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Allen Fire Arms' "Short" Confederate.

When it comes to percussion handguns, few designs are as aesthetically appealing as that of the 1851 Navy Colt revolver. This classic sixgun combines balance, shootability and graceful, yet businesslike lines to make what many shooters consider as the ultimate percussion six-shooter. Because of this handgun's popularity, several variations of it, featuring different calibers, varying barrel lengths and other departures from the standard design of this arm, have been offered to the modern-day muzzle-loading pistoleer. Allen Fire Arms, who makes some of the finest black powder replicas available today (percussion and metallic cartridge types), offers an interesting departure from the classic Navy design.

In overall appearance, the revolver is not that unusual; however, the differences are such that the gun definitely has a look of its own, without losing the '51 Navy Colt's classic looks. Called the "1851 Navy Griswold Confederate Short," this brass-framed, Civil War-era Rebel copy cap-and-ball six-gun sports a 5-inch barrel, rather than the 7-1/2-inch tube of the original, and is in .44 caliber. (Original Griswold & Gunnison confederate revolvers were made in .36 caliber.) Like the 1860s version, this "Confederate" has the traditional round barrel and the non-engraved cylinder, both of which are finished in a deep, smooth blue/black. The gun's brass frame is nicely polished, and the loading lever assembly and hammer are color case-hardened. The one-piece European walnut stock is well-shaped and is richly colored reddish-brown. The barrel wedge, trigger and all screws are blued. Overall, this is a handsome revolver. It is also well balanced and easy handling. It is furnished with typical sights of the arm's period: A simple brass conical bead is used as the front sight, and a "V" notch cut into the hammer serves as the rear sight. Incidentally, this handgun is the product of A. Uberti & Co., a highly shooting fun at the Petersen Ranch, I, along with my Swiss amigo, Walter Amrein, gave this "forty-four" a good workout. Because this handgun is made with a brass frame, we used a load of 25 grains of FFFg black powder (I generally prefer a 30-grain charge of FFFg black powder in a .44 caliber percussion revolver), .454-sized Speer swaged round balls, Ox-Yoke Originals Wonder Wads, and Remington No. 11 percussion caps. Brass-framed revolvers have a tendency to loosen up if exposed to prolonged shooting with heavy loads; however, the 25-grain charge is certainly powerful enough for any practical shooting one might subject a percussion revolver of this sort to. During our shooting session, both Walter and I found that this "Short Confederate" shot about 9 to 10 inches high at 15 yards, and about a foot high at 25 yards. However, groups averaging about 4 to 6 inches resulted when we both test fired this revolver on paper at 15 yards, using a two-hand, offhand hold. At 25 yards, groups hovered around the 8-inch mark. While obviously not tack-driving accuracy, these are the sort of results one could expect from this type of arm. Walter scored the best group of the day when he punched five shots in a 1-1/2-inch cluster at the 15-yard target. A sixth shot, a called flyer, opened this tightly packed grouping up to about 3-3/8 inches--still darned good shooting for both man and gun!

The revolver's action is smooth and reliable, with a crisp trigger pull of about 4 to 5 pounds. Even though this abbreviated pistol only weighs about 2 pounds, 7 ounces, it hefts comfortably and absorbs its .44 caliber recoil nicely. One drawback to this short-barrelled wheelgun is the loading lever. Due to its smaller size (there are only 2 inches of grasping area), seating the projectiles can be somewhat of a problem. It is difficult to grasph the lever and apply enough force to properly compress the load. This was solved during our excursion to the Petersen Ranch by improvising an extension to the plunger. With this extension in use, loading was a cinch. Disassembly of the revolver posed no problems and cleaning the arm was easily accomplished as with an black powder six-shooter.

Retailing for around $199, this snubnosed caplock sixgun is reminiscent of those handguns used during the turbulent years of the frontier, where a powerful, yet concealable revolver was considered part of a "gentleman's" standard attire. Today, this muzzle-loader might be just the ticket for a backpacker who enjoys trekking into the back country for a little enjoyable black powder plinking, or anyone who wants to tote around a muzzle-loading pistol but prefers a shorter barrel and the lighter weight offered by Allen Fire Arms' "Short Confederate." Whatever your reason, you'll find that this replica sixgun is worth tucking inside your frock coat or packin' on your side. It's a good shootin' sixgun.

For more information on this, or any of Allen's line of quality black powder replicas, send $4 to receive their full color catalog and price list to: Allen Fire Arms, 2879 All Trades Road, Dept. GA, Santa Fe, NM 87501.
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Title Annotation:evaluation
Author:Spangenberger, Phil
Publication:Guns & Ammo
Date:Dec 1, 1985
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