Umarex Legends Ace in the Hole pellet revolver: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Legends Ace revolver
Umarex Legends Ace in the Hole revolver.

  • History of the Colt Single Action Army (SAA) revolver
  • Buntline Special
  • Sheriff’s model
  • The Shopkeeper’s model
  • Ace in the Hole
  • Fanning hammer
  • Don’t fan!
  • Removable front sight
  • Weathered finish
  • Pellet pistol
  • Heavy
  • Safety
  • Evaluation

Today we begin our look at the Umarex-Legends-Ace-in-the-Hole-revolver. This Legends airgun is different from all others because it does not attempt to copy the firearm exactly. It takes the kind of license you would expect from a person who wanted to customize his sidearm. To appreciate today’s report we’re gonna need to know some history of the Colt single action.

History of the Colt Single Action Army (SAA) revolver

The SAA came into being in 1873, two years after the expiration of S&W’s patent on revolver cylinders that were bored though, front to back. Colt started by modifying their 1860 Army cap and ball revolver to become the Colt 1871/72 open top cartridge revolver, but in late 1872 they began producing what would become the most famous revolver of all time, the 1873 Single Action Army.

The 1873 was initially offered to the military with a 7-1/2-inch barrel. Later Colt offered the revolver with a 5-1/2-inch barrel and a 4-3/4-inch barrel. Those three are the official lengths of Colt SAA barrels.

Buntline Special

You all know the story, but did you know there is some truth to it? There are Buntline Specials that were made before 1900. Their barrels range from 12 inches to 18 inches, and several are cut for attaching shoulder stocks. In the days when these were made most manufacturers would deliver a custom barrel length for a customer’s special order.

Sheriff’s model

The so-called “Sheriff’s model” SAA had a 3-inch barrel that was too short for the extractor housing to be installed. It’s a hideout gun — a friend for when things go south. It was never an officially cataloged Colt model, but Colt did produce a few — along with many gunsmiths. A regular SAA frame has a loop on the right side for the extractor housing. That was either ground off or the frame was made without the loop for the very few guns that were made by the factory. Again, it was never a cataloged item, but Colt did make some.

The Shopkeepers’s model

Now we come to the gun were are about to talk about today — the Shopkeeper’s model. Again it was never a cataloged Colt model, but there are enough of them that it has gained quasi-official status. Certainly they are being produced today. While you will read differing opinions about this one, most agree the barrel was between 3-1/2 and 4 inches long. Many say it was extractorless, but some say it can have an extractor.

Ace in the Hole

The Umarex Ace in the Hole revolver has a 3-1/2-inch barrel and a cartridge extractor, which would make it the Shopkeeper’s model. Colt never cataloged this when the SAA was in its first generation, but they did in the following generations.

Fanning hammer

But the differences don’t end there. The Ace is fitted with what can only be described as a fanning hammer. It’s taller than an SAA hammer spur and has a rounded knob at the tip. That’s to keep from digging into your hand during fanning. I know about fanner Colts, because back in the late ’60s I was a gunfighter at Frontier Village — a Western Amusement park in San Jose, California. I had a first generation Colt Bisley modified into a fanner and it had the same tall hammer spur.

gunfighter
Besides being the outlaw, Sundown, I was also the Deputy Marshal at Frontier Village. When those men needed days off, I was their stand-in. I’m shooting a standard SAA here.

Ace hammer
The Ace in the Hole hammer spur stands straighter, plus it has a rounded knob on the end of the spur to protect the palm when fanning.

Don’t fan!

I spend a bundle of money modifying a genuine steel Colt to be a fanner, and even then it was hard on the gun. DO NOT fan the Ace, unless you want to buy another one. The impact of the rapidly spinning cylinder hitting the bolt and stopping suddenly will enlarge the bolt hole in the frame of the gun — ruining it. It also ruins the bolt notches in the cylinder. My Bisley went that way and it had a steel frame! Remember that the Dukes of Hazard ruined nearly one General Lee car a week, jumping the way they did. It may look cool but it ruins iron!

The Ace copies a Hollywood gun carried by Sylvester Stallone in the movie series, The Expendables”. It’s a pure Hollywood fantasy gun, though real trick shooter, the late Bob Munden could draw, fire and hit two different targets in less than two one-hundredths of a second, using the fanning method!

I wish the Ace hammer had the Colt profile, because as tall as this one is, it’s that much harder to shoot with one hand. And one hand is the way single actions are meant to be shot! A genuine gunfighter’s SAA would have a hammer that was lowered, not raised. No real gunfighter (that survived a fight) ever fanned his gun, but several notable ones did have lowered “slip hammers”. These can substitute for the trigger, and the trigger is removed from the gun. Fanning or slipping is then the only way the gun can operate. You don’t really fan a slip gun. You thumb the hammer down until it slips out and fires the gun.

slip gun
John Neuman’s slip gun is what a real gunfighter’s gun looks like. The hammer is also the trigger.

Removable front sight

The Ace’s front sight is a black plastic part held on by 6 legs that clamp onto the smooth barrel. The owner’s manual only mentions it but does not tell you why it’s removable or how to remove and replace it.

Gunfighters would sometimes file down their front sight so it wouldn’t snag as the gun was being drawn. It isn’t really much of a problem and this modification is more of a gimmick than a help, but it is historically correct. So, when you want to look really bad, rotate the front sight to the left (while holding the gun in your shooting hand) and it will come off easily. There are three grooves on the barrel that don’t go all the way through to the bore. In the movie pro gun these slots are supposed to be cuts to keep the recoil down. The front sight fits into these grooves. My gun came with two extra front sights, which I believe are for when the plastic legs break. I would just leave the sight alone.

front sight on
The front sight sits low on the end of the barrel.

front sight off
Rotate the sight to the left and it comes off easily.

Weathered finish

The Ace comes with a weathered finish. This is very realistic and appropriate for an SAA that’s carried and used. I would have ordered it even if other finishes were available, which they aren’t.

Pellet pistol

The Ace is a pellet pistol that shoots from individual “cartridges”. Load up to 6 pellets — one in the base of each cartridge — and you’re ready to go. The box say the velocity is 340 f.p.s., which I assume is with light lead pellets. We will find out for sure in Part 2. Yes, the pellet barrel is rifled.

The grips are sized for the 1860 Colt Army revolver, and, as such, are about a half-inch longer than genuine single action grips. That was necessary to make the room to house the 12-gram CO2 cartridge. The grips feel smooth, tight and very good in the hand. The left panel comes away from the grip frame for installing CO2, and it has a built-in Allen wrench to tighten the piercing screw.

Each grip panel has an embossed escutcheon with an attractive silver Ace medallion. They fit tight on the test gun with no movement, yet the left grip pries off easily for CO2 cartridge exchange.

Heavy

The Ace’s .177 pellet barrel is shrouded by metal, making the gun almost as heavy (1 lb. 15-3/8 oz.) as the firearm it copies (2 lbs. 2 oz.). Couple the weight with the longer grip and the revolver feels big in the hand.

Safety

Like all the Umarex SAAs, the Ace has a sliding safety in front of the triggerguard. When the gun is on Safe, the trigger cannot be cocked or lowered. The safety on the test gun is defective. I can’t take it off with my fingers. I have to pry it off with a screwdriver. I have owned several Umarex SAAs and this is the first one I’ve seen with a defective safety.

Evaluation

The Ace is a different air pistol. I can’t wait to test it. It does, however, beg the question of where the 4-3./4-inch barrel is.

53 thoughts on “Umarex Legends Ace in the Hole pellet revolver: Part 1

  1. B.B.,

    Cool looking pistol. How accurate can slip firing be?

    Siraniko

    PS. Section Removable front sight Second paragraph, fifth sentence: In the movie pro (prop) gun these slots are supposed to be cuts to keep the recoil down.



    • In the sentence, “Now we come to the gun were are about to talk about today”, were should be we.

      “It does, however, beg the question of where the 4-3./4-inch barrel is.” Thank you, Tom. God Bless!

      —Joe actually on Maui not Bainbridge but too lazy to change it :^>


  2. B.B., that’s a pretty cool gun; but some day, I’d like to see a write up on your time at Frontier Village.
    That Sundown looks like one bad hombre; I’d like to hear more about him. =D


  3. BB
    I really like the slip hammer gun. Next choice for me would be the fanning hammer.

    But I have to bet the slip hammer would be the fastest on a quick draw.

    Cool stuff.


  4. Gunfun1,

    If your phone runs on Android go to the Google Play Store and search for RSS Reader. I use it on my phone so I don’t have to turn on the computer every time to catch up with the blog. I sometimes get overwhelmed by the number of blog comments that show up when I wake up in the morning. In the span of 5 hours over 90 comments during this weekend! I wonder how B.B. keeps up with everything?

    Siraniko


  5. B.B.,

    Nice history lesson. That is the first time I have ever heard of a revolver with no trigger, but it all makes sense. The front sight is quite interesting. Someone put some thought into that. It is good to see these offered in a pellet version and rifled. So many seem to be bb only. 12″~18″ barrels ehh? That would be something to see and must have been quite unwieldy. A short fellow would run out of arm movement before the muzzle could clear the holster, I would think.

    Good Day to you and to all,…… Chris


    • Chris,

      The famous (infamous?) Wyatt Earp carried a Buntline Colt. What many do not know is that under his long coat he quite often carried a sawed off double barrel shotgun on a loop. It was much more effective in a gun fight than a revolver. His close friend Bat Masterson also carried one. I guess the Buntline was for the long range shots.


      • A sawed off shotgun loaded with buckshot would be one mean machine for clearing out the opposition at close range!!

        My deer hunting “swamp gun” was a double barrel “coach gun” with a Brenneke slug in one barrel and a magnum SSG in the other. Preferred it to a rifle when flushing bucks out of dense patches of alder bush. Sorta like hunting Woodcock. Shots were often at very close range and you had to be able to “cut some brush” to reach your target.

        Hank


        • Hank,

          That sounds pretty wicked! 😉 Did you happen to see what I did with your wind indicator idea on the weekend blog? GF1 posted a pic for me and I linked the post/pole that I used above that. I look forward to trying them out.


      • RR
        That’s what I’m wishing for a Buntline special. That and chambered for .22 though I doubt it will happen due to tooling costs, I do think with the longer barrel the velocity would be respectable. The shoulder stock accessory would definitely be a plus as well. Making it a Wyatt Earp commemorative edition might have some additional appeal.
        Carl


        • Coduece ,
          I’m not so sure the longer barrel would do as much as you think with velocity in mind. In the bb version, a 5.5″ and a 7.5″ barrel are both listed at the same 410 fps. I take that it’s do to the cylinder gap? I just knew the 7.5″ would be around 435 fps. Also if you look at the Dan Wesson bb revolvers, there is no difference in the 6″ and 8″ barrels (426 fps). And maybe (like most times) I’m totally wrong.

          Doc


          • Doc
            I think your correct, I guess I was making an assumption based on barrel length and single shot bolt actions. There is a spring loaded barrel seal on my Umarex Colt but your right about there being very similar velocities regardless of barrel length with the revolver pistols.
            Carl


            • Doc & Carl
              I think that some real world testing would show a change in velocity for a change in barrel length. HiveSeeker did that with his custom shop guns. My guess would be that the revolver having a less efficient seal from chamber to barrel would have less FPS increase for the same added barrel length but there would be some.
              Gerald


              • Participant
                Hiveseekers guest blog was the basis for my assumption. however as doc points out the manufactures FPS estimation doesn’t change much with barrel length. But hey any additional power would help with my dream of a .22 action gun.
                Carl


                • carl,

                  If not mistaken, many of the revolvers have a slip barrel that pushes back on the cartridge. So, in essence, there is no “gap”. I think that your idea has some merit. A gap situation would definitely have it’s downsides. Once it leaves the cartridge, nothing more can be gained from a longer barrel.


  6. BB,

    For a minute there I thought you could not stand it and bought yourself one. I guess if the safety had not been defective you would probably keep it. 😉


  7. B.B.,

    I know you’ve meant to do this report for a long, long time. It is a testament, I suspect, of just how backlogged you are.And thanks for the warning about fanning. I hadn’t read that.

    These are gorgeous, aren’t they? I expect the typical accuracy variations from example to example, but I was surprised how accurate mine is. Mine likes lightweight pure lead pellets such as Hobbys and Diabolo Basics, which to me suggests a lower-power air gun.

    I agree with you completely regarding its size. I have huge palms, but this fills them. It feels and looks much larger than the photos suggest.

    Michael



      • Mine is every bit as accurate as my 5 1/2 inch Colt SAA pellet shooter. It likes lead 7.0 wadcutters such as Hobbys, Diabolo Basics, and RWS Clubs. From 10 meters or less they are quite accurate. Because the trigger is so light, one-handed and aiming and shooting quickly give me better results than the old concentrate on aiming thing. Perhaps it’s a zen effect. My vintage Hahn SA is like that too.

        Michael



  8. BB,

    I, for one, think the front sight just looks weird on a replica of a gun that was made 150 years ago. And why do it if it is apparently prone to breakage?

    There is a glimpse of the “safe handling” warning etched on the extractor housing in one of your photos, but I can’t see how much of the gun it covers. Has Umarex left enough room for California to get the ” This product contains substances known to the state of California…..” warning included when they actually become the babysitter for the whole country? I wish manufacturers would quit messing up the looks of guns that are being bought primarily because of the way they look by adding such gaudy etchings. To all you young entrepreneurs out there, there may be a market for adhesive-backed “skins” that can cover that crap up. My $.02



      • BB,

        I wasn’t aware of that. I still think there’s a market for some product to cover them up or remove them,once in the buyer’s hands.

        If anyone want’s to take a chance on one ,PA has a sale on Wildfires for $100.


        • Halfstep,

          If I recall correctly, in the U.S. it is called the Ace in the Hole. Elsewhere it is licensed by the Expendables movie franchise and has branding associated with that. The Ace in the Hole version has the sight fitted onto it. The licensed one does not and just has the fake compensator a la Sylvester Stallone’s character’s one in the movies.

          Incidentally, that revolver in those movies has made short barrelled, single action revolvers among the most popular handguns in the world right now. The internet is full of videos of guys getting six timed shots off with them much more quickly than with semiautos.

          Michael


          • Michael,

            Thanks for that tidbit. I guess I can see now that it’s sort of a way to make everyone happy. I think it would look better though if they had chosen materials that would have allowed for flush-fitting the three bands into the barrel and coloration that would let that part match the barrel better rather than stand out so obviously. It just isn’t a good look to my eye.


  9. Hi again, I received the vintage hw35 we talked about before and it seems to shoot fine although I do not have a chrony to really know how it is shooting I can tell it needs a new breech seal which I have ordered and am waiting for. My plan is to build a spring compressor and take a look at the insides before too long as I am not sure if it has a leather seal or not. The serial number puts it as likely being 1976 production. My question is if it does have a leather seal is there any compelling reason to upgrade to synthetic? Is one smoother or faster than the other?


  10. Slipping seems to require a great degree of fine motor control. That’s even harder for rapid shots in succession. I would think it is easier to get your trigger finger to move faster than your thumb, but I’ve never really tried.

    With all the power of the .45 Long Colt, you would think that the army would have brought it out of retirement when they were having difficulties with knock down power from the .38 in the Philippines.

    Matt61


    • Matt,

      You do know that the Army did exactly that — brought the .45 SAA out of retirement for the Philippines? And their next service revolver was the double action in .45 Colt. Wasn’t until the Gulf War that they forgot that .38s and 9mm don’t kill reliably. At least not with the bullets the Army is allowed to use.

      Slipping does require a little control, but with a .45 Colt at 10 feet it’s just one shot. No second shot needed. And with the SAA, both the finger and thumb have to be used, so just the thumb is faster.

      B.B.


      • I thought the army’s solution was the 1911, but I suppose the war was over by the time it was released. So, the war just provided the inspiration. I guess they needed a more immediate solution, and the SAA makes sense. I understand that the .45 ACP which was an adaptation (shortened) of the .45 round for an automatic and was designed to stop a running man in his tracks which is just what they needed for that war. I don’t believe that the army has changed its handgun ammunition, so it looks like the performance problems with continue with the new handgun.

        Matt61


      • B.B.,

        I knew the armed forces had? some engagement restrictions, which I think have been eased now, but I was not aware that there was ammunition restrictions in place. So let me get this straight,.. “they” are out to kill our troops by whatever means necessary, and we are what?,… supposed to just injure them?

        Chris



          • Jim,

            Thank you. That is what I had presumed, but did not know. I guess that my bottom line is that I want “our” guys and gals to have every advantage. As came up over the weekend,… what is so civil about war anyways?

            I could go on, but won’t. (Every) advantage.


        • Chris USA,

          There is the Geneva Convention of which the USA is a signatory that limits the type of ammunition that can be used by soldiers in any war.

          Siraniko


          • Siraniko,

            Thank you. I was not aware as I am not informed as to the intricacies’ of combat “rules”. Last I heard, some adversaries do not know rules of any kind.


            • Chris USA,

              Well the rules are practically outdated since they were formulated initially in the late 19th century and were last ratified in 1949. The nature of war has changed a lot since then.

              Siraniko


              • Siraniko,

                One final thought before heading off to la-la land,…. it is one thing to find ones’ self in an unpleasant quandary,… it is quite another to put ones’ self there deliberately. Yes,… from 1949,… things have changed.

                Thank you for your always great insight. It amazes me as to how informed you are on so many things,… and,.. always quick with the links. 😉

                A good evening to you,.. or,.. maybe morning? Yea,.. pretty sure morning,… 😉

                Chris


                • Chris USA,

                  Indeed Good morning for me. You can blame it on a misspent period in my youth being sick and confined to bed with a bet to read the Encyclopedia Britannica. Didn’t finish it though.

                  Siraniko


          • B.B. and Siraniko, Matt and Chris,
            Except for one little thing everyone should aught know, if only to enhance one’s credibility in discussions such as this.

            The oft cited “Geneva Convention” in no way references small arms.

            What? What? What?

            I’ll not burden anyone with long-standing legalities…a true can-o-worms if ever there was such, but you’re thinking of the ”Hague Convention”. (0r more properly, “Conventions.”)
            Look it up, it’s a fascinating treatise on opposed-thumb mammals and their ingenuity in circumventing the law.



  11. Hey guys,

    Just a little update on the Urban. The second order of screws came in the mail today. These are stainless 2.5x10mm length. I replaced the original 2.5x8mm screw with the new 10mm length screw. Then I checked the trigger for creep. The trigger was too quick to fire for my taste. The new screw does not fit snugly so I didn’t want to just back it out a turn. I would be concerned that it would move. So I removed the 10mm length screw and ground it down to 9mm but stage #2 was still too short. So I ground the screw down again to 8.5mm length. Now is feels pretty good with very little creep but I can still feel it move slightly. I could have probably used the 10mm length but it felt too much like a hair trigger to me. I did give the gun the bump test with my palm on the end of the stock and I could not make it fire even with the 10mm length screw. I will shoot it with the 8.5mm length screw for a while and see how I like it. It does feel much better now and most of the long creep is gone.

    Also, shot two starlings and two sparrows from my woodpecker feeder today. That’s 6 shots and 6 hits, no misses. I really like the weight and length of the Urban too. With the thumb hole stock I can hold it with one hand and adjust the side wheel with the other. This rifle works much better for those quick shots at skittish starlings and sparrows. It’s nice to not have to cock, and then de-cock the rifle each time if I don’t get a shot. I just flip the lens covers up (really like those) and cock the bolt. No need to insert a pellet each time. And if I don’t get a shot I can just de-cock to bolt. I can get on the target much quicker without concern for a special artillery hold.

    I tried a few other pellets while target shooting down in my basement today. The Urban does not like the RWS Superdomes, nor the Crosman Premier Hollow points. It does like the JSB 18.13g and the JSB 15.89g. When I can get outside to shoot at 25 and 30 yards I will be able to finalize the one it likes best.

    So far, I could not be happier with the Urban. It does everything I expect from an airgun.

    Geo


    • Geo

      Cheers! Know you are elated that you are on a roll. Well you deserve it and had it coming after much effort on your part and others also. The big worry is when are you going to miss?

      Decksniper


      • Decksniper,

        Well, when I stretch the range out to 25 plus yards I’m sure I’ll have some misses. But at least I’ll know it’s me and not the gun, or the manner in which I held it. Now that I have modded the trigger with the slightly longer screw for the 2nd stage and eliminated most of the creep, the Urban has become even easier to shoot accurately. I’ve only shot a few shots since changing the screw out but the trigger feels much nicer now.



  12. I appreciate the comments on fanning wearing out the parts but it can also destroy the barrel of the BB models and perhaps the pellet models as well as long as they have the mechanism to seal the barrel to the cylinder chamber. With a Colt powder gun the cylinder is free-wheeling and a kick back of the hammer will toss the cylinder against the stop, locking the chamber in battery with the barrel. Not so for the floating sprung barrel of the air guns. The friction of the barrel being forced out of the empty chamber and reseating in the loaded chamber keeps the cylinder from locking up in battery unless the hammer is pulled back to its fullest extent. It is impossible to ensure that full hammer lock when fanning and you run the risk of firing a round into the edge of the barrel’s receiver, breaking off pieces that jam the next round fired and exploding the thin walled barrel sleeve. The faux outer barrel will, of course, contain the damage but the gun will be rendered useless.


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