It’s not often that a classic is improved. However, when the stars align, and you have a company focused on quality, anything is possible. Such is the case with the Single Action Revolver offered by Standard Manufacturing.
I first became aware of Standard Manufacturing when I saw one of its Single Action Revolvers in a local gun shop. It had been special ordered and engraved. The customer was going to have it fitted for ivory stocks, and it was one of the more impressive looking single-action revolvers that I had seen in a while.
Immediately, I thought that this was what became of the machinery and parts of the former company known as U.S. Fire Arms (USFA). Both companies are, or in USFA’s case was, located in Connecticut. The similarities end there, though.
“Our guns are made on better machinery and use better materials than (USFA) used.” I was informed by Lou Frutuoso, who runs things at Standard/Connecticut Shotgun. The company is otherwise known as Connecticut Shotgun, which explains the exquisite craftsmanship and attention to detail paid to these revolvers. Eventually, while reviewing another revolver made by the company, the good folks at Standard Manufacturing decided to ship me a Single Action Revolver.
What’s in the box?
If you were expecting a Pelican Case or typical plastic foam-lined affair, think again. The Standard Manufacturing Single Action Revolver ships in a sturdy two-piece vintage-style cardboard box lined with foam.
It comes with an instruction manual and a soft bag with Standard’s logo on it in which to store the revolver. Also included is a silicone gun cloth for giving the revolver a good rub down after handling or cleaning.
The sample I received was a case-hardened Gunfighter-length Single Action Revolver chambered in .45 Colt. With beautiful case hardening, walnut grip panels, and fire-blued screws; this was no ordinary single-action revolver.
Features and Construction
The steel itself is a tool grade of 4140. This is one of the most common, and frankly one of the best steels, for manufacturing firearms. The steel is tough, durable, and it takes finishes such as gun bluing as well as case hardening well.
A Gunfighter-length barrel means the barrel is 4.75 inches long and is perfectly even with the end of the ejector rod housing. This is about the ideal length for my own purposes. However, Standard Manufacturing offers the revolver in 5.5- and 7.5-inch barrel lengths as well.
The case hardening is beautiful and vibrant enough that you can almost see fire and flames in the frame. The golds, blues, blacks, and bronze reflects throughout the top strap, hammer, and sides of the frame like something a true 19th century artisan would craft at the top of his game.
The barrel, cylinder, and grip frame are finished in a nice blue/black, as is the ejector rod housing. The handle of the ejector rod has the same fire bluing as the trigger and every other screw in the frame.
Speaking of screws, once I got over the initial shock of how beautiful this revolver was, I noticed the slots in all three of the screws in the left-side of the frame were all perfectly aligned horizontally. A small touch, but spectacular, nonetheless.
The trigger was extremely smooth and crisp, and broke at a clean and easy 2.5 pounds. At this point there was not a bad thing I could say about the fit and finish of this piece. That is, until I got to the grips.
The grips felt fine and looked great; my issue was that they were panels attached by a screw and escutcheon. A revolver like this deserves a true one-piece grip. Maybe the intent is for the customer to add that final custom touch with an expensive set of ivory stocks, or some other exotic material, but I’m sure the craftsmen who build these revolvers at Standard Manufacturing are up to the task of custom grip work.
There is no transfer bar-type safety in this revolver. Many modern clones and copies of the Colt Single Action Army utilize a transfer bar to prevent the gun from firing if it is accidentally dropped or struck. It goes without saying that because of this, the shooter should only carry five rounds in the revolver with the hammer resting on an empty chamber.
To safely load five live rounds, it is advised to load one round through the loading gate, skip the next chamber in the cylinder, load the remaining 4 rounds and when the hammer is lowered, it will be on the empty chamber.
At the Range
You can have the most beautiful revolver in the world, but it’s little more than an expensive paperweight if it isn’t accurate.
We may be in the midst of an ammunition crunch, but I always have a good supply of .45 Colt on hand. I chose a few hundred rounds of Aguila .45 Colt loaded with a 200-grain lead semi-wadcutter Cowboy Load.
This is sometimes referred to as .45 Long Colt, and it should be said that revolvers such as this are capable of firing any load within SAAMI (Small Arms Ammunition Manufacturing Institute) specifications.
The Colt Single Action Army revolver is not a dainty or delicate handgun capable of only meek powder-puff loads. While it is true that there are some magnum level loads with regard to velocity, and higher pressures that are referred to as “Ruger or TC Contender Only,” +P indicating that the pressure is higher — anything else within SAMMI specifications including Winchester Silvertips or other defensive ammunition are perfectly safe for a single-action revolver such as this.
At 50-feet, I set up some silhouette targets and went to work.
Initially, the rounds were striking lower than I intended. I adjusted my point of aim slightly to bring up the hits. When I figured out where I was hitting, it was easy to shoot a 2.5-inch pattern consistently. I shoot single-actions one-handed. I readily admit that I could get better accuracy if I were to use a traditional two-handed hold like I would with a double-action revolver or semi-auto pistol. Some habits, I just can’t seem to break, however.
Recoil is the same as most other single-action revolvers chambered in .45 Colt. A nice and gentle push with an audible thump! when it hits something solid.
Aside from perhaps a trigger and action job, the only accessories you really need for a revolver such as this are a good holster and a set of proper, hollow-ground Grace screwdrivers to perform maintenance.
This revolver will fit in any holster made for the Colt Single Action Army revolver. That is an almost 150-year legacy of leather holsters in the supply chain.
The Standard Manufacturing Single Action Revolver is a one-to-one homage to the classic Colt Single Action Army Revolver of 1873. If a shooter were to travel back in time to the late 19th century, he would not find himself out of place with a revolver such as this worn on his hip — apart from being the envy of his new set of peers.
It is superior in every way that matters to the original and leaves just about every other clone in second place. The attention to detail expressed in the final fit and finish of these revolvers is better than many custom-worked revolvers of the same type.
The price reflects this as these revolvers are not cheap, but they are in line with just about every other higher-end handgun on the market today. It can be considered a bargain — at just a few hundred dollars more than a Colt Single Action — when one considers that custom or even semi-custom 1911 pistols cost much more than 100% of their Colt counterparts.
Make: Standard Manufacturing
Model: Single Action Revolver
Caliber: .45 Colt
Capacity: 6 rounds
Barrel length: 4.75, 5.5, 7.5 inches
Hammer type: Spurred and bone and charcoal color case hardened
Grips: Two-piece Walnut
Weight: 40 ounces
Finish: Frame is bone and charcoal color case hardened. The barrel cylinder and metal parts are deep blued, and all screws and pins are fire blued.
As a collector of Old West revolvers, I’ve had just about every type of single-action imaginable: Antique First Generation Colts, Vaqueros based on the Ruger Blackhawk, Italian clones from Uberti and Pietta, USFA, Second and Third Generation Colts, etc. Some have been used in competition, others have been used as carry guns. None were the equal of the Standard Manufacturing Single Action Revolver.
This is a revolver that would be equally at home in a Cowboy Action Shooting match as it would on the belt of a hunting guide or on display in a collection of fine firearms.
Cowboy guns aways bring a unique bit of mystique, but the Standard Manufacturing Single Action adds an element of beauty that is hard to match. What’s your favorite cowboy gun? Share your answer in the comment section.
Special Single Action Revolver: Standard Manufacturing Improves America’s Iconic Firearm is written by Mike Searson for blog.cheaperthandirt.com