Colt/Umarex Daring Duo—Part 2
Umarex USA Hits It Out of the Park — TWICE!
Reviewed for M1911.ORG by Harwood Loomis
Growing up in the heyday of the television cowboys, my heroes were the likes of The Lone Ranger, Hopalong Cassidy, Lash LaRue, and a host of others. They seemed to share a number of traits: although contrary to popular myth they didn’t all wear white hats, they all rode horses with names, the horses were all smarter than the average rustler or stage robber, and the heroes always drew faster and shot straighter than the bad guys. Of course, even as kids we knew that some degree of unquestioning belief had to be involved; how else could we explain how they were getting twenty shots out of what we all knew was a six-shooter?
Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear, and join us in looking over one of the newest in the line of CO2-powered BB guns offered by Umarex USA, under license from Colt. The gun in question is the Colt Peacemaker .177, and it’s an incredibly accurately detailed (and fun!) reproduction of a Colt Peacemaker Model from the late 1800s.
The Colt/Umarex Peacemaker .177
First introduced as the U.S. Army Model of 1873 single action revolver, the “SAA” (as it has come to be called) originally had a 7½” barrel. This later became known as the Cavalry Model; a shorter version, with a 5½” barrel, was known as the Artillery model. When these revolvers were subsequently offered for sale to the civilian population, other barrel lengths were added, the most popular probably being the 4¾” (or 4⅝”) version.
The Colt SAA was originally chambered in .45 Colt. Other, later chamberings included .44-40, .38-40, .32-20, and .22 Rimfire (These typically shoot shorts, longs, and long rifles interchangeably.) In fact, Wikipedia claims that the SAA has been offered in more than 30 chamberings. Colt has discontinued production of the SAA line twice, and brought it back due to market demand twice. There are many reasons for that, one being the popularity of Cowboy Action Shooting. Another is simply that, like its stable mate the Colt M1911, the Colt SAA is one of those handguns that simply fits the hand perfectly and points naturally. It’s a pleasant gun to shoot.
The popularity of the Colt SAA continues unabated and, in addition to Colt, several other major gunmakers also offer clones or near-clones of the SAA, in calibers ranging from .44 magnum down to .17 HMR and .17 HM2 (“Mach 2”). All of which is great … if you have ammunition. In the first quarter of 2010, in a review of the Colt/Umarex Defender air pistol, I wrote, “The long-lasting ammunition crunch shows signs of easing, but commercial ammunition still isn’t nearly as available or as affordable as it was a couple of years ago.” And as I wrote in Part 1 of this current review of a pair of new Colt/Umarex air pistols, “With the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, as I read those words I have to wonder if I used to be an incorrigible optimist, or if I was taking some sort of hallucinogenic substance. As I write this article, in the fourth quarter of 2015, it seems that the ammunition shortage of five or six years ago hasn’t eased much at all.”
Not only is ammunition sometimes hard to find, and it’s expensive when you can find it, in some parts of the country it can be difficult to find a place to shoot (legally). Wouldn’t it be nice to just go down to the basement and start plinking? I know I have periodically considered stringing a target carrier and setting up a backstop at the end of my crawlspace, but I don’t want to deal with the lead residue from shooting live ammo in the house. Consequently, over the years I have accumulated a modest (and motley) assortment of air pistols, all based more or less on the 1911 platform or at least somewhat resembling it. But I’ve never seen any sort of air gun replica of the famous SAA. That is, until …
… We recently came across references to some new offerings by Umarex USA in their ever-expanding line of CO2 air guns (“BB guns,” as most people my age persist in thinking of them). They looked interesting, so we contacted Justin “JB” Biddle at Umarex, and not long thereafter a care package arrived on the doorstep. The one that caused us to contact Umarex was a very nice rendition of the M1911A1 (see Part 1 of this review, here). While they were at it, perhaps because, “Hey, it’s a Colt, so why not?”, the good folks at Umarex USA also sent us one of their new CO2-powered, 1873 Single Action Army cowboy six shooters. Both guns set new standards for realism, level (and quality) of detailing, and sheer enjoyment in the shooting experience.
Colt/Umarex Peacemaker .177
I grew up in an era before people in general (and politicians in particular) became terrified of firearms. When I was a kid, every boy played with cap guns, every boy (and many girls) had a BB gun (often something like the famous Red Ryder carbine; mine was a Daisy Model 25), and every boy and most girls learned how to shoot at least .22 rimfire rifles. I owned some extremely high quality and realistically detailed cap guns that were based on the Colt SAA. Even in the time before political correctness decreed that toy guns could not look like … well, like guns … I can’t recall ever seeing a decent (or even indifferent) air gun replica of the Colt SAA/Peacemaker.
Until now. Just as I wrote about the Colt/Umarex Commander in Part 1, this is, without doubt, the most accurate reproduction of a Colt Peacemaker this writer has ever seen in a BB gun. It looks real, it feels real, and – within the parameters of a CO2 air gun firing a .177” projectile – it acts real. What more could we ask? Not much, as we’ll see.
The Colt/Umarex Peacemaker .177
Unlike the new Colt/Umarex Commander, the Peacemaker ,177 comes packaged in a loosely rusticated or “antiqued” cardboard box, which is not very different from the similar size boxes that many Italian copies of the SAA are packaged in. It’s a small touch that may not matter to most buyers, but for the author it shows an admirable attention to detail. It shows that the people behind this product care about it.
The Colt/Umarex Peacemaker .177 “period” packaging
We’re not sure what the intended market is for this product. Although we have seen the new Commander in mass retail outlets such as Wal-Mart, we have not seen the Peacemaker .177 in any such stores. We have seen it in several catalogues and on-line retailer web sites, as well as seeing it featured prominently in the display cases of two local gun shops. It draws a lot of attention wherever it can be seen. In fact, demand is so high that, as I write this article, the web site of Umarex USA is showing that all versions of the Peacemaker .177 are out of stock. They can’t make them fast enough to keep up with the demand. We’ll soon see why this is.
Put yer cards on the table, Pilgrim
Also as I wrote about the Commander in Part 1 of this series, the level of detail and authenticity in the new Peacemaker .177 is astonishing. The detail carries through the entire gun. You can start at either end and go through to the other end, and encounter innumerable small touches that demonstrate how closely the designers were paying attention as they developed this product.
Spoiler alert: there is one very subtle detail that’s historically incorrect, but most people would never notice it if not told abut it. I didn’t see it; I read about it. The Peacemaker uses standard CO2 cartridges, and it turns out they are simply too large to fit inside the grip frame profile of an 1873 SAA/Peacemaker. The clever folks at Umarex did their homework, and realized that the grip frame from the earlier black powder Colt revolvers was just enough larger that a CO2 cartridge could be made to fit. So they grafted the profile of the 1860 grip frame onto the 1873 revolver frame. The result looks right, feels right, and it works. No harm, no foul.
The Colt/Umarex Peacemaker next to an Uberti SAA clone
Another comparison to the Uberti SAA clone
A closer look at the comparison. Note the level of detail in the Umarex air gun replica
Detail of ejector rod and barrel
Details on the frame are very well executed.
As we commented above, the CO2 cartridge is contained in the grip frame. The left side grip panel pops off, revealing the space for the gas canister in the area where the hammer spring would be found in a real SAA. Once the canister has been inserted, it is locked into place by turning a set screw located in the base of the grip frame. Interestingly, Umarex has provided a nub of a hex key for this, built into the removable grip panel. However, the provided hex key is a Zamack casting, and I don’t have that much faith in Zamack. Rather than risk damaging a gun sent to us for review, I chose to find a standard hex key in my tool box and use that.
Removable grip panel to load C)2 cartridge, and set screw for locking gas cartridge in place
Built-in hex wrench for gas set screw
Grip frame with recess for gas cartridge
Grip frame with gas cartridge in place
Tightening the screw to load the gas cartridge
Now we get to the fun part. We’ve seen any number of air gun revolvers that have a small, pinwheel-like disk with holes in it for loading the pellets and then dropping the disk into the gun to shoot. It works, but it doesn’t look or act much like the way a real, cartridge-firing revolver works. The people at Umarex went back to the drawing board and came up with something much nicer. I can just about imagine the conversation in the design studio:
Friedrich: Achtung! Gott, Die Pistole ist wunderbar aber ve need sumtink besser für die booliten.
Gottfried: Nicht problem, Fred. Ve chust take ein piece of brass that looks like ein boolit, putten ein holen in das mittel, und then ve putten ein rubber tuben in das holen. Das tuben holds der BB und acts like ein gasket, und ve’re done.
Friedrich: Wunderschön! Es ist perfekt!
One of those highly detailed cap guns I had as a kid featured removable, reloadable cartridges. The cartridges were two-piece affairs, with a long “bullet” made of a zinc casting. A brass sleeve fit over the back end of the bullet. Remove the brass cover, set a round cap on the back end of the bullet, replace the sleeve, load it into the cylinder, and we were loaded and ready to take on Jesse James. That concept is not unlike what Umarex came up with for the action of the Peacemaker. Rather than load pellets (or, in this case, BBs) into a silly-looking little pinwheel that never appeared on the parts diagram for a real gun, Umarex designed more or less properly shaped cartridges with an orifice running the full length. The center hole contains a rubber gasket/sleeve that's just small enough in the inside diameter to be able to hold onto a BB that’s inserted into the back end. These are then loaded into the cylinder of the gun just like the Lone Ranger loaded his silver bullets. It just doesn’t get much more authentic than this.
Loading a cartridge into the cylinder
Loaded and ready to close the loading gate
When the cylinder turns each cartridge up to the firing position, the rubber gasket/sleeve makes a seal to a gas port in the frame. When the trigger is pulled, the hammer drops and the gas valve is opened momentarily, firing the BB.
Between the realism of the details in the action and the weight and balance of the all-metal frame of the gun, there’s enough six-gun there to really “fill yer hand, Pardner” and have a lot of fun plinking. The only problem is that you’re likely to want to buy a lot of spare “bullets” for the Peacemaker, and they are so popular that it’s not easy to buy spares.
There is one important departure from authenticity: The Peacemaker has a manual safety lock. It’s inconspicuously located on the bottom of the frame, just ahead of the trigger guard. We can’t complain about a mandatory child safety feature. It’s in an easily accessed location and it’s easy to use, yet it’s out of the way and adults who are using the Peacemaker to relive their childhood fantasies can simply ignore it, and they’ll probably never even notice it.
Shootout at the [so-so] corral
Shooting the Peacemaker was a joy—just like playing cowboys and
Indians Native Americans in the halcyon days of our misspent youth. The trigger pull is light and crisp, and because it’s a single action revolver there is virtually no trigger movement at all to fire. Velocity seemed to bear out the specifications, being a bit faster than the semi-automatic Commander 1911. That makes complete sense, since on the Peacemaker none of the gas energy is used to cycle a slide.
Possibly because of the faster velocity, to our surprise the Peacemaker turned in slightly better accuracy than the Commander, even though both have the same 4½-inch barrel length. Both guns produced very acceptable accuracy for smooth-bore barrels firing ordinary steel BBs, but the Peacemaker had the edge. At a distance of 25 feet, the average group size (discounting an occasional called flyer, and there weren’t many of those) was between 1⅛ and 1¼ inch, with two groups that were less than an inch. Using premium RWS BBs, point of impact fell approximately an inch lower than point of aim.
Any shootist would be proud to carry the Colt/Umarex Peacemaker in his holster
There is nothing bad to be said about the Colt/Umarex Peacemaker, and it’s not possible to adequately express how much fun it is to shoot. While any kid would promise to do his (or her) homework for the entire year to have one of these, our assessment is that it’s really a toy for adults. There is nothing even remotely like it on the market today.
|Colt/Umarex Peacemaker .177|
|Caliber:||.177 (Steel BBs)|
|Overall Length:||11.25" (289 mm)|
|Overall Height:||5.50" (140 mm) (Including sights)|
|Overall Width:||1.31" (35 mm)|
|Barrel Length:||4.5" (114 mm)|
|Sights:||Blade front, trench rear|
|Weight:||32.0oz. (910 g)|
|Finish:||Nickel (also available in blue)|
|Velocity||410 fps (125 m/sec)(advertised)|
Please go to this thread on the M1911 Pistols Organization discussion forum to discuss this pistol and this review: http://forum.m1911.org/showthread.ph...-in-our-E-zine
Find us on :
Umarex USA, Inc.
6007 S 29th Street
Fort Smith, AR 72908
Tel: (479) 646-4210
Web Site: http://www.umarexusa.com/
Chris’ Indoor Shooting Range
2458 Boston Post Road
Guilford, CT 06437