Colt Single Action Army BB gun: Part 4

by Tom Gaylord

Writing as B.B. Pelletier

 

Colt Single Action Army BB revolver
The new Colt Single Action Army BB revolver is gorgeous!

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

This report covers:

  • It started as a conversation
  • Cartridges are the key
  • Use the same cartridges
  • The test
  • Ah-ha!
  • 25-foot test
  • Summary

It started as a conversation

A couple weeks ago, several readers had a discussion on the blog about shooting the Colt Single Action Army BB revolver with pellets. I didn’t read everything they said in detail, but the basic idea stayed with me for several days until I began to wonder, “Why not?” Back in 2013, I tested the Diana model 25 smoothbore pellet gun and discovered that it’s very accurate out to 10 meters — even though there’s no rifling to spin the pellet. Why wouldn’t this BB revolver also be accurate?

Cartridges are the key

I guess what got people thinking about this is the fact that this BB revolver uses cartridges that are loaded one at a time into the cylinder. The steel BBs are pushed into the bases of the cartridges, and if pellets would also fit, then loading them into the gun would be easy.

We recently looked at the Gamo PR-776 pellet revolver, and we’re in the middle of our review of the Gletcher Nagant pellet revolver right now. People are thinking about airguns that use cartridges, like these guns do, and the Colt Single Action is very popular. But it’s a BB gun with a smoothbore. Could it also be accurate with pellets?

This thought kept pressing on me until I had to know the truth. So I got my single-action out of the box and installed a fresh CO2 cartridge. I loaded 6 cheap Chinese pellets into the bases of the cartridges, then I fired them into the pellet trap that’s permanently set up in my office. That exercise went well enough that I decided to give this a try. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Use the same cartridges

Before we continue, let me state for the record that these pellets are being loaded into the same cartridges that came with the Single Action Army revolver. There is nothing else to buy. The pellets are pushed into the base of each cartridge, just like BBs. And there they sit until fired from the gun.

The test

I set up this test at 5 meters, because the Colt is a BB gun, and 5 meters is the distance at which BB guns compete. If a BB gun can hit a one-inch target at 5 meters it can hit a soda can at 10 meters with no problem.

I sat in a chair and used the UTG Monopod to steady my shooting hand. The first 6 pellets I tested were H&N Finale Match Pistol pellets. And the results weren’t that encouraging. Six pellets went into 1.232 inches at 5 meters. The best 6 BBs had made a 0.848-inch group, although that was actually with 4.4mm lead balls and not with steel BBs. The best steel BBs did was 0.926 inches. Both of them are better than the group made by the first pellet.

 

Colt Single Action Army BB revolver Finale Pistol group
Six H&N Finale Match Pistol pellets went into 1.232 inches at 5 meters from the Colt SAA.

One thing I did notice, though, was that the shots were centered on the target. Given that the SAA sights are not adjustable, that’s a good thing! The pellets seemed to hit right at or just above the tip of the front sight, which is very convenient.

Ah-ha!

Next, I loaded 6 RWS R-10 Pistol Match pellets. They loaded into the cartridges easier than the Finale Match pellets. It seemed like they were made for these cartridges. Six pellets then went into 0.669 inches at 5 meters, and that’s when I knew the stories on the internet were true!

Colt Single Action Army BB revolver R10 Pistol group 1
On the first try, 6 RWS R10 Pistol Match pellets went into 0.669 inches at 5 meters from the Colt. This is good!

I’d planned to try a different pellet next, but this target convinced me to give the R10 pellet a second try. Maybe I found a pellet the revolver likes.

For some reason I jerked the gun on the second shot and pulled that shot higher than the rest. But I called it, so we know it was off. Five of the 6 pellets went into 0.848 inches, but that pulled shot opened the group to 1.358 inches.

Colt Single Action Army BB revolver R10 Pistol group 2
On the second try, 6 RWS R10 Pistol Match pellets went into 1.358 inches at 5 meters, but one shot was a pull that was called. Discounting that shot, 5 pellets went into 0.848 inches, which is still pretty good!

Instead of testing a different pellet at this point, I decided to back up to 25 feet and see what this R10 pellet could do. Since this was a test of what the SAA can do, rather than a complete report, I wanted to stick with what was working well.

25-foot test

This time, all the shots were good, and the 25-foot group measures 1.243 inches between centers. That’s close enough to one and a quarter inches that I will call it that. I was able to shoot a 6-shot group with the SAA that’s as tight as a 10-shot group from an S&W 586 revolver, which has a rifled barrel. While I won’t say that the Single Action Army is as accurate as the 586, nobody ever said it was supposed to be. This is just close enough to warrant attention. I think this is fantastic performance from a revolver we didn’t even know would shoot pellets.

Colt Single Action Army BB revolver R10 Pistol group 3
At 25 feet, the SAA put 6 pellets into 1.243 inches. Not bad at all.

Summary

Today was an unexpected bonus from the Colt Single Action Army BB revolver. You can use it in a way never envisioned by its maker. There’s nothing more to buy, and nothing special you have to do — just load the gun and shoot it as you normally would. Only, instead of BBs, load lead pellets.

It isn’t common to discover hidden benefits with airguns as significant as this. Those who have purchased the SAA now have a whole new light in which to view their purchase.

48 thoughts on “Colt Single Action Army BB gun: Part 4

  1. I was looking at the Power line 35 smoothbore test earlier and this thing’s verging on outshooting it.
    Good to know!
    I don’t know how comfortable you were going into this experiment bit I thank you for trying it !


  2. B.B.,

    These results are very encouraging. I imagine if the barrel was rifled how much better the groups might be! I’m curious how the FPS of the pellet compares to the FPS of the BB. I also wonder how it might be if the pellets were put in the front of the cartridge but, they may just fall through the barrel.

    Good Experiment!

    G&G

    G&G


  3. Very good test.

    And did somebody make it a rule that pellets won’t shoot from a smooth bore barrel. Look at some of the big bore smooth bore air guns. They shoot some interesting shaped projectiles.

    And how many people have shot pellets out of their smooth bore 760’s. I bet alot of people.

    As it goes its all about what you want out of the gun.


  4. Now I have ANOTHER reason to like and enjoy thisbrevolver. As was noted in the initial reviews of this gun it isn’t a one-holer…but then neither were the firearms this revolver copues. But as is now being learned by folks who own these fine replucas, they CAN “sling lead” like the original should the owner choose to do so. This already smazing replica SAA appears to have a few tricks up it’s sleeve that even the Umarex marketers were not aware of.


  5. I think you said you used the same 6 cartridges that came with the SAA in all of today’s reported tests? Have you purchased any of the accessory cartridges and tested reproducibility with different sets of 6 cartridges?



      • BB, if you have the access to the small hole gauge that Bugbuster mentioned it might be worth using a separate set of the shells in order to determine if the slightly-larger diameter of the pellets are having any “premature” stretching or opening-up of the interior part which is sized by design to fit and securely hold s bb. I know the size difference isn’t THAT great but it IS none-the-less present. Also I realize that the softer lead of any given pellet may simple be held very tightly in place by that retainer without causing it to become a “loose fit” for bbs. I onle mention this thought as a means to see if maybe it might be worthwhile to have a set of the cartridges marked in some way snd kept separate for use only with pellets, or if this would make absolutely NO DIFFERENCE to the later performance of bbs used. Just a curiosity on my part. Either way, with the basically low cost of the shells I now have a Saa bb AND pellet gun.
        Denny.



  6. My oh my! Did I told you I want one of these – with rifled barrel of course. And an ace of clubs on the grips and gold floral engravings to mimic Lucky .357 gun from Fallout.

    duskwight




  7. If they come out with a rifled barrel version of the Peacemaker I would still buy it. Probably more accurate and more consistent as a replica.

    But I would still keep the smoothbore bb version, because like with the Gletcher Nagant, I can fire bbs, hair-fletched airgun darts, pellets and even birdshot with it. With birdshot and the right wadding, you can do those circus exhibition shots on balloons with reduced risk of ricochet or stray projectiles because of the smaller mass and short range of the light shot.

    Also with these Peacemaker revolvers, they should come up with some sort of airgun version of SASS competition events.


    • Lion, what kind of range do you get with those “birdshot” rounds? If they could take out some pests (hornets, yellow jackets, carpenter bees and so on) that sounds like a winner. Sometime, one of you guys need to tell us in detail how to load them up that way.


  8. B.B.,

    This is great news! I finally got my Colt SAA, and I can’t wait to try this. Actually, this discovery makes owning a PelletGage in .177 even more important.

    I wonder if the Webley MK VI would be able to shoot pellets and benefit similarly. Might you be tempted into trying that out, wink, wink?

    Finally, I have these words for air gun makers: #3 Schofield in both seven and five inch barrels.

    Michael



  9. I’m still experimenting with different types of wadding so I cannot give you consistent range estimates as of yet. Also have to figure out what shot size to use. Was fiddling around with shot from some leftover Viper Express shotshells and I’ve run out.


  10. B.B.

    Any idea when the U.S. Marshals limited edition version that I read about in the NRA rag will be available? Might have to buy a bb gun……

    Mark N


  11. Thank you Mr. Pelletier. You have answer the question I have been looking for. I have asked the question several places, should of just ask you.
    I try not to use BBs in my backyard as we have double pane windows. The repair of which would be expensive.
    Looks like I can get back on the trail again partner. Going to go have to find me a paladin fast draw rig for a fat old guy.
    Maybe something in Andy Divine wear.
    As always thanks.
    Stay well and do well.

    John Kennedy


  12. I am disappointed in Umarex. I received my brand-new Peacemaker at the end of December, but the gun arrived in an unusable condition. The cylinder locking bolt is stuck in the “up” position which prevents the cylinder from rotating when I try to cock the gun. This is true whether or not the safety is engaged. I called Umarex and was told to send the gun back to them for repair/replacement on 12 January, but have not heard a word from them regarding it’s status. I am looking forward to shooting my gun, but this has put a damper on my enthusiasm and caused me to question their customer service. I wonder if others have experienced the same thing.


    • Squintww,

      I don’t know the particulars of your situation, other than what you tell us, but I can tell you that the SHOT Show that ran last week was what slowed many companies down in Jan. Umarex had a great many employees in Las Vegas in their booth, and it takes about a week before and a week after to prepare and to recover.

      I have contacted them for you, so maybe if you email them again, or just call their service department you will get a satisfactory response.

      B.B.


    • Received the gun a short time ago. Released safety as directed. All worked well. A day or two later, picked it up, could not restate cylinder or move hammer back. Tried safety on/off to no avail. Felt the same way, thought I would have to return. Then decided to gently insert a .177 cleaning rod. Felt “something” move- all worked well again.



  13. I should mention that I just took delivery of the Colt Peacemaker .177 , this is one nice gun and the holster offered is very good quality and fits this revolver perfectly. I shot 36 rounds tonight with good results considering my age +60. I’m very happy with the purchase . I’ll link some photo’s once I figure out how to do that in a comment here.



  14. Hey guys, quick question. I bought this SAA Colt BB (Same model as in the post) but sadly since owning it for about 6 months the hammer has stopped working. I’ve taken the gun apart and noticed a small torsion spring was out of place. After a few different tries to fix it have only failed. I’m racking my brain as to the original position the torsion spring was in. Any help whatsoever would be greatly appreciated as I’m not able to get it repaired professionally. Thanks,
    John.


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