Among the biggest and most interesting markets for firearms is the cowboy action shooting market. The appetite of the buying public for replicas of the guns of the Old West is a healthy one. The originals are pretty expensive these days. Many were well made of good material, but they are simply are too valuable for most of us to use.
Some were made from iron and soft steel. The Colt Single Action Army revolver was the finest handgun of its day with excellent handling and exceptional accuracy. This is the still the single action revolver by which all others are judged. Cimarron offers quality reproductions of the SAA. Uberti of Italy manufactures these revolvers.
Uberti offers many models, imported by several companies. Cimarron has earned a reputation for superior fit and finish among their handguns. I have owned several, and they have given good service. It is interesting to note that the company offers more variations on the SAA revolver than Colt has offered in 145 years of manufacture. These revolvers are not too expensive to use, so you may decide you need a brace of these handguns.
My experience with the Single Action Army dates to my high school years. I purchased a then new name, Uberti, and decided on a 7 ½-inch barrel revolver with a brass grip frame. I played with it more than I fired it and broke some internal parts and the hammer. Repairing the gun was one of my first gunsmithing tasks. I enjoyed firing the .45 and had to handload so I could afford to fire it.
The Uberti was very accurate with hard cast 250-grain loads. I had the barrel professionally shortened to 4.75 inches. During many lonely days and nights in my college years, this handgun protected my person as I worked security at nights and on the weekends all through school. This job was ideal for me, as I could study and still make the rounds and listen for alarms.
I liked the balance of the Uberti SAA, I felt it balanced better than a four-inch barrel double action .38 revolver and it was considerably more powerful. When I became a peace officer, the Uberti was traded for a Smith and Wesson Combat Masterpiece .38. I did not own another SAA for many years. I have tried the Colt SAA and own a rather nice nickel second generation .45. But the Cimarron is the revolver I fire the most.
There are many variations on the Cimarron Model P as they call it, and some are very nicely finished. They are available in bright blue with case hardened finish and in popular barrel lengths. While there are many variations, the lockwork and attention to detail are the same. Cimarron saw the market for good quality revolvers with authentic appearance. My old Uberti with its brass grip frame and passing fair blue finish with dim case hardening was a useful revolver but not in the class with the modern Cimarron.
My personal revolver is what Cimarron calls the original finish. It is commonly called a distressed finish. The intention is to offer a product that looks a hundred years old when it leaves the factory. Some get it right, some do not, and the Cimarron is one of the latter.
I like the look and this revolver looks like a Wild Bunch gun to me. A note on the action, the single action revolver isn’t safe to carry with six rounds loaded—a cartridge under the firing pin. The hammer-mounted firing pin would strike the cartridge primer if the revolver were dropped.
Modern double action revolvers feature a rebound lever and some have transfer bar systems. There are also single action revolvers with the transfer bar system. They are safe to carry with six rounds in the cylinder. The original type seems to me to have a crisper let off than modern transfer bar actions. It is authentic.
Remember to load only five rounds. The drill is this, load one cartridge, skip a cylinder, load four, cock and lower the hammer and you are on the empty cylinder. Practice this and get it right. There is no other way to carry a single action revolver. As for fast draw, fast draw competitions do not use ball ammo. Instead they use blanks. There is no real need to practice a fast draw and it didn’t happen in the old west that often either. If you do need to draw quickly, get on target before cocking the hammer. Never cock the hammer in the holster.
My revolver is a 5 ½-inch barrel version. I have tried the 4 ¾-inch gunfighter’s version and also the long barrel revolver. After many years of using the SAA, I find the 5 ½-inch barrel length is overall the best balanced and handling for my needs.
This revolver is very accurate, posting five-shot 2-inch groups at 25 yards with the Fiocchi 250-grain lead load. This bullet is of a hard alloy that takes the rifling well and results in less leading than most cowboy action loads. At just under 800 fps this is a useful all-around loading for cowboy action and informal target practice. It is also affordable in 50 round boxes.
The .45 Colt responds well to a careful handloader. I have used hard cast 250-grain SWC bullets with excellent results, primarily from Magnus cast bullets. Using WW231 powder for 850 fps, the .45 Colt is useful for use well past 50 yards. I have also loaded heavier loads using WW231 and Titegroup for 900 to 920 fps.
The .45 Colt isn’t as powerful as the .44 Magnum, but for the weight of the revolver, and the power of the cartridge, it is a useful piece for defense against all but the largest animals. A factory load that offers plenty of power is the Double Tap Ammunition 255-grain hard cast SWC. This one exits the Cimarron’s 5 ½-inch barrel at 896 fps.
I often carry this load in the revolver when hiking in the mountains and fields. I have also used a handload with the Hornady 250-grain XTP bullet at 830 fps. So far, this is the single most accurate loading I have fired in the Cimarron, offering 25-yard, five-shot groups of less than two inches. I use Titegroup powder for this application.
Carrying the SAA has been made a lot easier with the introduction of the GALCO Wheelgunner. This holster is well made of quality steer leather. The Wheelgunner is reversible and may be worn on the right or left side. There is a crossdraw option. The Wheelgunner also offers an easy on and off option.
While it is tight enough for most uses without a safety strap, there is a hammer thong for greater security. If you need the revolver quickly, the thong is easily flipped over the hammer as you draw. I like this holster very much and find it has much utility for outdoors and range use.
The Cimarron revolvers are well made of good material, accurate, and powerful. I enjoy mine very much and so will you.
Are you a Cowboy Action revolver fan? Do you own a Cimarron Single Action Army revolver? What caliber and finish? Share your answers in the comment section.
Bob Campbell is a former peace officer and published author with over 40 years combined shooting and police and security experience. Bob holds a degree in Criminal Justice. Bob is the author of the books, The Handgun in Personal Defense, Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry, The 1911 Automatic Pistol, The Gun Digest Book of Personal Protection and Home Defense, The Shooters Guide to the 1911, The Hunter and the Hunted, and The Complete Illustrated Manual of Handgun Skills. His latest book is Dealing with the Great Ammo Shortage. He is also a regular contributor to Gun Tests, American Gunsmith, Small Arms Review, Gun Digest, Concealed Carry Magazine, Knife World, Women and Guns, Handloader and other publications. Bob is well-known for his firearm testing.
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