Sunday, March 13, 2016

Cimarron Firearms Uberti 1873 Sporting Rifle

Meet Claudia -- as in Cardinale -- my new Cimarron Firearms Uberti 1873 Sporting Rifle in .44-40 WCF. (Can you tell I watched a few 1960s vintage westerns last week?) I ordered her from Buffalo Arms in Idaho on March third, and she arrived at my FFL one week later. I picked her up the next day.

She has a 24-1/4" octagonal barrel and the wood is are walnut. Cimarron lists the weight at 8.6 lbs. and it feels about like that. Even when shooting original spec loads -- a 200 grain bullet at about 1200 - 1300 FPS -- recoil is very mild. The modern neutered cowboy action shooting (CAS) loads are milder still.

In person the blueing, color case hardening, and wood finish are even better than in the pictures. The wood to metal fit is generally very good, although where the forearm meets the receiver the wood stands a little proud.

One thing Uberti still needs to work on is their screws. They aren't properly hardened at the factory and they over tighten them. I've experienced this with other Uberti Firearms. I'm trying to get the side plates off the '73 but so far the screw won't budge and even using a correct screwdriver, I boogered the head. VTI Gun Parts sells replacements but this is damn annoying on a rifle that I just dropped $1200 on. In the meantime, I'm hitting the screws with Kroil everyday and I hope that after a week, I can remove the side plates without drilling.

Today I took Claudia up to my friend's place and we put 55 rounds through her -- one 50 round box of Black Hills 200 grain lead CAS loads, and 5 rounds of Winchester 200 grain JSPs that I had left from the Navy Arms Uberti 1873 Carbine I used to own. It was drizzling and eventually began to rain, so we only had the chance to shoot offhand at about 25 yards. IOW, no serious accuracy testing. However, the rifle functioned perfectly and I noticed that the Winchester jacketed loads printed smaller groups than the lead CAS ammunition.

One thing that was evident was how much smoother the 1873 action is than my Rossi 92, Marlin 1894, or Marlin 336. The straight-line feed of the '73 allows the cartridges to slide right into the chamber, compared with the angled feed on the other rifles. I can see why the '73s, and similar 1866 Winchester replicas are the preferred rifles for CAS.

I have no plans to install a short-stroke kit it but I need to do something about the sights. They are authentic. I.e., hard to see except against a nice, bright target. I'm looking at replacing the front with a brass or ivory-colored bead, and the rear buckhorn with a flat top open sight. Cap and Ball on Youtube installed a ladder rear sight for a Henry rifle on his Uberti 1873 rifle. That's an interesting option. I'm also interested in maybe installing a tang sight, in which case I'd want a folding leaf rear sight, so it's not in the way.

Uberti and Cimarron list the capacity as 13 rounds in the magazine plus one in the chamber. However, I found that I was able to load 14 in the magazine. Truly, the Winchester '73 was as close as you could get to an assault rifle when it was introduced.

Last night I went out to my shop and found my .44-40 dies and a box of 100 Lyman 200 grain lead RNFP bullets lubed with some kind of moly. I'm going to research smokeless loads to duplicate the original BP ballistics, but I want to start loading ammo with BP for the gun. After I slug the bore I'll order some suitably-sized and lubed bullets for it.

Except for the screw issue I am very happy with the rifle. It's beautiful to look at and fun to shoot.

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