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Pietta 1873 Millenium

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by Dave Markowitz, Jul 7, 2013.

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  1. Dave Markowitz

    Dave Markowitz Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    Plymouth Meeting, PA
    Yesterday at Cabela's I bought a Pietta 1873 Millenium replica of the Colt Single Action Army revolver. The gun is chambered for .45 Colt, has a 4-3/4" barrel, and a matte blued finish with a brass grip frame and wood grips. Cabela's also sells them in .357 Magnum and .44 Magnum, with the same matte blued or a nickel finish.


    Overall the Pietta is a pretty faithful copy of the Colt SAA, with the obvious exception of the utilitarian finish. The other way in which is diverges from the SAA's design is the presence of a safety that works by pushing the cylinder base pin back towards the hammer, to prevent it from dropping all the way and striking a primer. IMO it is neither easy to operate nor very robust, so I intend to treat the gun as a traditional single action, and keep an empty chamber under the hammer if I carry it.

    Out of the box the action was very smooth and the trigger was very crisp, with absolutely no creep or takeup. It's a couple pounds heavier than I'd like, however, so I will do some careful stoning to lighten it a tad.

    I already had a few boxes of Black Hills .45 Colt cowboy loads at home. They feature a 250 grain hard cast RNFP bullet at about 750 FPS. I wanted to pick up another box or two of ammo but the only .45 Colt that the store had in stock was Buffalo Bore +P, which shouldn't be used in SAAs or clones. However, they did have one box remaining of Ultramax .45 S&W Schofield with a 180 grain bullet at 650 FPS, a real mouse fart load. (For those unfamiliar with .45 Schofield, it shares the same case dimensions as .45 Colt, but is shorter. It can be safely fired in the Colt chamber.)

    Today I brought the Pietta to my gun club and fired it at 25 yards, then 10 yards. At 25 yards it shot about 8" low and 8" left with the Black Hills .45 Colt loads. At 10 yards it was about 6" low and 6" left. The Schofield rounds impacted closer to center, but still low. This 10 yard group of 12 shots was fired before I started filing the front sight to raise the point of impact. I was aiming at 6 o'clock on the bullseye.


    The two flyers were my fault.

    The gun digested 100 rounds today, mostly trouble free. I did have a problem after the first three shots, because after playing with the safety last night I apparently failed to properly seat the cylinder base pin catch in the correct detent, and the pin started walking out. This prevented the cylinder from rotating so I had to dismount it from the gun. This goes in the operator error column.

    The other issue I had was ammo related. One empty .45 Colt cartridge case was very tight in the chamber after I fired it, and I couldn't eject it until I again dismounted the cylinder and smacked the empty out with a mallet, using the base pin as a drift. Most of the remaining empties actually fell out if I elevated the muzzle, even without using the ejector rod. So, that one gets chalked up to an ammo problem.

    If you want a Colt Single Action Army replica that won't break the bank, the Pietta 1873 is worth a look. As a copy of the SAA, it is not suitable for heavy loads, but the original ballistics for the .45 Colt round are nothing to sneeze at. A 250 grain .45 caliber bullet going about 900 FPS will take game up to deer size cleanly, or prove effective for self defense.
  2. bannockburn

    bannockburn Member

    Apr 24, 2007
    Dave Markowitz

    Great evaluation and write-up. Good to see you got a nice one there.

    I had been looking for a quality SAA copy for quite a few years. Looked at a Millenium in .45 Colt but decided not to get it as the gun's dull utilitarian finish was somewhat disappointing as was the single action lock-up and trigger pull.

    I finally found a Beretta Stampede for a good price which has a great blued/case color finish with a decent trigger and a very smooth operating single action.
  3. GRIZ22

    GRIZ22 Member

    Nov 4, 2006
    I bought one new 6-7 years ago. I think they may have called it something different then. The finish is what it is but it is well executed and so far durable. The fitting and trigger on mine was superb out of the box and I've had no reason to do anything in this regard. Mine is in 357 and I paid a ridiculously low price AFAIC. I've had no issues with it whatsoever.
  4. BCRider

    BCRider Member

    Nov 15, 2008
    Pacific North"Wet" Coast of Canada
    The new Pietta I got a few years back started out with a slightly heavy trigger pull. But after a few hundred rounds of shooting it burnished itself to where it's got a nice clean pull at this point. So you may find that it won't need any work other than shooting it unless you're looking for that match grade sort of feel and break.

    .... er... I MAY have done the "poor man's trigger job" on it a few times when new. This being where you cock the hammer than push forward on the hammer firmly as you pull the trigger. Do this a few times and it tends to burnish the contact points and produce a somewhat smoother feel after a half dozen such hammer drops. But if I did then it was some 4 years back and I can't recall for sure.
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