By Dennis Adler
Whenever the word “engraving” is mentioned in reference to a Single Action revolver the price generally goes up commensurately with the amount of engraving and the name of the engraver. Back in the days of the original Colt Peacemaker there was only one way to engrave, by hand. Acid etching was also used but only for decorative placement of model names, and rarely in place of hand engraving, at least on Colts.
Acid etching is used frequently today for engraving on production handguns but laser engraving has made embellishing firearms a great deal easier and more affordable, providing a look that is more like handwork.
Deep laser engraving, a relatively new process being used by a small number of armsmakers, including Pietta, has come even closer to recreating historic vine scrolls, and border work around frames, recoil shields and muzzles giving the look and the depth of actual hand engraving. However, even their traditional laser engraving allows Pietta to make a quality handgun with a look that belies its price.
Their latest laser engraved model offered by Cimarron F.A. Co. in Fredericksburg, Texas, is a 7-1/2 inch Single Action Army. Aside from the eye-catching vine scrolls and classic 19th century styles used on the frame, barrel, ejector housing, cylinder and backstrap, the nickel plated revolver comes with a standard factory tuned action that is very impressive for an out-of-the-box six-gun.
To get a revolver with a glass smooth hammer that positively clicks through each step and a trigger pull of 2 lb. 14 oz. average usually requires a trip to the gunsmith’s shop. While the trigger pull might be considered a hair light for some, the 7-1/2 inch Pietta proved delightfully consistent, with the trigger breaking cleanly shot after shot with only 3/16th of an inch take-up. Another factor often overlooked is hammer draw, which on most Single Action models averages 6 lbs. The Pietta averaged 3 lbs. 5.4 oz. which is substantially better than most guns even with tuned actions.
While Pietta’s standard (if the term can be used) laser engraving does not have the depth of its deep laser designs (see Guns of he Old West Winter 2015) the Cimarron model certainly has a lot going for it in terms of looks with the degree of detail around the cylinder, along the topstrap, triggerguard, shovel and backstrap, as well as the nicely polished nickel finish and ivory white synthetic grips.
Pulling the trigger
For the gun test I stepped off 20 paces (roughly 45 feet) and went to work with Ten-X 165 grain hollow base flat points (HBFP). The rounds averaged 712 fps (feet per second) through the screens a ProChrono Chronograph and the Ten-X, which is a lightweight, highly accurate round, delivered a best group of six, though I only count five for scoring, that measured 1.70 inches. The five-round group, including two in almost the same hole, covered just 1.20 inches.
A second test was shot with Goex Black Dawg 235 grain Pinnacle round nose flat point (RNFP), which cleared its smoky way through the chronograph’s traps at 762 fps average. While not as accurate I really love shooting Black Dawg for the smoke, fire and kick that takes you back to the Old West when a Colt .45 boomed every time the trigger was pulled. The best five with Goex covered 2.20 inches in a neat little triangle.
All shots were fired offhand, and at night on to 50 feet a 1.20 inch group from a 7-1/2 inch barrel Single Action isn’t half bad. Stepping up to a SASS distance of 10 yards (30 feet), and firing five rounds the best group with Ten-X measured 5/8ths of an inch and 7/8ths of an inch with Black Dawg. Makes that steel sing!
As for consistent accuracy, you can’t ask for much more than the 7-1/2 inch Pietta delivers, along with a sturdy build, light trigger and hammer, and some fine laser engraving to make that nickel plated Cimarron look as good as it shoots.