Schofield Number 3 BB revolver: Part 1
by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier
This report covers:
- A new toy
- Fatal flaw
- Single action
- The BB gun
- Manual needs some work
- Schofield is a rare firearm!
A new toy
Oh, boy! Here we go again with another lookalike BB revolver. This Schofield BB gun is from the past. It’s a replica of S&W’s Schofield revolver. The Schofield was created from a Smith & Wesson New Model Number 3 revolver (often also called the American, to differentiate it from the Russian model) by Major George W. Schofield of the 10th cavalry. The major modification involved moving the barrel latch of this top-break revolver from the barrel to the frame of the gun, allowing the barrel to be broken open with one hand. Cavalry troops have to control horses, along with all their other duties as soldiers, so they want everything they use — guns, sabers, etc. — to work one-handed.
Unfortunately, both Schofield and S&W made a fatal error when they designed the gun. They made it for a new cartridge called the .45 S&W (also called the .45 Schofield) that was just a little shorter than the ,45 Colt then in service. I’m sure they thought the military would see the advantages of the Schofield and switch to the better gun, making the ammo incompatibility a non-issue, but that was unfortunate. The Army was already purchasing Colt Single action revolvers at the time and the Schofield was viewed as something new and different. If there is anything that does not appeal to the Army, it’s something new and different!
The Schofield was tried by the military in limited quantities (just over 8.000) and also purchased by private individuals. A total of around 9,000 revolvers were built. I have learned in research that the Schofield was used by many western gunfighters who saw it as an improvement over the Colt single action. The big advantage is the extraction and ejection of all 6 cartridges when the action is broken open. That makes this revolver much faster to reload than a Colt.
On the negative side, the Schofield is the weaker design because of the frame being open at the top (for breaking open). If you were inclined to use your revolver as a hammer, as some cowboys did, then the weakness became an issue. And over time the guns did wear at the hinge joint, becoming looser. But it was not a big problem if the guns were treated with normal care, and you shouldn’t worry about it, either.
Like the Colt, the Schofield is single action only. The hammer must be manually cocked to advance the cylinder to the next cartridge and ready the gun to fire. I find the grip not shaped as well as the Colt grip for one-hand single action shooting with speed. It is almost as easy, just not quite the same. But the Schofield is a vast improvement over the S&W Russian grip that spawned the New Model Number 3 revolver. That gun has a hump to help control recoil and a grip that’s more vertical and better suited to target shooting.
Like many of the lookalike airgun revolvers that are coming out today, this one has a safety. It locks the hammer, which disables the action. Pushing it forward puts the gun on safe and the hammer can’t be withdrawn. It only works when the hammer is down, so it’s impossible to put the gun on safe when it’s cocked. You can lower the hammer by pulling the trigger and riding the hammer down slowly, though.
The cartridge the revolver uses, as mentioned earlier, was a .45 caliber rimmed cartridge called both the .45 S&W and the .45 Schofield. The case was 1.1-inches long, compared to the .45 Colt (often erroneously called the .45 Long Colt) case that’s 1.285 inches in length. The Colt case measures 0.480-inches in diameter, while the .45 S&W case measures 0.477-inches, so the S&W cartridge will fit and work in the Colt revolver, but not the reverse. The gun I’m looking at today is a BB gun, which is caliber 0.173-inches, and the 6 cartridges are each roughly the size of a .357 Magnum cartridge.
The BB gun
The Schofield BB gun is all-metal, but not ferrous. Only the screws and pins attract a magnet. Being made of metal and with a long 7-inch barrel makes the revolver slightly muzzle-heavy, though not as much as you would imagine. Still, when you try to shoot it with one hand, the muzzle wants to drop as the grip slips in your hand.
The grips are plastic, but look like aged walnut. The left panel comes off to reveal where the CO2 cartridge lives. The tensioning screw is hidden in the bottom of the grip frame and the wrench for it is part of the left grip panel.
The velocity is advertised at 410 f.p.s. on the blister pack container (ugh!), but Pyramyd Air’s description says the gun shoots up to 430 f.p.s.
The metal parts are finished with what looks like a charcoal phosphate finish. This finish is known as Parkerizing — though I am sure this gun is not actually Parkerized. Everything is a matte charcoal except for the grips that are a medium dark walnut.
Manual needs some work
The importer is Bear River Holdings, in Texas. They buy the pistol from Taiwan, and it is recognizable as an airsoft conversion to steel BBs. One word to the importer — THE MANUAL NEEDS WORK!!! On page two there are graphics showing people shooting at themselves and at other people and animals. If you read the captions, you understand that they are telling you NOT to do this, but the international red stripe (for NO) should be across every graphic showing improper behavior. FIX IT!
The BB loading procedure has graphics that are too small to show proper detail. There is room on the back page to expand these graphics. Remember, your guns will be purchased by parents who know nothing about how BB guns work. You have to make the important steps clear.
As long as you are inside the manual, edit it to read like it was written by someone who knows English. Nouns are not capitalized for emphasis in this country! I get tired of people telling me anyone can write, then turning out a substandard product. It was the safety issue that set me off, though. Okay — the rant is over.
The BBs are loaded into the front of each cartridge. So it’s one at a time, though you can speed it up by pouring a layer of BBs in an empty pellet tin and pushing each cartridge down into them. The single review up on the Pyramyd Air website at the time I’m writing this says the Webley Mark VI cartridges will also fit, so a supply of extras is already available. My thanks to someone named Michael for an excellent review of the gun!
The Schofield’s sights are as poor as those found on the older Colt Single Actions. A wide front post fits into a rear vee that’s entirely too narrow. And the rear notch is cut into the barrel latch. There is no possibility for adjustment.
Schofield is a rare firearm!
You know — these lookalike airguns are getting serious when they offer us a Schofield. It was never a mainstream firearm. Even when I was a kid in the 1960s, Schofields went for a lot of money. The fact that there is now one in BB-gun trim tells me the doors are opening wide for lookalikes.
Remington 1875 single action
There is something about an old revolver that gets me excited, and the Schofield is the embodiment of an old revolver. I think this one is going to please a lot more than just BB-pistol shooters.