Uberti Fills The Spaces In This Rimfire’s
Cylinder With Plenty Of .22 Long Rifle Ammo.
The first successful cartridge-firing revolver may have appeared in 1857, however it would be 12 years later before we would see a larger big-bore sixgun. This would be the top-break Smith & Wesson .44 S&W American. With its arrival in 1869, Colt was stirred to its very foundation and quickly began to move from producing percussion revolvers to a cartridge-firing sixgun.
In 1873 Colt, thanks to some real prodding from the United States military, came forth with the Single Action Army chambered in .45. Colt still offers this sixgun today, and during what is known as its First Generation run from 1873 to 1940, it was chambered in more than three dozen cartridges including .22 Rimfire. Of the 356,000+ Single Actions produced by 1940 only 200 were produced in .22 rimfire. The Single Action standard model accounted for 107 of these while 93 were built on the Single Action Target Model frame. The latter version was also used for the very rare .22 WRF with only seven being produced.
In nearly 60 years of searching gun shops and gun shows I’ve never seen an original Colt Single Action Army in .22 rimfire; however, I have seen several examples of larger caliber Colts, which usually had been modified by sleeving the chamber and lining the barrel to accept .22’s. In 1953 Ruger introduced their first single action, the .22 Single-Six and it has been a very popular seller for 60+ years. Great Western in the late 1950’s/early 1960’s offered replicas of the original Colt Single Action and one of their chamberings was in .22 rimfire. Today Uberti not only offers a replica of the Colt Single Action Army in .22 LR they have doubled the capacity of the original fitting it with a 12-shot cylinder.
The normal SAA cylinder contains six rounds requiring a rotation of 60 degrees each time the hammer is cocked. Doubling that capacity changes the geometry to a 30-degree rotation. Uberti has managed to accomplish this and still maintain a hammer, which travels fully. Trigger pull on this 12-shooter is very good right at 3.5 pounds with very little creep.
Knowledgeable sixgunners know traditionally styled single actions without transfer bars must only be carried with the hammer down on an empty chamber. Single action sixgunners have long known how to load a 6-shot sixgun. The hammer is put on half-cock, the loading gate is opened, and then the proper procedure is “Load one. Skip one. Load four.” Pull the hammer back to full-cock and then carefully let it down on the empty chamber which will be present if the sequence is carried out properly.
Although it is a little heavy at 40 ounces, John found
shooting the Uberti Cattleman 12-shooter quite pleasurable.
The Uberti Cattleman 12-shooter “packs perfectly” in this Red Rock 120 holster
made for a Colt Single Action. Red Rock Holsters made by Mayer Saddlery.
Being a 12-shooter, the Cattleman is handled differently. When the loading gate is opened and the hammer placed on half-cock, two .22 chambers are exposed (and I would imagine with practice one could learn to load two rounds at a time). The procedure for safely loading the 12-shooter is “Load two. Skip one. Load nine.” You will notice in the pictures how almost every bit of space is taken up with 12 rounds in this cylinder; the rims of the .22 rounds nearly touch each other. Unloading the fired cylinder whether with 11 or 12 rounds can be tedious, however there is a relatively easy way to do it. With the loading gate open and the hammer on half-cock, push the ejector rod until it lightly contacts the front of the cylinder. Then as the cylinder rotates it will automatically drop into each chamber allowing easy removal of the fired cartridge.
The Uberti Cattleman .22 is offered in two versions. The original has a 6-shot cylinder and brass grip frame while the new 12-shooter—in addition to its double capacity—has a steel grip frame.
Both guns have a case-colored frame with the balance being finished in deep blue. Metal to metal fit as well as wood to metal fit is excellent with no sharp edges or hangover. Both versions are offered with the standard barrel lengths of 4.75, 5.5 and 7.5 inches. Although realizing it would be even heavier I ordered the latter simply because it is much easier for me to shoot the longer barrels.
However, instead of the long Cavalry Model I received the shorter Civilian Model. Even with the short barrel all of my 11-shot groups at 20 yards were less than 2 inches with the best group right close to 1 inch being acquired with the Federal Classic High Velocity HP’s.
Being a traditionally styled single action, the Cattleman has sights consisting of a post front and a rear notch. In the past, Uberti single actions often came through with way too little height on the front sight causing them, at least for me, to always shoot high. With the coming of Cowboy Action Shooting and the great demand for replica sixguns, Uberti corrected this and now has plenty of height on their front sights. For me this .22 shoots a little low requiring only a few strokes with a file on the top of the front sight to bring it up to point of aim. The windage is already right on for my hands, eyes and loads.
These two targets (above) fired with the Uberti Cattleman 12-shooter and
Winchester ammo show the short barrel delivers good velocity and accuracy
at 20 yards. Both CCI Mini-Mag and Federal Classic (below) delivered
good velocity and groups at 20 yards.
Although the Cattleman is a traditionally-styled single action, it comes with a safety of sorts. I am all for safeties on semi-automatic firearms if they can easily be engaged or disengaged with the thumb or one finger. I have no great problem with transfer bars, which make single actions safe to carry fully loaded. However, the safeties, which lock with keys or, in this case, a “Swiss-safe style” device are more than safety devices, being security devices instead. To be able to import the Cattleman in the USA, it must have some sort of safety. The Swiss-safe is easiest to provide as it is nothing more than a longer cylinder pin with two notches. When the rear one is engaged everything works normally, however when the front notch is used the cylinder pin protrudes from the back of the frame and prevents the hammer from falling far enough forward for the firing pin to hit a cartridge. The only problem with this is if the firearm is needed in a hurry it is not very easy to disengage. I much prefer the hammer down on an empty chamber.
As expected the Cattleman, even with 12 holes in the cylinder is a relatively heavy sixgun. Officially it is rated with a 4-3/4-inch barrel at 2.3 pounds, or 37 ounces. My test gun with the shorter barrel weighs 40 ounces on my postal scale. A sixgun of this size and weight deserves good leather. I have been carrying it in a Tom Threepersons-style by Dan Mayer of Mayer Saddelry using his Red Rock 120. It takes three things to make an excellent holster: design, construction and leather quality. The Red Rock 120 excels in all three as well as being beautifully carved. This particular holster was made for a 4.75-inch Colt Single Action Army, however, it carries the Cattleman perfectly.
Although the Uberti Cattleman 12-shooter is a mite heavy, it still makes a great companion for hiking in desert, sagebrush, foothills, forest, or mountains. With 11 rounds in the cylinder and a box of cartridges in the pocket, a lot of shooting fun can be afforded while tramping around. It can certainly be used to take varmints at close range and in my area would work very well for what we call “fool hens” or sage grouse during hunting season. It will certainly excel at plinking too.
By John Taffin
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