I recently picked up an Uberti 1873 Cattleman in 45Colt along with a 22LR drop-in conversion kit. Honestly, I wasn't planning on buying any new firearms for a while but the 2014 prices were too good to pass up. Originally I wanted the El Patron which was $15 cheaper (not a typo!) but I sat on the fence too long (about 6mts too long) and someone beat me to it by a day! Mea culpa!
Here's my take on the Cattleman so far.
After opening the box and removing it from the plastic bag, it sure is a sight to behold. That colourful, mottled patina of the case hardened frame and the rich charcoal blue of the barrel, grip frame, trigger and cylinder just jumps out at you. It's just beautiful.
The Uberti Cattleman are well-built for the most part. I mean, they just feel solid in your hands and nothing rattles around. The grips are a little on the wider side and smooth compared to the slimmer, checkered El Patron grips. I have slimmer, medium sized hands and I don't mind the size of the stock grips. I just figured the checkered grips would be nice and offer better grip and I have no clue on where to purchase the El Patron grips.
Seeing that it's a Colt clone, I'm assuming that any Colt grips should technically fit? Hogue doesn't make grips for Uberti/Taylor/Pietta. Anyhow, I digress...
Cocking the 4-stage hammer sounded cool. CLICK CLICK CLICK CLICK... or C-O-L-T. As cool as it sounded, it was a little on the gritty side but not terrible. The cylinder timing on my gun is bang on as the locking notches on the cylinder lined up perfectly with the locking lug. The trigger had a very tiny amount of creep but broke pretty crisp at 3.5lbs with THE tiniest amount of grit. It felt more like 5lbs but the trigger scale insisted it was 3.5lbs.
If one was to nit-pick, here are the things that might bother some folks. I wasn't expecting a $600. gun to be anywhere like a $1500 Colt original but I figured I should mention them.
The frame has some sharp edges to it. You won't normally notice it with the cylinder in place but if you rub your finger around the cylinder opening on the frame, it almost feels like a knife edge.
Working the ejector rod was not smooth out of the box. It would hang up consistently in either direction. I thought I noticed slight rusting in the ejector rod housing but that was just discolouration. The edge of the barrel, the cylinder and ejector rod holes were all sharp with light burrs on the latter. I discovered the burr on the frame too late and I'd already scraped the charcoal bluing off one side of the ejector rod. Not a biggie since it would eventually wear down on its own and not like it's noticeable.
Next is the finish. As gorgeous as that charcoal blue looks, I've read that it is not very durable and prone to wear, not to mention, it's only temporary as the heat from shooting will eventually darken it. That said, out of the box, there were some scuffs around the cylinder face and side and some minor ones around the barrel as highlighted in the pics. Again, not a deal breaker for me but I know some folks are picky about these things.
I'm not a big fan of the rounded trigger. It just doesn't "feel" right to me. I guess having shot my Ruger New Vaquero for the last 3yrs has me conditioned to a slightly wider, flatter trigger.
The hammer style is one with the high spur and if you have somewhat medium sized hands, I find it difficult to side thumb cock the hammer if shooting one handed. I may order a shorter hammer like the ones on the El Patron Competition model which is like a Montado or Super Blackhawk hammer.
Not so drop-in 45LC to 22LR Conversion kit
Well, it turns out that my drop-in 22LR conversion isn't really a drop-in. Heck, I didn't know they even made 22LR conversion kits until I happened to stumble on it by accident on Wolverine's site. The only two mini-reviews I found on Google claimed they worked fine and were true drop-in and shoot. Well, not so much drop-in for me. The cylinder was a snug fit to get into my frame and was stiff to begin with but cycled okay after that. My hammer can go to the quarter cock and half-cock fine but it will not go to full-cock and engage the sear ie, the hammer will not stay fully cocked and will drop back to half-cock.
I'm not that adept at SAA pistols to diagnose the problem but from the very little I can find, I think the cylinder locking lug is not being depressed enough to allow the sear to be engaged? Just my wild guess.
When I removed the cylinder, I noticed some wear on the bluing on the back of it and I realized that the gunsmith who worked on the frame did an ever so slightly uneven grinding on the front right side of the recoil shield by the loading gate. I could file down the high spot but doing so, I'll end up removing the finish. GRRRRR!!
Well, the conversion kit is officially no longer new so I can't return it. I'll see if I can get it going, else it may end up flipping it or it'll end up at the back of the gun cabinet.
The Uberti Cattleman seems like a good pistol for someone looking to get that nostalgic feel of the old cowboy era without breaking the wallet. Unlike the Ruger New Vaquero, the Cattleman SAA replica is closer to that of the real Colt. However, there are a few Cattleman models that incorporate the safety transfer bar like the modern Vaquero. Nothing takes you back to the old spaghetti westerns than the distinct four clicks of a Colt 1873 hammer being cocked.
Having spent the last couple of nights playing with the pistol, the grittyness of the hammer and trigger has diminished a bit. I've carefully dehorned the sharp edges/burr from the cylinder and ejection rod holes on the frame. The ejector rod now no longer gets hung up when worked, if anything it's partially the spring that's causing some very minor binding.
The rich charcoal blue and case hardened frame finish are gorgeous except for the odd blemish that makes for a bit of an eyesore for anyone looking for perfection. The blemishes doesn't really bother me because I know I'll probably impart my own after a few range visits. If blemishes do bug you, I'd suggest looking at the Stainless Steel model or the regular non-charcoal blued ones. It's a shame that the frame was not fully dehorned before the case hardened finish was applied. Keep in mind that this is a $600 pistol and not a $1500. original Colt. I guess that's one way how they keep their costs down. I wonder if the El Patron series or Piettas are fully dehorned...
I've been told on another forum that their regular blued finished Uberti was flawless and the trigger was crisp with no grit out of the box. Maybe I got a lemon that was assembled at 4:59pm on a Friday.
I have a Wolff reduced power spring kit and the slightly wider target trigger ordered. I'll also do some polishing and dehorning of some parts when I open her up and I'll post my findings when I do.
Found out the local Cabelas store carries the El Patron in 45Colt for $40. more than what I paid for the Cattleman. FFS! In the 6mts I've been procrastinating, I thought I'd done all my homework... guess not. BUT at least now I've got another new project gun and she ain't gonna be a safe queen.