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.