July 6, 2011

Cimarron T.T.N. Model 1878 Coach Gun Side-by-Side 12 Gauge

Cowboy Action Shooting members, whose increasing numbers show no need of a stimulus package, have developed their hobby into a tribute to the gun battles of the Old West—both real and fictional. Shotguns often figured into these armed conflicts, normally giving the scattergun handler a distinct advantage over opponents armed with a handgun or rifle, as long as the battle was up close and personal.

One of Hollywood’s classic depictions of how a shotgun could turn the tide in a gun battle was in the 1966 movie “The Professionals,” featuring Academy-award-winning actors Lee Marvin and Burt Lancaster.

Marvin, armed with a Winchester Model 1897 pump-action shotgun, faces down eight mounted bandits armed with bolt-action rifles as they meet in a narrow canyon. With just a little help from Lancaster, himself armed with a Winchester lever-action rifle, Marvin clears the canyon of bandits as he touches off seven shotgun blasts in rapid succession. Most of the bad guys don’t even have a chance to get off a shot before they are knocked out of the saddle.

Although the battle is pure Hollywood, this type of shotgun action and its recreation on film has become a driving force behind the increasing popularity of the veteran firearms. Both the side-by-side hammer guns and the pump-action hammer guns of old left a distinct mark in history and are now resurfacing in the form of replicas finding favor at shooting competitions across the country. The popularity of the simple and easy-to-handle shotguns is also growing among people interested in home-defense firearms.

Gun Tests June 2009

This ancient design pointed fast and shot devastating patterns at both Cowboy competition ranges and home-defense distances. Triggers need a little work to be just what we want.

For a trip back to the past, Gun Tests selected a side-by-side to see if there is any advantage or downside—other than the number of shots—to an Old West style shotgun.

The test shotgun was a Cimarron T.T.N. Model 1878 Coach Gun 12 Gauge Side-by-Side carrying a price tag of $480 in the new gun rack at Dury’s Gun Shop in San Antonio (www.DurysGuns.com).

The shotgun was a recreation of the solid, dependable and well-used scatterguns of the Old West. With its 20-inch barrel and simple action, the firearm also fulfills a modern duty as a self-defense shotgun for home owners. Shotguns firing typical hunting loads in a home-defense situation have the advantage of providing stopping power that will not pass through walls like handgun or rifle slugs.

To determine effectiveness, Gun Tests selected three distinctly different types of ammunition for testing. For the Cowboy-Action range, the ammunition was Rio Target 2.75-inch loads with 1 ounce of No. 8 shot that produced an average muzzle velocity of 1,210 fps. For home-defense loads, they used Winchester 00 Buckshot 2.75-inch loads firing nine pellets at an average muzzle velocity of 1,325 fps, and Remington Express Power Piston 2.75-inch loads with 1.25 ounces of No. 6 shot pushed at an average muzzle velocity of 1,330 fps.

Gun Tests June 2009

An English-style splinter forearm felt good with this shotgun, but might not offer a lot of protection from barrel heat if the shooter is burning up a lot of rounds in a shooting session. Control of the shotgun, even using heavy loads, was no problem.

In the home-defense simulations, the magazine staff limited patterning tests to a range of 20 feet (recreating a shot across a typical room) and relied upon Birchwood Casey Shoot-N-C 12-inch targets to determine pattern effectiveness. Here’s Gun Tests' test report:

As we assembled the side-by-side Cimarron, we got the distinct impression of it being a simple, effective shooting tool, and we were not disappointed.

Although the drop in the stock of the shotgun caused some brief concern (quite a bit of drop in the stock was common among old-time shotguns), we found that the pointing ability of the short double barrel was very good, and we were easily able to put the shot pattern in the middle of the target every time.

The overall length of the Model 1878 was 36.5 inches, with its 20-inch barrel, and the drop at the comb was 2.25 inches, combined with a drop at the heel of 3 inches. As noted, we quickly adjusted to the dimensions. Because of the double triggers, we measured the length of pull at 14.25 inches from the front trigger and 13.5 inches from the back trigger. Despite the short barrels, the shotgun tipped the scales at 7.5 pounds, which probably was a factor in it delivering less felt recoil than we had expected.

Gun Tests June 2009

Gun Tests was originally concerned about the large amount of drop @ heel in the stock (typical of an old-time side-by-side), but really liked the feel of the half-pistol grip.

We were a little annoyed with the trigger pulls of 7.0 pounds on the front trigger and 9.25 pounds on the back trigger. They were heavier than most shooters would like, and we would recommend a trip to the gunsmith for tweaking to reduce the pulls to a more acceptable break point.

Overall, we like the handling ability of the shotgun at the patterning range and with the Cowboy Action targets. This is not a shotgun designed for a lot of clay target use, so we limited our testing to shots at steel plates and some close, trap-style targets. In each test, the shotgun performed flawlessly and was surprisingly easy to keep on target.

Adjusting to cocking the hammers and using the double triggers was not a problem for our test group of experienced shooters. That may be a concern for less-veteran shotgun handlers, and we would suggest new owners spend a little practice time to make sure they can handle the hammer gun. One advantage to the hammers is that the shooter always knows when the shotgun is cocked and ready to fire.

On the patterning range, we were very impressed with the performance of the side-by-side. At a range of 20 feet, the shotgun consistently placed 100 percent of the 00 buckshot loads (nine pellets) in the 10-ring of the 12-inch target. With the exception of one or two pellets, the same nearly perfect pattern was obtained with shots using the No. 6 shells. It is hard to be critical of 100-percent performance.

Gun Tests June 2009

Very simple to assemble and re-assemble for cleaning or storage, GT appreciated the way the shotgun was a neat, compact package.

Moving over to the Cowboy-Action steel plates, also set up at close range, we easily handled a pair of knock-down steel plates with the lighter No. 8 loads. Like the older versions of side-by-side shotguns, the Model 1878 featured extractors rather than ejectors, and shells had to be pulled from the chambers. However, by opening the action and turning the shotgun upside down, the shells would slide out for quicker reloading.

Gun Tests Said: Our overall impression of the side-by-side was that it provided a very pleasant trip back in time to the days of the Old West and also proved to be a very capable, two-shot home-defense firearm. Other than the downside of being limited to two shots, we could find few blemishes on this rugged and dependable side-by-side shotgun. Handling ability, patterning, and overall ease of use was very good. We would recommend a little gunsmith work on the triggers.

Comments (16)


I love my Cimarron 12 Gauge Coach Gun. It has that feel to it.

Posted by: Mitchell S | November 15, 2013 11:49 AM    Report this comment

About 2 years or so ago I was doing a lot of research into a coach gun. This article helped. In the end I chose an EMF model due to very beautiful CCH finish. BUT... this T.T.N. came in a very close 2nd. If anyone is thinking about one, this is a great example-IF you can find one! Extremely well made and beautiful in their own right at a fantastic price. And they are just a hoot to shoot. I am not an CAShooter, but they are just fun. FWIW I also researched home defense loads and #4 buck is awe inspiring devastating at short range.

Posted by: Markbo | July 15, 2011 3:28 PM    Report this comment

Looks like an interesting gun compared with other coach type guns. I may have missed it, but what chokes types are the barrels set up with.

Posted by: BOB G | July 14, 2011 12:02 AM    Report this comment

Speaking of shot size, I have been loading Winchester PDX-1 defensive .410 loads in my Taurus Judge and Circuit Judge. These are the loads that have a stack of four copper plated cylinders backed by a dozen #6 pellets. They are reputed to be very effective. Also at a recent gun show, I purchased a Smith & Wesson Governor. It's very similar to the Taurus Judge, except it has six chambers instead of five. Like the Judge, it can handle .45 Colt and .410x2.5" shot shells.....AND.....it can also handle .45 ACP using moon clips. Is that neat or what? While I was buying the Governor, I also picked up some Federal handgun defensive .410x2.5" loads. These are loaded with four 000 Buck pellets.....Yes!.....That's TRIPLE ought buck.

Posted by: canovack | July 9, 2011 8:06 PM    Report this comment

After seeing its use in Viet Nam I can't imagine a more effective defense load than the 27 pellets in No. 4 Buck. A word of advice. If you ever have to use it on a human being do not look at them afterward.

Posted by: quiet man | July 9, 2011 6:05 PM    Report this comment

After seeing its use in Viet Nam I can't imagine a more effective defense load than the 27 pellets in No. 4 Buck. A word of advice. If you ever have to use it on a human being do not look at them afterward.

Posted by: quiet man | July 9, 2011 6:03 PM    Report this comment

Number one buck does seem to be pretty hard to come by. I haven't let that dampen my enthusiasm for shotguns as defensive tools, though. The gun writers tell us that most any shot size, at in the house ranges, will do the job pretty well, since at those close ranges, the shot column hasn't done a whole lot of spreading out. While my primary home defense shotguns are loaded with 0 and 00 buckshot, I have several rounds of #4 bird shot as backup, and I feel like they will all do whatever is necessary to protect the home and family.

Posted by: canovack | July 8, 2011 9:21 PM    Report this comment

Mister E, I use eath 00 buck or the new or at least new to me, Cenurion Multi Defense buckshot,1x.650" RB and 6x1BK but mostly 00 buck because I can get it almost anywhere. But there are some places you cant get it but not very many.

God Bless America and Our Troops Past Present and Future.
Keeping to My Oath Locked Loaded and Keeping My Powder Dry.

Get the US Out of the UN and the UN Out of the US.

Posted by: bear1 | July 8, 2011 8:34 PM    Report this comment

I read once that someone figured out that No. 1 Buck is the best defence shotgun load against a man. No. 1 buck is hard to find, at least in stores, though. Any opinions?

Posted by: Mister E | July 8, 2011 4:08 PM    Report this comment

Yeah, there really IS a certain charm about hammer guns. Of course, there is no doubt concerning the readiness of the piece. BUT.....of equal importance is that the sound of "clickety click" (as the hammers are cocked) is equally as effective as the sound of racking a pump shotgun for instilling fear in the heart of a thug who is someplace where he shouldn't be.

Posted by: canovack | July 8, 2011 3:39 PM    Report this comment

During my active duty days, I was frequently asked advice about buying pistols for wives. I always asked if the women would go to the range and do enough shooting to learn how to effectively use the pistol. Most would say no. I then advised a course of Hock Shop cruising to find a 20 gauge double at a reasonable price. Then cutting the barrel to 20", installing a great white bead on front and one trip to the range provided a lot more effective protection to wives than a pistol they could not operate.

Posted by: Troy | July 8, 2011 2:33 PM    Report this comment

I love exposed hammers. There is no question about being cocked. Especially important for folks with little gun experience.

Posted by: Mister E | July 8, 2011 2:16 PM    Report this comment

nice replica

Posted by: triple | July 7, 2011 7:57 PM    Report this comment

I have long been a fan of side by side shotguns. My very first shotgun was a Stevens Model 311 purchased back in my teen years. Exposed hammer side by side shotguns are the ones that really give me a charge. I have had a Rossi Overland purchased in 1983, a Norinco SL12-SPM purchased in 1998, and most recently a TTN as described in this review that I purchased for $300.00 at a gun show in October 2009. These "old fashioned" guns are a lot of fun to shoot, and their value as a defensive arm cannot be easily dismissed. While it is true that reloading under stress might be somewhat problematic, the old technique of holding two rounds between the fingers of the supporting hand, so they are ready to insert in the chambers when you open the action, does help to ease the chore of reloading. Of all of the side by side shotguns I have owned, I like the TTN model the best.

Posted by: canovack | July 7, 2011 7:49 PM    Report this comment

nice replica

Posted by: triple | July 7, 2011 7:44 PM    Report this comment

I have a coach gun and have tought my wife how to use it incase of the unwanted guest, even though she is small compared to most she has no problem pulling both triggers at the same time by just placing the butt up against a wall and letting the 00 buck fly, she also has no problem pulling one trigger at atime with it up to her shoulder or from the hip. All I can say is I pitty the fool that breaks into our home while we are here.
God Bless America and Our Troops Past Present and Future.
Keeping to My Oath Locked Loaded and Keeping My Powder Dry.
Get the US Out of the UN and the UN Out of the US

Posted by: bear1 | July 7, 2011 2:45 PM    Report this comment

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