The Cowboy Revolver Comeback

Old West-style revolvers are selling and they deserve a place in your store.

The Cowboy Revolver Comeback

That’s what many thought way back when semi-auto pistols came on the market, but somehow the wheelgun managed to survive. Later, with the advent of the “Wonder 9s,” the revolver’s death knell was sounded again. And it was yet again with the advent of high-capacity subcompact semi-autos. After all, who needs a six-shot wheelgun when they can just as easily carry a pocket pistol that holds 11 or 12 rounds? That was the thinking, anyway.

Fast forward to the present and you’ll see that those proclamations concerning the demise of the revolver were very wrong. The revolver, including Old West-style revolvers, is more popular than ever, with manufacturers feeding this frenzy each year with brand-new wheelgun models. Before we take a look at several Old West-style revolvers that might just help bolster your bottom line, a look at some recent sales info is in order.

SCOPE Figures

The National Association of Sporting Goods Wholesalers’ SCOPE Programs—SCOPE PLX, SCOPE DLX and SCOPE CLX — are part of an industry-owned, distributor-led initiative to collect and analyze data that strengthens shooting sports businesses. SCOPE data currently comes directly from 20 wholesalers of firearms, ammunition, optics and accessories. With about 65% of gun sales flowing through this channel, the SCOPE information represents the largest data sample anywhere in the industry.

A look at revolver sales and prices from last year to this can give retailers an idea of whether they should add more wheelguns to their display rack, and if so, which ones. Let’s just say that according to SCOPE, revolvers are “where it’s at” when it comes to firearms sales.

“About 80% of all handgun sales are semi-automatics,” said Tom Hopper, senior data analyst for NASGW. “Well, that's only up 8%. So, the bulk of the handgun market isn't up very high and prices are down. But if you look at revolvers, sales are up 25% year over year, and the price is up 5% year over year.

“And you know what's interesting, too? It's not revolvers for concealed weapons that are selling so good. Consumers are buying more large-frame revolvers, and that’s kind of surprising.”

With that fact in mind, let’s take a look at five Old West-style revolvers that might just pique a customer’s fancy next time he or she visits your shop.

Some Good Options 

Before we get started, the term “modern Old West-style revolvers” might sound like an oxymoron. After all, how can they be both modern and old? While many of these guns are patterned off specific revolvers carried on the frontier, modern manufacturing practices and tighter machining tolerances make many of them more functional and more accurate than their predecessors. And with new coatings and calibers available, many resist wear and tear and make the search for ammunition much less strenuous.

So, let’s get started.

Taylor’s & Company 1875 Outlaw

Taylor’s Firearms has been in business for over 30 years and continuously works on keeping the legend of the Old West alive. The 1875 Outlaw does that in spades.

The 1875 Outlaw Revolver is a faithful reproduction of the 1875 Remington single actions, which kept the solid frame and overall styling of Remington’s 1858 percussion models. It features a forged case-hardened steel frame, blued parts, spring-retained cylinder pin, the "webbed" ejector rod tube, and a two-piece walnut grip.

Chambered in .357 Mag. with a 5.5-inch barrel, the Outlaw is 10.8 inches in overall length and weighs in at 2.55 pounds. The revolver will also shoot .38 Special ammunition. It is a single-action revolver with a round, blued barrel and fixed-blade front and notch rear sights for getting on target quickly and easily. The Outlaw is also available with a 7.5-inch barrel in .45 Colt chambering, while a 7.5-inch-barreled Magnum version is also available in .357 Mag. and .45 Colt. For those who like their guns to make a statement before even being shot, the Magnum version is also available with a striking Nickel finish.

In all, the 1875 Outlaw is a slick-looking revolver that hearkens back to the day of outlaws and lawmen battling it out on dusty streets in the never-ending battle between good and evil. 

EMF/Pietta Great Western II Liberty

For those who like a flashy, well-made retro six-shooter, the EMF/Pietta Great Western II has been a go-to for the past few years. The Great Western II Liberty is now being chambered in the ubiquitous 9mm round, giving those Old West revolver aficionados a better chance of finding a ready ammunition supply for their cowboy sixgun. The 9mm liberty has a 3.5-inch barrel and factory laser engraving on the blued barrel, cylinder and frame. Plus, the Ultra Ivory grip has the Liberty eagle engraved on it.

Offering a fixed-blade front sight, the revolver is 9.5 inches in overall length and weighs in at 34.8 ounces with an empty cylinder.  The Great Western II Liberty is also available in .357 Mag. and .45 Colt with either a 4.75- or 5.5-inch barrel. The 4.75-inch .357 Mag. model is 10.25 inches in overall length and weighs 39.5 ounces empty, while the 5.5-inch .357 Liberty is, of course, a couple inches longer and slightly heavier.

Uberti 1873 Cattleman

In 1873, Colt’s single-action Army (SAA) revolver became the Army’s standard sidearm. Calvary troops were armed with the new revolvers, and lawmen and outlaws alike were quick to adopt the handy new six-shooter, which earned the nickname “Peacemaker.” 

Uberti’s 1873 Cattleman is another fine-looking cowboy-style six-shooter that is also now available in 9mm. Two different models of the 9mm 1873 Cattleman single-action revolver are available, both with 5.5-inch barrels. The most attractive version sports a color case-hardened frame with brass backstrap and trigger guard, and will certainly turn a few heads at the range. 

The gun is 11 inches in overall length and weighs in at 36.8 ounces with the cylinder empty. Sights are fixed, and the attractive walnut grips are a nice contrast to the blued, case-hardened frame and cylinder.

The 1873 Cattleman is also available in several other calibers: .45 Colt in two different barrel lengths and several different finishes, .357 Mag. in three barrel lengths, .45 Colt in three barrel lengths, .44 with a 6-inch barrel and even two .22 LR models. 

Henry Big Boy

Henry Repeating Arms might be better known for its large selection of high-quality, accurate lever-action rifles, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t hit a homerun with its introduction of the Henry Big Boy Revolver. The Big Boy is a classically styled six-shooter fully capable of bringing the Henry name into the wild world of wheel guns with the same attention to detail and American craftsmanship you know and love.

This traditional double-action revolver is available with square gunfighter-style grips for maximum control or rounded, compact Birdshead-style grips for easier concealment. It features a highly polished blued steel frame, quick-release cylinder and 4-inch barrel. Walnut grip panels are affixed to both sides of a brass trigger guard for some extra bling.

The Big Boy will run full-house .357 Mag. loads or lighter .38 Special target loads with equal aplomb. It weighs in at 34 ounces and has an overall length of 9 inches. A fixed-notch rear and screw-on steel front sight provide easy target acquisition, and the front sight is available in three different lengths for regulating the point of aim to match the point of impact. Plus, the gun can be fired double-action or single-action depending on needed speed and accuracy.

Diamondback Sidekick

For those customers who might like a little less blast and recoil, along with rimfire lovers who also are fans of the Old West, the Diamondback Sidekick offers Old West style chambered in .22 LR. And the newest model now offered by Diamondback is the Sidekick Birdshead, featuring a more compact polymer grip. Like the original Sidekick, the Birdshead can quickly interchange .22 LR or .22 Magnum cylinders, depending on the shooter’s ballistic needs. And with a 3-inch barrel, the Birdshead is a compact package that is easy to haul anywhere without being obvious.

Frame and barrel sport a Cerakote finish, and cylinder capacity is nine rounds. The gun sports an integral rear sight and blade front sight for quick target acquisition. Overall length is 7.83 inches, and weight is 24.5 ounces with an empty cylinder. Both the frame and handle material are zinc.

For those customers wanting an Old West-style revolver for casual, low-cost plinking or even small-game hunting, the rimfire Birdshead might be just the ticket.

Wrapping It Up

There you have it: five top-quality Old West-style revolvers in a variety of sizes, styles and calibers that could be just right for a variety of customers. While all of the same style, each will likely appeal to a different shopper.

It’s fascinating that the revolver, first patented in 1836, has stood the test of time so well. Not only is the nearly 90-year-old design not dead, but it continues to flourish even as semi-auto pistols, both large and small, capture the majority of handguns sales.

A selection of Old West-style guns might just have a place in your firearm inventory. It’s likely you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how many of your customers want to relive a little of the Old West by having one or more of these guns in their collections.


Comments on this site are submitted by users and are not endorsed by nor do they reflect the views or opinions of COLE Publishing, Inc. Comments are moderated before being posted.