In 1879 John Browning was granted
a patent for a new rifle design that was to become one of the
most famous single shot rifles ever produced. It was sleek,
symmetrical, and very strong. The design was better than
anything available at that time, including the legendary Sharps.
The Browning rifle was of falling block design, with a
centrally located trigger. The lever was a graceful S shape,
and the hammer recessed into the action for easy loading and
extraction. It is still, to this day, one of the best single
shot rifles ever designed. John Browning was twenty-four years
old. Over the next few years, John and his brothers
manufactured approximately six hundred of his single shot
In 1883 T.G. Bennett of Winchester
Repeating Arms Company made a trip to Browning’s gun
shop in Utah to have a look at the rifle, and purchased the
manufacturing rights to the gun. In early 1885, it was
introduced as the Winchester 1885 Single Shot, and began
a long relationship between Browning and Winchester.
For the next few years, the Winchester High
Wall, as it has come to be known, was the gun to beat in
long-range target shooting matches. The High Wall was made
until about 1920, when it was discontinued due to lack of
sales. It would be another fifty years before the single shot
rifle would again begin to gain in popularity.
Since the days of the Browning and Winchester
single shots, many more modern single shot rifle designs have
been produced. Some of them are fine rifles indeed, but none
are any better than the old High Wall.
The High Wall design is now once again being
produced by several manufacturers. Some of these are
high-dollar custom jobs, but most are Italian replicas, such
as the Uberti-built rifle that is the subject of this
Cimarron Firearms Company is located in
Fredericksburg, Texas, and is an importer of some very good
quality replica firearms. They offer an extensive line of replica
Colt single action revolvers, replica Winchester lever
action rifles, and replica
Sharps single shot rifles, in addition to the High Wall
shown here. They also market some very good leather products
The High Wall as sold by Cimarron is available
chambered for the .45-120, .40-65, .45-70, .38-55, and the
.45-90 tested here.
The Cimarron has a beautifully casehardened
receiver, hammer, trigger, and lever. The thirty-two inch
blued octagon barrel measures 1.075 inch across the flats at
the receiver and tapers gently to .892 inch at the muzzle. The
beautiful straight grip walnut stock wears a blued steel
crescent butt plate, into which is recessed a trap-door which
holds a sectioned brass cleaning rod. The rifle wears buckhorn
rear and post front sights. The rear is adjustable for
elevation, and the front for windage. The Cimarron replica
uses the coil spring design which Winchester employed starting
around 1910. I requested one of their excellent long-range
tang sights for the test, but none were in stock at the time.
The trigger pull on my sample released at a crisp and clean
four pounds and thirteen ounces. The rifle weighs just
under ten pounds.
High quality brass for the .45-90 cartridge is
readily available from Starline,
and all ammunition tested was assembled using these cases.
Bullets from Mt. Baldy and Cast
Performance were fired in the Cimarron, and all
produced very good accuracy. I fired the rifle on paper at 100
yards for accuracy, and the best groups were the result of
using the Mt. Baldy 480 grain bullet with Hodgdon 322 powder.
Very good accuracy was also obtained using Accurate 5744 and
Reloder 7 powders. I was able to shoot sub-two-inch groups at
100 yards using the sights provided. That is as good as I can
shoot with a buckhorn sight. I would love to try the rifle
with the tang sight. I think that better accuracy could be
realized with this and a globe front sight.
Aside from the paper punching, I fired the
High Wall at long range steel silhouette targets out to 600
yards, with excellent results. Once the elevation adjustments
had been made, hitting was relatively easy on life-size
silhouettes at that range.
As can be seen in the pictures, I carried the
ammunition around for this rifle in a beautiful cartridge belt
made by San Pedro Saddlery. This is the same belt that
I showed in the Billy Dixon
Sharps article, and is my all-time favorite rifle
The Cimarron High Wall offers shooters a
reasonably priced, high quality replica of one of the finest
rifles ever made. It is made of quality materials and is
Check out all of the Cimarron products online
For some of the best brass available for fine
old cartridges, and modern handgun cartridges, go to: www.starlinebrass.com.
Mt. Baldy and Cast Performance bullets can be
found at: www.mtbaldybullets.com
For information and ordering on the fine San
Pedro cartridge belt, check out: www.sanpedrosaddlery.com.