BOUNTY HUNTERS: CLASSIC COWBOY GUNS.
Cactus Tubbs, a.k.a Butch Glenn, is a working police officer who carries a semi-automatic in his normal duties. When it comes to Cowboy Shooting, however, he opts for a .44 Special Italian replica single action revolver.
His sixguns were beautifully finished but all was not well in cowboy shooting land. His main sixgun was spending more time in the shop than on the range.
The culprit was a poorly made hand that had broken several times. Italian sixgun parts seem to be made of softer steel than Colt and Ruger single actions. Anyone who has ever filed on the front sight of both a Ruger and a replica will surely attest to this.
The local gun shop was standing by the Italian sixgun and continually fixing it but another solution was needed. Cactus finally decided to replace his revolver, out me new sixgun had to be traditional in looks and feel, had to fire .44 Specials, and be reasonably priced. The answer was found not in Italy but in Germany.
As so often happens, the sixgun of choice, a Bounty Hunter chambered in .44 Mag. and imported by European American Armory, arrived the afternoon before the monthly cowboy shoot. Cactus showed up at the range on Saturday with his virgin .44. Luckily he found he had that rare fixed-sighted sixgun that shot to point-of-aim out of the box. Sometimes everything really does come together. Cactus is now a single action fan German style.
The Single Action Bounty Hunter is made at the Weihrauch factory in Bavaria. The Weihrauch family was forced to flee East Germany when the Russians erected the wall. They left both factory and home to come to the west and start all over again.
Now the second generation of Weihrauchs are producing single action sixguns. The old Weihrauch plant in what was formerly East Germany is now an abandoned building, standing as the perfect monument to the failure of Communism.
The Bounty Hunter, as produced by Weihrauch and imported by EAA, is a traditionally styled single action sixgun with a sight set-up consisting of a "hog wallow" through the top of the frame and a blade front sight This set-up is better than that found on the Colt Single Action Army as it affords a square sight picture.
As one of the modern styled single actions, the Bounty Hunter is safe to carry with six shots. An agreement with Ruger allows the use of a transfer bar safety, although this sixgun maintains the typical Colt and Old Model Ruger style half-cock loading/unloading notch. (Colt Single Actions, all Ruger Single Actions and early replicas of Colt Single Actions must always be carried with an empty chamber under the hammer to prevent firing if the hammer is impacted.)
A Cowboy In Deutschland
I toured the Weihrauch plant several years ago. While I was in Mellrichstadt, arrangements were made to build a special German single action sixgun. An order was placed with the Weihrauch factory for a Bounty Hunter in the original single action caliber, .45 Colt, with an all-blue finish, an easy packin' 5 1/2" barrel, and one-piece walnut stocks. Hans Weihrauch suggested the special serial number JOHN 001 to commemorate my trip to Germany.
The 5 1/2" .45 Colt Bounty Hunter weighs in at 2 lbs., 7 ozs. and since it is built on a .44 Mag. frame, it is much stronger than a Colt Single Action. In some measurements it's larger than the Ruger Vaquero.
In addition to a .44 Mag. cylinder and frame, the Bounty Hunter has a Colt-style top strap but it is much thicker and heavier. Case heads are recessed in a large cylinder that locks up very tightly.
Current Bounty Hunters are chambered in .357 Mag., .44 Mag. and .45 Colt, with barrel lengths of either 4 3/4" or 7 1/2"; original 5 1/2" barrels are no longer offered. Finishes are nickel or blue with a case colored frame. One piece walnut stocks, which can run from plain to very fancy with lots of figure, are standard. Ivory polymer is available as an option. The Bounty Hunter is an exceptionally sturdy sixgun that sells for a most attractive price.
My current stable of Bounty Hunter sixguns, all chambered in .45 Colt, consists of two 4 3/4" models, one in nickel finish, the other blued with a case colored frame, and a 7 1/2" sixgun. The long-barreled gun came through with beautifully figured walnut stocks and was close enough to point-of-aim that nothing was required to bring it dead on for cowboy shooting.
Both the blue and nickel 4 3/4" revolvers shoot several inches to the right and the barrels will have to be tweaked to the right and the front sight filed to bring the 250 grain .45 bullet's impact up and over to point-of-aim.
All three sixguns proved to be exceptionally accurate with most loads tested. With my standard traditional cowboy shooting .45 Colt load of 8.0 grs. of Unique and a 250 gr. RNFP bullet (in this case one from Oregon Trail) all three sixguns shot into 1 1/2" or less at a cowboy shooting distance of 50 feet.
Muzzle velocities for this load are over 925 fps for the 7 1/2" sixguns, and right at 900 fps for the two shorter barreled sixguns. Five factory loads were also used in all three sixguns with the complete results in the accompanying table.
Leather for the Bounty Hunter is easy to come up with, as any holster made for the Ruger Vaquero will fit. I have been using Bianchi's 1880 Cheyenne for the short barreled sixguns and Greasewood's full flower carved double Mexican loop for the 7 1/2" Bounty Hunter.
The latter is an exceptionally beautiful piece of work and is carried on a folded-over money belt of chap leather that is most comfortable to carry all day during a cowboy shooting match. Greasewood's Dudley Lewis is a cowboy shooter and single action lover and surely understands what good leather is.
Bianchi's 1880 Cheyenne is a rendition of John Wayne's rig worn in so many great Western movies and affords great service with single action sixguns.
Scatterguns Of The West
Cowboy shooters have had no difficulty finding great sixguns and leverguns as well as great leather and clothes for the sport. In fact the only difficulty has been that of choice as there are so many offerings.
Not so when it comes to shotguns. Most of us have bad to search gun shops and gun shows to find usable and affordable double barreled shotguns or original Winchester Model 97 pump action scatterguns.
Now thanks once again to EAA, quality shotguns that are both reasonably priced and traditional in style and looks are available to cowboy shooters. Bounty Hunter II is the name given to EAA's Russian-made side-by-side shotguns.
Available in several barrel lengths of 19", 24', 26" and 28", these shotguns are well adapted to cowboy shooting as well as for use by the hunter with a bent to the traditional. Chamberings offered are 12, 20, 28 and .410.
For the past month I have been testing two Bounty Hunter II shotguns, both with 19" barrels and both in 12 gauge. One is a modern style double barrel with concealed hammers while the other is a cowboy shooting cocking hammer shotgun. That is, the latter has exposed hammers that must be cocked before the Bounty Hunter will fire.
In the past this style of double barreled shotgun, usually referred to as a "coach gun," has been available but at just about the time that cowboy shooting really began to take off across the country, the supply of cowboy-style shotguns dried up. The problem with these shotguns was that the cocking of the hammers revealed firing pins that would allow the shotgun to fire if struck by some. thing other than the cocked hammer.
EAA has changed all of this with their shotgun. Both the exposed hammer version and the hammer-less version have a sliding safety on the tang that engages automatically when the shotgun is closed. This must be pushed off before the triggers of the Bounty Hunter can be pulled and the shotgun fired.
In addition, the hammers must be cocked before the shotgun can be fired even though the tang safety is in operation. The firing pins that appear on the outside are dummies for looks only and this traditional-looking shotgun is modern in that it will not fire unless the hammers are cocked and the safety is disengaged. Nothing can be made idiot proof but this design comes as possible.
The Bounty Hunter II cocking hammer style has nicely figured wood and an embossed scene of a cowboy riding a bull on both side plates. The hammer-less version has plain wood and a duck hunting scene engraved on both side-plates. The latter also comes equipped with sling swivels for easy carrying.
I found both shotguns easy to use although the hammerless model is a little stiff and hard to open, while the cocking hammer version opens very smoothly for the quick loading and reloading needed in matches. Cowboy shooters will especially welcome this version. In fact, if a shooter can hold and use one of these guns without getting the urge to ride shotgun on the morning stage, then he has simply not been paying attention.
Shotguns, like sixguns, also deserve good leather. For use with the 12 gauge Bounty Hunter II I have been using a Shot Shell Belt from TJ's Treasures. This belt fits around the waist, above the holster belt, and carries a full complement of shells that can be easily pushed up and removed two at a time for the quickest loading of a double barreled shotgun.
PERFORMANCE TEST EAA Bounty Hunter .45 Colt 7 1/2" bbl 4 3/4" bbl Ammo Velocity Accuracy Velocity Accuracy Black Hills Cowboy 744 fps 1 1/2" 714 fps 1 3/4" Federal 225 gr. LSWGHP 847 fps 1 3/8" 790 fps 1" Hornady Cowboy 753 fps 2" 710 fps 3 1/2" Winchester Cowboy 675 fps 1 3/4" 656 fps 2 3/4" 3-D Cowboy 700 fps 1 1/8" 672 fps 1 1/8" Accuracy is the result of three five-shot groups fired from a bench rest at 25 yards.
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|Date:||Sep 1, 1999|
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