Colt Single Action Army BB gun: Part 1
by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier
This report covers:
• Here it is
• Very realistic!
• Action is authentic
• Things that differ
• Overall — a good job!
Here it is
This is the surprise I wanted to show you last Friday. I was asked to hold off, but then the decision was made to let me run the blog today. The Colt Single Action Army BB revolver is here — or will be pretty soon. This is the airgun I’ve been waiting for since Wulf Pflaumer, one of the owners of Umarex, first told me about the impending arrival of the Walther Lever Action rifle. I was at his sister’s home in Maryland when he told me about the soon-to-arrive lever-action rifle. I was already a huge fan of several of his action pistols, so we had a great discussion about realistic airguns.
When he asked me what gun I thought would be most well-received next, I answered the Colt SAA. Ever since the departure of the Crosman Single Action Six in the 1970s, airgunners haven’t had a hog leg to shoot, and the recent popularity of cowboy action shooting made this gun a cinch. See the Single Action Six here.
It has taken 15 more years to realize this dream, but it’s finally here. And what a gun it is! Umarex USA sent me the artillery model (5-1/2-inch barrel), which is blued. Mine has synthetic ivory grips that are perfectly colored. And please understand that when I say, “mine,” that is exactly what I mean. No one is getting this gun from me!
For those wanting more bling, a nickeled version of the gun will also be available. Of course, Colt fanciers will tell you that the range of models will potentially be quite broad. There should also be a cavalry model (7-1/2-inch barrel) a 4-3/4 inch barreled gunfighter’s model and a Shopkeeper’s gun that lacks the ejector housing and has a 3-inch barrel. And let us not forget the famous Buntline Special with its 12-inch barrel!
And, when all is said and done, there should also be some guns that have an aged finish similar to the 1911s they put out in 2014. Most first generation SAAs look like that today, anyway.
It doesn’t have to stop there. Can the Bisley model be far behind? Or the flattop, with its adjustable target sights? Will there be a black powder frame that has a cylinder pin screw instead of a spring-loaded cross pin? Given just the three finishes and 5 standard barrel lengths of the version that’s before me now, that’s 15 models, plus however many variations of the flattop and Bisley they care to make.
This is a highly realistic copy of Colt’s SAA, and I ought to know. I was a stunt gunfighter at Frontier Village amusement park in San Jose, California, in the 1960s and ’70s and handled Colt SAAs every day. This 33-oz. CO2 revolver balances exactly like a .45 Colt with the same barrel length. The finish is all blue, which is correct for a first-generation gun. I owned a 1903 Colt SAA that came from the factory with a blued frame. The color case-hardened frame is better known and seen more often today — but this one is also true to the prototype firearm.
The CO2 cartridge fits inside the grip, and for years it was the thing that troubled engineers the most. Crosman had put theirs under the barrel of the SA-6 where it was somewhat hidden but also not true to the lines of the prototype firearm. The grip was the only place to put it. A headless Allen screw is used to push the CO2 cartridge into the piercing pin; and, when the cartridge is installed, the screw is invisible! This small detail will make a huge difference to those wanting faithfulness in the copy.
This is a BB revolver, and each BB is held inside a realistic cartridge that’s similar in size to a loaded .357 Magnum cartridge. But there’s a twist. This brass cartridge accepts the BB in its hollow base rather than in a plastic simulated bullet. That’s where a primer would normally go. I will show you this in detail in Part 2.
Another thing I’ll do in Part 2 is show how to load the cartridges into the cylinder, for this revolver is an authentic single-action. I can see some folks getting a rude lesson in revolver operation when they’re confronted by a design that accepts rounds only one at a time. No speedloaders here! There’s a procedure to loading a single-action and I’ll show it. Yes, additional cartridges will be available
While the revolver does have an authentic and working spring-loaded extractor rod and housing, it shouldn’t ever be necessary to use it. Since there’s no internal pressure to speak of, the brass cartridge case never swells and extraction is as simple as pointing the muzzle straight up while the cylinder’s turned. The cases drop out on their own.
Action is authentic
The action of this revolver is old-school authentic. The hammer controls everything, and the functional loading gate is just there to enclose the right rear of the cylinder. None of this “New Model Ruger” silliness where the loading gate controls the action. However, instead of the 4 clicks of the hammer (there are really 5 in a revolver that’s timed correctly) this one has two that each sound like a double. Ca-clunk — ca-clunk! Colt owners may fret.
Also the cylinder doesn’t spin freely on its axis like the firearm. It feels like the hand bears on it with a lot of spring pressure, so advancing the cylinder takes some effort.
Things that differ
As realistic as this gun is, there are several other things a Colt owner will notice right away. The first is the hammer. It never sits down flush to the frame. The offset seen in the first picture, which looks like the hammer is back on the safety notch is as low as the hammer ever gets. When the gun fires it does go down all the way, but it rebounds to this position after the shot.
This revolver has a safety! It’s hard to see, but on the bottom of the grip frame, just in front of the triggerguard there’s a sliding safety catch that shows a red dot when the safety is off and a white dot when it’s on. Agatha Christie would be so proud!
The front sight is lower than the front sight on a firearm. It looks like a sight that someone has regulated for their personal shooting.
Finally, the cylinder base pin doesn’t remove from the gun. The spring-loaded base pin catch is just for show — it doesn’t move. And, really, there’s no need to remove the cylinder, so I don’t find this to be a shortcoming.
Overall — a good job!
I think single-action fans are going to like this BB revolver. The hammer cocks even easier than a tuned SAA firearm, so quick-draw can be practiced. The gun spins just like the firearm, and the 4-3/4-inch gunfighter model was always the best for that.
I foresee the creation of a BB-gun component to cowboy action shooting, where more money is spent today than in IPSC. This revolver will be perfect for that, and we already have the Walther Lever Action rifle to go with it. Maybe a youth component? Or one you can do at home?
Umarex USA sales manager Justin Biddle expects this gun to hit the retail market in February. Let’s hope it does.