"THE SCHOFIELDS ARE HERE!"
By: Tuolumne Lawman, SASS# 6127
This article was first published
in the June '96 issue of the Cowboy Chronicle, the publication
of the Single Action Shooting Society.
Copyright ©: Tuolomne Lawman
& Cowboy Chronicle
I think that it is safe to say that there
was less excitement and anticipation prior to the original
Schofield's adoption by the US Cavalry in 1875, than there
is today with Single Action Shooters eagerly waiting for
the long promised replicas to finally appear!
The original Schofield was a redesigned
Smith and Wesson 44 caliber No. 3 , chambered for a more
powerful shortened version of the 45 Colt cartridge. It
was designed by Maj. George W. Schofield in about 1874,
and adopted by the Small Arms Board (of which Schofield's
brother, General John M. Schofield, was president). Its
top break design made it much easier to reload on horseback,
and quicker to reload overall. Though its career with
the Army only lasted about eight or ten years, it went
on to be used by Wells Fargo Agents, and such notable
westerners as Jesse James, Cole Younger, and Lawman Bill
The current Schofields now being
manufactured by Uberti in Italy are now being imported
by Navy Arms, Cimarron Arms and Uberti themselves. Learning
from the untimely demise of the original due to its "short
45" cartridge, these guns are being produced in .45 Colt,
44 WCF (44-40), and soon from Cimarron alone, 44 Russian/44
Special. They come in a blue finish with color case hardened
accents on the latch, hammer, and trigger guard. They
offer it in two barrel lengths: a 7" military configuration
and a 5" Wells Fargo model.
Well I'm here to tell you "Yes Virginia,
there are Schofields out there!" I know, because I just
got mine! No longer do you have to be one of a "well connected
few" or a gun writer to get one. I'm certainly not "well
connected", and I'm not really a gun writer. It just takes
a little patience. I ordered mine less than 9 months ago,
and I got it just before Christmas. I know of other dealers
who have also started to get them in, and in talking to
Navy Arms and Cimarron, they both say that they are starting
to catch up.
It was certainly worth the wait!
I was like a little kid on Christmas eve when I found
out I could pick up the Schofield the next day. (Not very
dignified for a 43 year old guy!) Mine's a 7 inch barreled
44-40. It is beautiful. The fit and finish is outstanding
with deep rich blue and gorgeous case hardening. The oil
treated walnut stocks duplicate the originals right down
to the inspector's cartouches and dates. The action is
smooth and crisp, with virtually no creep. Even the box
is great, roughly approximating an original Smith and
Wesson box to include the instructions printed on the
inside of the cover.
The next question is "Sure it's
pretty, but can it shoot?" The answer is "Boy Howdy, YES!"
I've put about 250 rounds of 44-40 through my Schofield.
Most of it was from "Deputy Dodge" and "Rim Country Rose"
at COMBAT CARTRIDGE Inc. in Overgaard, AZ. Their SASS
load has a 200 grn flat point, hard cast bullet that has
proved excellent in my other 44-40s. Their ammo even shot
better in my Schofield. I also used some Winchester 200
grain Soft Point factory ammo that I had on hand.
In one session with the Schofield,
shooting the Combat Cartridge load, I leaned across an
old milk crate and shot at a standard 3" bullseye on a
50 foot slow fire pistol target at 15 yards. The resulting
group was 1 1/4 " all in the black. Even with the one
"called flyer" the group was only 1 7/8"! Trust me, I'm
not that good of a bullseye shooter.
The rear sight is part of the latch assembly,
and consists of a wide "V" with a smaller "U" at the bottom.
I held the front sight even with the top of the wide "V",
in a six o'clock position on the three inch bullseye.
All hits were in the black with the cast ammo. The Winchester
factory ammo also basically hit at point of aim. Using
the wide "V" made for very quick target acquisition. No
sight adjustment or "Kentucky Windage" was necessary.
One of the things that I liked best about
the Schofield is the way it pointed and shot. I shoot
the original "Duelist Style", and the Schofield is a natural!
Shot after shot it was right on the money. No can, ammo
box, or dirt clod at the range was safe. I literally didn't
miss a shot! I had so much fun shooting the Schofield,
that it should have been a sin or at least illegal. Another
thing I like about the Schofield is the ease and speed
of reloading. With its top break action, reloading it
is a dream compared to reloading the old Colt "smokewagon".
Granted, I've always had a fondness
for top break revolvers, having owed various Webleys,
Enfields, H&Rs, and Iver Johnsons. But as far as I'm
concerned, the Schofield is the King. While I'm not going
to retire my Cimarron "New Thunderer" in 44-40, The Schofield
is definitely going to figure prominently in future matches.
For those of us that can't afford or find an original
S&W Russian, No. 3, or Schofield, this is the answer
to a prayer.