Umarex Legends “Ace in the Hole” Part 1

Umarex Legends “Ace in the Hole” Part 1 Part 2

No Colt is Expendable!

By Dennis Adler

No Colt is Expendable, but at least one became The Expendables Single Action carried by Sylvester Stallone in the movie franchise, a Sheriff’s Model with a 3-inch Mag-na-ported barrel, no front sight and a custom round fanning hammer. The similarity to the new Umarex Colt “Ace in the Hole” pellet cartridge firing model is not by coincidence. The Umarex has a Sheriff’s Model 3-1/2 inch barrel and the longer Army-style grips compared to the shorter barreled model with Navy-style grips carried by Stallone.

Barney Ross, (Sylvester Stallone), leader of an elite group of, shall we say “seasoned,” mercenaries known as The Expendables have every imaginable weapon at their disposal, but Ross carries a backup gun that leaves most modern pistols in the dust, a modified Colt Peacemaker with a ported barrel and round knob fanning hammer. The customized 3-inch barreled Colt is a piece torn right out of Wild West history yet suitable even in this 21st century series of action adventure films. Why a Colt Peacemaker, “…because nothing is faster” and Stallone proves it in all three Expendables films where the Colt six-shooter plays a pivotal recurring role.

Guns like the “Ace in the Hole” and Expendables Single Action Army are inspired by original 19th century cut down Colt models. Pictured are five classic Old West Belly Gun designs representing the evolution from loose powder cap and ball, to metallic cartridge conversions, and Colt Peacemaker. In its case, a copy of El Paso, Texas lawman Dallas Stoudenmire’s Richards-Mason 1860 Army conversion .44 Colt with 2-7/8 inch barrel and no front sight. At the left edge of the case a .31 caliber Uberti Colt Model 1848 Wells Fargo, a production model percussion pistol that was one of Colt’s best selling revolvers in the mid 19th century; below that a .44 caliber Colt 1860 Army snub nose, a more rare conversion from the military holster pistol, bottom center a custom made copy of the Bass Outlaw cut down Colt Peacemaker, and far right a .36 caliber Colt 1862 Police snub nose (also known as an Avenging Angel). Aside from the Bass Outlaw gun, these were all predecessors to the first Colt Sheriff’s Models introduced in 1888. A well placed shot from either of the last three could have been a definite fight stopper.

The Backup Gun

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A lot of Old West mythology surrounds handguns and the speed with which they could be drawn and accurately fired. But one of the fastest was a short-barreled Colt, and although antiquated by modern standards, Colt’s early short-barreled models were already legendary before the first Peacemaker snub-nose was introduced in the 1880s. Before that, short-barreled Colts, either factory built or altered by gunsmiths for individual customers, were rare birds indeed, and often referred to as “Belly Guns” which were carried inside the waistband, in a pocket, or secreted in a holster behind the back. The latter is the style adopted by Barney Ross (Stallone) for The Expendables.

In The Expendables Stallone as team leader Barney Ross carries the custom Colt Peacemaker in a back holster. You can just see the holster and gun grips at the small of Stallone’s back in this still from the film.
The author’s back holster designed for a cut down Colt Single Action perfectly holds the Umarex “Ace in the Hole”. This is similar to how The Expendables gun was worn in the films.
The round knob hammer makes the gun faster to fan without roughing up the hand like traditional grooved Colt hammers would do. Without front sights the Umarex is really designed for instinctive rather than aimed shooting at close range. It is a very quick gun to shoot, just like most custom built snub nose Colts prior to the Sheriff’s Models. The 3-1/2 inch Sheriff’s models could be had with or without an ejector.
Fanning technique used by Stallone in The Expendables movies is right out of the Old West. The ported barrel helps reduce muzzle rise.

The first factory-built Colt Belly Gun was a percussion (loose powder, cap and ball) revolver using the new .36 caliber 1862 Colt Police Model as the starting point. This was a special order 2-inch barrel length version with a re-contoured and plugged barrel lug, and no loading lever. The same was done to the .44 caliber 1860 Army, although not by the Colt factory, and done again to the first 1860 Army cartridge conversion guns built in the 1870s. The popularity of snub nose cartridge conversion models was not lost on Colt’s which first picked up the idea for the short-barreled Peacemaker in 1882, technically the first “Sheriff’s Model” Single Action Army with a 2-1/2 inch barrel and no ejector. It was a one-off design on special order, but in 1888 the short 3-1/2 inch barrel Sheriff’s Model became a standard production gun. Of course, shorter barrel lengths had already been available as special orders with barrels as short as 2-inches in length.

Compared to a 3-1/2 inch Colt Sheriff’s Model (top) the Umarex “Ace in the Hole” has all the correct dimensions. Even the use of larger Army-sized grips was available on the actual Colt Models. The nickel gun shown is an Italian Pietta Single Action with standard Navy-sized grips which have been replaced on this gun with synthetic stag.

One such gun with a few added modifications (even a little wilder than the modified gun used by Stallone in The Expendables!) was carried by former Texas Ranger and U.S. Deputy Marshal Sebastian Lamar “Baz” Outlaw in the late 1880s. Better known as Bass Outlaw, the Marshal’s Colt had a 2-inch barrel without front sight, altered hammer, rounded grips, and the front half of the triggerguard cut off to make it faster to shoot. The cutaway triggerguard also made it easy to drop the gun in a front pocket with the back of the triggerguard catching on the edge to keep the grips within quick reach.

The reproduction of Bass Outlaw’s custom cut down Colt Sheriff’s Model also has no front sight like the Expendables and Umarex guns. Custom built Belly Guns were generally used inside of 10 to 25 feet and seldom as a primary weapon. A standard 3-inch or 3-1/2 inch Sheriff’s Model with front sight, was capable of greater accuracy at longer ranges.

No Colt is Expendable

Modifications to Colt revolvers were often done on older guns, many sent back to the Colt’s factory to be refurbished. A number of 7-1/2 inch barreled Colts used by the U.S. Army were returned and refitted with 5-1/2 inch barrels. Mag-na-ported barrels and fanning hammers, however, were not 19th or even early 20th century ideas, and when it comes to movie guns, the Barney Ross SAA first seen in the original 2010 film is pretty much a unique idea, despite the long history of modified Peacemakers since the 1870s.

The Umarex has a faux Mag-na-ported barrel. The cutouts are for more than just an authentic look to The Expendables gun…
…the Umarex comes with a package of three injection-molded front sight inserts (they are all the same) that fit into the ported grooves to give the “Ace in the Hole” a low profile front sight for aimed shots.

That Umarex chose to copy the movie gun instead of building the obvious 3-1/2 inch standard Peacemaker is more of an acknowledgement to Sylvester Stallone’s Expendables movies (which have been pretty successful) than it is to the history of Colt. So for Old West fans, the new Legends “Ace in the Hole” may be Western inspired, but it is unquestionably “Expendable” in design.

In Part 2 we examine the details and ready the “Ace in the Hole” for an Old West quick draw test.  

13 thoughts on “Umarex Legends “Ace in the Hole” Part 1”

  1. Even though the revolver is designed for instinctive point and shoot , the sights are a welcomed addition . What some don’t get , is that a revolver like this is extremely fast from the holster. It is not designed for hicap gunfights , with two , you lose. Would’ like to see a short barrel airgun like the pictured nickel Pietta 45 pictured. Twist draw with a left hand holster, nice. New schedule? Or just couldn’t wait to get back?

  2. How is it thumb cocking the fanning hammer? Clears the leather quick , that is a real plus. Remember Richard Boone using a short barrel Colt on Heck Ramsey turn of the century Western Series , as well as David Carradine on the short lived Shane reboot. Will be interesting to see the accuracy and velocity of this short barrel revolver.

  3. Nice to see you back Dennis . Wow another pistol that looks like it will be interesting. I see now we can order the Webley MK VI bb pistol again and pre order MK VI pellet revolvers. Have to amp up my savings account it looks like.
    Best wishes

  4. I got my Ace In The Hole last Friday, 10/6/17. It shoots well like any other Colt Single Action. It’s reasonably accurate for a short barrel pellet revolver.

    In the latest issue of Airgun Hobbyist, the editor reported on a visit to Bear River over the summer. In the report he said he said he saw a prototype short barrel version of a Schofield revolver. His report didn’t say if it was a BB or pellet shooter. He also reported seeing prototype replicas based on the S&W J frame, at least I think he said J frame. Maybe we’ll see those come to market in 2018.

    • The Wells Fargo Schofield would be a real winner. Time is right for some modern snub nose revolvers, so that will certainly be interesting. Bear River has been talking about the Wells Fargo version for around a year, so maybe it is coming out soon

    • That one is a rare bird, there are only two in existence, one in the Autry Museum of the American West and mine, which was copied from the original (which at one time was owned by legendary holster maker John Bianchi). It was made by Alan Soellner of Chisholm’s Trail Leather. I’m sure Alan would be willing to make another. He saves all his patterns. You can reach him at


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