readers need no introduction to U.S. Firearms’ fine
products. Recently they teamed up with Lew Horton Distributors
to make a special series of Single Action Army revolvers in .45
Colt with 3” to 3 ½” barrels. They are called the
Sheriff’s and Shopkeeper’s model respectively. Lew Horton is
well known among Smith & Wesson aficionados for their
special run of short barreled N frames. Particularly 3” .44
Specials and Magnums which have almost a cult following among
devoted revolver enthusiasts.
made a Sheriff’s model starting in the last quarter of the
19th century, which is the standard SAA sans the
ejector rod with the frame smoothed on the side to preclude the
attachment of one. They were offered with barrel lengths ranging
from 2” up to about 5.5”. The USFA product with the same
name comes standard with a 3” ejectorless barrel to remain
true to the original. Looking at their recent online catalog,
the Sheriff’s model is also offered in 2”, 3.5” and 4”
barrel lengths. Extraction is accomplished either by gravity,
which is a viable option in a revolver with chambers as smooth
as are most U.S. Firearms’ are, or by using a stick or wooden
dowel to punch out the empties.
Shopkeeper’s model which is the subject of this article is of
the same idea of a short fast handling sixgun, but it has the
addition of an ejector rod. The ejector rod in my opinion makes
it a much more appealing choice. It has a 3.5” barrel which is
as short as you can go and still get some extraction on the
fired cases. The barrel being 1 ¼” shorter than the shortest
standard S.A.A. makes a marked difference in the handling
characteristics of the piece. Since I am not known for carrying
a wooden dowel around in my pocket I decided that the Shopkeeper
was the one for me.
options offered are the Rodeo, Rodeo II, Cowboy, and SAA. The Rodeo
is finished with a matte blued finish and is an excellent choice
for a working sixgun. The Rodeo II has a matte nickel finish
which would be idea if you planed on using it in a wet or humid
environment. The Cowboy and SAA are two of the company’s
premium finishes. The Cowboy has a rich blue all over, frame
included, that the factory calls “Dome Blue”. The SAA is the
most traditional looking of the revolvers. Doug Turnbull
applies his gorgeous case color to the frame, with the remainder
of the revolver finished in “Dome Blue”. Most of the
revolvers offered now come with the sides of the hammer polished
like the 2nd and 3rd generation Colts.
and finish on my revolver is near perfect. The polishing is done
correctly leaving no rounded corners with the flats remaining
flat. The bluing is very rich and even, with exquisite case
coloring on the frame. Throats measure .452” and chambers are
tight as they should be. Timing was excellent with the bolt
dropping in the leads, the cylinder locks up with no carry up,
and at half cock the chambers line up with the loading gate.
Fitting between the grip frame and main frame are almost
seamless. Out of the box the action was heavy but smooth and the
trigger pull was about 4#. I added a leather washer under the
mainspring and installed a wire bolt and trigger spring from Wolff.
This reduced the effort to cock it and dropped the trigger pull
to a crisp 2.5#. The only other addition was a Belt Mountain
sheriff model base pin to allow a little more throw on the
grips that come standard on this little sixgun are made of
checkered white plastic. They are very well fitted and feel good
in your hand, but leave a lot to be desired aesthetically. I
decided that the grips needed to be special on such a nice
revolver so I dug through my stash of wood and selected a nice
figured piece of black walnut. The grips ended up a little
thinner than factory at the bottom and a touch thicker at the
top, which feels perfect in my hands. I also made them one piece
so a screw wouldn’t take away from the natural beauty of the
proof is in the shooting, and the revolver preformed admirably.
The sights are thicker and more visible than a vintage Colt,
which to my eyes is a good thing even though I have friends who
prefer thinner front sights.
I have tried close to a dozen different loads with
bullets ranging in weight from 240 to 280gr. All loads tried hit
dead on for windage and ranged from hitting right on top of the
sight to 3” low for elevation. That is excellent sight
regulation for a fixed sight revolver, and seems to be a common
attribute to USFA products. Favorite loads are a commercial cast
250gr RN ahead of 6.0gr Red Dot, 255gr Keith SWC cast from an
Idea 454424 mold ahead of 8.0gr of Unique, and a 280gr SWC cast
from a custom mold also loaded with 8.0gr Unique. Groups at 25
yards average in the 2” to 3” range. It is not uncommon for
3 shots to be touching which leads me to believe the revolver is
capable of much greater accuracy than I am able to show.
Shooting offhand out to 50 yards an 8” x 10” steel plate is
in grave danger.
was some concern that the ejector rod would be too short and
thus be useless, but that concern proved unfounded. With the
revolver held level and the ejector rod worked smartly the cases
would clear the ejection port. When pushed in slowly it would
move the case about ¼” which was plenty to get a fingernail
under the rim. If the sixgun is held with the barrel up at a 45
degree angle, like I usually do for unloading, most cases
readily dropped out of the chambers. Only a stubborn few
required a light tap from the ejector to dislodge. Reloading
time was a little slower than with a 4 ¾” barrel but only
slightly so. As mentioned above, the revolver has a very good
feel in the hands. It is very lively and quick pointing with
less weight out front. I am a huge fan of the 4 ¾” SAA which
got its reputation for being handy and quick from the holster.
For up close and swift shooting I think that the 3 ½” might
be a shade better. Recoil and muzzle flip were no more
noticeable than with the longer barrel. As expected in several
hundred rounds fired no malfunctions or problems have presented
what I understand they made 50 of each of the four finish
options in both Sheriff’s and Shopkeeper’s trim. So that is
200 of each series, 400 total. If you want one you better hurry,
I am sure they won’t last long.
NOTE: All load data posted on this
web site are for educational purposes only. Neither the author nor
GunBlast.com assume any responsibility for the use or misuse of this data.
The data indicated were arrived at using specialized equipment under
conditions not necessarily comparable to those encountered by the
potential user of this data. Always use data from respected loading
manuals and begin working up loads at least 10% below the loads indicated
in the source manual.
Got something to say about this article? Want to agree (or
disagree) with it? Click the following link to go to the GUNBlast Feedback Page.