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Old July 28, 2005, 01:28 AM   #1
Doug.38PR
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Colt Single Action Army vs. S&W Navy Arms Schofield

how come the SAA was so prominent in the old west and well into the 20th century? Of course not "everybody" carried it but it is the gun issued to teh army, that you hear most about and that you see most often in movies.

From what I can tell, the Schofield was a superior gun because you could unload and load it A LOT faster than the SAA. In fact, the Schofield wouldn't be a bad weapon for today. Get a short barrel version that the law carried or even the smaller pocket ones, get a couple of speeloaders that will fit it and you've got a good little single action concealed carry piece. So why was the SAA so big?
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Old July 28, 2005, 03:30 AM   #2
mtnboomer
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The S&W #3 "Schofield" had one drawback - strength! The latching system on any top-break revolver is far weaker than a solid-frame. They are prone to warping which will not allow it to lock shut. The last fighting revolvers to be made as top-breaks are the famous British Webleys chambered in .380/200 (a.k.a. .38 S&W) in the small frame and .455 Webley in the large frame. While the Webleys were stronger than the Schofield they were still weaker than the S&W Triple-Locks and Model 1917 .45 acp revolvers. The Schofield also had a shorter cylinder than the Colt 1873 SAA and could not chamber the .45 "Long" Colt cartridge.

While the West was won with many different brands of handguns, by far the most prevelant of the smokeless powder revolvers was the Colt Model 1873 Single Action Army. Most of this - as is most always the case - is because of the U.S. government choosing the Colt for the military. Because many of the men moving west had been exposed to the Colt, and it's legendary power and reliability, while in the Army it was only natural for them to choose it to protect themselves in hostile territory.
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Old July 28, 2005, 04:14 AM   #3
Sir William
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S&Ws were popular as surplus. Truth is, they could not chamber 45 Long Colt. Colt SAAs could chamber and fire 45 Government, 45 Schofield and 45 Long Colt. It was a simple matter of supply. S&Ws also could not fire if there were defects or action parts broken. The Colts could fire if something was defective or broken. The fact that they made a fair club when ammunition ran out was a plus. One consideration for the Colt SAA was that no empties could fall under the ejector star and result in loss of function.
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Old July 28, 2005, 10:07 AM   #4
Doug.38PR
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Ahh, so Colt was prevailant over the Schofield for the same reason DA Revolvers were prevailant over Automatics among police for 100 years: Fewer things could go wrong with them.

That makes sense
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Old July 28, 2005, 10:37 AM   #5
Vaquero45
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One thing about schofields and russians, is if you get in too big a hurry you can accidently thumb open the action. Embarrassing. I know a guy who did it at Hell on Wheels, which is a very big annual SASS match. I'm not saying it's a drawback or flaw of the gun, just be careful if you get going real fast. Schofields are really cool, I'd like to own one. Great for loading on the clock.

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Old July 28, 2005, 10:41 AM   #6
Jim Watson
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Partly marketing, too. While Colt was getting the main US Army contract and sewing up the commercial market, S&W was concentrating on their big contracts with Russia and lesser overseas sales to Japan and Australia. The Schofield project was pretty small potatoes to them at the time. Probably the reason they would not lengthen the frame and cylinder for .45 Colt.
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Old July 28, 2005, 11:52 AM   #7
Doug.38PR
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http://www.navyarms.com/html/top_break_rev.html

But I see here that .45 Colt Long is available for the Schofield. Or is that just a modern improvement for convenience
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Old July 28, 2005, 12:07 PM   #8
Sir William
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Yes, they were modified to fire available ammunition.
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Old July 29, 2005, 04:52 AM   #9
mtnboomer
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The Navy Arms version has a slightly lengthened cylinder so it can fire the .45 "Long" Colt round. It is a modern improvement that couldn't be done on the originals due to the technology at the time.

BTW - the original Schofield's star ejector wouldn't eject the 1870's-era .45 Colt rounds even if it could chamber them because of the tiny extractor rim on the ballon head cases used at that time. That wasn't resolved until solid head cases became standard in the early 1900's.
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