Nowadays, Old West fans can enjoy solid, shooting replicas of the six-guns and long-arms packed by the legendary gunmen of yesteryear.
While many of the well-known good and bad men of the American frontier have been associated with one or two firearms, most of them used a variety of handguns, rifles and shotguns throughout their colorful careers. For example, although we often think of J. B. “Wild Bill” Hickok with his 1851 Navy Colt revolvers, he was known to have used a variety of arms during his reign as the “Prince of Pistoleers.” One photo shows him with a brace of 1860 Army Colts, and there are period accounts from those who knew Hickok, of other handguns and shoulder arms he was supposed to have owned or used. For example, last year, Bonhams of Los Angeles auctioned off a well-documented Springfield Sporting Rifle that had been owned by Wild Bill, and more recently Rock Island Auction Company sold the Smith & Wesson No. 2 Old Model Army revolver that Hickok was known to have carried in Deadwood, where he was murdered in August of 1876. Interestingly these historic firearms brought an astounding $425,312 and $235,000 respectively, showing that purchasing an actual gun owned by a notable Wild West figure like Wild Bill, is prohibitive for most of us.
However, thanks to the replica firearms industry, both foreign-import and American-made reproductions of six-guns, rifles and shotguns, like those packed by the legendary gunslingers of the American frontier and in the movies, can be had at affordable prices. Depending on one’s budget, a complete collection—or several replicas of Western gunfighter guns can be accumulated. Think about it. These clones of the famous and infamous gunslingers of the past look and operate exactly like the incredibly costly originals, but they fire modern factory smokeless ammunition, so they can be used and enjoyed like any other modern firearm.
Regular readers of True West may recall that in the November 2021 issue, we offered a roundup of Old West replicas made famous by the law-abiding and the hard cases of our Western past. Well, in this issue we’re continuing our coverage of such shooting irons by giving our readers information on some different Western guns that emulate some of history’s and the silver screen’s lawmen and lawbreakers.
Several firearms companies list frontier firearms among their offerings. Colt’s Single Action Army (SAA), the legendary and original Peacemaker, is still being produced by Colt’s Manufacturing Company, LLC (now owned by CZG). These classic American-manufactured Colts are available in .45 Colt chambering only, and in their standard barrel lengths of 4¾ inches, 5½ inches and 7½ inches. Other old gun-making firms like Winchester (now owned by Browning), have reintroduced new versions of their classic firearms. Winchester is advertising its 1873, 1886, 1892, 1894 and 1895 lever-action rifles, made by Miroku of Japan, a quality company. Marlin Firearms, now part of Sturm, Ruger & Co., continues to turn out the Marlin’s popular 1894 and 1895 lever rifles, while Ruger is keeping Cowboy Action competitors and Cowboy Mounted shooters blazing away with their ever-popular Vaquero “peacemaker”-styled revolvers. All Ruger and Marlin firearms are American made.
Rather than a specific arm used by a historic figure, many replica houses carry reproductions of a type or model of weapon, such as any of the many historical flintlock, percussion, and metallic cartridge handguns and shoulder arms. Dixie Gun Works offers a host of frontier-era replica firearms, along with parts and accessories. Among their offerings is their Pedersoli-made, Italian-import “Rocky Mountain Hawken” rifle. This handsome, .54 caliber, percussion muzzleloader sports an authentic browned, 3411⁄16-inch octagonal barrel with double-phase set triggers and is rifled for round ball shooting. This is one heckuva cool smokepole!
Chiappa Firearms carries an assortment of Old West guns, including replicas of Steve McQueen’s “Mare’s Leg,” cut-down 1892 Winchester, shown in the 1958-1961 TV series Wanted, Dead or Alive. Besides Taylor’s & Company’s array of spiffy frontier copies, they carry a military-stamped, 7½-inch barreled, U.S. Cavalry Colt repro. Taylor’s 20-inch round tubed, “Rio Bravo” 1892 carbine, with that iconic lever gun’s extra-large ring lever is just like the one the Duke carried in the 1959 oater by the same name. They also offer cartridge conversion cylinders for their Colt, Remington and other cap and ball replica revolvers.
Two fine outfits—both located in Big Timber, Montana—manufacture top quality copies of Sharps single-shot rifles. Shiloh Rifle Manufacturing Company produces 1862 (Confederate Robinson copy) and 1863 percussion rifles and carbines, along with their 1874 Sharps buffalo guns and Creedmoor target rifles. Shiloh is well known for producing the “Quigley Model” rifle that duplicates the .45-110 Shiloh Sharps they produced for actor Tom Selleck in the 1990 Australian/Western Quigley Down Under. Shiloh can custom build one of their Sharps reproductions (including a copy of the Quigley Model) to emulate just about any original frontiersman’s personal firearm. C. Sharps Arms Co. custom manufactures the 1874, 1875 and 1877 Sharps reproductions, and turns out first-quality reproductions of the 1885 High Wall Winchester and Remington’s Hepburn single-shot rifles.
Although Henry Repeating Arms is best known for its American-made, modern-designed, yet traditionally inspired lever-action rifles, it does offer a beautiful selection of authentic-looking 1860 Henry rifles. Made with brass or color case-hardened iron receivers, and 24½-inch blued, octagon barrels, or a 20½-inch tube carbine version, these lever guns can be had in .44-40 or .45 Colt (originals were .44 Henry Flat—a rimfire round). Henry is also a big supporter of our military veterans through the company’s $1,000,000 Silver Anniversary pledge, in memory of those who sacrificed their lives in service to the country. This past August 30, Henry Repeating Arms’ President Andy Wickstrom presented a $50,000 check to The American Legion at their national convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
EMF Co, Inc. carries a hefty sel-ection of the well-made Pietta, Italian-
import single-action six-guns like its .45 Colt copy of Paladin’s Have Gun Will Travel, 7½-inch barreled, blued single-action with faux ivory-type grips. It’s a version of the revolver actor Richard Boone packed in the popular Hollywood TV series that ran from 1957-1963 and is still thrilling Western fans through reruns. EMF also offers handsome rec-
reations of gunman J.B. Books’ Great Western smoke wagons, as toted by none other than John Wayne in his last film, The Shootist (1976). They’re laser engraved and full blued with ultra-ivory grips. The Duke carried a pair of ‘em. You can too!
Cimarron Firearms has a corral full of reproductions of Old West and movie West guns. Cimarron’s offerings include a beautiful laser-engraved and nickel-plated Old Model (pre-1896-style frame) copy of Theodore Roosevelt’s six-shooter from his 1880s ranching days. Fitted with a poly ivory grip that bears the distinguished “TR” monogram, just like cowboy president Teddy Roosevelt’s. (His original Colt is on display at the Autry Western Heritage Museum in Los Angeles.) If you’re chomping at the bit for a Custer-era sidearm, then check out Cimarron’s 7th Cavalry limited edition reproduction. It’s a handsome 7½-inch barreled, blue and color cased Colt-type SAA with one-piece walnut stocks, complete with appropriate inspector’s stamps and 1876-era martial markings.
Replicating the early 20th century and the last combat action of the U.S. Cavalry in North America, Cimarron’s offers a copy of the 1911 semi-auto pistol. This slab-sided sidearm is a replica of the sidearms used by the khaki-clad horse soldiers during the 1916 Punitive Expedition in Mexico, when General John “Black Jack” Pershing and his American cavalrymen rode after Mexican revolutionary bandit Francisco “Pancho” Villa. Dubbed the “Wild Bunch,” 1911 semi-auto pistol, this 5-inch barreled, .45 ACP features a high polished blue, or the later “Parkerized” blackened finish (also available in nickel plating), with the authentic double diamond checkered wood grip panels. It’s also Colt parts-compliant and comes with an eight-round magazine.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least mention Cimarron’s detail-perfect copies of two unique percussion six-shooters. One is a clone of the full-fluted 1860 Army Colt .44 revolvers ordered by Texan Ben McCullough shortly before the start of the Civil War to be used by Rangers to guard the Texas frontier. The other worth mentioning here is an exact reproduction of Capt. Sam Walker’s 1847 Walker .44 revolver. Only 1,100 of these arms will be produced honoring 200 years of the Texas Rangers. One thousand of them will feature company (A, B, C, D, E) and issue number stampings, as found on original Walker Colts, plus 100 civilian models. Both historic revolvers are offered in Cimarron’s “Original Finish,” giving them the look of actual guns used by men in the field.
Cimarron’s Pedersoli long arms, such as a .50 caliber, half-stock “Santa Fe Hawken,” looks just like the muzzleloading Plains Rifles carried by Kit Carson, Jim Bridger and other frontiersmen of the pre-Civil War period. They also offer a wide selection of Pedersoli’s Sharps and other single-shot buffalo rifles. These include a “Big Fifty” (.50-90 caliber), a “Billy Dixon” model in .45-70 chambering, and a .45-70 “Adobe Walls” Remington Rolling Block rifle, like one of the rifles of choice of famed hide hunter Billy Dixon.
This Fredericksburg, Texas-based outfit’s lineup of “reel west” guns include Cimarron’s “The Hand of God” revolver as seen in the flick 3:10 to Yuma, the spaghetti Western favorite “Man With No Name” ’51 Navy conversion and a single action dubbed “Rooster Shooter,” modeled after Marshal Rooster Cogburn’s iconic sidearm. Shotgunners will like their “Doc Holliday” 12-gauge, 20-inch barreled “Street Howitzer,” reminiscent of the double-barreled, sidehammer scattergun used by the notorious gambler/gunfighter. They also list the “Tom Horn” 1876 rifle, duplicating the big .45-60 lever-action Winchester (with a specially made tang sight) used by Steve McQueen in that so-named 1980 Western.
Uberti USA’s Outlaws & Lawmen series offers close copies of the actual firearms packed by some of the West’s best-known characters. Models like “Frank,” a copy of the 1875 Remington six-shooters James-Younger gang’s Frank James used throughout his outlaw career. Nickel-plated with ivory-like two-piece grips—while Frank’s original guns were .44-40s—this attractive Uberti repro is offered in .45 Colt or .357 Magnum. Billy the Kid fans will surely like Uberti USA’s “Bonney,” a close facsimile to the birds’ head-style gripped, 1877 Colts that that the young gunslinger favored. Although the “Kid’s” six-guns were double-action revolvers, Uberti offers a single-action, much stronger version of “Little Casino’s” sidearms. They too come in either .45 Colt or .357 Magnum. One of Teddy Roosevelt’s peacemakers, a nickeled 5½-inch .45 Colt revolver, much like the hoglegs toted by so many peacekeepers, is another newer addition to that series. The Outlaws & Lawmen series also includes lookalike smoke wagons representing gunmen Wild Bill Hickok, Jesse James, Bob Dalton, John Wesley Hardin and others. It’s a colorful series of historic handguns that are well worth a look-see.
Several companies are producing fodder for these Old West replicas. Now that ammo is getting a bit easier to come by, compared to the last couple of years, you can choose from several makers of cowboy loads in a healthy variety of calibers and bullet weights (depending on manufacturer), from .32 caliber through .38, .44 and .45 handgun, and longarm loadings from .32-40 to .45-70 rifle ammo. Check out the Cowboy Action offerings from ammunition companies like Aguila, Atomic, Black Hills Ammunition, Cowboy Choice, Fiocchi, Hornady, HSM, Magtech, Remington, Sellier & Bellot and Winchester.
If you’ve been shooting replicas for quite a while, you may have the need for replacement parts. VTI Replica Gun Parts has been a major supplier of more than 10,000 gun parts for decades, handling components for Uberti, Pietta, Pedersoli, Armi San Marcos, IAB and more. Whether you need a tiny screw or a major internal or external firearm part (no frames are offered), new owner Michael Duffy, who has over 50 years in the firearms industry, can accommodate your needs. Having worked for over 10 years as shop manager for Numrich Gun Parts, he’s got the experience in finding needed parts. I’ve used VTI several times and have always been well pleased with the service.
Reenacting history and/or shooting the smoke irons that famous and infamous gunslingers used in the heyday of the Wild West can be loads of fun. Check out the replicas from the various companies mentioned, and I’ll bet you’ll find a gunfighter’s gun you’ll want. The quality of reproduction firearms has come a long way in the past decades, and I’m sure you’ll find a quality replica of your favorite Old West firearm.
Phil Spangenberger has written for Guns & Ammo, appears on the History Channel and other documentary networks, produces Wild West shows, is a Hollywood gun coach and character actor, and is True West’s Firearms Editor. He’s also True West’s “True West Westerner of 2022.”