The Texican Single Action .45 Colt Revolver from STI

 

by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & Boge Quinn

November 12th, 2007

 

 

 

Click for video!

It was several months ago that I first heard that STI International of Georgetown, Texas was introducing a replica of the famous Colt Single Action Army revolver. There are many such replicas on the market, some better than others, but STI has a reputation for building top quality high performance competition auto pistols, and I was anxious to see the new sixgun, which had been dubbed the "Texican".  Production was not started as soon as anticipated. Most of us had hoped to see the new sixgun at the 2007 SHOT Show in Orlando, Florida back in January, but it was not yet ready.  It was not until early November that I got the call that the guns were in production, and as of this writing, I have been playing with the new Texican for a few days now.

Single action revolvers are a new venture for STI. While the Single Action Army (SAA) design has been around since 1873, and is certainly a proven design and is the most recognized and copied revolver in the world, STI wanted the Texican to be not just another SAA replica, but they wanted it to be the best SAA replica ever built. They just might have succeeded in that goal.

The STI Texican is priced to compete with the high-end revolvers produced by Colt and US Firearms.

STI built their reputation upon the manufacture of precision parts for 1911 auto pistols, along with complete competition guns that push the 1911 design to its limits, with electron discharge machined (EDM) parts and modular frame assemblies.

The new Texican revolver uses what STI calls ultra high speed machining, which is reported to eliminate the need for polishing. All parts are machined from bar stock or forgings. All of the internal parts, except for the springs, are made using the EDM process, which results in small precision parts that have no grinder or tool marks.  The Texican uses leaf hammer, bolt, and trigger springs, and the hammer spring has a relief cut to give the hammer a lighter pull, while still having plenty of power to light off primers reliably.

The first Texicans off the line will all be chambered for the .45 Colt cartridge and wear five and one-half inch barrels, with other barrel lengths and chamberings to follow. The sample Texican weighed in at thirty-seven ounces.

My first impression upon removing the Texican from its hard plastic case, was that this is a very precise, tight revolver. While hard to put into words, the overall impression is that every flat surface is dead flat, and every radius is perfect. There are no wavy flat surfaces, dished screw holes, or mismatched metal parts. No machining marks in the cylinder flutes or bolt notches. There are absolutely no gaps or protrusions where metal parts meet. The beautiful color case hardening is done by Doug Turnbull, and the blued parts, while not polished to a mirror finish, are very even and well executed.

The checkered hard plastic grips are very well fitted to the grip frame and trigger guard, and have only very slight clearance where they meet the cylinder frame. In the video, I commented that the grips were a bit rougher than what I prefer. I did not mean to imply that the quality was lacking. Quite the contrary. They are very well-made grip panels. I meant that the texture is rougher than I desire. I just prefer a smooth grip myself, as I like to let the gun ride up in recoil. However, the heavily checkered grips provide a very solid hold for Cowboy Action shooters who rely upon speed of fire to be competitive. Using light loads as are typical in that sport, the grips work very well. Shooting full-power hunting ,defense, and working loads, I find that the grips abrade my hand with my shooting style. Grips are a very personal thing, and I usually change them on just about all of my revolvers. On single actions, I prefer a smooth grip of natural material, and if I end up buying this Texican, will probably send it off to Eagle Grips for a set of American elk antler grips.

I mentioned above that the Texican was priced competitively with the Colt Single Action Army and the upper tier USFA revolvers. The Texican is built like a first generation Colt, but to more precise, tighter specifications.  The overall feel is one of quality. The trigger pull on my sample Texican measured an average of just under two pounds; 1 lb., 15.2 ounces, to be exact. Also, it was extremely consistent from pull to pull, not varying by more than an ounce either way. The hammer pulls back smoothly and easily. I usually place a leather or rubber washer under the hammer spring on a new Colt or replica. There was  no need to do so on the Texican. The action makes that wonderful "four-click" sound when the hammer is pulled back, just as God intended.  The cylinder has no detectable lateral nor fore-and-aft play, and by that I mean none. It doesnít move. I had to force a three one-thousandths (.003) feeler gauge between the barrel and cylinder. That is just about perfect. Keep in mind that today, with some world-famous revolver makers, anything between .004 and .010 is within specs.  To me, that is unacceptable. A tight barrel/cylinder gap increases velocity, and prevents a revolver from spitting burnt powder back on the shooter and bystanders. STI got it right on the Texican.  Another subtle but nice feature on the Texican is that the ejector rod stroke is just a bit longer, by about one-quarter inch, and that is just enough to assure positive ejection of empty cases.  That can be important during a quick reload. The hammer spur has a patch of checkering at the top to assure that the thumb doesnít slip during cocking. The firing pin is mounted on the hammer, as it should be. This is a traditional style action, and is best carried with an empty chamber under the hammer.

One thing that I really do not like is to buy a new revolver, and the sides of the hammer immediately get scratched by the hammer rubbing on the frame cutout at the rear of the cylinder frame. On the Texican, it does not rub at all. Even after a few days of shooting, the sides of the hammer are unscathed, and the Turnbull case colors are not harmed at all. The timing on the sample Texican is, in a word, perfect. I really do not like using that word to describe a function of a gun, but there is no better word that fits. I checked my thesaurus. The timing of the bolt dropping into the cylinder notches is perfect. STI tells me that they use a special type of free-floating leaf pawl spring that will give a lot longer service life to competitors who put a lot of miles on their sixguns. I didnít tear the gun down that far, and will take their word for it. Seems to me that after building as much precision into the Texican as they have, that would make sense. The base pin on this Texican is also a precision fit. I usually install a Belt Mountain base pin on my single action revolvers, but there will be no need for one on this Texican. It is tight. The chamber throats on the Texican would just barely accept a .452 sized bullet, and as close as I could determine, they were all exactly the same size.

STI tells me that they use some highly technical and proprietary process to absolutely assure that each chamber is properly aligned with the barrel. It is not line-boring, but they would not disclose the exact process.  Doesnít matter. Whatever process they are using, it works.

I started shooting the Texican as soon as I got it home. I usually take all of my pictures first, but in this case, I couldnít wait. Over the course of the last few days, I have fired the Texican mostly with a load that uses the excellent Mt. Baldy 270-SAA bullet, which is a modified Keith-style that weighs about 285 grains lubed, and was designed to fit the cylinder of a Single Action Army revolver. I usually push this bullet to around 900 feet per second, and it is a good working load for a single action revolver. I do not shoot "Cowboy" loads, which is a misnomer. Real cowboys, lawmen, and ranchers in the Old West used a load that pushed a nominal 255 grain bullet to around 1000 feet per second (fps) from a good tight .45 Colt using balloon-head cases stuffed full of black powder. Todayís "Cowboy" loads shoot light bullets at slow speeds for competition use. I donít shoot competition, and have no use for them myself, preferring full-power .45 Colt loads that, while are not in the magnum realm of handloads, are perfectly suited to hunting, social work, or to carry on the hip while working around cattle. The sights on the Texican are easy to see, with a generous square notch rear, and a front blade that measures right at one-tenth of an inch in width. For me, the gun shot right at point of aim at twenty-five yards offhand with the load described above.  It shot lower with one of my favorite target and small game loads, which uses the H&G 68 style 200 grain semi-wadcutter bullet that is normally used in 1911 auto pistols.  I still push that bullet to around 900 fps in my revolvers, and it is a very accurate load in many of my sixguns.

For accuracy testing, I secured the Texican into my Ransom Rest using the Colt SAA grip inserts, and proceeded paper punching at twenty-five yards. I was getting some pretty decent groups, hovering around two and one-half inches, but then I realized that I was using my handloads in mixed-brand cases. I donít sort cases on my working loads, but do on my target loads for better consistency. It makes a real difference. After sorting the cases by brand, I was able to cut those groups in half. With both my handloads and Black Hills factory loads, the Texican would group five shots into less than one and one-half inches at twenty-five yards.  Thatíll do.

STI set out to build a better Single Action Army, and they have succeeded. Priced as of this writing at $1260 US, it ainít cheap, but it is priced competitively with the other high-end revolvers of its type. For competitive Cowboy Action shooters, it should hold up well and provide years of service before needing parts. For the rest of us, it should last a few lifetimes. Hopefully, the Texican will be a success in the marketplace. It is as well built as any Single Action Army replica or original that I have ever handled, and much better than most.  The tightness of its action and precision of its moving parts reminds me of the Freedom Arms revolvers. While the Freedom is an entirely different style of revolver and built for a different purpose, the Texican carries some of the same qualities in its craftsmanship.

I like the new STI Texican revolver, but I am a sucker for a good single action. I have a weak spot in my heart for them. When properly executed, a good Single Action Army revolver points and handles like no other. I like the originals, and I like the replicas. I like them all when they are done right. The Texican is done right. It is precision machined from quality materials, beautifully finished, and pretty darn accurate.  It is a fine single action sixgun, and I highly recommend it. There are certainly cheaper single actions on the market, but you never regret buying the best.

Check out the new Texican revolver online at www.stiguns.com.

Jeff Quinn

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Click pictures for a larger version.

 

STI's Texican single-action .45 sixgun.

 

 

Rear sight (top) and front sight (bottom) are traditional in design. Close inspection reveals absolute perfection in the machining and finishing of all surfaces.

 

 

 

 

Black plastic grips are checkered for a positive grip, as preferred by many Cowboy Action shooters.

 

 

 

 

Frame and hammer are beautifully case-hardened by the modern master, Doug Turnbull.

 

 

 

 

Firing pin is mounted on the hammer where it belongs. You'll find no safety locks on this sixgun!

 

 

 

 

Gun comes with a hard plastic storage case.

 

 

 

 

The Texican's superb metal-to-metal fit rivals the finest custom sixguns.

 

 

 

 

A nice design touch: the ejector rod is slightly longer for positive case ejection.

 

 

Mt. Baldy's 270-SAA bullet is a perfect fit in the Texican's cylinder.

 

 

.452" diameter bullets fit tightly into the chamber throats.

 

 

As befits a true Single Action Army, the Texican uses leaf hammer, bolt & trigger springs.

 

 

The cylinder has a removable bushing.

 

 

.003" feeler gauge was a tight fit in the barrel/cylinder gap.

 

 

The Texican proved to be an accurate sixgun with a variety of loads.

 

 

The Texican is right at home in Sixgunner Leather's 
"John Wayne" style rig
.