January 03, 2011
By Greg Rodriguez
By Greg Rodriguez
Uberti's El Patron shot very well with Hornady
's 225-grain FTX load. This group was pretty close to the gun's 1.5-inch average with the Hornady load.
Though I don't write about them much, I've been a fan of single-action revolvers since I first strapped on my John Wayne sixshooters as a toddler. At the age of six, my dad let me fire his buddy's Ruger Single-Six at a beer can a few times, and I was hooked. I was 19 before I could afford a single action of my own, but I've owned one sixgun or another ever since.
For many years, my single actions were reserved for plinking. But as I got into the outfitting business and started spending a lot more time working on some big, lonely South Texas spreads, I found myself wearing a sidearm more and more to protect myself from vermin of the two- and four-legged variety. I carried a 1911 the first few years, but I discovered that I used my pistol more for shooting four-legged critters than anything else. Sure, its presence on my hip was a big comfort when confronting groups of illegal aliens, but I used it most on the odd hog or coyote that stepped in front of me as I opened a gate or mended a fence.
I've experimented with several revolver and cartridge combinations over the years. I tried single- and double-action revolvers, but I developed a definite preference for single-action sixguns because I really liked the way they felt in my hand and on my hip.
As for cartridges, well, I've tried them all. I started with the .357 Magnum but was unimpressed with its performance on game. The .41 Magnum never tickled my fancy, and the .44 Magnums I tried, while perfectly accurate and plenty powerful, come in packages that are too heavy for comfortable, all-day packing. The .45 Colt, however, proved powerful enough to dispatch hogs and deer cleanly, and it is available in a number of trim, packable packages.
When I first started carrying a single-action revolver, there really weren't that many quality choices. But the incredible rise in popularity of cowboy action shooting has been a boon to single-action shooters. Today, sixgunners have an incredible variety ofquality guns from which to choose. Uberti's El Patron, the latest version of the firm's popular Cattleman revolver, is one of the better choices.
Uberti's Handtuned SA
Uberti's 1873 Cattleman is a version of the original Colt Single Action Army. Colt's SAA has always been a quality, packable shootin' iron of the highest quality. Unfortunately, that quality comes at a price most cowboy action shooters are either unwilling or unable to pay. After all, who would want to shoot thousands of rounds through an expensive collector's piece? The Cattleman quickly found acceptance among cowboy action shooters in the market for an affordable single action that looked and handled like the beloved SAA.
As good as the Cattleman is, competitive shooters couldn't help but tinker with it. After all, that's what we gun folks do. Uberti took note of the more popular modifications and endeavored to deliver an affordable, race-ready revolver straight from the factory. El Patron (the Boss) is the result of those efforts.
Uberti's El Patron in .45 Colt is ideal for all-day packing in a quality rig like this one from Kirkpatrick Leather.
El Patron is basically a handtuned, custom-shop offering. Uberti's gunsmiths precisely fit Wolff springs and meticulously tune each action. The result is a smooth, reliable revolver with a great trigger and reliable ignition. To ensure those handfitted parts stay together in the assembly process, each cylinder is numbered to match the frame to which it was fitted. Other features include a steel trigger guard and backstrap as well as a new set of fitted, checkered walnut grips. El Patron is available in all stainless steel or blue steel with a color-casehardened frame, with a 4¾- or 5½-inch barrel, in .357 Magnum or .45 Colt.
The revolver I used for testing is my idea of the perfect packing piece: a 5½-inch, stainless-steel number in .45 Colt. Low-maintenance stainless steel is ideal for all-day packing in the environment I call home, and 5½ inches is the perfect length for a packing gun. It's long enough to give me the sight radius and accuracy I require for hunting but short enough to wear on my belt as I bump around the ranch. And, as far as I'm concerned, it doesn't get any better than the .45 Colt for plinking, hunting, and defense.
Hornady's Flex Tip .45
I shot several loads out of El Patron. Several shot well, but based on my experience with it in the field in other calibers, I went with Hornady's 225-grain FTX load, which produces a muzzle velocity of 960 fps and 460 ft-lbs of energy at the muzzle. It's not the stoutest .45 Colt load on the market, but it's safe to use in El Patron, and it's more than adequate for whitetails.
For those who aren't familiar with it, the FTX was designed with lever guns in mind. The jacketed bullet has Hornady's patented Flex Tip design. A pointed, elastomer tip improves the bullet's ballistic coefficient and is safe to use in tubular magazines. The jacketed, lead core design expands nicely yet holds together for deep, bone-crushing penetration. I've used .45-70 and .30-30 LEVERevolution loads on game with great success, and they've always shot well for me.
I had always wanted to try the FTX in .45 Colt, but the Flex Tip design makes them too long to chamber in my Freedom Arms Model 97. I was pleased to see them chamber with just a hint of room to spare in the cylinder of El Patron. On the range, they shot as well as good loads from such a quality handgun should; 25-yard groups averaged right around 1.5 inches, and I had no trouble smacking a 6-inch gong at 50 yards with the slick little sixshooter.
The trigger, which broke at a crisp, clean 2 pounds, 10 ounces was a joy to squeeze and a great help in the accuracy department. Fit and finish were first rate, and the action was every bit as smooth as advertised. Though that smooth action isn't essential in a hunting revolver, it sure is nice. And it makes it awful easy to shoot El Patron at warp speed on the plate range. I don't compete in cowboy action shooting, but I can see why savvy sixgun competitors rave about the race-tuned Uberti.
It's September as I write this,
so I've yet to venture afield with El Patron, but based on its performance on the range and my experience with Hornady's LEVERevolution ammunition, I am confident it will prove to be one deadly combination.