As mentioned in an earlier post about an AWA SAA clone I'd come across and was tempted to buy, despite it's rather steep price of $500, I've been looking for a decent SAA revolver in my favorite pistol round, the .44 S&W Special, for years.
That AWA was the first one I'd come across for sale in many of those years, but I balked at the price.
Inquiring in this forum, the consensus seemed to be that although the AWA "Peacekeeper" (no longer produced due to litigation from Colt) is a good piece, it is still an Italian repro and an equivalent revolver may be had new for significantly less. Heeding that advice, I passed on it.
Last Saturday, one of my Pards invited me to accompany him and a couple other shootist buddies up to the Waterville Gun Show.
Perusing all the neat "stuff", I kept an eye out for single actions. Most of them were Rugers or collector's pieces, well out of my budget and none in .44 Spl.
At length a couple of hoglegs were detected on a Dealer's table. It just so happens that I know the chap, and had bought an FN-49 from him several years before.
Upon inquiry, lo and behold: one of them was indeed one of the rare .44 Specials; one of the early Uberti brass-handled "Dakotas", essentially like new, that has allegedly been fired a few times and then relegated to a safe for around 25 years. Although I sort of favored the 5 1/2" tube, this one has the long "Army" 7 1/2 - which I can live with.
He would come down from $365 to $325, but that's as far as he'd go.
But since I had managed to sell my CETME, I had some capital to "invest", and since a .44 Spl does not come along all that often - especially when I have some "gun money" burning a hole in my pocket - I pulled out my greenbacks, made out the BATFE form, and walked out with my new .44.
Yeah; I know that the brass grip frame and trigger guard are farby as all heck.... but I like 'em.
I think they're right purty, akcthully.
The fact that this iron has not been used much is obvious; the cylinder turns stiffly, the loading gate opens and closes the same; an indication of tight tolerances and a need to break in.
The action "speaks" well; on the last or "T-click" on cocking the 3-clicks in one of the sear, bolt, and hand engaging occur simultaneously enough so that the 3 are essentially heard as one click; on the AWA there was a microsecond of separation between the last two. The simultaneous engagement suggests pretty decent timing as is.
The lockup is tight, and although I have yet to find my shim gauges, the cylinder gap is minimal. Any tighter, I opine, and the revolver might lock up as the heat from firing expanded the cylinder.
The "Jaeger" stamp is on the top of the barrel:
...and "EMF" on the bottom, along with a few Italian proofmarks here and there on the cylinder (which seems like a funny place to put them - but at least they're small).
Some appointments in the vicinity of our former residence took me near the range I still belong to (for the rest of the year anyway) so I had dug up some ammo and swung by after all was said and done to testfire my new acquisition.
As a benchmark for accuracy, I used factory R-P lead RN ammo.
The rounds dropped into the chambers effortlessly, and I remembered how I load my .22 Frontier Scout;
One; skip; 2 - thru - 4; carefully cock and let down on the empty chamber.
The Dakota spoke with certain authority, and snaps up and to the left with a sharp recoil. Not unpleasant, although it did give my middle finger a bit of a beating with the rear of the trigger bow. Nothing I didn't get used to with my Ruger Super Blackhawk .44 Mag though, to be sure.
Rifling looks a little shallow to me - but it seems to do the trick with both lead and jacketed bullets just the same.
This Dakota .44 surely has potential; I managed to keep 'em all on the backboard - and most of them on the paper at 25 yards offhand, and several of the rounds actually found the black.
Since my scanner is on the fritz, I took a pic of the targets I brought home:
I found that to avoid flyers to the left, I have to keep my thumb firmly rested behind the recoil shield alongside the hammer. And to keep them from going too low, not to put much if any grip pressure on with the pinky finger - much like the M-1911A1 grip.
The trigger is bloody awful; it's long, hard, rough, creepy, and inconsistent.
The triggers on my stock SKSs aren't much if any worse - and if you have an SKS you'll know what that's all about.
I have to drag the trigger back kicking and screaming all the way while trying to keep the sights aligned and on target at the same time - a challenge to be sure.
I'll have to open it up and tweak it with a fine Washita stone like I did once with my cap-n'-ball revolver some years ago. I can't imagine that the guts would be all that different.
Then again, with this trigger I might have to grind it some just to get it in close proximity of where it's supposed to be.
Does anyone know of a site with tune-up tips for SA revolvers, just to refresh my memory?
This .44 surely has lots of potential, once I get it slicked up and tuned properly.
Reckon I'll have to dig up the loading dies, set up the bench, and start cranking out some more .44 Specials!