Duke Colt pellet revolver, weathered: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

Duke Colt pellet revolver

 

Colt Duke pellet revolver with weathered finish.

This report covers:

  • Website corrected
  • Installing a CO2 cartridge
  • The pellet cartridges
  • Velocity
  • Qiang Yuan Training pellets
  • RWS Hobby pellets
  • Air Arms Falcons
  • Shot count
  • Trigger pull
  • Evaluation

Happy Thanksgiving to all my U.S. readers. Hopefully you all have plenty to be thankful for.

Today we look at the velocity of the John Wayne Duke Single Action Army pellet revolver. In doing this test, I will start to get to know the gun, as well. I’ve heard a lot of comments about the accuracy and I am looking forward to finding out what’s true.

Website corrected

Someone noticed that one search page on the Pyramyd Air website that points to the SAAs was calling some of them single shots instead of single actions. It was written correctly in the product descriptions, so it took us a couple days to find the error with the help of our readers. I think those pages are all correct now. These revolvers are six-shooters, not single shots. And they are single action, which means you have to cock the hammer manually to advance the cylinder and ready the trigger for the next shot.

Installing a CO2 cartridge

Like all the single actions made by Umarex, this one has the Allen wrench that tightens and pierces the CO2 cartridges built right into the left grip panel, so you’re never without it. What a novel idea! If someone would give me a pile of money I would probably give large cash awards for innovations like this. Of course I might also just skip off to Rio, so maybe that’s not such a good idea.

Duke Colt pellet revolver Allen wrench
The Allen wrench that’s needed to pierce the CO2 cartridge is permanently built into the left grip panel.

The pellet cartridges

I was asked several questions about the pellet cartridges this gun uses. Reader Jim M. asked me to measure them inside and out and compare them to the BB cartridges.

Both metal cartridges (pellet and BB) seem to measure an identical 1.587/1.588 inches long (40.34 mm) long. Each has a synthetic insert in its base that I believe to be about 0.24-inches long. It’s not in a place that’s easy for me to measure with the tools I have.

Duke Colt pellet revolver cartridge base
Each cartridge for both the pellet and BB cartridges has a synthetic insert in its base. The pellet insert seems to be larger on the inside.

Duke Colt pellet revolver cartridge mouth
There is no synthetic insert at the mouth of the cartridge for either pellets or BBs.

Both inserts have 6 straight (RidgeRunner — that’s for you) ridges along their entire inside edge. The pellet insert measures 0.187-inches ID and the BB insert measures 0.180-inches ID, but I would not bet money on either measurement. It is very difficult to measure the inside diameter of a soft synthetic, and I am not sure I did it correctly. It seems like the BB insert is smaller inside, which is what I would expect, but like I say — I wouldn’t put money on it.

Velocity

I tested the velocity with a string of 6 shots. I waited at least 10 seconds between each shot to allow the gun parts to heat up again.

Qiang Yuan Training pellets

People have commented that the accuracy is lacking, so I’m going to give this revolver the best chance to do well. That means the best pellets. Therefore my first string of pellets was the Qiang Yuan Training pellet that has done so well in other accuracy tests. These pellets averaged 388 f.p.s. for 6 shots. The low was 383 f.p.s. and the high was 410 f.p.s., which is a spread of 27 f.p.s. The gun doesn’t seem to cool down as fast as other CO2 pistols, which will be nice for action shooting.

RWS Hobby pellets

Next up were RWS Hobbys. Being lighter, I expected them to go faster and they didn’t disappoint. They averaged 399 f.p.s. with a spread from 389 to 416 f.p.s. That’s a spread of 27 f.p.s. — the same as the first pellets.

Air Arms Falcons

The last pellet I tested was the Air Arms Falcon. This domed pellet is lightweight, yet accurate on many airguns — both rifle and pistol. In the weathered Duke they averaged 389 f.p.s. The spread was only 11 f.p.s., going from a low of 385 f.p.s. to a high of 396 f.p.s. Maybe this pellet will do well in the accuracy test, too?

Shot count

Now it was time to find out how many shots we can expect from one CO2 cartridge. At 400 f.p.s. the gun is pretty hot, so I don’t expect a lot of shots, but we’ll see. Here are the velocities as the shot count increased.

Shot……………………Velocity (f.p.s.)
31……………………………387
52……………………………401
65……………………………385
78……………………………351
91……………………………304

I stopped shooting at 91 shots, though there was enough gas remaining for another 6 shots for sure. After that, though, you risk sticking a pellet in the barrel. Once the velocity starts to drop, like we see on shot 78, the gun is using up the last of the gas. All the liquid CO2 has evaporated by this time.

Trigger pull

I measured the trigger pull at 2 lbs. 2 oz. It varied between 2 lbs. and 2 lbs. 5 oz. It is is very light for a single action and it is also pretty crisp. I can feel a small amount of movement in stage 2, but not that much.

Evaluation

So far I am still impressed with the Duke pellet gun. It seems very well made and robust. It gave me more shots than I expected and the top velocity was right where Umarex advertises (410 f.p.s.). Umarex claims 100 shots per cartridge which is almost exactly what I found in my test. If this gun is on your short list, stick around. I will get to the accuracy next.

52 thoughts on “Duke Colt pellet revolver, weathered: Part 2

  1. I am liking this pistol more and more, and I do not care for CO2. It also sounds like you could shoot BBs in this one with the BB cartridges.

    Are you sure it does not have a twist on those ridges? It sure does look like rifling on the picture of the front end of the cartridge.


  2. If I didn’t like this revolver for any other reason, the fact that it looks so much like the Hawes Western Marshall .357 I had the privilege of shooting in the early ’70s. Now, if they would only make a blow back version.

    I took a closer look at my Colt Commander and the magazine insertion and release. I was correct to say everything went smoothly when the slide was locked. However, after releasing the slide (and engaging the safety lest I put my eye out) things still go smoothly. The cocked hammer makes all the difference.

    I am thankful for a number of things. Among them I am thankful I stumbled onto this blog. I am thankful for you, BB, and for Edith.

    ~ken


    • Speaking of a blowback version
      😉
      I’d still like to see a Webley Fosbery auto revolver.
      This gun and others like it are great and will probably fly off the shelves and rightly so. The permanently fixed Allen is a nice touch and means no more searching for the proper one because it’s always in your hand.




  3. BB,
    You said “I waited at least 10 seconds between each shot to allow the gun parts to heat up again.”
    Why does the gun parts need to warm back up?
    I know that discharging co2, cools your gun’s co2 gas reservoir down.


  4. B.B.,

    Off-Topic, but I finally picked up a vintage Daisy 25 with a cork ball shot tube. I thought I’d read up as much as I can about Lucky McDaniel’s techniques and see how much trouble I can cause.

    Question: Does anyone out there know the actual diameter of the cork balls for those? I’ve read .45 in some places, 1/2 inch in others. Cork suppliers make ’em in 1/2 inch and in 3/8 inch, but if it IS .45, this could be problematic, as vintage Daisy cork balls go for about two dollars a piece.

    Thanks in advance,

    Michael


  5. Friends, Can anyone suggest a light weight barrel cocking springer that’s very easy to cock? Just something to shoot dime size pellet groups at 10 meters. 300 fps or more is fine.
    A Crosman Raven has proven to be a nice gun so far but it takes a little more cocking force than I’d like. Can I cut a coil or so off the mainspring without screwing something else up? Happy Thanksgiving all!!!


    • Fido3030,

      The one toughie in your requirements is dime size groups at 10 meters. 5 shot or 10 shot groups? Price limit?

      If it must be a springer, and spending $300 (during the current 10 % off at Pyramyd Air) is not a problem, then I’d recommend the Weihrauch HW30S. I’d recommend one of the several Daisy Avanti single stroke 853 models. They’re about the same price, very lightweight and accurate, but they are slightly harder to cock than the Weirauch (I have both).

      Michael


      • Fido3030,

        Another option would be the Crosman 2100B. Very lightweight, very accurate. If you pump it three times, it would shoot a lightweight pellet a bit over 300 fps. The first three pumps would probably be easier than the one pump of a Daisy Avanti 853.

        Michael


      • Thank you, 5 shot groups. Are there good options if I backed off on the group size?
        I tried 853, very nice but a little to heavy, hard to cock. I’ll look at HW30s.
        I made up a Daisy 99 with a rifled barrel, false muzzle, etc. very nice aside from inconvenience of muzzle loading, but that’s kind of what I’m looking for.
        I have Three Slavia 618’s but can’t get them to group well. Maybe worn out. But again that’s what I’m thinking about.
        Thank you again


        • Fido3030,

          Fewer than five shots produces results that are statistically meaningless. Really a group should have 10 shots to give meaningful data on your shooting and the accuracy of your gun, pellets, etc.

          The only pellet rifles I can think of that are lighter than what I mentioned (the Avanti is only 5.5 pounds) and which are easy to cock and are extremely accurate according to some, inaccurate according to others, is the IZH 61 or better yet the IZH 60.

          The only other thing I can add is it just might be that you are looking for something that does not exist, if you want an air rifle that weighs under 5.5 pounds (e.g. Avanti 853), cocks with less than 15 pounds of effort (e.g. CZ 618), and is almost as accurate as an Olympic grade 10 meter rifle (in the hands of a non-world class air rifle shooter).

          Michael


          • Michael,

            I always did tend to aim high! I think a 618 that shoots as accurately as the ones many people have would be closest to what I want. This afternoon I pulled out one of the three I have and tried more pellets. I was getting good groups with R-10’s seated deeply. Then the next group was an inch and a quarter! !!! No idea why. The Raven with 100 rounds through it is consistently under a half inch with good pellets but a little heavy and more cocking effort. I’d buy a new 618 in a heartbeat. I was hoping someone could suggest something like it. Thank you for taking the time to think about my question and for the good ideas


            • Fido3030,

              For what my advice is worth, this is what I think you should do. First, look into the lit up bore of each of your 618s to see if any of them are smooth bore. if any are, set them aside and instead continue with the one, two, or three that are rifled.

              Next, clean the barrels of any rifled 618 you might (i hope) have.

              Then, buy one or two each of the following from Pyramyd Air(but always buy in multiples of four, as that way the fourth is always free): Gamo .177 Pellet Sampler Pack, H&N Field Target Sampler Pack, .177 Cal, H&N Excite Sampler Pack, .177 Cal. JSB Match Diabolo Test Sampler, .177 Cal, the RWS Pellet Sampler, Crosman Premier Lights, and an eighth tin of either RWS Superdomes or RWS Hobbies. I suggest either more Superdomes or more Hobbies because the chances are pretty good that out of the 20 different pellets you buy, one of those or the Crosman Premier Lights will be the one your 618s like best. 618s are not absolute tack-drivers, but they are known as pretty darn accurate, especially for their price.

              Finally, shoot 20 separate targets of five shots a piece and see what ends up tightest. Be sure to use the artillery hold for every single one of the 100 shots. Light your target brightly while you yourself are in semi darkness. Do no more than 20 shots in one sitting so fatigue does not become a factor, and take your time and rest a bit between each individual shot. Do not rush a shot, and feel free to stop right before taking a shot if you don’t feel relaxed. Just sit back, take some breaths, and start over.

              The good news is you’ll have a lot of fun doing all of that shooting!

              Michael


    • Your description reminds me of my Slavia 618, I see them on Gunbroker from time to time generally around $60-85. Of course I have no idea what all had been done to it but I was able to get 1 outta5 inside the mouth of a 20 oz soda bottle @ 60′. Of course that is only available on the used market and if the HW-30 is in the same league I’ll be looking closer at it.


      • Reb,

        Man, those little 618s are sweet, aren’t they? I have two, both in .177. One is rifled, the other smoothbore. But even the smoothbore is pretty darn accurate!

        Happy Thanksgiving,

        Michael


        • The one I had sure was!
          Someone must have really liked it, when I tore it down for a lube I noticed a button on the rear of the piston.
          I always assumed it was rifled due to the accuracy but never thought to check.


    • Fido3030,

      Cutting the spring does work to reduce the cocking effort. IF, you are comfortabe tearing into it and doing it, AND you like the gun other than the cocking effort, then it may be worth your while. Most all have preload when assmbled, if not all. Try 1/16″ preload. It will cock easier and may even improve in accuracy.Your pellets will hit different, so you may need to re-figure what pellet it will like at the lower power level.



  6. Thank you Michael, I just saw your post. 2100’s are nice, aside from being a little hard to load. That might be where I wind up, but I’m hoping to find a springer. Thank you again







          • B.B.

            I think Michael is asking if the pellet revolver has a rifled barrel versus the smoothbore barrel in the BB revolver in which case the answer is yes.

            These Colt Peacemaker replicas are so beautiful and such excellent shooters I had to go ahead and buy this pellet version without waiting for you to finish your review. I’ve now got three of the Peacemakers: the weathered U.S. Marshall’s Museum Commemorative BB, the standard blued BB, and now the nickel finish pellet.

            My total shot count with the pellet revolver was 110 without any pellets getting stuck in the barrel due to low power. After the last successful shot, the next one didn’t even push the pellet out of the rubber ring in the cartridge.

            My accuracy so far looks good. Due to the low profile of the rear sight groove, I do have some trouble focusing on the sights and consistently lining up the front sight blade in the center of the groove. For most of the pellets I shot today, I was able to get 6 shot groups in the 1 inch or less size range at 5 1/2 meters. Almost all of my shots were drifting to the left probably because of my trouble focusing on the sights, but most were still hitting the 2 inch shot spots.


          • B.B.,

            Yes, Charles is right. I should have actually written a complete sentence, let alone been more clear. I assumed that the pellet versions were rifled, but you know what they say about “assume.” So, I wanted to make certain.

            Michael


  7. B.B., gentlemen

    Spend a week in Europe and four days waiting for the job to be done. My project starts to take shape (and materialize).

    So here’s the main coupling with wedge installed: http://i67.tinypic.com/atub2b.jpg I’d call it the heart of the whole thing.
    This is the main tube: http://i67.tinypic.com/6ymgl4.jpg that could be called the spine of the system. It’s not finished yet, there will be some laser cutting and edge smoothing. But for those of you who are interested in weight, it came down from 4 to 1.5 kilo. Dark ring on it will be machined later, and with slots cut it will loose another 100-220 g.
    Say hello to our pistons, complete with slide rings grooves: http://i63.tinypic.com/b3sz90.jpg Those guys will slap the air and give some kick to the pellet.
    And this http://i67.tinypic.com/68rlmr.jpg is one piece of cocking mechanism, I’d say it’s a sort of stabilizer.

    Those pieces will soon start to come together and form the shape of the system. Hope I’ll show you some updates in a few days.

    duskwight


  8. I think Michael meant is the barrel smooth or rifled, and BB said in part 1 that it’s rifled. A good thing.

    Reb suggested a Webley-Fosbery. Given that the real Fosbery barely functioned properly with all the available recoil energy of a .455″ cartridge, I doubt a CO2 version is possible.

    The integral allen key is a neat idea, but I’d worry about it tearing out of the plastic grip and prefer to use a separate one.

    I liked the idea of the Umarex 1873 a lot. I did/do not like the over-size grips, and especially the hammer being always at “quarter-cock” (and I prefer pellets to BBs). If the pellet gun is accurate, I might change my mind, though would probably hold out for the inevitable plain Jane version rather than the limited edition John Wayne thingy.

    If Umarex are reading, a good quality metal blowback replica of the Browning “High Power” GP-35 with functional controls, rather than the moulded plastic gun currently offered, would sell. I would have bought one of the current offering, up until the moment I held it in my hand.


  9. “The real Fosbery barely functioned properly with all the available recoil energy of a .455″ cartridge.” Too bad for Miles Archer that it functioned properly enough. But as Sam Spade said, “He knew what he was doing. Those are the chances we take.”

    Michael


  10. Wow, thanks to all for great ideas! What a great resource this blog and its contributers is!
    I think I’ll buy another Raven to experiment on the spring so I don’t screw this one up and it wears in with a shorter spring. Two of the 618’s are rifled. I have some of the pellets mentioned and will get the others. Good ideas on how to test them! I’ve checked the crowns and they seem ok. Rifling seems sharp. Maybe screws are too loose/tight, wrong hold or something. And I wondered how I would pass the winter! Thanks all!


    • I like that approach!
      I just put a steel breech on my 2240 & put the first 3 pellets through the same hole, I decided that although I bought the pistol to build up I’m gonna get another one to build up and leave this one as is with the exception of replacing the Co2 with a HIpac.


    • Fido3030,

      If you want to try something other than a springer, look at the Crosman Custom Shop 2400. I would suggest reading HiveSeeker’ guest blog series on the 2400.

      Jim


      • I will second that suggestion however some airgunners are adamant about staying away from Co2 guns and the jump to PCP seems daunting.
        The 22xx series literally blows away any other Co2 pistol I’ve gotten ahold of and the conversion to HPA can be expensive but there are deals out there if you ask and look around.
        I ordered my first one in the form of a 2400kt and am now in the process of building another beginning with a 2240. I believe the 2400 is gonna wind up having less money in it when I get done but I felt like I had cheated and needed to pay my dues which is paying off.


  11. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

    B.B.,

    Thank you for measuring the cartridges. Whether or not your I.D. measurements are spot on or not, I am sure you have a good enough measurement of the difference between the bb and pellet ones. It makes sense that variance is part of the reason why certain pellets stuck in my bb pistol.

    Jim


  12. Thanks, I have a 2400kt with LW barrel, 2260 and 2240 with 14 inch barrel and stock, as well as 1322’s, All super guns! I just wanted a simple springer that didn’t need CO2 or pumping for casual fun and instruction. One nice thing about a “drooper” is that if a kid has the barrel slightly broken you can see at a distance it can’t fire. Like a single barrel shotgun. It’s also a nice step up from a BB gun as long as it’s not too hard to cock or too “twangy.” I also wanted something as accurate as a 499B.
    I’ve gotten some really good advice here since I don’t know much about springers. But I’m learning! Thanks all!


  13. Another question….suppose I was to leave a Raven cocked for a period of time; would I wind up with lower cocking force at less velocity, which is what I want. What’s the downside??? Thanks again!


  14. Bad news, good news, good news:
    BN: Ii finished the 200 shot break-in for the Raven, getting decent, if not great groups. I went to zero the sights and found I couldn’t! Not a problem when I was shooting for groups size so I hadn’t dialed it in. Couldn’t get rear sight low enough. Could this be a design problem that should have been caught???
    GN: Cleaned the three 618’s per BB in an old blog. tried lots of pellets per advice from Michael. RWS superpoints are giving 5/8 inch groups in two of them; no luck so far for third. Good progress!!! I was on verge of selling them!
    GN #2. Got interested in smoothbore BB guns again. Took two old Diana HY Score 808’s and got one good one put together. Got very good groups with H&N 4.55 lead BB’s. @ 5 meters.– a lot better than contempary Daisy guns. More experimenting warranted.
    Busy airgun weekend!


    • Fido, it’s probably a design flaw that would require modification to correct if you wanna shoot at the same range OR just back up a bit. My 618’s favorite pellet was the original Daisy wadcutters in the plastic belt clip tub but they’re getting harder to find. Have you tried H &N pistol and rifle match?



Leave a Reply