It all started
about 130 years ago. That was the beginning of Col. Coltís 1873 Single Action Army revolver. It was an instant hit.
Firing the powerful .45 Colt cartridge and fitted with the
wonderful grip of the 1851 Navy revolver, it was reliable,
handy, and powerful. After almost suffering extinction in the
mid twentieth century, the design proved too good to die, and is
today more popular than ever.
There are many
very good replicas of the Single Action Army revolver on the
market today, varying in authentic detail and quality. Even the Colt
brand revolver has changed a bit from the original design. With
better metallurgy and modern equipment, some of the SAA replicas
today are better than the originals. Some of the imported
replicas are very good, while others are of a lesser quality.
Usually, you get what you pay for, but we recently discovered an
exception. One of the lower priced SAA replicas on the market is
also one of the best built sixguns available; the USFA Rodeo.
The Rodeo is
the entry level revolver built by United States Fire Arms
Manufacturing Company in Hartford, Connecticut. It is built
with the same high quality materials as their more expensive
guns, but is finished in a satin blue-black finish and chambered
for the .45 Colt, .44 WCF, or .38 Special only. This allows USFA
to sell the U.S. built Rodeo at a price competitive with the
When I spoke
on the telephone with USFA about testing the Rodeo, I expected a
good but not-too-exciting and somewhat homely average Colt
replica. What I received a few days later was a nice, very well
fitted and handsome sixgun! The fitting of the grip frame to the
cylinder frame is excellent, and the fitting of the hard rubber
grip panels is flawless. The hammer is beautifully case
hardened, and the bolt timing on the Rodeo is perfect. The gun
locks up tight, and the barrel / cylinder gap measures an even
two-thousandths (.002) of an inch. The gun has an original style
solid hammer-mounted firing pin, and the trigger pull measures a
crisp two and three-quarters of a pound. USFA offers the Rodeo
with either a five and one-half or a four and three-quarters
inch barrel, the test gun being the latter. The ejector rod
rides in a cam-cut housing that is smooth to operate and allows
the button to lay tightly against the barrel while not
scratching the finish in operation. At half cock, the chambers
aligned perfectly with the loading gate, as a single action
sixgun should. The Rodeo has that beautiful four-click action,
and should be carried with an empty chamber under the hammer.
A variety of
ammunition was fired through the Rodeo over the period of
several days. The sights were well-regulated for windage with
all loads, and the elevation varied according to the load
tested. With my favorite 260 grain Keith load, the sights
were right on target. Most loads tested grouped under two
inches at twenty-five yards. Accuracy was aided by the excellent
trigger pull, and the handling qualities of the Rodeo are near
perfect. The little gun just balances great, and the grip allows
it to point very naturally, like the finger of God. Shooting
from the hip with this little jewel was very rewarding.
recent visit to the NRA
Whittington Center in Raton, NM, I passed the Rodeo
around to several shooters, many of whom are rabid Colt fans,
and each commented upon the fine handling qualities of the
sixgun. Some SAA replicas look good but just donít feel right.
The Rodeo feels just right. It is hard to describe, but you know
it when you feel it. The gun carries very well in a good hip
holster or in a belt rig. I carried the Rodeo in an El
Paso Saddlery 1920 Tom Threepersons holster and belt,
and also concealed in a Bob Mernicle
PS6-SA holster. The sixgun carried well in each.
For a modern,
American made, and very affordable replica of the old Colt SAA
.45, I highly recommend the USFA Rodeo. I was pleasantly
surprised at the quality of fit and finish, and think that you
will be also. For the sport of Cowboy Action Shooting, or
as an everyday working gun, it is just the ticket.
Check out the
USFA complete line of quality sixguns online at: www.usfirearms.com.
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