September 16, 2013

Charles Daly 1873 Standard Model .38 Special

The finish looked great, we thought. The bluing was very well done on nicely polished parts. The one-piece walnut grips’ dark finish was complemented by an incised and tasteful "CD" at the top. The fit of the wood to the steel was excellent. The wood was too sharp at the bottom, as was the case with the AWA. The cylinder had the appropriate bevels at its front end, and had the full-length, base-pin bushing insert common to early Colts. The trigger guard had the turn-of-century rounding that most of us prefer. The action was mighty slick, the hammer feeling quite smooth, though not as light as the AWA’s.

The barrel bore the Charles Daly name and the caliber markings on its left side. Neither the barrel nor the frame had any of the usually seen Colt date stamps or address markings. The gun looked and felt like a Colt, despite the absence of the markings. However, the cylinder did not quite interchange with that of a genuine old Colt. The front sight was way too high, as we found on the range, but that’s always better than being too short. The sight picture was better than the AWA’s, with a slightly wider and cleaner rear notch, and a flat top to the front sight.

Courtesy, Gun Tests

Clean lines reminiscent of turn-of-century Colts are complemented by the dark case coloring of the Daly 1873 Standard Model. The rounded trigger guard was most pleasing and authentic to our eyes. The high front sight needed attention, though.

Daly offers several options, but in only two calibers, .45 LC and .38/.357 Mag. There is a stainless version with pseudo-ivory grips and with your choice of three barrel lengths, 4.8, 5.5, or 7.5 inches. There’s a brass-handled version in three lengths, but .45 only, at $450. There are three blued & case-colored versions, like our test gun, in each of 45 and .38/.357 at $479 each, and six stainless versions, each of which will set you back $630. From the images posted on the company website (, the brass grips do not quite have the correct contours.

One thing we didn’t much care for was the base pin. It had two notches cut into it that had to be lined up so they were in the bottom position as you pressed the base pin into the cylinder. The second notch acted as a firing pin block, and that’s fine, but getting either notch in the right spot was a nasty trick. We prefer the original Colt system, which had a groove machined into the base pin so all you had to do was slide it back until it stopped against the frame, and the catch would then lock easily into place. The AWA had just such a base pin and we’d be sure to get one for the Daly.

Courtesy, Gun Tests

The case-colored Charles Daly single action broke down into almost identical parts to those of the AWA. But note the two notches in the base pin.

On the range we found the Daly printed well enough, groups being 1.5 to 2 inches, but it shot about six inches low with everything. The light-bullet .357 loads printed even lower, though the 130-grain SXT Winchester ammo shot to about the same point as the cowboy loads. The blowby and blast seemed to be tolerable with .357 ammo in this gun. We tried one heavy-bullet Buffalo Bore .38 round and it shot much closer to the aim point than anything else. The fix here is to know what ammo you’re going to use, and then file the front sight so your load hits where you want. The gun also printed about 2 inches right, something you’d have to live with.

Comments (7)

Everybody used to rave about Glock because it was "plastic" and I guess that novelty has worn off.

Posted by: fezletter | January 25, 2011 10:01 AM    Report this comment

I like to shoot, so I value the reports on all the different types of guns. As far as Glocks it was in Gun Test that I first read about the ability to loose a round while holstering if care isn't used to avoid tripping the trigger safety. I have now seen the results of that exact scenario twice. Too many articles on 1911s, I don't think so, when you shoot one particular model of firearm enough, you feel every little nuance of the different brands. That being so I know that it is the minute differences that sway me from one make to another. I think the same holds true for Glocks and those who shoot them. For single actions I am a die hard Ruger Vaquero fan but many of my fellow competitors have no use for the Rugers whether new or old and will only shoot the Colt Clones. It was here that I learned about the Rugers and it was here I have read about so many of the various clones. Since I am often asked my opinion, thanks to Gun Test I can discuss some of the options available.
As a shooter, competitor, instructor and fan of all firearms I like the balance of Gun Tests and recommend to all those just starting that their third expenditure be a subscription to Gun Tests. Always I recommend that they join the National Rifle Association first and our State Rifle Association second. Good Advice I do believe.

Posted by: Wood Butcher | January 7, 2011 9:05 PM    Report this comment

These guns were made for close and dirty work, not target shooting. The sights these guns do have are overkill for their purpose. For fine work, I've adjusted my sight-picture on SAA revolvers to include the front sight protruding above the groove of the rear sight. Works great. I don't need no stinkin' file.

Posted by: Mister E | December 17, 2010 2:32 PM    Report this comment

I agree about the Glock reviews. They are great pistols, but ugly boxy weapons..kind of boring. Some of us like the beauty of a handgun and are drawn to such revolvers and pistols that are visually appealing and want to know their up and downsides.

Posted by: Robert V | December 17, 2010 9:04 AM    Report this comment

JLTeague To kind of answer your question NO. The problem is there is no rear sight it only has a grooved area that is used as the rear apature and has a high front sight. Some of the Rugers are the same way. Because the front sight is high it inherently will shoot low; thus the suggestion for finding the ammo you are planing to use all the time and filing the front sight down (slowly, a little at a time) until you bring the weapon on target with the point-of-aim. If you don't want to do this then you need to change poa from 6 oclock to probably 12 oclock to make up for being 6 inches low.

Posted by: 7mag | December 16, 2010 6:24 PM    Report this comment

I agree with Victor about the Glock, everybody talks about Glocks. But did he have to put it in twice. Having a report on a revolver is refreshing. I am still new to this, so be patient. Is this normal for a revolver to shoot so far off target. I have a black powder revolver and haven't been able to get out to shoot it yet, and was wondering if I may need to compinsate that much.

Posted by: Papa02 | December 16, 2010 5:10 PM    Report this comment

finally, a report that is not about a glock, man are they boring.

Posted by: victor martin | December 16, 2010 4:15 PM    Report this comment

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