s hand as compared to the Remington, which balances and handles more like a Colt Peacemaker. The Schofield has an entirely different feeling, from the hammer draw to the trigger release. Another major difference is the rear sight, which is integral with the barrel release lever at the back of the frame. The sight has a wide dished surface under the notch which makes it easier to see, the front sight is smaller (lower) than a Colt’s or Remington’s, but when you aim this pistol the shooting hand and arm are more naturally aligned. This proved essential in the duelist style faro card shootout. As a quick handling gun it is not as agile as a Colt or Remington, but for an aimed shot it offers certain advantages.

For the John Wesley Hardin faro card test I am using reproduction 1880s playing cards which can be found online and are priced reasonably enough that you can use them as targets. For the pellet cartridge shootout the ammo is top drawer Meisterkugeln Professional Line 7.0 gr. lead wadcutters. (Holsters and cartridge belts courtesy John Bianchi Frontier Gunleather)

Loaded with the 7.0 gr. Meisterkugeln lead wadcutters the Schofield recorded an average velocity of 429 fps and a high of 437 fps with a standard deviation of only 7 fps for six shots. At 5 paces and fired duelist style (one-handed) the Schofield delivered its six wadcutters into the Ace of Spades with a spread of 0.686 inches. At 21 feet, fired offhand using a two-handed hold the best group of six rounds measured 0.625 inches.

No trees were injured in this test, it was shot using a baffle box instead of tacking the cards to an oak. At 5 paces (just shy of 15 feet) and fired duelist style (one handed) the Schofield out shot the Remington putting six rounds on the card at 0.686 inches with two shots inside the spade. The Remington also delivered a tight six rounds grouping over the top of the ace of clubs. 

At 21 feet and fired offhand using a two-handed hold, the Remington just slightly out shot the Schofield by 0.06 inches. 

The winner in the faro card shootout is the Schofield, while the Remington Model 1875 edged out the Schofield as the more accurate at 21 feet by a mere 0.06 inches. The Schofield is a slightly higher performance gun compared to the Remington, but the two remain so close that it comes down to a matter of personal preferences for style and handling.

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.

 

9 thoughts on “Schofield and 1875 Remington Part 2

  1. Excellent shooting with both pistols Dennis. My next order to Pyramyd Air will be for some of those pellet loading Schofield cartridges. Again thank you for the excellent photography and research for this test .
    Have a Great weekend.
    Harvey


  2. Nice shooting. A little surprised that the Remington with its ‘ slightly longer barrel shot much slower. The groups in the playing card make my choice a Schofield. As stated it is a very accurate revolver. My nickel version is a rack driver with bbs at 25 feet , and pellets do slightly better. I will still pick up at least one Remington, but would have liked to see it match Schofield velocity and deviation stats.



  3. All this cowboy talk got me to wondering whether horse back riding was ever responsibly for cartridge malfunctions ? All that bouncing around, could it lead to bullet -case separation ,and what about cap and ball pistols?


    • I can honestly say I have never heard that question before! There are no cases of that happening to a cartridge (revolver or semi-auto) from bouncing around in the holster on horseback. A few lost guns, if they weren’t lashed down or in a closed flap holster. There have, however, been cases of bullet-cartridge case separation from heavy recoil in revolvers and a few semi-autos, which causes a jammed action. This is more prevalent with revolvers where the bullet moving even a fraction of an inch forward in its shell case can cause the cylinder to jam when it rotates. I think the biggest problem soldiers on horseback had with cap and ball guns was getting them wet in river crossing or a torrential downpour. It takes a lot to drive a seated bullet forward, either in a black powder cylinder chamber or in a pistol cartridge.


  4. Hickok was known to frequently fire and clean his cap and ball revolvers to avoid such a misfire problem . I shot in SASS for years. There was running and jumping , and never had a cartridge problem. Cowboys, if they depended on a revolver probably did what I do . After carrying ammo for awhile , fire it as practice and replace it periodically.


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