Long Hunter .45 Rodeo

A PPP Of A Pistol
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The Long Hunter Rodeo nestles perfectly in this 1880-style
holster from Texas Jack’s.

Several years ago I coined a phrase that has become a household word among dedicated connoisseurs of the sixgun — that phrase was Perfect Packin’ Pistol. Regular readers of my articles and columns in American Handgunner and GUNS know immediately what I mean by a Packin’ Pistol, as I have written several times on the search for it.

Here’s my definition of what a Packin’ Pistol should be: “Packin’ Pistol (pack-in pis-tol): a revolver, normally a big bore sixgun, relatively light in weight, having a barrel length of not less than 4″ nor more than 51⁄2″, easy to holster, and chambered in a caliber that can be depended upon to do any job or task encountered. It may operate single action or double action, and be chambered in any caliber from .32 Magnum to .500 Linebaugh, however most Packin’ Pistols fall into the .44-.45 category.” (Taffin Unabridged Dictionary of Big Bore Sixguns.)

In a recent Campfire Tales in our sister publication, GUNS, I came up with a new phrase describing a special type of Perfect Packin’ Pistol, namely the Beater Gun. My son had purchased a pickup truck in excellent running condition, however it showed plenty of use but not abuse on the outside. It had been many years since that dreaded first scratch had appeared and the bed reflected the carrying of many loads of different kinds. My grandson labeled it the Beater Truck. It was dependable, it would do any job asked, and one did not have to be careful about placing any new scratches on its surface. Now it’s possible, thanks to Jim Finch (a.k.a. Long Hunter), to purchase a Perfect Packin’ Pistol — Beater Gun style.

Plain Rodeo compared to the standard finish USFA single action.

USFA

A few years ago United States Firearms (USFA) — without even knowing it — added a Beater Gun to their catalog. USFA started out in the early 1990s importing Uberti parts and then turned them into beautifully finished single actions. Before their formal demise in 2017, they were using all American- made parts to produce as fine a Single Action Army as ever manufactured by anyone at any time. But, to save budget-minded shooters valuable dollars, USFA introduced the Rodeo. Everything about the Rodeo was the same as the rest of the USFA lineup except for the finish, which was a matte blue over the entire sixgun, resulting in a prime example of a Beater Gun.

Jim Finch, who does custom gunsmithing as Long Hunter Shooting Supply, took the Rodeo one step further as the LHSS/USFA Rodeo. USFA used to ship specially LH prefixed serial numbered Rodeos directly to Jim, who then turned them into Perfect Packin’ Pistols. Several custom features were performed with the result being a PPP selling for a retail price of only $680. Finch’s Rodeos were available in both .38 Special and .45 Colt and the choice of either a 43⁄4″ or 51⁄2″ barrel. My PPP-BG is a 51⁄2″ .45 Colt, however the .38 Special version would make an excellent Single Action style .38/44 Heavy Duty.

The Perfect Packin’ Pistol has several attributes all designed to make it easier to carry and use and also to shoot as accurately as possible. Finch addresses the fixed sights of the standard Rodeo making them more usable by widening the rear notch from .108″ to .140″ and serrating the backside of the front sight. The forcing cone is opened to 11 degrees, the square corners of the trigger are radiused and polished, and the trigger pull is set at a crisp creep-free three pounds. To eliminate drag marks on the sides of the hammer, it is relieved .007″ on each side and, if desired, is polished and jeweled.

The Long Hunter Rodeo .45 shoots exceptionally well with everyday workin’ loads.

The Long Hunter also works fine with Black Hills Cowboy .45 load at 750 fps.

Coiling Up

Ever since the 1830s, standard single actions have been fitted with flat springs powering the bolt, hand and hammer. Jim changed all of these. The flat hand spring was replaced by drilling the frame for a Ruger-style coil spring, the main spring was replaced with a Lee’s Gunslinger spring for smooth cocking and a fast hammer drop, while a Lee’s Gunslinger wire spring replaces the trigger and bolt spring. This last spring in its original form was the one most likely to break.

The LHSS Rodeo proved to be quite easy to shoot and also to shoot accurately. There’s absolutely nothing especially attractive about its finish, and in fact when compared to the standard USFA Single Action, we have what may be called a Beauty and Beast scenario. The upside, of course, with the Rodeo was a sixgun ready for hard duty without worrying about scratching a beautiful finish.

The USFA Rodeo has a slightly larger cylinder than the standard Colt Single Action, however this does not put it in the category of accepting the heavy loads of the Ruger Blackhawk. Stoked with 260 grain bullets at 900-1,000 fps it will handle most sixgunning needs.

My most used .45 Colt load of 8 grains of Unique at 903 fps from the Long Hunter Rodeo, places five shots in 11⁄8″ at 20 yards. Along time favorite of .45 Colt sixgunners has been the Elmer Keith designed #454424. Using 8 grains of Unique gives a muzzle velocity of 847 fps and a five-shot group of 11⁄8″. Either load is probably all you’d ever need.

Long Hunter Shooting Supply not only supplied Perfect Packin’ Pistols, Beater Gun style, in the form of the LHSS Rodeo, they currently offer the same basic Premium Action Job on both real and replica Colts as well as Ruger single actions. Look for other custom touches including such things as squaring the barrel face and setting the barrel/cylinder gap. Every great single-action sixgun deserves a companion levergun and Marlin makes some of the best available. Jim offers custom action work and parts, such as titanium firing pins and replacement springs for Marlin leverguns.

As this is written it’s October in Idaho and there is no more beautiful time nor place on God’s green earth. The mornings are crisp with a touch of frost followed by a warming sun. It’s time to strap on the Rodeo and enjoy life.

For more info: Jim Finch, Long Hunter,
(806) 365-0093, www.longhunt.com

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