The Days of Wine and Roses: EAA's Bounty Hunter .357 Magnum Sixgun
 

by Paco Kelly

photography by Paco Kelly

October 9th, 2004

 

 

 

It was the early 1970s.  We lived on the western side of Virginiaís wilderness.  Game was plentiful from black bears and deer, to rabbits and squirrels, and feral hogs thrown in. And the Colt SAA in .357 magnum you see in the photo resided for long periods in a high holster that kept it almost above my waistline. In the years we lived out there, I learned the power potential of the .357 in hunting all the way up to black bear. 

Those were the years where I bonded with the true .357 magnum caliber ... that means ammo loaded to the original specs... 47,000 psi.  Since the Colt SAA is really designed for the 45 long Colt cartridge, when it is chambered for the .357 there is lots of steel left around the chambers, and it becomes a strong handgun. Much large game fell to that little Colt over the years in the wilderness, way before a bunch of gunzine writers told me the .357 magnum wasnít enough gun. I didnít listen then, and I donít listen now.

All this to get into perspective on a recent find in a gun shop in Tucson.  There in the glass case for specials was an EAA Bounty Hunter, in its shiny, highly polished, hard nickel finish.  I wasnít at first interested for several reasons. I have a number of Colt clones in 45 caliber.  And the Bounty Hunters that Iíve known in the past had the ugliest duck billed hammer of any handgun built in modern times. The gun store owner practically pushed this one into my hands...he knows my taste in guns, (since I probably paid for the roof on his building over the years)... with the words ďPaco, they have changed...Ē

Now the Bounty Hunter is manufactured by Weihrauch of Germany.  And even the earlier styled SAAs they made though ugly, were exceptional well built and very strong. I have one in 44 Special which takes pressure levels near the 44 magnum without a hiccup.. But just butt ugly hammers.

This Bounty Hunter has the new and improved hammer, works the way the old Rugers and Colts did, half cock.. two clicks back, and load.  And the best part is the duck bill is gone and a whole newly redesigned hammer in itís place, and it is much sleeker than the Ruger New Model hammer.  But what sold me on this one, it was chambered for .357 magnum.  This Bounty Hunter is 1/4 pound heavier than the pictured Colt...it has a good deal more margin of safety in strength built in, much like the Ruger SAAs.

It has the old style Colt grip, real comfort in the hand. The cylinder diameter is 1.7 inches across, which is a tenth of an inch larger than the Colt. My Colt chambers at the mouth measure .136 and the Bounty Hunter .150, with recessed chambers. The cylinder is 1.76 in length and the Colt is 1.6... the Bounty Hunter allows my long original 173 grain Keith bullet to be seated out where it belongs, which is great. But it also allows Cast Performance's 200 grain bullet to be seated correctly... not taking up room in the cartridge case, needed for powder.

This Bounty Hunter locks up tight...no front to back play and the bolt timing and lock up are sharp, tight, and right on. Every chamber mouth is measures .3575.... consistency at the chamber mouths is one of the three big points for a handgunís accuracy.  The next is the bore must of the same size or slightly smaller... this Bounty Hunterís bore is .357, and the accuracy is outstanding.  The third accuracy point is all the cylinders must be truly and absolutely straight to the bore.  One of the reasons Freedom Arms handguns are so superbly accurate is their chambers are line bored absolutely straight. 

You can find out if your chambers are perfect by using Pacoís Perfection Test (PPT)...load only one and the same cylinder for three shots off the sandbags at 25 yards...move to the next target and do the same with the next chamber, and so on...and then compare where each group is. If you have a bad chamber it shows up by forming a group that doesnít match the same place on the target as the others. Folks complain that they keep dropping one shot out of the group.. Might not be them, but the gun itself.

With my favorite load for strong heavy sixguns in .357 (15 grains of 2400 with a 173 grain Keith cast 1 in 15, water quenched from the very hot mold), my 25 yard groups with the Bounty Hunter were under an inch and a quarter when I held right.  And that is with old eyes.  The front sight is a almost a 1/10th of an inch thick... with a generous back sight notch.  Helps us older eyed people.

So whatís the down side?  The shape of the grips/stocks are perfect, I like flat bottom grips best... they are not overly thick... the feel is just like the old timey Colts, only the gun is slightly heavier. But the wood the stocks are made of are from hunger, dull tan something or other. The other problem, these guns may be hard to find.  Mine was priced right at half the cost of a new Ruger SAA. So when they show up in a gun store they go fast...

I still like blue/black handguns best, but this one is very handsome in its high polished hard nickel finish. If you see one, consider buying it.

You can check out EAA's line on the Web at: www.eaacorp.com/.

Paco Kelly

 

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.

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Click pictures for a larger version.

 

EAA's Bounty Hunter sixgun in .357 Magnum.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The EAA Bounty Hunter (top) compares very favorably to author's trusty Colt SAA. At under $400 suggested retail, the Bounty Hunter offers a lot of quality for a little money!