U.S. Firearms Flattop Target .45 Colt

by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn

March 17th, 2004




U.S. Firearms Company in Hartford, Connecticut has become within the past few years the favorite source for high quality American made Colt Single Action Army replicas. While there are numerous importers of foreign made Colt replicas, U.S. Firearms turns out nineteenth century firearms assembled with nineteenth century craftsmanship. Their parts are one hundred percent American made and assembled by American craftsmen.

Almost a year ago, I reviewed here the U.S. Firearms Rodeo revolver, which is their entry level SAA replica aimed at the Cowboy Action Shooting competitor. The Rodeo is a fine sixgun, lacking only the high-polish finish of their more expensive revolvers. Just a couple of months ago, Mike Cumpston reviewed here the U.S. Firearms Pre-War sixgun, which is the Single Action Army with the excellent Armory Blue and Bone Case finish. There has never been a better built production SAA than the Pre-War. It combines old world craftsmanship with modern metallurgy to produce a beautifully finished Colt replica that is better than the original.

This would be as good a time as any to briefly discuss the modern SAA as produced by Colt Firearms. There have been several changes to the SAA in the past thirty years. The truth is that the U.S. Firearms guns are closer to the original Colts than are the modern Colt-produced guns. They are also, in my opinion, a better gun.

The latest sixgun from U.S. Firearms is the subject of this article: The Flattop Target.

The original Colt Flattop Target models were built between the years of 1888 and 1895, with a total production of around 926 guns. As you can imagine, these are quite scarce and very expensive handguns. They were replaced by the Bisley Target models, and were indeed very fine sixguns.

The U.S. Firearms Flattop Target revolver received for testing is chambered for the .45 Colt cartridge, but is available in several other chamberings as well. The sample gun has the seven and one-half inch barrel, and wears the beautiful Old Armory blued finish, with the exception of the hammer, which is case hardened. The sample Flattop is one of the best-fitted handguns that I have ever handled. The line between the grip frame and cylinder frame is almost imperceptible. The fit of the black checkered hard rubber grips to the grip frame is perfect. The timing of the action is also perfect, with the bolt dropping into the lead of the bolt notch instead of dragging on the cylinder and ruining the beautiful finish, as happens on many single action revolvers. The trigger pull measures a crisp two pounds and nine ounces. The .45 Flattop weighs exactly forty ounces with the seven and one-half inch barrel. The barrel measures .763 of an inch at the frame junction, and tapers to .675 of an inch at the muzzle. The cylinder diameter and length measure 1.675 and 1.626 inches, respectively.  The cylinder throats measure a perfect .452 of an inch. The barrel / cylinder gap measures just .002 of an inch.

What sets the Flattop Target model apart from the Single Action Army is the sights, and of course the perfectly flat frame top. The rear sight is adjustable in its dovetail for windage, and the front sight is thankfully provided with enough extra height to allow it to be filed down to perfectly adjust the elevation for the desired load. The front sight is also easily replaceable. A shooter could keep a few different front sights to accommodate different bullet weights and loads, if desired. The procedure would be to find a good accurate load, and file the blade to bring the point of impact to the desired range.

Speaking of accuracy, The Flattop Target displayed excellent accuracy with many different loads. The group pictured was shot using Hodgdon’s Titegroup powder with cheap "gun show special" round nose flat point bullets. This level of accuracy was also obtainable with several good bullets, including my favorite bullet for standard .45 Colt loads; the 250 grain Keith semi-wadcutter lead bullet. This bullet fits the cylinder length perfectly, and can be pushed to one thousand feet-per-second safely in the U.S. Flattop, with excellent accuracy, and fine terminal performance on medium-sized game, such as whitetail deer. This makes for a very good general purpose .45 Colt load. Mr. Keith’s bullet design is still one of the best ever developed for sixgun use.

Aside from the loads tested at the bench, I have over the past couple of months fired the Flattop at various targets of opportunity; mostly rocks and stumps around the farm. The gun handles great, and points naturally. While I sometimes favor a shorter barrel for packing, the seven and one-half inch does have a unique balance and feel to it, which I find beneficial to accurate plinking.

In case you could not tell up to this point, I am very impressed with the U.S. Firearms Flattop Target revolver, and I highly recommend it to anyone searching for an accurate, reliable, and authentic single action that is a bit different from the run-of-the-mill Colt replica. This revolver is better fitted and finished than any Colt that I have ever handled, and is more accurate than I can hold it. With the design of the sights, it is easily adapted to your favorite .45 load, and shoots like a dream.

The Flattop Target is more than just another cowboy gun. It is a design that was decades ahead of its time, and is well deserving of being resurrected by U.S. Firearms.

Check out their entire line of quality firearms on the internet at:  www.usfirearms.com.

For more information on the excellent San Pedro Saddlery leather, check them out online at: www.sanpedrosaddlery.com.

Jeff Quinn


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Click pictures for a larger version.


U.S. Firearms' Flattop Target is a beautiful, superbly-crafted, American-made reproduction of a fine and rare sixgun.



Black checkered grips (with US logo) are perfectly fitted to the gun.



Drift-adjustable rear sight and high front sight allow point of aim to be tailored to point of impact. These are excellent original-style target sights.



Author's favorite 250-grain Keith-style bullets from Mt. Baldy Bullets nicely fit the cylinder length.



Accuracy of the U.S. Firearms Flattop Target demonstrates why the originals were revered as supremely-accurate sixguns. In metallurgy, craftsmanship, accuracy and beauty, the U.S. Firearms guns are even better than the originals!




San Pedro Saddlery made this beautiful holster to fit the Flattop Target. Extra clearance was allowed for the tall front sight. It is fully lined, and carved with superb craftsmanship. It is shown here on San Pedro's Quigley belt, which works perfectly for carrying both sixgun and rifle ammo.