WE ALL HAVE FAVORITES, it doesn’t matter whether it’s cars or flavors of ice cream; if there’s more than one to choose from, there will be one you like better than the others. Along those lines, as a shooter, I’ve never shot a caliber I didn’t like, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to a favorite. That’s the .44 Special.
Since I was 19 years old I’ve always had a single-action capable of shooting .44 Special ammo, and those guns have been my usual choice for a day in the woods or for casual plinking sessions. But I rarely used .44 Special guns for Cowboy Action Shooting (CAS), relying instead on my .44 Colt conversions to fill that ticket. However, this year I spent a lot of time testing .44 Special ammunition for one of my black powder columns, and after shooting hundreds of rounds, I had fallen in love with the .44 Special all over again. I was overcome by the undeniable desire to use that great cartridge in CAS matches.
That posed a bit of a problem because I didn’t have a matching set of single-action revolvers chambered for .44 Special. I had a nice 7.5-inch barreled SAA clone with European stag grips that I’d used for the black powder load test. I could have paired that up with my old faithful Hawes Western Marshal, but the Hawes barrel is 6 inches long. It has a different look and feel from a conven-tional SAA clone. I figured I’d just have to buy myself another 7.5-inch SAA clone.
I know some of you are thinking you’d like to have that sort of problem. However, it wasn’t as easy for me as you might think. First of all, .44 Special isn’t all that common a single-action chambering. And in this case I had determined I wanted my 7.5-inch barreled .44 Special to be one of EMF’s Great Western II single-actions. And they don’t come in .44 Special at all.
Despite that, I was hard over on this gun being a Great Western II. And I’ve been a fan of the Great Western II since EMF first introduced them nearly six years ago. They are the closest clone you can buy to an actual second generation Colt SAA. In fact, the Great Western II, out of the box, is notably better that some actual 1990s Colts I’ve shot. Most second-generation Colt parts fit perfectly on Great Westerns, and that can be handy.
Besides being beautiful, this Rod Kibler rig is a fully practical outfit. The belt is lined with rough-side-out leather to keep it from slipping, and the fully lined holsters are solid as a rock, affording a smooth draw. The extra 2” drop on the holster makes pulling those long 7.5” barrels as easy as drawing 5.5” guns.