Companion Guns


by Butch Kent

photography by Butch Kent

April 28, 2008


Over the years I have taken many deer with a variety of long and short guns ranging from black powder rifles to my favorite Remington 700 30-06 and a number of handguns, my favorite being the Smith and Wesson Model 19, 357 Magnum. Over the past twenty years or so my choice of hunting weaponry has continually drifted towards the simpler side. My choice of rifles is a vintage 30-30 Winchester and on the even easier packin’ side, one of my most prized acquisitions, a single action 44 Special.

 This year I could hardly wait to get to the range to try something different. I had acquired a Winchester 1873 by Chaparral in 38-40. Now I know that a 38-40 is one of the oldest cartridges around and the 1873 Winchester, the gun that won the west, has been replaced by more modern and powerful rifles many times over. However, I thought it would be interesting to hunt with the type of equipment that our forefathers and scouts would have used.


Chaparral 1873 Winchester 38-40



1873 outfitted for hunting - old style sling


Since I am an avid handgun hunter also, I needed a companion handgun in the same caliber, 38-40. For that I selected the excellent Cimarron Model P with 7 ˝ inch barrel.


Cimarron Model P .38-40



Real hammer on Model P



Cylinder pin retaining screw can be adjusted to block hammer


I really like the looks and function of the cylinder pin retaining screw. However, you must watch this when reassembling the handgun after cleaning. The cylinder pin can be set back far enough to block the hammer. This is a neat safety feature for firearms storage but in the field, one can miss a shot a a good deer if the pin is not returned to the firing position. If that sounds like experience, well – take the lesson from someone else.


I love the bulls-eye ejector rod!



Quick shot of some of my handloads. More on this in a later article.



Now I love to load my own ammo, but since I wanted this effort to be reproducible by any reader who would chose to do so, I selected factory ammo typical of the loads commonly available in this cartridge and safe in both the 1873 rifle and revolver. At the range I tried the Ultramax 180 grain round nose, flat point cartridge in both the rifle and revolver. In the revolver the load shot about 1 inch high and true to point of aim at 25 yards. After a minor front sight tightening and adjustment, the 1873 rifle printed in the same place. On the test target both guns placed six rounds into a single group one inch high and two inches wide, three shots each. Now that’s a companion combination. Later when trying the SA out at other ranges I learned that the SA shot within a two-inch circle out to 50 yards. That’s plenty good for deer hunting at reasonable ranges for a handgun.




I have always had a preference for a revolver with a thick front blade sight. I think it makes it easy to pick up the sight in poor light and get a precise sight picture for more accurate aim. This type of sight is found on most of my revolvers including my favorite USFA 44 Special as shown below:


USFA sights



However, when I acquired the Cimarron 38-40, it had a rear sight with a “V” shaped notch and a tapered front blade sight. The sights are shown below:


Cimarron .38-40 sights.



I found that the tapered notch and blade created a sight combination that was very easy to get a precise sight alignment in good light. The extra space around the tapered blade and inverse shape of the front and rear sights formed a natural contrast. It was easy to get very good shots off even in the woods.

 I believe the combination will make a fine pair for the CAS shooter or the hunter who is a little bored with short magnums.


Profile of Model P .38-40


Butch Kent


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