March 10, 2011
Few firearms are as widely recognized as the Colt Single Action Army revolver, and fewer still have enjoyed such lasting accolades.
Made by A. Uberti of Italy, distributed by Cimarron Firearms of Texas, and fine-tuned by Bob Baer (retired), this stainless — steel single-action .45 is one of the finest, most accurate modern SAs according to our handgun editor.
Introduced by Colt in 1873, over 340,000 1st Generation Colts were manufactured (production halted near the beginning of World War II). Colt cranked up the tools and began producing the signature firearm again in 1956, producing 2nd Generation models, and finally once more in the 1970s with the 3rd Generation series. While it's still possible to buy new Colt single-action revolvers from Colt's Manufacturing, they're considered custom shop guns.
Besides the genuine articles, untold numbers of copycat Colts have been manufactured over the years by a wide assortment of companies. Some of these guns are top-notch, and others wouldn't even make good boat anchors.
One company that has long been renowned for producing excellent reproduction firearms is the famous A. Uberti of Gardone Val Trompia, Italy. The company offers an impressive variety of guns, including not only blackpowder stuff, but cartridge guns, such as Single Action Army copies and 1851 and 1860 Army conversions, among others. Uberti also offers a great variety of replica Winchester repeaters, Sharps rifles, and even a Spencer. I've handled several varieties of Ubertis recently, including a fine 1876 lever-action rifle in .45-60 caliber.
One of Uberti's main distributors is the famous Cimarron Firearms Company of Fredericksburg, Texas. Cimarron is one of the most recognizable names in reproduction firearms, with the vast majority of those guns being manufactured by Uberti.
Mike Harvey, the president of Cimarron, long wanted to offer a single-action revolver fashioned from stainless steel. Uberti resisted the all-stainless idea for some time, since the material is much more difficult to work with than carbon steel. At last, Harvey coaxed the company into building the stainless revolver, and what a great gun it turned out to be.
My old friend Bob Baer of Rosenburg, Texas, is a retired fine-gun builder and pistolsmith, and I can say with certainty it takes a lot to impress him when it comes to handguns. He was all smiles when he found out Cimarron would be offering the stainless-steel Model P and quickly scooped up one for himself. Being a bit on the particular side, Bob naturally worked some of his Baer magic on the gun, making it even better than the factory original.
Baer was proud enough of the gun that he started packing it with him all over Texas. He and our mutual friend Donald Peikert, the Texas gentleman from Columbus, decided to join Joaquin Jackson at a book signing in the Texas Hill Country. Bob had the Cimarron stuck in his belt while shooting the breeze with Joaquin. Naturally curious, Jackson inquired about the revolver. In private, Bob later handed the Cimarron over to the retired Texas Ranger, who immediately took a liking to the fine revolver.
"Believe I'll just keep this 'un," Joaquin said, shoving the pistol into his waistband. After some scrapping, Bob was finally able to get his Cimarron away from the six-foot-six Ranger, but the incident wasn't entirely over. Joaquin had to have a stainless revolver just like Bob's.
Being the fine hombre he is, friend Peikert later paid a visit to Cimarron Firearms in Fredericksburg and picked up a pair of new stainless-steel Model P revolvers in .45 Long Colt. Donald then took the pair to Rosenburg and dropped them off with Baer, who, since Donald was a friend, agreed to come out of retirement long enough to go to work on them with his polishing tools.
Bob is a master craftsman and does amazing freehand work. He disassembled the revolvers and worked over the cylinder bolts with a polisher, narrowed and polished the mainsprings, and eased the throats. Using his hand tools, he buffed the throats to a fine, mirror finish, which he says greatly improves the accuracy of virtually any handgun. The result of Bob's handiwork was a pair of finely tuned, accurate, and rock-solid single-action .45s.
Peikert, who is an endless traveler, made his way down to Alpine, Texas, home of retired Ranger Jackson. As you can imagine, Joaquin was thrilled when Donald presented him with one of the Cimarrons. Donald and Joaquin immediately went out and fired it, discovering, as expected, that it was extremely accurate.
Even without Bob Baer's expert "slicking up," the Cimarron Model P is a heck of a sixgun. The factory finish is as smooth as silk with no tool markings whatsoever. The frame-to-backstrap and trigger guard fit is outstanding, as is that of the loading gate and other components. The gun bears some nice touches, such as beveling around the edges of the cylinder similar to that on 1st Generation Colts, and the old-style hammer bears good checkering. The grips are varnished walnut with a Cimarron emblem embedded.
This durable Colt clone is just the ticket for anyone needing a dependable sixgun for kicking around in the country, self-defense, cowboy action shooting, or just about any other activity that might necessitate the presence of a handgun. With Baer's finishing touches on the gun, I'd consider the Cimarron stainless revolver one of the finest, most accurate modern single-action revolvers available today.
By the way, I'm not relying entirely on Joaquin Jackson's glowing report on the Cimarron. Mr. Peikert kept heading west from the Texas Big Bend into New Mexico after dropping off the Jackson gun. And now that other one's in my gun safe.