Cimarron .45-90 High Wall Single Shot Rifle


by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & Boge Quinn

July 26th, 2004




 In 1879 John Browning was granted a patent for a new rifle design that was to become one of the most famous single shot rifles ever produced. It was sleek, symmetrical, and very strong. The design was better than anything available at that time, including the legendary Sharps. The Browning rifle was of falling block design, with a centrally located trigger. The lever was a graceful S shape, and the hammer recessed into the action for easy loading and extraction. It is still, to this day, one of the best single shot rifles ever designed. John Browning was twenty-four years old. Over the next few years, John and his brothers manufactured approximately six hundred of his single shot rifles.

In 1883 T.G. Bennett of Winchester Repeating Arms Company made a trip to Browning’s gun shop in Utah to have a look at the rifle, and purchased the manufacturing rights to the gun. In early 1885, it was introduced as the  Winchester 1885 Single Shot, and began a long relationship between Browning and Winchester.

For the next few years, the Winchester High Wall, as it has come to be known, was the gun to beat in long-range target shooting matches. The High Wall was made until about 1920, when it was discontinued due to lack of sales. It would be another fifty years before the single shot rifle would again begin to gain in popularity.

Since the days of the Browning and Winchester single shots, many more modern single shot rifle designs have been produced. Some of them are fine rifles indeed, but none are any better than the old High Wall.

The High Wall design is now once again being produced by several manufacturers. Some of these are high-dollar custom jobs, but most are Italian replicas, such as the Uberti-built rifle that is the subject of this article.

Cimarron Firearms Company is located in Fredericksburg, Texas, and is an importer of some very good quality replica firearms. They offer an extensive line of replica Colt single action revolvers, replica Winchester lever action rifles, and replica Sharps single shot rifles, in addition to the High Wall shown here. They also market some very good leather products as well.

The High Wall as sold by Cimarron is available chambered for the .45-120, .40-65, .45-70, .38-55, and the .45-90 tested here.

The Cimarron has a beautifully casehardened receiver, hammer, trigger, and lever. The thirty-two inch blued octagon barrel measures 1.075 inch across the flats at the receiver and tapers gently to .892 inch at the muzzle. The beautiful straight grip walnut stock wears a blued steel crescent butt plate, into which is recessed a trap-door which holds a sectioned brass cleaning rod. The rifle wears buckhorn rear and post front sights. The rear is adjustable for elevation, and the front for windage. The Cimarron replica uses the coil spring design which Winchester employed starting around 1910. I requested one of their excellent long-range tang sights for the test, but none were in stock at the time. The trigger pull on my sample released at a crisp and clean four pounds and thirteen ounces.  The rifle weighs just under ten pounds.

High quality brass for the .45-90 cartridge is readily available from Starline, and all ammunition tested was assembled using these cases. Bullets from Mt. Baldy and Cast Performance were fired in the Cimarron, and all produced very good accuracy. I fired the rifle on paper at 100 yards for accuracy, and the best groups were the result of using the Mt. Baldy 480 grain bullet with Hodgdon 322 powder. Very good accuracy was also obtained using Accurate 5744 and Reloder 7 powders. I was able to shoot sub-two-inch groups at 100 yards using the sights provided. That is as good as I can shoot with a buckhorn sight. I would love to try the rifle with the tang sight. I think that better accuracy could be realized with this and a globe front sight.

Aside from the paper punching, I fired the High Wall at long range steel silhouette targets out to 600 yards, with excellent results. Once the elevation adjustments had been made, hitting was relatively easy on life-size silhouettes at that range.

As can be seen in the pictures, I carried the ammunition around for this rifle in a beautiful cartridge belt made by San Pedro Saddlery. This is the same belt that I showed in the Billy Dixon Sharps article, and is my all-time favorite rifle cartridge belt.

The Cimarron High Wall offers shooters a reasonably priced, high quality replica of one of the finest rifles ever made. It is made of quality materials and is beautifully finished.

Check out all of the Cimarron products online at:

For some of the best brass available for fine old cartridges, and modern handgun cartridges, go to:

Mt. Baldy and Cast Performance bullets can be found at: and

For information and ordering on the fine San Pedro cartridge belt, check out:

 Jeff Quinn

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Cimarron's 45-90 High Wall, shown with the San Pedro Saddlery "Quigley" cartridge belt.



Author tests the Cimarron High Wall at the NRA Whittington Center in Raton, NM. The excellent facilities at the Whittington Center were perfect for evaluating the long-range capabilities of the High Wall.



Standard sights for the High Wall consist of a barrel-mounted buckhorn rear sight and post front sight. While these sights proved to be very effective, upgrading to a long-range tang sight and globe front sight should improve the already good accuracy of this rifle.



Blued steel crescent butt plate contains a sectioned brass cleaning rod.



San Pedro Saddlery's "Quigley" cartridge belt.



Starline Brass makes top-quality cases for the .45-90.



Like all Cimarron imports, the High Wall exhibits fine workmanship, good accuracy, and authentic detailing at a very competitive price.