I’ve always been fond of the old “Peacemaker”. I imagine anyone who grew up in the 1950’s and 1960’s watching all of the westerns on TV and at the movies have a real love for them. The old 1873 also reminds me of a simpler time when the good guy always won and evil was vanquished by the end of the show or movie.
We all know there has been a real resurgence of interest in old west guns in general with the phenomenal growth of Cowboy action shooting through the SASS (single action shooting society). After a long hiatus we also had a renewed interest in Cowboy movies such as Silverado, Tombstone and Wyatt Earp to name a few.
During the time of this resurgence a number of companies were making clones of the 1873. As time went on there were many companies making the 1873. This year Traditions came out with their line of 1873 revolvers. Pietta in Italy makes these for Traditions. In fact there are probably more 1873 clones made in Italy than anywhere else.
Since the Traditions 1873 is a brand new product for them I wanted to review one and see how they stack up against other brands I’ve owned or shot.
The Traditions come in two models the Frontier series and Rawhide series. The Frontier is the deluxe model with several finishes and barrel lengths. The Rawhide is the value model that is available in matte blue with a choice of barrel lengths. The calibers options are 45 Colt, 357 magnum and 44 magnum. Barrels range from 4.75 inches, 5.5 inches and 7.5 inches. The actual average store price is roughly $465.00 for the loaded Frontier model. Available finishes for the Frontier are color case hardened, Nickel and blued. Traditions give the prospective buyer a good number of options to choose from.
For this review I chose the Frontier with a 4.75 inch barrel, nickel finish and white PVC grips. As always when it arrived I gave it the once over, checked the mechanical function and lubed the revolver with Fire Clean. The nickel finish is very uniform and well done. There are times I’ve seen nickel finishes that have a few spots that not uniform and show a few areas of finish closer to a matte than polished nickel. Not so with the Traditions the nickel was the same shiny finish all over the revolver.
Another consideration, in fact the most important, is the timing on the revolver. There’s nothing quiet as aggravating as a revolver with the timing off and small bits of lead being trimmed off and causing uneven wear of the forcing cone. Not to worry this time the timing was right on the money. As I pulled the hammer back the cylinder locked just as the hammer locked into place. The cylinder was a snug fit with no play.
I had really nice weather that day so I grabbed my leather and a 100 rounds of my hand loads. My load is a 250 grain Keith semi-wadcutter over ?? grains of Alliant Power Pistol and large CCI primers. This load clocks in just under 900 FPS. Sorry I can’t be responsible for someone using my load in an older Colt and blowing themselves and a valuable old gun to pieces. I can’t in good conscious list the powder charge.
I fired a couple of six round cylinders full to get acquainted with this new revolver. The front sight was a bit off shooting two inches left so I used my small cylinder of very soft lead and tapped the front sight zeroing it without any trouble. By the way you can load six rounds since the Frontier has a transfer bar safety so the sixth round under the hammer is perfectly safe.
I started out at ten yards and moved back to twenty yards. I was very satisfied with my groups and the accuracy the Frontier displayed. I’d say the overall group average was about two inches or a hair over. I consider that more than acceptable for an 1873 clone.
One thing that surprised me was how good the trigger is. There’s very little takeup with a nice break. Trigger pull is right at three pounds. I own a Uberti “El Patron” that comes out of the custom shop. It has a hand-tuned action. This rather inexpensive revolver has a trigger that isn’t that far off the Uberti. I really expected a mediocre trigger pull. I have heard the factory gunsmiths smooth the trigger up before any of the Frontier series leaves the factory. I can’t verify this 100% so take it for what it’s worth.
Normally I list the specs for each gun but the specs are not available on the Traditions website. I’ve since shot another 200 rounds of my loads as well as Magtech Cowboy loads and Winchester Silver Tips. All held good groups. My handloads performed the best but I’ve had a lot of time to work up 45 Colt loads for the single action.
At this price, workmanship and finish I think this is a good buy. I understand they will be coming out with the traditional hammer with firing pin. That means you need to go back to loading five rounds.
I plan on buying one of these with color case hardened finish, which will match my Uberti. My leather rig has a right-handed holster and a cross draw holster. This way I can have a matching set.
I’m sure that most everyone who tries one will like it and be more than satisfied with the performance.