Around 130 years ago, the center fire revolver
cartridge was coming on strong. With the expiration of the Rollin
White patent held by Smith & Wesson, Colt
and other gun makers were quickly introducing new revolvers with
bored-through cylinders allowing the use of metallic cartridges
in their handguns, resulting in a major improvement in the
ability to rapidly load a six-shooter with ready made center
fire and rimfire cartridges.
One of the most popular cartridges revolvers at
that time was the Colt conversion of the percussion Model
1860 Army to fire metallic cartridges. Colt employees Charles
B. Richards and William Mason had been granted
patents for the conversion of the percussion revolvers, which
were readily accepted by shooters of that era. Even after the
introduction of the legendary Colt Model P, better known
as the Single Action Army, the Richards-Mason conversion
revolvers remained popular, due in part to their much lower
cost. Although popular at the time, were it not for the growing
sport of Cowboy Action Shooting some 120 years later, we most
likely would have never seen the reintroduction of the
With the Cowboy Action Shooting crowd, there is
a constant demand for authentic equipment and accoutrements
relating to the period of the old West. These shooters seek to
emulate the clothing, tools, and certainly the guns of the
frontiersmen of the late nineteenth century. Shooters of those
days, just as in modern times, carried a wide variety of
handguns, in spite of what most Western movies have led us to
To satisfy the cravings of Cowboy Action
Shooters, and others who enjoy the guns of the old West, Cimarron
Firearms Company has introduced a replica of the
Richards-Mason conversion revolvers. I recently received such a
Cimarron revolver for evaluation, and that sixgun is the subject
of this article. While Cimarron offers this revolver in other
calibers, mine was chambered for the old .44 Colt cartridge.
Were it not for the Cowboy Action Shooters’ need for things
authentic, this old cartridge would not exist. A six-shooter
chambered for a modern cartridge, such as the .357 SIG, would be
an abomination to any self-respecting shootist. The .44 Colt is
a relic of the old West, having been out of production for
decades. The original .44 Colt was one of a very few .44 center
fire cartridges to actually use bullets of .44 caliber, throwing
a 210 grain bullet of .444 diameter. Other American .44
cartridges use bullets closer to .43 inch diameter. Thankfully
however, the Cimarron replica can use modern .44 bullets, having
a barrel groove diameter of .430.
To obtain ammunition for shooting the Cimarron,
I turned to the best source for sixgun brass cartridge cases...Starline
(see article at Starline Brass).
Starline is the only producer of .44 Colt cases known to me, and
they also provide the widest range of high-quality handgun brass
available, along with cases for many fine rifle cartridges. .44
Colt cases differ from the other popular .44 cases, such as the
.44 Russian, Special, and Magnum, not only in length but also in
rim diameter. The .44 Colt case having a smaller rim diameter, I
found that the Dillon 550 shell plate for the .41 magnum
worked perfectly for loading the .44 Colt cases. I used loading
dies for the .44 Russian, but .44 Special dies should work as
well. Having no loading data available for the .44 Colt, I used Hodgdon’s
Cowboy Load data for the .44 Russian, and achieved
satisfactory results by doing so. The excellent groups
shown were loaded using 250 grain semi-wadcutter cast bullets
over a load of Unique powder. This load was not listed in
a manual, so it will not be disclosed here, but it was one of
the most accurate tested in this revolver. For shooters who do
not load their own, .44 Colt ammo is available from Black
I was genuinely surprised by the fine accuracy
of this Cimarron sixgun. The rear sight on this revolver is a
notch on the hammer as on the percussion Colt revolvers, and the
original Richards-Mason sixguns. I was expecting groups in
the ballpark of 5 to 6 inches, but was pleasantly surprised in
the ability of this gun to produce accuracy better than
most modern designs.
The Cimarron Richards-Mason .44 is a faithful
reproduction of the original, with the addition of a
hammer-block safety to allow the legal importation of the
sixgun. This safety is screw-activated and very unobtrusive, and
was ignored during test firing of the gun. The Cimarron can be
carried with the hammer down on an empty chamber or with the
firing pin resting between the cartridge rims as with the
originals. The quality of fit and finish on the Cimarron is
beautiful, with perfectly-fitted one-piece stocks, a naval
battle scene roll engraved on the cylinder, and a deep
blue-black finish, with a case hardened frame and hammer.
The disassembly of this sixgun is one of the
easiest for cleaning and lubrication. The wedge retaining screw
is turned slightly, the wedge tapped out, and the barrel and
cylinder slid forward and off the frame.
The ejector rod rides in a cam-cut housing to
allow for quick ejection of the empty cases. The action on this
gun is very smooth and precise, with an excellent trigger pull
of about four pounds. All cases ejected smoothly with the
ejector rod completely clearing the cases from the chambers.
For a Cowboy Action Shooter looking for
something both different and authentic, or any sixgun lover
wanting to shoot a replica of a fine revolver of the old West, I
highly recommend the Cimarron Richards-Mason revolver. It is
finely crafted out of superior materials, beautifully finished,
surprisingly accurate, and affordable.
Check out the Richards-Mason conversion along
with many other fine Cimarron revolvers, rifles, and leather
online at: www.cimarron-firearms.com.
It’s like taking a trip back in time.
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