February 2004

.32 Single-Action Revolvers: Navy Deluxe and Bird’s Head Shoot Out

The Navy Arms Deluxe .32-20, $435, and Rugerís $576 Single Six Birdís Head .32 H&R Magnum are loaded with charm and shoot easy. Bonus: S&Wís .500 S&W Magnum wheelgun.

The single-action-shooting craze with its cowboy theme is a mix of modern technology and Old West gear. Period wear is required for the shooters, but if you check out the equipment you’ll likely discover that even the guns are costume. What goes on the hip may have the appearance of being old iron, but the most popular calibers at these matches were hardly dreamed of when the game was for real. Almost everyone seems to be shooting .38 Special or a light load of .45 Long Colt instead of black powder, or ancients like .41 Smith & Wesson and .45 Colt. So, with the appeal of the cowboy action guns well established, we were not surprised to find more than one manufacturer taking artistic license when it comes to new combinations of frame and caliber. Uberti of Italy has for some time been producing working replicas of American guns of the 19th Century. In this test we try one of the Cattleman series revolvers, a specialized version marketed by Navy Arms called the Deluxe SCW322 and chambered in .32-20, originally a rifle cartridge. We wondered if this round would give our Deluxe an Old World feel. Ruger revolvers are very popular in Cowboy Action circles. But with their improved sights and redesigned loading gate, the Ruger gang of guns has been relegated to the sport’s Modern division. However, we did find a Ruger single-action revolver that was fit with more traditional sights and a Bird’s Head grip as well. Chambered for .32 H&R Magnum, this gun was not meant to be an authentic reproduction, but we hoped the rest of the gun might give us a unique Western feel. Would these guns prove to be novelties or would they really shoot? Here’s what we found:

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