United States Fire Arms Rodeo .45 Colt Revolver


by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & Boge Quinn

June 12th, 2003




It all started about 130 years ago. That was the beginning of Col. Coltís 1873 Single Action Army revolver. It was an instant hit. Firing the powerful .45 Colt cartridge and fitted with the wonderful grip of the 1851 Navy revolver, it was reliable, handy, and powerful. After almost suffering extinction in the mid twentieth century, the design proved too good to die, and is today more popular than ever.

There are many very good replicas of the Single Action Army revolver on the market today, varying in authentic detail and quality. Even the Colt brand revolver has changed a bit from the original design. With better metallurgy and modern equipment, some of the SAA replicas today are better than the originals.  Some of the imported replicas are very good, while others are of a lesser quality. Usually, you get what you pay for, but we recently discovered an exception. One of the lower priced SAA replicas on the market is also one of the best built sixguns available; the USFA Rodeo.

The Rodeo is the entry level revolver built by United States Fire Arms Manufacturing Company in Hartford, Connecticut. It is built with the same high quality materials as their more expensive guns, but is finished in a satin blue-black finish and chambered for the .45 Colt, .44 WCF, or .38 Special only. This allows USFA to sell the U.S. built Rodeo at a price competitive with the imports.

When I spoke on the telephone with USFA about testing the Rodeo, I expected a good but not-too-exciting and somewhat homely average Colt replica. What I received a few days later was a nice, very well fitted and handsome sixgun! The fitting of the grip frame to the cylinder frame is excellent, and the fitting of the hard rubber grip panels is flawless. The hammer is beautifully case hardened, and the bolt timing on the Rodeo is perfect. The gun locks up tight, and the barrel / cylinder gap measures an even two-thousandths (.002) of an inch. The gun has an original style solid hammer-mounted firing pin, and the trigger pull measures a crisp two and three-quarters of a pound. USFA offers the Rodeo with either a five and one-half or a four and three-quarters inch barrel, the test gun being the latter. The ejector rod rides in a cam-cut housing that is smooth to operate and allows the button to lay tightly against the barrel while not scratching the finish in operation. At half cock, the chambers aligned perfectly with the loading gate, as a single action sixgun should. The Rodeo has that beautiful four-click action, and should be carried with an empty chamber under the hammer.

A variety of ammunition was fired through the Rodeo over the period of several days. The sights were well-regulated for windage with all loads, and the elevation varied according to the load tested.  With my favorite 260 grain Keith load, the sights were right on target. Most loads tested  grouped under two inches at twenty-five yards. Accuracy was aided by the excellent trigger pull, and the handling qualities of the Rodeo are near perfect. The little gun just balances great, and the grip allows it to point very naturally, like the finger of God. Shooting from the hip with this little jewel was very rewarding.

During a recent visit to the NRA Whittington Center in Raton, NM, I passed the Rodeo around to several shooters, many of whom are rabid Colt fans, and each commented upon the fine handling qualities of the sixgun. Some SAA replicas look good but just donít feel right. The Rodeo feels just right. It is hard to describe, but you know it when you feel it. The gun carries very well in a good hip holster or in a belt rig.  I carried the Rodeo in an El Paso Saddlery 1920 Tom Threepersons holster and belt, and also concealed in a Bob Mernicle PS6-SA holster. The sixgun carried well in each.

For a modern, American made, and very affordable replica of the old Colt SAA .45, I highly recommend the USFA Rodeo. I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of fit and finish, and think that you will be also.  For the sport of Cowboy Action Shooting, or as an everyday working gun, it is just the ticket.

Check out the USFA complete line of quality sixguns online at:   www.usfirearms.com.

Jeff Quinn

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Click pictures for a larger version.


USFA's Rodeo .45 sixgun is far more than just an "entry-level" Cowboy Action Shooting revolver.



Jeff tests the USFA Rodeo at the NRA Whittington Center in Raton, NM. The gun performed well on paper, but the Rodeo proved to be more at-home in informal settings such as short-range and long-range plinking and the CAS range.



"Authentic-style" roll marks lend an air of history to the Rodeo. This is further enhanced by the fact that this is an American-made gun; no Italian proof marks or ugly import-required "safeties" on this sixgun!



A nice touch is the beveled front of the cylinder, as found on the original Colts.



The Rodeo features a beautifully case-hardened hammer, which contrasts nicely with the satin blue-black finish of the rest of the gun. Fit and finish of the test gun was excellent, much better than we expected from a sixgun in the Rodeo's price range.



The Rodeo's black checkered grips are perfectly fitted to the grip frame.



The Rodeo rides just as it should in Jeff's "Tom Threepersons" rig from El Paso Saddlery. In a good SA concealment holster such as Bob Mernickle's PS6-SA, the Rodeo can actually double as a practical carry gun.



USFA has a winner in their Rodeo sixgun. For a shooter looking for an inexpensive, well-made, American gun for Cowboy Action Shooting, plinking, self-defense or as a "farm gun", the Rodeo is a perfect choice.