By NRA’s AmericanRifleman.org
It has been said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. If true, Colt’s Single Action Army(SAA) revolver might be the most fawned over firearm ever. Known as the Model P or Peacemaker, Colt’s SAA was designed for the U.S. government service revolver trials of 1872. In subsequent years, soldiers, lawmen, cowboys and outlaws would make it the most iconic firearm of the American West. The fascination and appeal of the revolver has not diminished, which is why Century Int’l Arms, a company that partners with overseas manufacturers to bring interesting firearms stateside, is offering the 1873 Single Action Millennium Revolver.
Manufactured by Italy’s Pietta, the gun imitates the third generation Colt’s SAA, which has been available since 1976. The test revolver had a 5½-inch barrel and a case-colored frame. The remaining metal surfaces were deeply blued and the general fit and finish were well executed, as there were no proud areas, nor external milling or finish marks.
Those looking for an authentic clone of Colt’s SAA might be a tad disappointed in anything but the real McCoy. That is because, to some, the patent markings that appear on the Colt’s are aesthetically pleasing. Outwardly, the Italian copy does look like an original Colt’s, and it will fool all but the most savvy at arm’s reach. One internal area where the 1873 Single Action Millennium revolver does mirror the Colt’s is in that it too has a round recoil plate machined and set into the breech face. There’s also the distinctive four clicks—one for each letter in “Colt”—when the hammer is cocked.
The trigger pull was consistent at 5 pounds with absolutely no creep or take up, and overtravel measured about 1/8 inches. We prefer a pull weight of around 4 pounds; however, the crispness of the 1873’s trigger left little to be desired. The action was also smooth. After 200 rounds the cylinder was marked around its circumference by the bolt.
A nice surprise was that the revolver was sighted-in perfectly straight out of the box. Always a concern with a fixed-sight single-action revolver, no alteration was necessary; at 10 yards the revolver delivered bullets dead-on to an inch low with all loads tested. Another pleasant discovery came during accuracy testing at 25 yards. The average for five consecutive, five-shot groups with three loads measured 1.86 inches; for a $375 revolver, we were quite pleased.
With “bench” testing completed, we fired 10 shots from the 1873 Single Action Millenium Revolver at a 12×18-inch steel target at 50 yards from the standing position and achieved seven hits. Likewise, at 100 yards from the prone position, we scored six strikes—impressive to say the least.
Concerning the ammunition, we noted inconsistent velocities during testing. With the Federal andWinchester loads, velocities were about 200 fps slower than advertised; however, the Sellier & Bellot load, touted as reaching 708 fps was spot-on. Consistency with regard to velocity was found only with the Winchester load.
Concerning functioning, only after becoming exceptionally dirty were there issues, and even then, they were reserved to Sellier & Bellot loads binding the rotation of the cylinder and making it difficult—not impossible—to cock. There were also some case size inconsistencies with the Sellier & Bellot ammunition, which likely exacerbated the problem. And, in some instances, the claw on the hand would scar the case’s head. None of these issues were present with the Winchester loads.
In addition to the 1873 Single Action Millennium Revolver we evaluated, there are other variants offered by Century Int’l Arms, including 4¾- or 5½-inch-barreled versions and those in .357 Mag. A less expensive version with a bead blasted, matte finish is also available in each configuration.
For those interested in cowboy-action shooting or looking for an inexpensive recreational revolver, the Century Int’l Arms 1873 Single Action Millennium Revolver represents a tremendous value. In fact, given its performance, it’s likely one of the best deals going for a clone of the famous Peacemaker.
Manufacturer: F. A.P. F. Lli Pietta SNC, Italy
Importer: Century Int’l Arms, Inc.; (800) 527-1252; centuryarms.com
Caliber: .45 Colt (tested), .357 Mag.
Action Type: single-action center-fire revolver
Frame: case-colored steel; bead-blasted blue available
Barrel: 5½” (tested), 4¾”
Rifling: six-groove, 1:16″ RH twist
Cylinder Capacity: six
Sights: grooved topstrap and fixed blade front
Trigger: single-stage; 5-lb. pull
Overall Length: 11″
Weight: 35 ozs.
Stocks: walnut-stained hardwood
Accessories: owner’s manual
Suggested Retail Price: $375