September 24, 2010
One of today's most popular shooting sports is Cowboy Action shooting. The sport originated in California in the 1980s and attracted people who had an interest in action pistol sports such as IPSC/USPSA but wanted to compete with Western-style firearms.
The primary governing body for the sport, the Single Action Shooting Society, requires that all competitors' firearms--either original or reproduction--be of a type that were in use before 1898, and as far as handguns go, only single-action revolvers are allowed. Shooters must also choose an alias and persona that reflects a character from the early West and dress in appropriate attire.
While Cowboy Action is perhaps best known for the often gaudy Western clothing and shooters' nicknames, it has led to a lot of attention to improving the firearms used by the competitors. That's a very good thing, and there is a big difference between replica firearms built today and those of even just 20 years ago.
|Type:||single action revolver|
|Barrel length:||5.75 in.|
|Overall length:||11 in.|
|Finish:||blued barrel; color case hardened frame, gate, hammer|
Today there are also a number of custom gunsmiths who focus on single-action revolvers. One of the newest companies to enter this highly competitive market is STI International of Georgetown, Texas.
STI builds some of the finest 1911 pistols in the world. I have used a number of the company's pistols over the years for competition and have nothing but praise for them.
Just as STI has improved the 1911 pistol, when the company decided to build a single-action revolver I would have wagered hard money that it was not going to be just another single-action revolver.
It was given the name of "Texican"--a term applied before 1836 to citizens of non-Mexican ancestry living in Texas, which was then a part of Mexico.
Unlike some single-action revolvers on the market today, the Texican contains no cast parts. All parts are either ultra high-speed machined or electron-discharge machined from 4150 chrome-moly steel forgings or bar stock (no castings), to dimensions measured in .0001 inch, then precisely installed, achieving an exactness of fit and smoothness of function not found even in custom revolvers.
The Texican is the first firearm of any type made using ultra high-speed machining. Unlike conventional CNC machining, the surfaces of the finished parts are perfectly smooth and straight. They do not require grinding or polishing, so there are no rounded edges, no distorted screw holes, and their surfaces are flat , not wavy.
The Texican is 100 percent U.S. made at STI's facility in Connecticut, where it manufactures every single component except the springs; the frame, loading gate and hammer are color case hardened by Turnbull Restorations--a company renown for its superb quality in case-hardening.
The 53â'„4-inch Green Mountain barrel has a 1:16 twist, air gauged to a .0002-inch tolerance.
While some of the traditionalists out there might look askance upon the use of ABS polymer for the grips, the "no crack" panels will stand up to very hard use and will not fall prey to solvents, oils or about anything else.
Internally, the Texican features a pawl that rides on a fixed pivot, and a spring that STI claims will last three to four times longer than those in most single-action revolvers.
The single-action Texican is STI's first revolver, one it hopes will become a major seller in the Cowboy Action market. The Texican's pawl rides on a fixed pivot and a spring designed for extra long life. The Texican promises the best chamber to bore fit on the market.
To achieve the highest levels of accuracy, STI claims it has developed a system that provides a chamber throat-to-bore alignment of less than
.001 inch, which is less than any other revolver produced today.
At present the Texican is offered only with a 53â'„4-inch barrel chambered for the .45 Colt cartridge.
I have to admit up front that while I am an ardent fan of the roundgun, I have not been a user of single-action revolvers. I'm not sure how that happened; it just seemed that I grew up with double-action revolver in my hand.
ACCURACY RESULTS| STI Texican
|.45 Colt||Bullet Weight (gr.)||Avg. Velocity (fps)||Avg. Group (in.)|
|10-X Cowboy HBFP||165||558||1.3|
|Winchester Cowboy LFP|| 250||721||1.8|
|Notes: Accuracy testing was performed from an MTM Predator rest at 50 feel and are averages of three five-shot groups. Velocities are average of five shots measured with a Shooting Chrony chronograph with screens set 15 feet in front of the muzzle. Abbreviations: HBFP, hollow base flatpoint; LSWCHP, lead semiwadcutter hollowpoint ;LFP, lead flatpoint.|
That being said, I found the Texican to be a finely made piece. Look as I might, I could not find a single defect or blemish in the materials, fit or finish, and traditionalists will no doubt be thrilled to know that when I cocked the hammer, I heard four clicks.
The sights, while traditionally styled, seemed a provide a sharper sight picture than on most "thumb busters" I've handled in the past, and the trigger let-off was short and very crisp.
While we're talking about controls, it should be mentioned that the Texican's ejector rod is 1/4-inch longer than those on its contemporaries to ensure complete ejection of the .45 Colt cases.
Guns based upon the Colt Single Action Army are some of the most naturally pointing handguns ever produced, and the Texican lives up to this heritage. When I brought it up to eye level, it just naturally pointed at what I was looking at, and the sights fell into alignment.
I ran the Texican through my normal accuracy tests from a rest at 50 feet, and as can be seen on the chart below, it showed a definite preference for slow-moving bullets. In fact, the average group size consistently shrunk as projectile velocity fell.
While the sights were well-regulated for elevation, the revolver tended to shoot a bit to the left, forcing me to use a slight bit of Kentucky windage to get well-centered groups. But when all was said and done, it proved accurate for a fixed-sight revolver.
I felt it would only be appropriate if I had serious single-action shooters put it through its paces. Accordingly, I met my good friends and dedicated Cowboy Action shooters Mark and Stephanie Feriante (a.k.a. Jack B. Quick and Jill B. Nimble) at a local gun club, and we proceeded to see if the Texican could do what was needed to be done on the club's steel target range.
Mark and Stephanie each ran the STI revolver through speed drills on steel targets, at distances ranging from eight to 25 yards, firing it with both supported and one-handed grips.
Mark commented several times that a Cowboy Action shooter could compete successfully with the Texican "right out of the box." He told me he had spent in excess of $300 on each of his and Stephanie's revolvers to make them suitable for serious competition.
Despite his lack of experience with the breed, the author found the single-action Texican to be an accurate, natural-handling revolver. The completely U.S. made Texican contains no cast parts and was built through ultra high speed machining, which eliminates the need for grinding or polishing for final fit.
Even though I was not properly attired, my friends allowed that it would be all right if I ran some drills with them.
As I said above, I have had little experience with single-action revolvers, but the Texican pointed so naturally and proved so accurate that I was soon racking up an impressive ratio of "clangs" to "bangs."
I found recoil control, especially with sedate Cowboy Action loads, excellent, although I agreed with Mark that a set of thicker grip panels wouldn't be a bad idea.
As I have with its semiauto pistols, I found STI's Texican single-action revolver to be everything the company claims--and then some. If you're a Cowboy Action shooter looking for a top of the line revolver-- ready to run right out of the box--the Texican deserves a place at the top of your list of choices. Now, I wonder where I can get a 10-gallon hat and chaps?