Duke Colt pellet revolver, weathered: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Duke Colt pellet revolver
John Wayne Duke single action pellet revolver.

This report covers:

  • At last!
  • The weathered gun
  • The gun
  • Artillery model
  • Weathered gun
  • Cartridges
  • Manual
  • Safety
  • Grips
  • Summary

At last!

In the words of the late Etta James — At Last! Here is a pellet gun many of you have been waiting for — the one you told “them” to build. The John Wayne Duke Single Action Army pellet revolver. And this one is genuine — a licensed edition authorized by John Wayne Enterprises. Most readers are familiar with the Duke through his films that are recognized around the world, but it isn’t just the name that makes this pellet pistol so attractive. It’s what it is and what it does. This is a Colt Single Action revolver that shoots pellets!

We’ve had the BB revolver for a year now, though it seems longer. No sooner did it start selling in January than cries were heard for a pellet pistol with a rifled bore. This is it.

The weathered gun

When Pyramyd Air asked me which version of the gun I would like to test I asked for the weathered gun. The other choice is a nickeled revolver that will no doubt become the most popular version. It’s very attractive, so I understand the popularity, but my personal preference has always been blued guns.

Duke Colt pellet revolver nickeled
The nickel-plated Duke.

The weathered gun has the appearance of a gun that’s been in the field for many years. The only thing that hasn’t happened is the finish wearing off the barrel from constantly being taken from a leather holster. That remains for the owner to do over time.

And, yes, for those who want to weather the gun themselves, there is also a blued model with perfect finish. This launch is complete!

The gun

We’ve looked at other Colt single action BB guns up until now, and this revolver is derived from them, so a lot of what we know transfers over. For instance, this is a 6-shot single action revolver. Single action means the hammer must be manually cocked for every shot. If it were double action you could cock the hammer, advance the cylinder and fire the gun by just pulling the trigger. Not so with a single action.

Artillery model

The gun comes with a 5-1/2-inch barrel at present. That’s known as the artillery model in Colt collector circles, because the U.S. government purchased 7-1/2-inch guns for the cavalry and later converted them to 5-1/2-inch models for the artillery. Many of the original cavalry models were modified in government arsenals to the shorter length that was determined to be somewhat handier for soldiers to operate on the battlefield.

One interesting fact of this conversion is that almost all artillery guns that were owned by the Army (there were civilian guns, as well) have mismatched serial numbers. That’s because at the arsenal they were all disassembled, then cleaned, modified, repaired and assembled without regard to keeping the serial-numbered parts together.

Rifled barrel

Perhaps the single most important feature of this airgun is its rifled barrel. I looked inside and indeed, the .177-caliber barrel is rifled. It sits inside a much larger shroud that looks like the real barrel, and simulated rifling has been put there, as well. What a nice touch!

Cartridges

Like the BB gun, the pellet revolver operates with cartridges that are loaded into the cylinder in the same way a firearm is loaded. The pellet cartridges are nickel-plated and resemble a .357 Magnum cartridges. They are loaded from the rear, with the base of the pellet flush with the base of the cartridge. The owner’s manual says to seat them flush. They specifically show not deep-seating the pellets. I plan to test both ways when I shoot the gun for accuracy.

Duke Colt pellet revolver czrtridges
The cartridges are similar to the BB cartridges, but they’re silver instead of gold.

And the cartridges are available right now! Someone listened when you all commented about the BB gun and the launch of the pellet revolver has been done with much better planning and implementation.

Manual

The manual even addresses the pellet revolver and not the BB revolver, the way it so often happens. People think this is a small deal, but on Christmas morning when someone unfamiliar with this technology receives a pellet revolver, they won’t have to wonder for days whether it’s supposed to shoot BBs rather than pellets because someone in marketing got lazy. Never forget that you readers are connected to all the information in the world, but Pyramyd Air has hundreds of thousands of customers who don’t even know this blog exists. So, a product needs to stand on its own.

Safety

Lest you forget, this revolver has a safety!!! It’s a slide on the underside of the grip frame, ahead of the triggerguard. Slide it back and the entire action is locked — it can’t be cocked and the cylinder won’t rotate. Slide it forward and everything operates as it should. It is so unobtrusive you can just put it out of your mind if you want to.

Duke Colt pellet revolver safety
Gun has an unobtrusive safety forward of the triggerguard. Shown in the safe position.

Grips

The grips on all three variations of the gun are identical. They are 2-piece plastic grip panels that appear to be simulated burl walnut. They are very dark and the burl is difficult to see in less than intense lighting. Each panel has a John Wayne medallion that proclaims the gun’s identity. It goes with the John Wayne signature on the backstrap.

Duke Colt pellet revolver grip
Each grip panel has a John Wayne medallion.

Duke Colt pellet revolver signature
John Wayne’s signature is on the backstrap.

Summary

Well, that’s the revolver I’m testing. You’ll find out all the details in the parts to come. I just want to add something here.

I know a product like this seems like normal to many of you. “So, what?” you might say. To someone who has been in airguns for the past 60 years, I assure you it’s not normal. It’s one more sign that we are living in the Golden Age of airguns — the best time to be alive.

I remember my first pellet gun was a Crosman Single Action Six. In it’s day — the late 1950s — there were no lookalike airguns around. The SA-6 was it. It loaded from the front of the cylinder and the CO2 cartridge was housed beneath the barrel with a piece of black plastic to hide it from view. As I recall, I got about 30 shots from a CO2 cartridge and I had best shoot all of them on the same day because the gun would leak down overnight.

We put up with things like that back then because that’s all there was. It was that or nothing, and we thought ourselves fortunate to have what we had. But what we see today is so far advanced beyond the SA-6 there is almost no comparison. This revolver may not be your cup of tea, but recognize it for what it represents — the Golden Age of airguns.

73 thoughts on “Duke Colt pellet revolver, weathered: Part 1


  1. When I dragged my mother to the Texas show I saw a little pistol I just knew she’d fall in love with but when she saw my new 2240 she didn’t like the design saying it looked too much like a Liver and that she preferred a wheel gun, that puts this gun in the running and with it being an officially licensed John Wayne model that can’t hurt.
    Thanks for letting us see what it is and what it’ll do!



      • Reb,

        Now THAT’S a good son, escorting his mother to an airgun show! Most people think of taking her out to lunch, taking her shopping, taking her to a fancy restaurant for a birthday dinner, escorting her to the cemetery on Memorial Day to put little U.S. flags on her father’s and grandfather’s graves, and so on.

        Reb, you treat your mom to the REALLY good stuff; you take her to an airgun show so she can pick out one she gets to hold first.

        You really are a good son, Reb.

        Michael



        • Mine’s looking kinda like chopped liver right now.
          I put the breech and barrel back on it last night but left the barrel band outta the way for ease of installation, when it came time to mount the barrel band I had the option of pulling the front sight or whole barrel.
          I chose the latter(Oops!)
          disregarding the fact that I had cranked the tiny breech screw anchor down and when I went to loosen it enough to get the barrel back in place the little Allen wrench started slipping and rounded out it’s socket. Unless I try some alternative means of extraction I don’t see it coming back out. I have a couple ideas that may work but open to suggestions.
          Anyone?
          Thanks!

          Reb


  2. BB and Fellow Airgunners
    I have commented on a few articles about how lucky we are to be living in what you refer to as “the golden age of airguns”. Lately there seems to be a quite a number of quality airguns on the market to suit any airgunners fancy, and pocket book. To me, this is proof positive our sport is growing in a positive direction, and the manufacturers are listening to our wishes and desires from reading the comment’s section in the blogs write by you, and other knowledgeable writers who test the final product, and give an honest review of their latest offering. Manufacturers are very aware that there is a growing number of knowledgeable enthusiasts who demand a great deal more then the airguns we bought as youngsters in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s.
    Ciao
    Titus


  3. B.B.,

    I don’t know if you remember, but I tried pellets in my bb six-shooter earlier this year, after you wrote about doing so, and let you know that I had to be careful of head size, as some of them would get stuck. I’m curious about a couple things with this new pellet pistol: one, are these the same cartridges as the bb six-shooter, with just a different size rubber insert holding the pellet? Will you measure them and the bb cartridges to compare? And two, will you try a couple of different head sizes to,see if larger pellets stick, or if that has an effect on accuracy?

    Thank you.

    Jim M.



      • Om much more curious as to where the pellet transfers into the barrel, does the cartridge slide over the barrel all the way down to the pellet or is the transfer after moving through the cartridge any distance? Very nice airgun, if the kids in the book had had one theyd have been given the whole pot of gold! This is definitely the golden age, even from when I was a kid, thinking a marksman pistol was an amazing thing and never knowing that 20 years later I’d own an mrod doing what it does with the same pellet!



          • Hopefully its a smooth transition or everyonell be polishing the breech on their guns, I always worry about that thinking about cylinder guns, the shaving of heads as the bullet (in this case pellet ) moves from the cylinder ( in this case l, still cartridge ) into the barrel. I wonder also if you’d feel some co2 blow out at the cylinder lock up, like in real revolvers except in this case it wont cut off your fingers to check!



  4. BB,

    Well Pilgrim, I guess I might just have to mozey on over to PA and get me one of them, uh huh.

    I have actually been considering picking up this very model, even though I am not a CO2 pistol fan. I do have a question though. In the picture of the cartridges you can see small ridges where you insert the pellet. Are those short and just for holding the pellet when you insert it or do they run the entire length of the cartridge and are they straight or spiraled?



  5. B.B.

    The pictures of the loaded revolvers look like they are loaded with brass cartridges instead of the nickel cartridges. Are the pictures correct or did the revolver actually arrive loaded with the nickel cartridges? I like that the accessory cartridges are nickel because they will be easily distinguished from the brass cartridges for the BB revolver.


  6. A short story about John Wayne

    “The Horse Soldiers”, starring John Wayne and William Holden, was having it’s premier in New Orleans in 1957. My wife (before we were married) was with friends staying at the Roosevelt Hotel and they had tickets for the premier show. All of the stars were going to make on stage appearances, so she was really excited.

    The parents of her friend discovered that John Wayne was staying at the same hotel as they were. He bribed one of the staff to find out which room he was staying in. The two teenagers headed for that room and knocked on the door. John Wayne’s wife opened the door and asked what they wanted. They said they would like to meet Mr. Wayne. Mr.s Wayne started to dismiss them, but there was a loud thundering voice saying “let them in”.
    It was John Wayne him self. He chatted with them for a few minutes in his room and gave each an autograph. Most movie stars would not have spoken to them much less invite them inside their motel room.

    I have been a huge fan of John Wayne every since I can remember. I have his posters in my “shooting room” and quite a few years back, I bought 2 John Wayne limited edition Winchester lever action rifles. They were gifts for my two kids. My son still has his and it has never even been out of the original box. It came wrapped in oil paper and has survived the years. It has to be one of the best examples of that rifle anywhere. My son is saving it for his son…. my grandson. I hope he can do the same with it.

    I am sure thinking about one of the pistols for Christmas.

    Jerry in Texas


  7. I watched a couple videos on BNM breech installation last night and although they’re expensive I think I’ll spring for one, they’ve already addressed the transfer port issue and included a shroud and now have .25 back in stock.
    Beats having stuff that’s so hard for me to work with.
    About to go vise shopping right now before it gets bad outside again.


    • Reb
      Just read your comment above.

      The only way I found to get a set screw out that has a stripped out Allen wrench area is a left hand drill bit. And I’m serious that’s what I use at work. Put your drill in reverse (counter clockwise) and start drilling. The cutting edge will grab and pull it out.

      And maybe I should of said this first. If you have some torx head bits you can some times find one that fits tight and give it a slight tap in the set screw. Then you can screw it out like that sometimes.

      Try the torx head first. Then the left handed drill bit. I was going to suggest a easy out but that particular set screw is to small to get a good bite with the easy out bit.

      Let me know if you get it.


      • Gunfun,
        Thanks for the help!
        My standard procedure is to drive in a torch bit but they don’t come close to the 5/64″ necessary.
        I did find a precision screwdriver set while looking for a T- handle set at Home Depot that should work and it comes in a case that’s labeled and comes with sizes I’ve never been able to find.
        I’ll get back to you when I get home.


        • Reb,

          Wear marks on the bit/wrench and the screw,…plus the small sizes,…can make it difficult to figure which is at fault. I had a set of T-Torx that failed, but the screw was also pretty beat up.

          Surprisingly, Stanley offers fold outs in SAE allen, Metric allen and Torx. They have held up well and are at Wally World at a good price. Chris





              • Our bits were held in place by a screw about the same size as this breech screw but with a slotted head and after adjusting for depth of cut the arms were locked in place by a square head screw on each. Tells you how old our equipment was!


          • I’m gonna call Star fasteners tomorrow and see what they have available for backup purposes and maybe they’ll have some good hard ones to pass around, the most common price I wind up paying is $0.29 per piece on the little stuff.
            Depends on what they have available but I’m getting a baggie if they’ll work. I know they have that size but they may have to cut them off to 1/4″.
            We’ll see tomorrow.


  8. Good info. I stripped that little bugger also. Fortunately I had a plastic breech on at the time and sawed it apart at the screw hole. Crude but effective. I was putting on a steel breech and had a spare screw so no problem, but I’m a lot more careful with that screw now. Looking forward to more on the GW Colt


  9. Just got back from fighting the wind and opened up the package it includes T5-T8, .050, 1/16 & 5/64″ Allen as well as small slotted and phillips bits and 3/32, 1/8, & 5/32″ nutdrivers and a scratch awl.
    I’ll see how well it works after a shower and cold beer.
    Gotta get my toolbox back for sure now!


    • Reb,

      If the socket of your set screw is not wallowed out too bad, sometimes you can superglue the allen wrench into the socket to get it out. You just have to have the patience to let the glue dry. And if it does not work, nothing is any worse than it was.

      David H.


      • Reb,

        I should have also pointed out that you need to be careful to not get the superglue where you DON’T want it, around the threaded area. And for a small set screw like that it’s easy to overfill and have the excess glue run out onto the threads.

        Hope your successful, David H.


    • Reb,

      Try the T5.5 or the T6.

      I’ve read to try applying pressure to the breech and tube to relieve pressure on the screw to make it easier to back out. Also first remove the long screw to the rear first. The internet instructions I read said the breech screw should be the last one out on disassembly and the first one in on assembly.

      As a last resort, drill out the head carefully. Remove the breech and barrel. The remainder of the screw should then stick out enough to grab and unscrew with a pair of pliers.

      The screw is a #4-48 X 1/4″. Replacements can be ordered from crosman. I’m trying to find a local source with a slot or Phillips head to avoid having to pay shipping. As you may have surmised, I stripped the breech screw on my 1377.

      Over the weekend, I added a longer barrel, steel breach, and shoulder stock to my 1377. I shot it a few times Sunday without a breech screw. I was getting excellent (for me) groups but got to worrying that shooting without a breech screw would damage the gun. Does anyone know if this will damage the gun? Thanks,

      Jim


      • Thanks for the information Jim! I’ll check with my local fastener supplier before I order a replacement and let you know what I find out.
        Through th I’d probably be able to get a fist full for a buck or so, most times I get outta there under a buck.
        I posted at the bottom earlier that the T6 in my Husky precision screwdriver set got it out and I’ll be driving it home when all is done therefore converting mine to T6 for future purpose.
        I’ve got a couple things to do before the weekend so it may be next week before I can get by there but I’ll figure out some way to make sure you find out what I discover probably on the current blog when it happens. The main thing I can think of about shooting your gun without that screw would be blowing out the breech seal but I guess it could also warp the breech eventually.
        Mine is not wanting to line up correctly and I was gonna go with PVC tubing and probably still will but I gotta get a tubing cutter, first. If I can get by storage I’ll save $10 by using the one in my other toolbox and maybe find some other stuff I been missing.





        • Reb:

          I copied below from the GTA forum at

          http://www.gatewaytoairguns.org/GTA/index.php?topic=55695.0

          For replacement I’ve found the screws that McMaster-Carr sells to be much better, quarter inch 4-48 with a slotted head. I bought 50 for $9. You do need to turn down the head size just a little bit (drill and file will do). You won’t strip one of these breech screws, make sure you do not strip the threads in the air tube though (that will cost you much more than a breech screw). If you want to be safe stick with crosman screws, if you can be sure not to torque them too much switch to a slotted head.

          Jim


          • Thanks for the help Jim, I do have a tendency to make sure things are tight when I assemble them. For that reason I like it when manufacturers include tools in their kits.
            I’ll probably get a few from Crosman in case I have this problem again but for now I’ll be alright.


            • Reb:

              Hope your MRI went well.

              I just ordered three of those little screws from Crosman at $1.15 each. I ordered one of the CCS wide trigger shoes and and extra face seal while I was at it. Total including shipping was $19.11. Crosman said shipping was 10 business days.

              I may order a package of the McMaster-Carr #4-48X1/4″ screws while I’m at it since they are less than 20 cents each to see if they work.

              I’ll send you an email to test your email address and to give you mine.

              Jim


              • I did consider getting the harder screws but don’t want to bung the threads of my gas tube and will just stick with the Crosman stuff but I’ll try to have some modified to T6 available for the next show.
                Looking forward to your email. The “nuclear”(Dr’s word not mine) stuff they IV’d me with put me In orbit for a few minutes and now I’m jacked up like a street drug.
                Got my safe and found a squirrel field target by none other than Crosman at Wally’s.
                Just under $200, it was a challenge loading the safe in my Mother’s Civic but with one rear door taped to the trunk hinge it made the 1.5 mile ride safely.


          • I’m gonna get a few of the Crosman screws and convert them to torx T6, I plan to have a table at the next Texas show, hope to have enough to keep a few and let a few go but it’ll be custom hand work done one piece at a time if I can pull it off. See ya there!
            If it’s an emergency let me know.



  10. Turns out I did the right thing by buying that little precision screwdriver set!
    If anyone else ever has the same problem drive a T6 into the socket, I couldn’t get it straight but I got it out and will be converting mine to accept it before all is done.
    I spent $7 on the set and discovered a perfect low profile vise for another $20, it’s not padded yet but that’s an easy fix. I’ll be getting back by with a ride for that and a gun safe tomorrow or the next day.
    Back to the John Wayne pellet revolver.
    Thanks to all for your patience!

    Reb


  11. Yippee! Ordered one on Friday! The weathered one. Can’t wait! FedEx says is in Oregon right now on it’s way to clear customs. Then supposedly here, Victoria, BC on Friday. I work nights and sleep days, but won’t be sleeping that day for sure. Think I’ll sit on the steps waiting, like when I was a kid. heh heh. I’m 60 BTW. big kid. With $ conversion, taxes, and shipping I’m paying close to double. But Hey! I’ll have one!


  12. I have the weathered Marshal edition and was not too impressed with the weathering process. It looks like they just sanded it, scratched it and scuffed it all over with no real attention to real life wear and tear… For the most part it makes it easy to decide on using a holster. You couldn’t hurt it any more. Good idea, bad process.
    Overlooking the pristine grips for the same treatment surprised me, especially with that one having a bright shinny plastic finish. The new dull wood-like grip finish is much better, but apparently still left untouched?
    If I remember right pellet versions are not that much more accurate than the BB version and had a much lower velocity. I figure it’s the cylinder air gaps and the pellet engaging the barrel rifling that slows it down. For a plinker I chose the BB edition.
    I have a nickel finished airsoft Luger with a drum mag that looks fine but nothing comes close to the finish of these nickel or blued Colts. I ordered a glass top case for my engraved ones.

    Bob M


  13. Don’t know why this and the other pellet John Wayne revolvers are listed on the new products page as “single shot”. Even the Remington RAC Tactitcal 911’s specs list that as a “single shot” in function. I’ve pointed it out to Customer Service that these handguns, whether revolver or semi-automatic pistols should be described as repeaters. Somebody writing these descriptions probably has the impression that since only one shot is fired with every trigger pull, then it should be called a “single shot”. A single shot is actually a gun that can only hold one round of ammunition at a time. Repeaters can hold several rounds in either revolving cylinders or magazines, and thus you can “repeat” your shots till you run out of ammo.








  14. Looks like I need a good buddy to help assemble this cabinet. If anyone’s interested in a decent 18 gun convertible cabinet I picked this one up at Wally’s for $149+tax and it should last a lifetime with proper care(don’t drop it!).
    It has a 4way convertible shelving system and center partition and is California approved with a 3 point locking door, serial numbers on cabinet and keys. Actually looks good enough to be considered furniture and will hold about half my guns if I wanted but I’m in need of a safe place to keep other things too so I’ll be installing as many shelves as possible and just keeping my nicer guns and other valuables in it.


    • Just shot my brother’s weathered addition.
      Love the weight and feel of the pistol especially if you’re into SA revolvers.

      Not a target pistol by any means but pure fun to roll empty water bottles.



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