Cimarron Frontier .45 LC

“Available in black powder or smokeless frame, from loading gate…

“Available in black powder or smokeless frame, from loading gate to muzzle, the Turnbull-finished Cimarron is a thing of beauty.”

I love single action army (SAA) revolvers. As a Colt collector and one of the associate producers of the 1993’s film Tombstone, I like nothing more than the feel of that plough-handled pistol in my mitt. In fact, I’m writing this article with a SA strapped around my rather prodigious waist. But it’s not a real Colt SAA. It’s one of the great 1873 replicas sold by the good folks at Cimarron.

“Texas Jack” Mike and Mary Lou Harvey founded Cimarron in 1984 to import and sell reproductions of the great black powder and cartridge handguns and long guns of the American West. Cowboy Action Shooting (CAS) was still a few years off and Mike had no idea of the explosion in demand for period firearms that was coming. CAS shooters would need guns and period Colts would be out of the reach of most competitors. Many would turn to the excellent Italian-made SA sold by Cimarron.

Gun Details

The Cimarron Model “P,” like many of the Italian-made revolvers based on the original SA Colts available in US gun stores, comes from the A. Uberti factory in the mountains of Gardonne, Italy, the “Valley of the Guns,” which is also the home to Beretta. Offered in .45LC, .45ACP, .45Schofield, .44WCF, .44Spl, .357Mag, .38WCF and .32WCF, the Uberti-made 1873 SA is a great replication of the original, offered with both a screw black-powder or crossbolt Pre-war frame options. As sold by Cimarron these guns’ actions are smooth and correctly timed.

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While these Italian SAAs have been proven to be well-balanced, rugged performers on the range and in CAS competition, they’ve always had one shortcoming to me when comparing them to my actual Colts: the finish. The standard Uberti SAA bears a good blue job on the barrel and cylinder but a muted gray “case colored” frame that looks like a workman with dirty hands touched them up before they were shipped out of the factory. A look at these crudely colored frames and an Italian revolver was immediately recognizable as a “fake Colt.”

Mike and Mary Lou decided to make their Uberti-made guns stand out from the others being imported. They wanted to transform them from just shooters to “Investment Quality firearms” and so decided to offer their customers a wide assortment of finish options and upgrades.

Aside from a high polish modern blue they offer SAAs in stainless steel, an old-style charcoal blue, and nickel, their “Original” grey steel finish that makes your gun look like it’s had the finish worn off over a hundred years of use. The final finish option is the one highlighted here, one of the most attractive and period accurate out there. The guns come into the country in the white and are finished and assembled here in America with bone color casehardened frames and hammers by Doug Turnbull Restorations.

Doug Turnbull Restoration

The boys at Doug Turnbull’s workshop have been working overtime applying the origional “period correct” metal finishes to handguns and long guns for many of the manufacturers in America including the SAAs of US Firearms in Hartford, EMF’s Great Western II SAAs and the long guns of Dakota Arms. What makes the Turnbull finish so sought after? It’s their process of gun finishing. What was once commonplace but has been mostly abandoned because of cost has seen a comeback of sorts.

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Turnbull replaces the washed out finish of the Italian single action with vibrant, period accurate colors.

The gun parts are heated to a specific temperature for a period of time while it is packed tightly in a mixture of “carbonizing material” including bits of actual bone. When the part cools, the surface of the metal has been impregnated with a thin layer of colored carbon. It is only this real bone casehardening of metal parts that gives the rainbow of swirling colors seen on the Cimarrons on these pages. Turnbull understands how to mix these elements to duplicate the different color ranges of different-era firearms.

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