The Sixguns Of Cimarron

Quality And Authenticity Abound
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Cimarron also offers replicas of Colt’s competition, the 1890 Remington.

Colt dropped the single action from production prior to World War II and announced it would never be produced again. Beginning in the early 1950s, I believe, Turner Kirkland of Dixie Gun Works and Val Forgett of Navy Arms began importing replicas of black powder arms, percussion revolvers and percussion and flintlock long guns. I had one of the early replicas of the .44 Remington 1858 and it was a pretty good shooting sixgun. When it came to replicas of cartridge-firing revolvers the road was rocky for a long time.

Colt did resume producing the Single Action Army in late 1955, and one year earlier, Great Western started making American-made replicas in Los Angeles. They had gone into business being reassured Colt would not be bringing back the Single Action Army and when they did, Great Western did not last very long.

In the early 1970s I wanted a Colt New Frontier badly, however with three young kids money was tight. So I took a less expensive path and bought a copy of the New Frontier, a Uberti Buckhorn .357 Magnum with a 71/2″ barrel. I thought this would satisfy my desire for a New Frontier, however all it did was to prove once again “cheap is too expensive.”

The finish was second rate, the case hardening was poorly done, the action was gritty and it may have been a good shooter, however I’ve always had a hard time shooting something well when it didn’t look so well. I also have never been able to enjoy all the Spaghetti

Westerns of the time period as the guns were so obviously Spaghetti guns. It was definitely time for an improvement in replica Western sixguns.

These Cimarron Richards-Mason Conversions are identical, except for the 1860 and 1851 grip frames.

Cimarron Arrives

Mike Harvey of Cimarron Firearms and I go back a long ways. Mike started the long road to coming up with truly authentic replicas by purchasing a small importer of replica guns known as Allen Firearms. He changed the name to Cimarron and that’s when I first made contact with him. I was the first writer to have the privilege of spotlighting Cimarron Firearms (CFA) more than 30 years ago. Over the years Mike has worked diligently to have Italian replicas constantly updated and improved in fit and finish and quality of steel. Today’s replica single actions are well made and very good-looking — let’s say very authentic looking sixguns.

Cimarron now offers replicas of not only Colt Single Actions, but Remington and Smith & Wessons as well. By the time you read this their latest S&W replica, the .44 American, should be available in .44 Russian, .44 Special, .44-40 and .45 Colt. I should also point out Cimarron not only offers single actions but also several variations of the .45 ACP Colt Model 1911.

TR’s Dakota Territory Colt Single Action Army is offered in replica form by Cimarron.

Roosevelt’s Gun

One of my all time heroes is Theodore Roosevelt. When his wife and mother both died on the same day, Theodore ran off. That is, he gave his newborn daughter to his sister and he took off. He went to the Dakota Territory, probably to lose himself, and instead found himself. Without his time as a rancher he probably never would’ve become the man he was destined to be. While ranching in the Dakotas TR carried a highly engraved, ivory stocked Colt Single Action, 71/2″ barrel chambered in .44 WCF.

Today, Cimarron offers a replica of this famous Colt, complete with ivory-style grips. Mine is in .45 Colt with plain ivories instead of the normal carved stocks. I did make one change to it, toning down the extreme whiteness of the stocks by applying brown leather dye and then wiping it off with a rag, giving it an antique look.

This gun is a shooter, and “replica” ammunition performs exceptionally well. I use the Black Hills 230 .45 Schofield and their 250 .45 Colt as well as HSM’s 250 .45 Colt. They all clock out over 700 fps making them very pleasant shooting, and all group five shots at 20 yards right at 1″. With a 255-gr. bullet loaded in .45 Colt cases over 5.5 grains of Red Dot, muzzle velocity is a very respectable 800 fps and loads group well under 1″. One thing I’ve noticed about Cimarron’s replicas over the years is how well they shoot.

Cimarron’s latest offering is the 1862 Pocket Navy Cartridge
Conversion chambered in .380 ACP!

Cartridge Guns

Samuel Colt made his mark producing excellent percussion revolvers beginning with the Paterson of 1836. But, he would not live to see cartridge-firing Colts. The Colt Single Action arrived in 1873, however the Cartridge Conversions are the bridge from Colt’s percussion revolvers to the Colt Single Action Army. Colt Cartridge Conversions were based on the 1860 Colt Army which used a 0.451″ round ball.

When the switch was made to a cartridge firing system, the 1860 Army .44 was chambered for the .44 Colt, a round using a heel-type bullet, a bullet whose base was smaller in diameter than the rest of the bullet, resulting in a bullet the same diameter as the outside of the case, much like today’s .22 rimfire rounds. The original loading for the .44 Colt was 21 grains of black powder with a thick lube wad between a conical bullet and powder. Bullets weighed approximately 208 grains and muzzle velocity was around 750 fps.

The U.S. Army had been using the 1860 Army .44 percussion revolver and the purchase of these sixguns for Civil War use made Sam Colt a rich man. With the coming of the Cartridge Conversions the military switched to the .44 Colt as one of its official cartridges for two years. With the coming of cartridges thousands of perfectly good cap and ball sixguns were still in service. The conversions performed on these revolvers kept many of them shooting right through the turn of the 20th century.

Cimarron was the first to offer stainless steel Colt Single Action replicas
such as these 71/2" models in .45 Colt — grips are by Buffalo Brothers.

Conversions Too

Today Cimarron offers these early cartridge firing revolvers in the original Richards Conversion, the improved Richards-Mason Conversion, and the 1871-72 Open-Top which was the original sixgun Colt hoped to see the military adopt. Versions of all of these are chambered in a modernized version of the .44 Colt. Today Cimarron’s .44 Colt Cartridge Conversions are available with a larger diameter cylinder so they will accept the larger rimmed .44 Russian cartridges. Some of them are chambered in .44 Special, allowing all three .44 cartridges to be used in the same cylinder.

I’ve been shooting replicas of the Colt Cartridge Conversions ever since they first began nearly 40 years ago. Currently, I’m using two relatively new Cimarron Colt Cartridge Conversions. These are Richards-Mason Conversions with the improved ejector rod assembly and are basically identical except for the grip frames. The Army Model has a steel 1860 grip frame while the Navy Model has the 1851 Navy grip frame of brass. The former grip frame of steel became the standard Colt Single Action Army frame. Both examples have 71/2″ barrels, are very nicely finished with a deep blue, have smooth actions and lock up tightly.

Although they will handle all three of the .44 cartridges, I only use them with the two cartridges coming from the same era as the Cartridge Conversions, the .44 Colt and .44 Russian. With the loads basically duplicating the original black powder loads but using smokeless powders, these Richards-Mason Cartridge Conversions from Cimarron are quite accurate and pleasant to shoot, with minimum felt recoil.

S&W’s Schofield models are an integral part of the offering and great fun to shoot.

1862 Pocket Navy

The latest offering from Cimarron is one I have been eagerly awaiting for quite a while. It is a Cartridge Conversion but unlike any of the others mentioned thus far. This little gem is on the 1862 Pocket Navy Colt that was one of the last percussion revolvers introduced by Colt. Mike has combined the old with the new and this Cartridge Conversion is fitted with a 5-shot cylinder chambered not in .38 Special or .38 Long Colt, but rather .380 ACP.

Pocket auto-pistols chambered in .380 ACP are quite popular, however this .380 Pocket Pistol is a revolver. This is one of those little pistols one could shoot with pleasure all day. Sights are very crude, with the rear sight being a notch in the hammer that’s visible when it’s cocked. But with patience you can hit what you’re aiming at!

This is only a small sample of what’s available from Cimarron. In addition to handguns they also offer the beautifully crafted Winchester rifles including the latest, a replica of the 1894 Winchester, and wonderful Browning-style low- and high-wall rifles.

For more info:
www.cimarron-firearms.com

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