"Doc Holliday" 38 Special Bird's-Head Sixgun from Davide Pedersoli

by Boge Quinn

photography by Boge Quinn

June 2nd, 2016


Click pictures for a larger version.














Ejector rod is offset to facilitate removal of the base pin.





The sport of Cowboy Action Shooting has been of great benefit to the shooting community at large, not just to those who participate in the sport. There are many of us who choose not to immerse ourselves in the organized game, for whatever reason, but still have a particular fondness for the guns of the Old West; I am one of these people, and though I have only shot a couple of CAS matches in my life and have no desire (so far) to take up the sport on a regular basis, I REALLY love the Old West style firearms. I appreciate the more modern firearms, and own many of them, but nothing stirs my soul like a good single-action revolver or lever-action rifle. Because of this, I owe much to the sport of Cowboy Action Shooting; CAS has a great many competitors across the country, and so there are a good number of gun companies who are looking to serve the CAS market, by producing exactly the kind of guns that folks like me, who do not actively participate in CAS, most desire.

Italy has long been known for their reproductions, to varying degrees of faithfulness, of the original designs of such companies as Colt, Winchester, Smith & Wesson, Remington, Henry, etc. Dating back to the "Spaghetti Westerns" of decades past, when we watched our white-hatted heroes (or, often, gray-hatted anti-heroes) deal with the "bad guys", we were more often than not looking at Italian reproductions of the original Cowboy guns, rather than the "genuine articles". Sometimes we could easily tell when the gun's details were not right, but more often than not, we just enjoyed the show. Once the Italian makers of these Cowboy-style guns, and their American import partners, determined that a real market existed in those of us who desired to own the same guns we saw on the Big (and small) Screen, it was only a matter of time before the offerings of the Italian makers were available in great and wonderful variety.

Over the past few years, Davide Pedersoli has emerged as one of the finest of these Italian companies, and their American import partner, Italian Firearms Group, has shown itself to be a conscientious company that is concerned with offering the American market the authentic gun designs it really wants, at the highest quality on the market. A fine example of this is the subject of this review: the Pedersoli "Doc Holliday" 38 Special sixgun.

John Henry "Doc" Holliday was one of the legendary figures of the Old West, and his story has been told by Hollywood on numerous occasions, including one of my favorite movies, Tombstone. I see no need to go into the biographical details of his life here: suffice it to note that often, the truth of a man's life is not the truth we have grown accustomed to hearing; often, the actual man is far more interesting and complex than the legend (as was chronicled in the fine book "Lawmen of the Old West Unmasked" by my friend Jesse L. "Wolf" Hardin). Regardless of the truths (or untruths) inherent in the legend of Doc Holliday, this much I know to be true: The Pedersoli Doc Holliday sixgun is a fine firearm, and one which Doc Holliday, the man OR the legend, would have been proud to carry. 

The frame of the Doc Holliday sixgun is smaller than the typical Colt Single Action Army frame, and often referred to today as the "22 frame"; this smaller frame size makes the revolver a joy to carry and handle, and is perfectly suited to the 38 Special cartridge for which it is chambered. The barrel on my example is 5 inches, but the sixgun is also available in 4.2" barrel length. To aesthetically match the smaller frame, the length of the ejector rod is shorter than standard - 3.5" to be exact - and the scaled-down frame and ejector rod makes the barrel look longer than it is: to my eye, the 5" barrel on my Doc Holliday sixgun looks like a 6.5" barrel, while the 4.2" barrel has the look of a 5.5" barrel. This makes the overall appearance of the sixgun very pleasing to the eye, and the proportions just "right" and "balanced".

Speaking of balance, the Pedersoli Doc Holliday sixgun balances and handles perfectly. The grip frame is particularly pleasing to me, as it is of a "Bird's Head" configuration, meaning it has a rounded profile. I have always loved a Bird's Head grip frame on revolvers with light to moderate recoil, as the rounded shape just perfectly fills the hollow of my palm; heavier-recoiling sixguns feel better to my hand with the "standard" Colt grip shape, or for really heavy-recoiling cartridges, the Bisley grip shape. The Doc Holliday grip frame is perfectly suited to the comparatively sedate 38 Special cartridge, and the shape is close to that of Colt's 1877 "Lightning" revolver, which Doc is reported to have favored. In fact, history reports that Doc favored the nickel-plated 38 Colt Lightning sixgun, which the Pedersoli Doc Holliday sixgun very strongly evokes, although the Pedersoli Doc Holliday is a Single-Action sixgun, rather than the Double-Action of the Colt Lightning (38) and Thunderer (41) sixguns. The Single-Action lockwork is desirable on such a sixgun, as the old Colt Double-Action (or "self-cocker") was a rather delicate mechanism.

The grips (or stocks) themselves are very nicely done, made of  well-grained and well-colored walnut. They are of one-piece design, which eliminates any visible screws for a pleasing appearance, and are fully checkered in a bordered pattern, with a "dp" logo carved into the top corner of each panel. There is a bit of a palm-swell to the shape, which greatly helps the shape of the grip frame properly fill the palm. The grip panels are very well fit to the frame.

Shooting the Doc Holliday was a pleasure in all respects, save one: my aging eyes do not do too well with nickel-plated SAA-style sights unless the lighting conditions are absolutely perfect. Still, when I was able to do my part, the Pedersoli Doc Holliday proved to be more than equal to the task, and quite accurate given the limitations of the sights and the shooter.

The Pedersoli Doc Holliday sixgun is available as shown in nickel finish, with "fire" blued accents (screws, base pin, and base pin latch), or in high-polish all-blued finish. Both available finishes are very beautiful, but I love a nickel-plated sixgun, so the nickel finish was particularly attractive to me. The moment I saw this one, I was enthralled by it, and had to have it. 

I have had this sixgun for almost a year now, and I have really grown to love it. It is beautiful, it handles perfectly, and it shoots wonderfully; in short, it does everything I ask of it, which is simply to provide me many hours of shooting pleasure. As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, I don't shoot Cowboy Action matches competitively; I also have no intention of taking this sixgun into the hunting field or carrying it as a defensive sidearm, although it would be suitable for either purpose. I seldom seriously shoot paper targets with such firearms as these, preferring to shoot steel or "targets of opportunity" such as acorns, rocks, and pine cones. I have no need to think up a "good reason" to own a sixgun like this Pedersoli Doc Holliday - it is FUN, and fun is enough.

Pedersoli firearms are imported into the United States by the Italian Firearms Group, who also imports Sabatti and F.A.I.R. Check them out, you will be glad you did. 

MSRP of the Doc Holliday sixgun as shown is $995.00 US., and these sixguns are available now. To order the Pedersoli Doc Holliday sixgun, contact IFG at this link; they will let you know where you can find one in your area.

Order Simply Rugged leather at http://www.simplyrugged.com.

Double Tap's DT Target ammo can be found at: www.doubletapammo.com.

To order quality 38 Special ammunition online, go to www.midsouthshooterssupply.com, www.buffalobore.com, www.lehighdefense.com, and www.luckygunner.com.

Boge Quinn

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Facsimile of Doc Holliday's signature is engraved on the backstrap.







Some of the ammo Boge used in testing the Doc Holliday sixgun.



Five-shot group, fired at twelve feet.