Uberti “El Patron” Review

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NOTE: This product review was made possible by GunsForSale.com.  To get up-to-date information on where to find cheap firearms & ammunition for sale, please visit GunsForSale.com.

Those of us who grew up in what society calls the “Baby Boom” generation were entertained in our childhood by the best western movies and TV shows ever made. So, the old cowboy guns and gear have a near and dear place in our hearts not only because of the great old guns but memories of a much simpler time.

Duty, honor and a clear sense of right and wrong were central to these old shows. The good guys always won! Most of us who grew up in this time have a special fondness for the 1873 Colt Peacemaker and Winchester lever action rifles. In recent years our generation has embraced “Cowboy Sports” using replicas of these classic guns.

My favorite replica 1873 is made by Uberti. They are made in Italy as are many western guns imported to the US. Uberti is a
leader in the sport of Cowboy action shooting. With this custom shop Peacemaker Uberti has raised the bar for factory made single-actions.

Uberti offers the custom shop “El Patron” in 357 magnum and 45 Colt. Barrel lengths are available in 4 ¾, 5 ½ inches and the new mounted Cowboy competition CMS version with a 3 ½ inch barrel . The “El Patron is offered in stainless steel with a highly polished finish as well as the blue/color case hardened frame I chose.

With the release of the “El Patron” Cowboy action shooters have an off the shelf revolver ready for competition. Most Cowboy action shooters spend a good deal of money bringing a standard single action up to competition standards. They have the action tuned and many other improvements by the best gunsmiths specializing in cowboy guns. What makes the “El Patron” or in English “The Boss” unique is that all the enhancements shooters desire are already done by the custom shop in Italy.

When Uberti decided to create a competition single action revolver for SASS matches the best parts were chosen and sent to the Uberti custom shop where the cylinder and frame are stamped and reserved for each individual revolver. One artisan hand fits each revolver from start to finish according to Uberti. The cylinder chambers are numbered 1 thru 6. Uberti contracted with Wolff gun springs to provide springs for the trigger group, hammer spring as well as numerous other internal springs.

Patent numbers on“The Boss” are placed in the same location as the original Colts. The finish is deep blue on the barrel, grip frame and cylinder with the hammer and upper frame case hardened. Those familiar with case hardening know this is not the easiest finish to get right. Uberti obviously takes great care in finishing these pistols they are beauties!

The front sight is 1/8th inch in width.The top of the frame is notched deeper and wider to accommodate the wider front sight providing a much improved sight picture while still preserving the traditional look. The rear sight is also machined deeper in the top strap to match the front sight.

The trigger is tuned to match standards. Mine has a trigger pull of right at 2 pounds. The trigger is crisp with near non-existent take-up. The trigger is excellent and certainly contributes to small groups when the shooter does his or her part.

The grips are walnut and checkered by hand. The grip to frame fit is perfect with no unsightly gaps anywhere along the grip frame. The front of the cylinder is beveled with no sharp edges to cut your hand. The cylinder rotation is also very smooth. The timing on this revolver is also very well done.

Range Time

I started at ten yards loading five rounds per cylinder for safety considerations. It’s always best to leave the chamber under the firing pin empty on those 1873′s true to the original design. Dropping a single action on the hammer can cause the firing pin to strike the primer resulting in an accidental discharge.

I used a variety of ammo brands for this test. Ammunition from Winchester, Magtech and PMC was used for this range session.The target pictured above was my first target fired slowly to establish a good reference group. Pictured are all five rounds on a Birchwood Casey 3 inch target. This first group measured 7/8th inches which is excellent by anyones standards. The sights were right on the money with no adjustments needed.

A word on ammunition. Before the advent of Cowboy action competition all the ammunition companies loaded 45 Colt fairly hot for use in the S&W model 25 revolver which is an N frame revolver that can handle higher pressure loads.When Cowboy action competition started and really took off the ammunition companies backed way off on the loads they sold for the 45 Colt chambering since the single action clones and original Colts couldn’t handle the hotter loads without the possibility of damage or a failure of the gun. These days about the only company that makes hot loads in this caliber is Cor-Bon and Buffalo Bore. Never shoot these +P loads in a replica Colt under any circumstances. These loads are made strictly for modern revolvers of a different type. When shooting your cowboy gun use only the loads made for this gun.They are designated as cowboy loads and are marked as such on the box. PMC, Winchester as well as Magtech and a few others make these reduced power loads. The Winchester loads are mild at approx. 735 FPS whereas the PMC load clocks in at 820 FPS.

Conclusion

The “El Patron” is a fine revolver without a doubt. I’ve spoken to many local SASS (single action shooting society) members that have switched from other brands to the Uberti.

Accuracy is better than any other single action I have experience with. There is no doubt the trigger is the best of any single action from the factory. The balance and handling is extremely good. Uberti has done an excellent job creating a revolver true to the original Colts in just about every way.

With most any handgun I find something I believe could be improved on or an outright design change. This custom shop Uberti is the exception in every way. I just couldn’t find anything about it that the custom shop at Uberti failed to address. There’snothing about “The Boss” I would change.

No matter if the “El Patron” is used for casual shooting or competition you won’t find a better “Peacemaker”! This Uberti retails for $589.00 and may be seen at http://www.uberti.com/firearms/single-action-cattleman.php

Related

Phil White

Retired police officer with 30 years of service. Firearms instructor and SRU team member. I still instruct with local agencies. My daily carry pistol is the tried and true 1911. I’m the senior writer and moderator at TFB as well as the review manager. I really enjoy answering readers questions and comments. We can all learn from each other about our favorite hobby!


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  • jack

    scroll down,
    Check author,
    “Phil White”,
    ∴ “Review” = Advertisment

    Ignore

    • Mr. Fahrenheit

      I think you might be a little too cynical.

      Phil White has published some good reviews. I’m not sure who you think he’s shilling for but if it’s Guns For Sale, please click on the “About” link above to see how Steve of TFB benefits from the support of Guns For Sale.

      Whatever, though. I enjoyed the review.

      • Phil White

        Mr.,

        Thanks for the comment. When I read the first two comments I thought ok what the H—! It sure isn’t an advertisement. As I’ve said several times I get nothing for my opinion on any reviewed gun good or bad.
        Glad you enjoyed the review!

    • Tinkerer

      Hello, Jack. I can hardly wait for your own unbiased testing and review of the Uberti El Patrón revolver.

    • Phil White

      jack,

      Hey if it’s a great gun then that’s just the way it is. If you check other post you’ll see some gripes about other reviewed guns. This one however isn’t one of them.

    • Nicks87

      I wouldnt say Phil is shilling for anyone but I do agree that he gives some good reviews to some pretty crappy firearms (walther PPS, various 1911s).

      To me it’s just difference of opinion in what a “good” firearm should be. I dont like 1911s I think they are over-priced target/novelty pistols at best. As far as single action revolvers go I dont really have much experience with them so I wont make any assumptions.

      Also, I may not agree with Mr. White on some of his reviews but I do respect his opinion and think that it’s awesome that he takes the time to respond to people on this blog weather they agree with him or not.

      • Phil White

        Nicks87,

        Your right Nicks it is just a difference of opinion. We could go back and forth all day on just the subject of 1911′s:-) Thank you sir—–

  • Adam

    a whole review… with no mention of price, or a link to the Uberti site? Really?

  • Jeff Smith

    Great review Phil! Have you had much experience with Uberti products? I’ve been in the market for a single action revolver and they look fantastic!

    • Phil White

      Jeff,

      Not a great deal Jeff. This was my first one but I sure have been impressed with it over the months since I bought it. I wouldn’t hesitate a second to advise you this is a great single action. I have shot a friends 73 Winchester lever action. That was a very nice rifle but the price was almost $1100 at the gunshop! I paid $525 for this one. If you shop around on Gunbroker you might be able to do better.
      Glad you liked the review!

  • DrewN

    It is my understanding that the high pressure .45 Long Colt loads were for Blackhawks and Contenders only and that S&W has said the .45 “N” frames should use standard pressure loads only? I’m really not too familiar with modern SAAs but I do find it a little odd that the .45′s need standard pressure ammo but the other variant is a .357 magnum.

    • Brian P.

      I find this confusing too. Since when are new single action revolvers not able to handle hotter loads of .45 Colt? Seems like they’d be able to handle them with ease if the other model can handle .357 Magnum. It just doesn’t make sense. Besides, I was also under the impression that single action revolvers had a stronger frame and design by nature, compared to double action revolvers.

      • Phil White

        Brian,

        Check what I wrote to Drew on the design limitations of the original 1873 frame. It really comes down to frame size and cylinder wall thickness.

    • Phil White

      DrewN,

      True the very high pressure loads like those made by Buffalo Bore should only be fired in the larger frame guns like the Blackhawk, Vaquero and some of the custom revolvers.Buffalo Bore rounds are right at the limit for pressures. The “N” frame S&W can handle the regular +P loads if you can find them.I wouldn’t feed them a steady diet of them though. I have loaded some rounds that would be considered +P but they were not even close to the custom ammunition you can purchase.
      The difference between the high pressure 45 and the 357 magnum is the thickness of the cylinder wall. With the smaller diameter of the 357 you have more steel to handle the pressure. The cylinder of the 45 Colt has less wall thickness because of the larger bullet diameter which limits the power the revolver can handle.

  • Sian

    Is it normal for a modern single-action cowboy-style revolver to omit a drop safety? Just seems to me it would be simple to add without greatly diminishing the authentic feel and looks.

    • Phil White

      Sian,

      It is normal for those 1873′s made as the originals were designed. The Uberti is a true copy of the 1873 so it has no drop safety and the firing pin on the hammer rather than new modified designs like the Vaquero. Now you buy a Ruger which has a larger frame and a transfer bar safety and you can load up with six rounds.

    • Jim March

      Uberti does make an SAA-ish gun with a transfer bar. It’s called the Beretta Stampede and is otherwise very similar to a Ruger New Vaquero.

      BUT, the guys doing very high round counts in SASS seem to think that the Beretta with a transfer bar isn’t as strong as the Uberti without. Eventually the action parts fail. It’s fixable, it’s not like frame stretching or a blown-up cylinder but it’s annoying. If you’re going to shoot the snot out of an Uberti you want one without the safety, it appears.

      If you want one with a safety, go with the Ruger New Vaquero. If you want to massively modify your piece, go with a Ruger period :) as there’s a ton of parts swapping options.

      The other Italian SA source worth noting is Pietta and they compete very well with Uberti. Their CEO shoots SASS in Europe under the name Alchemista. They even make a version with a transfer bar safety same as the Beretta and Rugers, but so far it’s only been imported by Heritage as their “Big Bore” series, with stateside finishing of Pietta parts. Odd thing: Taurus recently bought Heritage, *maybe* for the Pietta contract…because Taurus used to make a transfer-bar SA called the Gaucho brought in from Brazil and it was a dismal failure in terms of QC. I suspect we’ll see the transfer-bar equipped Piettas return as the “Gaucho II” or some other Taurus-branded piece with no Brazilian connection, and it might be worth a look. Can’t be any worse than the Gaucho.

      For the record: my daily carry without fail piece is a Ruger NewVaq357, heavily modified :). I have a gas-eject system for empty shells working now, and magazine feeding is about to get grafted on. I suspect a 20rd curled-tube spring-fed mag is possible plus 5 in the cylinder, letting me shoot a whole SASS stage with one gun no reloads if they’ll let me just for laughs :D.

  • Lance

    Looks nice like the original Colt style features to it. the firing pin on the hammer is a cool original that few do now days.

    • Phil White

      Lance,

      I really love the looks of this model Uberti because it does in fact follow the original Colt design. You have to lose that extra round to be safe but it’s worth it to me in order to have the orignal look and feel.Even the serial numbers are placed in the same position as the old Colts. Many of the companies who make cowboy guns are afraid of lawsuits so they add the transfer bar safety, larger frames and other features.

      • noob

        What’s the name of the manufacturer for that good looking gun leather?

        also, aftermarket grips like Outlaw Grips should be okay to install on this gun right?

        • Phil White

          noob,

          Oh yea you sure can use his grips and he makes some nice ones. http://www.outlawgrips.com/ Any well made grip cut for an original 1873 will fit to a point. I have bought some that needed some sanding to fit the way they should. Any grip from Outlaw will be a perfect fit period.

          Bad news on the leather though. I bought that rig in 1993 in a Mexican market in San Antonio.The fellow looked like he had been in the sun his whole life and appeared to be about 80 years old. His family said he had been making holsters and all kinds of leather gear since he was a young man. He spoke no English so his great grandson had to translate for him. It sure was an interesting conversation even if it was translated.
          The rig was cordovan and had no silver on it. I dyed it black and added the silver myself. I’ve kinda babied this rig and use a brown leather setup for most work. Now there is an Evil Roy brand of holsters and belts that are very nice but also pretty expensive. You might have a look at those.

  • Jim March

    This same gun shows up under various brand names. Taylor’s calls it the “SmokeWagon” or “Running Iron” based on various options. Cimarron calls it the “Evil Roy Special” with some extra hand-tuning stateside at Cimarron’s shop. In all cases it basically translates to “the best gun Uberti can build”.

    Probably the single best source is Longhunter’s Shooting Supply. He’s a gunsmith and dealer who sells pre-hand-tuned-by-him specimens. Last I heard he had the Taylor’s variants.

    As to ammo: think of the 45LC as being in one of four categories:

    * Black powder: suitable for the pre-1895ish Colts or other very weak variants.

    * Cowboy smokeless: up to 14k PSI, suitable in pre-WW2 Colts that are still suitable for smokeless (post-1895ish), various breakopens, cartridge conversions, open-tops, etc. This is also what the SASS/CAS crowd uses in competition. Typical load pushes a 250gr lead round to 800fps or so.

    * Modern smokeless: up to 20k-22k PSI, so you can run a hardcast 255gr at 1,000fps or a 200gr JHP doing 1,100. Suitable for post-WW2 Colts, the Ruger mid-frame series such as the New Vaquero and the solid-top Ubertis and Piettas – esp. the ones made after both re-vamped their factories circa 2000-2001 or so. Buffalo Bore sells loads like this rated specifically OK in modern Ubertis, the Ruger New Vaquero, etc.

    * “Ruger ONLY 45LC+P”: pressures run as high as 33k. Invented before Ruger started making mid-frames in 45LC in 2005. Meant for the 44Magnum-class 45LC guns that Ruger has made since 1972. Ruger heat-treated the 45LC cylinders to the same standards as their 44Mags (unlike S&W practice) which led John Linebaugh to brew up the first of these wild child loads in the early 1980s. Buffalo Bore catalogs a 325gr hardcast rated at over 1,300fps which is the hottest flavor I know of. The stuff specifically says “don’t use in a New Vaquero” which is in the same strength ballpark as the recent Ubertis.

    • Phil White

      Jim,

      That covers it frontwards and back—that information should answer any load question. I appreciate the comment!

      • Jim March

        Thanks.

        It’s a really odd situation because the heavy boomers (up past 30k) were invented *before* the 20k-22k intermediate loads…which is why that class of load isn’t called +P (with the possible exception of the Cor-Bon 45LC personal defense load: 200gr JHP doing 1,100 may well be in the 22k or less range).

        It’s a damned tricky caliber, for sure. And we haven’t even started on the 45Schofield loads! :)

        One more thing: the main reason SASS-legal “cowboy loads” are down around 14k is because there’s a bullet “speed limit” in SASS: the rounds can’t do more than 1,000fps from a -=rifle=-, which means out of a handgun they’re really mouse farts. And then they get loaded even lighter for faster shot-to-shot speed (sigh).

        Anyways. Uberti pioneered the idea of making the cylinders in 45LC just a wee bit fatter than a post-WW2 Colt SAA. Ruger (in the New Vaquero) and USFA copied that idea. It’s not a big enough jump to notice in terms of heft or holster compatibility, but it did bump the available pressure levels into the 22k range safely.

        This is also why these guns can have a second cylinder in 45ACP and run just fine that way at 21k.

        Final thought: if you order these as a 357 the cylinder wall thickness is just amazing. They’re good to 45k (and possibly more) and significantly more bullet energy than they can spit out as 45s.

        • Phil White

          Jim,

          It used to be real simple you want a 45 Colt round you just bought them and shot it no worries about pressures. These days you do have to pay attention and know which brands are loaded up and for which guns. I did shoot some Cor-Bon DPX (in a Vaquero) and I bet it does go above 22K. Here are the stats on the DPX load and Personal Defense load:
          45 Colt Plus P
          Bullet Wt.: 200gr CORBON Self-Defense JHP
          Velocity: 1100fps
          Energy: 537ftlbs
          Test Barrel Length: 4.0 Inches

          DPX
          Bullet Wt.: 225gr DPX
          Velocity: 1200fps
          Energy: 720ftlbs

          The DPX is pretty stout for a load not advertised as limited to heavier frame guns.I wouldn’t feed my Uberti a steady diet of these.

          It is kinda funny when you go to a SASS match and listen to the “pops” as you said. I’m surprised some bullets don’t hang in the barrel when the gun gets dirty:-)

          I haven’t shot the 357 version but I have taken a good look see at one and the cylinder walls are very thick indeed!

  • http://www.debunkers.org/ SPQR

    “Before the advent of Cowboy action competition all the ammunition companies loaded 45 Colt fairly hot for use in the S&W model 25 revolver which is an N frame revolver that can handle higher pressure loads.When Cowboy action competition started and really took off the ammunition companies backed way off on the loads they sold for the 45 Colt chambering since the single action clones and original Colts couldn’t handle the hotter loads without the possibility of damage or a failure of the gun.

    I do not believe that this is correct. SAAMI standards for .45 Colt have not changed in terms of pressure. .45 Colt “+P” loads have always been so marked and were not available from the major ammo manufacturers at all prior to the SASS era to my knowledge.

    I would greatly appreciate a reference to the idea that ammunition manufacturers were loading .45 Colt above SAAMI without marking it “+P” if I am indeed wrong.

    • Phil White

      SPQR,

      The reason the ammunition companies backed off on the loading of the 45 Colt was a fear of lawsuits from those who were shooting original Colts with modern ammunition. Were talking about early Colts not recently manufactured guns. Try shooting a modern load in an old black powder Colt and you’ll have a very bad day.
      I don’t believe I said the ammunition companies were marketing ammunition above SAAMI. No ammo company would intentionally do that.Some will load them right up to the maximum though for use in revolvers like the Freedom Arms revolver.

      As far as a direct print reference I don’t have one available. The information on reduced factory loads came from an ammo company rep.

      A good reference is a book by Elmer Keith called “Sixguns”. He covers loads he developed for Colts, S&W’s etc. There is also a great deal of information on single actions in general.

      • http://www.debunkers.org/ SPQR

        I have Elmer Keith’s “Sixguns”. And while its general knowledge that the early frames ( some do call them “black powder” frames but the error is often made describing them by how the cylinder pin is secured when serial number is the correct method) were not entirely safe with smokeless SAAMI loads, I am still not of the opinion that ammunition makers were loading .45 Colt hotter during the era you mention.

        By the way, “Cowboy loads” are low velocity lead bulleted loads. Notf for fear of damaging weak guns but because SASS rules require low velocity lead bullet loads as they shoot steel targets.

        • Phil White

          SPQR,

          I know the loads are to conform to the SASS rules. Yes the targets are at very close range and a lead round like these are a must for safety. Again the information was passed along in a conversation with an ammo company rep.The conversation started with a pet peeve of people referring to the 45 Colt as a 45 Long Colt and went into loadings for this round. Could he have been wrong? Of course but I don’t think he was.

          My reloading manual even has two sections for reloading the 45 Colt. I imagine you know about this as well. The section on 1873 replica loads tend to be very mild and very close to the SASS loads. There are so many types of single actions still around these companies want to play it safe.

          I was talking with someone at Alliant about a good fairly potent load using Power Pistol gun powder. Bottom line the load he gave me was no where near stout it was closer to a Cowboy load.

          The only thing I want to make sure of is people use standard loads in whichever replica 1873 they own and stay away from the heavier loads made for entirely different guns.

  • http://krites.blogpot.com nk

    Forgive me. I do not agree with CAS loads. If the Uberti cannot handle standard, (for a really, really long time) factory .45 loads, I will take a Ruger (or a real Colt when I sell my house ;) ).

    • Jim March

      You are correct – you can push this class of Uberti as high as 22k.

      SAAMI falls apart here. The 20-22k loads aren’t called +p because the really major boomers pre-date the intermediate class 20-22k loads.

      Cor-Bon does seem to call some of their intermediate loads +p.

    • Phil White

      nk,

      Oh they will handle standard loads without any problems. It’s the loads made for the larger framed hunting revolvers you have to stay away from. The loads for 1873′s are marked as “Cowboy Loads” so there’s no misunderstanding which guns the ammunition is made for. The Uberti will handle some fairly stout hand loads but I wouldn’t abuse the gun with a steady diet of them. As Jim March was saying 22K is an acceptable loading for the Uberti.

      • http://www.debunkers.org/ SPQR

        “Cowboy loads” are loads made to conform to SASS rules regarding low velocity lead bullet loads. This is not to accomodate weak guns but for safety reasons because SASS matches use steel targets at relatively close range.

  • C3P0

    Gun reviews do end up sounding like shill pieces. Some of them are. The greater truth is that most of the guns are better than us as shooters(or at least me).
    They’re more reliable and more accurate. Modern steel and glass-filled polymer are tougher and longer lived than the shooters when properly cleaned and maintained. This doesn’t mean that the shooter shouldn’t wash themselves.
    There are lemons, there are bad designs. bad designs aren’t shipped to gun media and when they are, that media and the market punishes that design and the gun is soon taken off the market. See the Walther SP22 series. Even Guns and Ammo, which has figured out every single way to spin a positive article trashed it in their 22LR pistol comparison. guess what came out tops? Buckmark and Ruger 22/45. The market loves these as much as reviewers. because they’re great. So is the Uberti.

    Please don’t take this as a defense of Phil White, he can swing his own stick, but guys (and gals) who spend their time writing about guns *like guns*. It should be no surprise that they take the time to write reviews of guns they expect they will like more than average. Who could blame them for spending their day doing something they enjoy and attempting to maximize that enjoyment? Kudos to the gunwriter for finding their bliss. We as the readership should maintain our vigilant skepticism (vis a vis cynicism) to be aware of and, when necessary, to defend ourselves from this kind of confirmation bias – both our own and the gunwriter’s.

    • Phil White

      C3P0,

      Excellent comment sir!

  • Jhooper

    Hello Phil,

    I enjoyed your review of the Uberti El Patron, especially the extra detail
    that goes into building this model. I just bought the blued version with a 5 1/2 in barrel in 357 mag. Am looking forward to taking it to the range. I bought the 357 mag rather than the 45 colt because I intend to shoot standard 357 magnum ammo (American Eagle, Magtech and Blazer) in addition to 38 spl. I have a Ruger Blackhawk and GP-100 for the “Heavy” 357 magnum ammo.
    Jhooper

    • Phil White

      Jhooper,

      Thanks I appreciate you saying that. It’s always good to know when a reader gets good information from a review! Good decision on your part getting it in 357 since you have other guns in that caliber. Unless you reload 45 Colt rounds are almost $40 per fifty round box.

  • JE Stuart

    I disagree with your comments on the .45 Colt Factory loads being loaded to higher pressure / hot for the S&W 25-5 N Frame Revolver. Factories have never loaded .45 Colt ammo hot for this gun, or the New Service, or SAA. The thin cylinder walls, small space between the chamber and cylinder stop notches of the S&W 45 Colt N Frame was the reason why Elmer Keith went with the .44 Special when working up high pressure / hot loads, there was more support / strength in the .44′s thicker cylinders. Load manual’s today offer two different sets of data for the .45 Colt, the standard pressure for the previously mentioned guns, and data for the Ruger Blackhawk. You may have 30 years experience, but I’ve known plenty of people that have been doing things wrong for thirty years. Check your facts.