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Education / Training Barra Schofield BB revolver: Part One

Barra Schofield BB revolver: Part One

Barra Schofield
Barra Schofield BB revolver.

This report covers:

  • History
  • Description
  • Sights
  • Finish
  • All metal
  • Cartridges
  • Power
  • Summary

Today we start looking at an oldie and a goodie, Barra’s BB-firing version of Smith & Wesson’s Schofield revolver.

History

In the late 1860’s the U.S. Army was shopping for a breech loading self-contained cartridge revolver to replace their aging 1860 Colt Army percussion revolvers. They tested the Colt single action and the S&W Model No. 3 American. The test resulted in the adoption of the Colt Single Action Army (SAA) Model of 1873. They passed on the less powerful and more delicate 1869 S&W Model No. 3 American.

But the superior loading/reloading capability of the S&W American was recognized by Army ordnance. So in 1875 Major George W. Schofield patented improvements in the design of the S&W Model No. 3 American and the Schofield Patent Revolver (Model No. 3 Schofield) was born. The S&W Model No. 3 Schofield was greatly improved over the Model No. 3 American. Many saw service in the Indian Wars, though they were reported in use as late as the Spanish-American War and Philippine Insurrection.

The Schofield  revolver is a single action whose grip shape doesn’t support it as well in my hand as the Colt SAA. It’s rather muzzle heavy for a one-hand hold. I would say the Schofield grip is ideal for larger hands. I took this one next door to my neighbor, Denny, who has ham hands, and he found it comfortable to hold.

The speed of extraction of the fired cartridges was considered a plus by the Army. They were thinking of cavalry troops who reload on horseback and often on the move.

But when the revolver is broken open to extract the empty cases, they all come out of the cylinder — both the unfired ones and those that have been fired. So ammunition management is something the shooter has to get used to. No one wants to dump his live cartridges on the ground. I suppose the troopers just shot until there was nothing left and then dumped the entire cylinder. That’s what I would do.

Barra Schofield open
The spring-loaded rear sight is pulled back to break open the action for loading and unloading.

By the way, just so you know, you’ll pay about twice what a nice first generation Colt SAA costs to get an original Schofield. That is entirely reasonable for only a few thousand Schofields were made, where the Colt SAA is now into its third generation and the mid-300,000 in serial numbers.

Description

The Schofield is a single action (which means the hammer must be cocked before the trigger is pulled) revolver. It hold six rounds that were originally caliber .45 Schofield — a weaker version of the .45 Colt cartridge. Of course at the time nobody knew that the .45 Colt round was to become ubiquitous. Hey, some people bought Edsels, too!

I find this revolver very muzzle heavy because most of the firearm is forward of the grip, while the Colt SAA has a large part of its mass right over the grip.

The revolver weighs 3 pounds, so it’s not a lightweight. It’s 12-1/2-inches long, which makes it on the large side. And, thanks to the novelist Agatha Christie and American legislators, it has a safety switch behind the hammer. Someone online said it’s very easy to fan, but that guy is just nuts. If you try to fan this revolver you risk opening it up and dumping all the cartridges. Besides that the hammer is too low. And the Barra’s design prohibits fanning.

Barra Schofield safety
The safety is a small switch (arrow) behind the hammer.

Sights

The sights on this Barra are large and crisp, but not adjustable. Since the rear sight is also the latch that opens the revolver for loading, it’s best left solid. The rear notch is a vee, but it seems to hold on target very well. Of course I’ll know more when I test it for accuracy.

Finish

The metal is finished matte with the wood grips a smooth matte. Barra calls it their aged finish, but there aren’t the wear marks that other aged finishes have. The finish is smooth and even. And did I just say the grips are wood? They’re actually plastic, but that stuff has gotten so realistic in past years that it’s difficult to tell anymore.

The left grip panel removes to install and remove the CO2 cartridge and the Allen wrench you need for piercing the cartridge is built into that grip. So the grip panel is the handle for the wrench. The grips fit very well with just a thin parting line between them and the frame of the gun.

Barra Schofield grip
The left grip panel comes off to install a fresh CO2 cartridge and the Allen wrench you need is a permanent part of that panel.

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All metal

Speaking of the frame, this BB gun is all metal on the outside. Except for the grips all you touch is cold metal.

Cartridges

The BBs are loaded into the front of the cartridges, so the cartridges have to be extracted every time to load. I mention that because on some BB revolvers you load BBs into the rear of the cartridge and they don’t have to be taken out of the gun.

Power

Barra says to expect steel BB velocities of up to 410 f.p.s. They make no mention of lead pellets, even though they display a 4.5 mm bore size, rather than a 4.3 mm size that all steel BBs are except for Marksman. What I’m saying is use BBs. Can you use lead? Well, I plan to, so we’ll see.

Pyramyd AIR rates the Barra at up to 445 f.p.s. This should be an interesting velocity test!

Summary

I have been wanting to evaluate some handguns for a while now and this one was a special choice. I’ve always wondered what it is like to shoot a Schofield, and this BB gun gives me the chance.

author avatar
Tom Gaylord (B.B. Pelletier)
Tom Gaylord, also known as B.B. Pelletier, provides expert insights to airgunners all over the world on behalf of Pyramyd AIR. He has earned the title The Godfather of Airguns™ for his contributions to the industry, spending many years with AirForce Airguns and starting magazines dedicated to the sport such as Airgun Illustrated.

19 thoughts on “Barra Schofield BB revolver: Part One”

  1. If the cartridges were rear loading, then those projectiles might shoot a tiny bit faster as they would be exposed to the expanding/pushing CO2 gas a little bit longer. So, I bet I’m not the first to think, ‘I wonder if the rear loading cartridges from my other CO2 guns also fit?’ 🙂

    • I have just, kind of, found one answer to my previous comment.

      Online, I came across “Schofield Pellet Cartridges – Barra Airguns” and saw rear loading, all brass cartridges, and claims like “…MORE RANGE AND ACCURACY WITH YOUR SCHOFIELD No.3 REVOLVER…”, which appears confirmed by some reviews, also on that site.

      However, I have learnt to trust neither manufacturer’s claims nor reviews because I cannot tell which, if any, are true.

      Tom Gaylord (B.B. Pelletier), I wonder what you make of this?

      PS I see that pyramydair sells these cartridges too, calling them “Schofield No. 3/ Webley Mk VI Pellet Cartridges, .177 cal, 6ct”, which makes me suspect they’re unique to those two revolvers

  2. BB,

    I for one would think much better of this air pistol if it can handle pellets. Even though I am not a big fan of the replica airguns, I do like the unusual and have been considering the Webley MK 6, the Nagant and now possibly the Scholfield. I also have a big meaty paw, so this might fit it pretty well. Hey, I like large-gripped pistols.

    As for the rear V sight, this is the type I do prefer. The V helps my eye to center up the front sight better than the square notch. This is one of the reasons I like the older sights. I guess it is what you get used to. I really like perlkorn front sights also. 😉

  3. B.B.,

    Hope you sold most everything you wanted to sell at the Texas Airgun Show & Field Target Match. What did you buy?
    On the Schofield is the built in CO2 loading hex wrench in the left grip panel the same size as the typical separate supplied Allen wrench? Looks like a great way to do it; other than for folks that have the OTT (Over Tightening Tendency) disease. The plastic panel might not deal with the OTT if i understand one of the reviews on PA correctly.

    shootski

  4. I always liked the look of the Schofield. I had a Dan Wesson 715 Co2 BB 2.5″ Revolver that was dead nuts accurate but I never really had the patience for the loading process and rarely shot. Ironic since I usually single load most all of my airguns. Something about the process of loading which is about the same as this Schofield just wore my patience thin. I let it go about 6 months ago and have been kicking myself ever since. May have to pick up another one some day as a trainer for my GP100.

    I too am greatly looking forward to reading your take on the airgun show. I really enjoyed it!

    • I enjoyed it as well, there were some Crazy deals there.

      I got to meet several readers there, and a couple of dealers I have dealt with for parts for years, but had never met face to face.

      I sold all but one of my full auto bb guns, and came home with…..

      Well I will save that for tomorrow…

      Ian

    • Annnddd… I did. I went back and read BB’s Blog on the 4 inch 715 pellet version and lo and behold PA has refurbs of them. Couldn’t pass it up so have a Dan Wesson 715 4 inch coming. This blog has taught me so much but also cost me so much moolah. Not that I am complaining here.

      Was good to meet you Ian!

      • Yes it was good to meet you as well, a face to the name.

        I have owned a couple of the Dan Wessons over the years.
        To load them I had the speed loaders, and a pellet tin with a layer of bbs in the top, since the cartridges loaded from the front, I would push the nose of the cartridges into the bbs, and they would come out loaded. Then just drop the speed loaders into the cylinder and go to town.

        If I was single loading, I would just poke the nose of the cartridge into the bbs, and then load it.

        But since one of the guns came with 36 cartridges and corresponding speed loaders, I would load them up in advance to keep the fun going…

        I have to quit talking about it,, it will make me want to get another one, and I do know a guy that has 2 of them…….

      • Roamin Greco,

        Sorry about the misspelling of Roamin forgot to shut down the spell check.
        PA has them for sale but no lanyard and retractor…for MUCH cheaper of course there is S&H unless you have a code or spend way more.

        shootski

        • Walmart carrie’s an air venturi model with no seating extension, and no lanyard for about $8,

          Not that I am trying to promote that company, but they are available.

          And if you are over seas, there are some of us that will ship items that are legal to others in other areas of the world…

          Ian

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