The single action sixgun is a survivor. The popularity of Cowboy Action Shooting created a great demand for traditional single actions. In the 990s this resulted in excellent= and authentic replicas of not only the Single Action Army, but also the Remington 1875 and 1890, the Smith & Wesson Model #3 Russian and Schofield, and even Ruger joined the traditional single action market with the introduction of the Vaquero with traditionally styled single action fixed sights. From 1873 to 1940 Colt produced approximately 357,000 Single Action Armies; with the Vaquero, Ruger more than doubled that figure in approximately 10 years. After producing three quarters of a million Vaqueros, which had been built on the larger .44 Blackhawk mainframe, Ruger replaced the Vaquero with the down-sized New Vaquero. This latest traditionally-styled Ruger is the same size as the Colt Single Action Army.
In the 1990s, a company by the name of United States Patent Firearms began importing single action parts from Italy using them to produce single actions in this country. Their goal was to eventually produce an all American sixgun made of all American parts which they were able to do and now produce as fine a Single Action Army as ever manufactured prior to World War II. Now known as USFA, or United States Firearms, they are located in Connecticut with their offices in the old Colt facility. Meanwhile Colt continues to produce their 3rd Generation Single Action Army also from Hartford Connecticut. These two quality American-made single actions coming from Connecticut have now been joined by a third which is also being manufactured in Connecticut.
Contemplating that for awhile reveals here, in the first decade of the 21st century, three American manufacturers are producing the same basic sixgun as the original 1873 Peacemaker. If that is not survival for the old Single Action Army I don’t know what is. The latest entrant on the field is the STI Texican and it is a dandy! STI International has long been known for producing high quality semiautos and now joins the Single Action Army market jumping in right at the top. Rumors continue to float, especially on the Internet, to the effect both Colt and USFA use Italian parts; this is not true, and the same can be said for the Texican. This is a totally American-made product.
The first run of Texicans are 51/2? .45 Colts and STI has provided me with a long list of the features of the Texican. There are no castings in the Texican, with all parts either forged or made from bar stock from aerospace specifications steel; all parts are made by STI except the springs. Steel used is 4150 Chrome Moly and all the internal parts are EDM’ed. Barrels are made from Green Mountain blanks with a 1-12 twist and air gauged to .0002? tolerance along with a chamber throat to barrel bore alignment less than +/- .001?. The mainframe, loading gate, and hammer are all color case hardened by Turnbull, and the specially designed pawl rides on a fixed pivot and is expected to have three to four times a life expectancy of other traditional pawl springs.
I found the fitting and polishing of the Texican to be exceptional, and giving the frame to trigger guard the finger test — that is running a finger from the bottom of the cylinder down the mainframe to the trigger guard — results in no perceptible feel of where the two parts meet; a sure sign of great caretaking in fitting and finishing. Flat surfaces are flat and there are no dished out screw holes. The action is very smooth with a 21/4 pound trigger pull, while the cylinder locks up TIGHT! There is no perceptible play either side-to-side or frontto- back when the hammer is cocked or at rest.
STI relates they have taken great care in reducing all the variables involved in getting a bullet to not only travel perfectly from the cylinder to the barrel but also to do it six times. There is a long list of items to be attended to in producing an accurate single action revolver. These include placement and alignment of chamber pilot holes, chambers in relation to pilot holes, the cylinder base pin hole and the two holes in the frame which accept the base pin, cylinder stop notches, threaded portion of the frame and threads on the barrel, barrel bore centerline and outside diameter of the barrel, the cylinder bolt notches and the cylinder bolt itself, placement of the cylinder bolt in the window in the bottom of the frame, tension on the pawl when the sixgun is at full cock, and the chamber throats. If nothing else, this once again proves it’s neither simple nor easy to produce a quality single action revolver.
Taffin Tests It
The first thing I did to test the precise nature of the tolerances the Texican is held to was to measure the chamber throats. Using a set of plug gauges I found all six to be perfectly reamed to .452?. Then enlisting the help of my engineer friend, Denis Fletcher, who is certainly better at using measuring tools than I am, we used a dial caliper to check other measurements.
This is not the best way to do it, however by being very careful we found the outside wall diameter to be a most uniform .077? while the thickness between chambers was right at .0355? to .036″. The base pin bushing inside diameter measured .252? which matched up perfectly with the base pin diameter of .2515?; there is no doubt STI pays very close attention to tolerances.
Since the Texican is a traditionally styled single action, there is no transfer bar safety. To load and unload, the hammer is placed on half cock, the loading gate opened, the ejector rod used to expel cases one at a time as the cylinder is rotated, and the cylinder is then rotated again as fresh cartridges are placed one at a time. Being a traditional single action means the Texican is a true sixgun with a capacity of six rounds, it must be carried with only five rounds and the hammer down on an empty chamber. This is true of all single actions without transfer bars as the firing pin on the hammer must never be let down on a loaded round.
STI makes a lot of claims about the Texican. There is no doubt it feels good and looks good; so much so I will give it an “A” for fitting and finishing. All of the claims, all the fitting, all the finishing, really mean nothing unless it is also accurate. Not to worry, the Texican also gets an “A” for accuracy. Every factory load and handload tried produced anything from good to exceptional accuracy. This in spite of the fact as this is written it is winter here in the Northwest and the shooting was done indoors. There is an incredible amount of difference in how I see the sights with indoor lighting compared to natural lighting. The accompanying chart will show just how well the Texican shoots. If this were my sixgun I would have to turn the barrel, as it shoots 21/2? to 3? left for me. Again this is indoors and I never adjust the sights on a fix-sighted revolver until it has been shot in natural light.
One thing has not been mentioned about the Texican and this one thing proves once again manufacturers will go to the edge of excellence and then do something to keep from perfectly crossing over. With the Texican this one exception is found in the grips which are described as unbreakable ABS Polymer.
I certainly realize grips are highly subjective and regular readers know most of my sixguns and semiautos are fitted with custom stocks. Sometimes this is for esthetics and other times for practicality. The grips on the Texican are in a word, awful. Someone decided to place sharply checkered grips on this beautiful sixgun. I thought everyone knew one of the reasons a traditional single action with standard .45 Colt loads is so easy to shoot is the fact smooth grips allow it to roll in the hand, which not only then places the thumb in the perfect spot to re-cock the gun as it comes down out of recoil, it is also very comfortable. Both USFA and Colt use checkered hard rubber stocks but the checkering is very subdued compared to that found on the Texican grips.
I also realize that my hands are much more tender than they were 30, 20 or even 10 years ago. With that in mind I tell you 100 rounds of 260 grain bullets at 900-1,000 fps from the Texican left me with a red tender spot on the palm of my hand. Even though these grips are ill-conceived and whoever came up with them should be sentenced to firing a minimum of 500 such rounds, it’s a situation easily remedied by a pair of custom stocks, which is exactly what the Texican deserves anyway. With this one minor exception (easily changed) I pronounce the Texican as an exceptional single action sixgun. Retail price of the Texican is $1,260 and worth every penny.
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