This a new European American Armory ‘Bounty Hunter’ with a 4 1/2″ barrel, in 45 Colt. For basically what is a $400 revolver, these are very well finished with nice bluing and bright case colors. The photo does not do it justice.
These guns take their lineage from the old Hawes ‘Western Marshall’ series of revolvers. Hawes contracted them out to JP Sauer & Sohn. They were essentially Colt copies built on a slightly larger frame capable of handling the 44 Magnum. I owned several in the 70’s-80’s, in 44 Mag & 45 Colt; they had smooth actions, good triggers and they all shot precisely to the sights- by no means a given with fixed-sight revolvers, by any manufacturer. They have a comfortable grip frame similar to the Single Action Army, but with lots of room for the knuckle of the middle finger. I prefer it to any Ruger except the Bisley.
Weihrauch GmbH of Germany acquired manufacturing rights for these revolvers and procured a license from Ruger to include a transfer bar mechanism. European American Armory imports these updated Western Marshals as the ‘Bounty Hunter’. Otherwise, the internals are basic SAA and they load & eject on half-cock like God and Sam Colt intended. The downside to the transfer bar is that the fine trigger was sacrificed. This one had a long, gritty pull of about seven pounds.
I shot the gun with my two most used 45 Colt reloads*; a 250 grain RNFP factory duplication load and my ‘Linebaugh Load’, a 255 grain SWC over enough HS6 for about 1075 fps. The Bounty Hunter liked them all and the smooth grip handles recoil like a champ. Like earlier versions I’ve owned, it shot precisely to the sights. If it shoots this well with a downright awful trigger, I believe it will shine with a little work.
Feeling encouraged, I banged off 12 rounds from 50 yards; six of the RNFP factory duplication load (vertical hash marks) and six of the warm 255 SWC’s (horizontal). I’d left my glasses at the house, so there are no braggin’ groups; but the revolver shoots where it looks to useful distances.
We have also discovered this revolver really likes the old Lee 452-255-RF, as cast by Ed at Maplewood Bullets, over 8.5 grains of Universal. Once around the cylinder at 85 yards.
The Bounty Hunter has a transfer bar and may be carried fully loaded. My single actions do double duty as carry guns so to me, this is a big plus.
The 45 Colt version uses the same frame and cylinder dimensions as the 44 Magnum version so it is strong enough for moderately-hot 45 Colt loads*.
The revolver is timed perfectly. After considerable dry firing (during the trigger work) and another 100 or so reloads, the cylinder has no wear line.
The forcing cone is deep and perfectly executed.
The bore is very will finished and has good strong rifling. It collected no leading that wasn’t easily removed by a couple of passes with a dry brush.
Barrel to cylinder gap was just under 0.004” and the cylinder lockup is snug.
The finish of all internal parts was excellent.
Assembly and disassembly of the Bounty Hunter is straight-forward, with the internals being Colt in all aspects except the obvious ones.
It’s firing pin is easily replaced.
Cylinder throats are 0.454” and so uniform I could not read a thousandth of an inch disparity between them.
Trigger pull aside, the Bounty Hunter exudes the hallmarks of fine machining and careful fitting. Weihrauch knows how to build a good revolver and more importantly, they are making a concerted effort to do just that. These are noticeably better than the JP Sauers that preceded them.
The EAA/Weihrauch transfer-bar system is said to be less robust than Ruger’s. To me it appears durable enough. This transfer bar pivots on the trigger extension via an easily replaceable pin, which you could make yourself in a pinch. If there is a weak link it is probably that trigger extension. Time will tell on that.
Ruger’s transfer-bars break too and are often so poorly fitted that firing pin protrusion falls well under the 0.050”-0.055” industry standard. The little spring-driven plungers that operate the bolt, cylinder pawl etc. have also been known to fail. This is not an indictment of New Model Rugers; rather an observation that they usually need tuned and occasionally require parts replacement. I keep a few spare Ruger parts on hand and I’ll accumulate a few spares for the Bounty Hunter, as well.
The Bounty Hunter’s hammer is pig ugly. Fortunately it is also of carbon steel, so you can cold blue it and avoid negative attention. I do this with all my Ruger SA’s too, incidentally.
The Bounty Hunter’s trigger guard is flat on the bottom and has a hole for a trigger-lock in it. A mold line is evident around its interior. The trigger guard and the ejector housing are made of a non-ferrous alloy (perhaps aluminum) anodized or painted to insure the inevitable scratches will shine like a diamond in a goat’s rear end. The ejector housing was well finished externally, but had a horribly finished race with a slot at the rear that captured the ejector button on every stroke.
Geez Helmut, could you have screwed this up any worse? These deficiencies were corrected*- but they serve as a reminder the Bounty Hunter is a ‘price point’ cowboy gun.
I was beginning to suspect Weihrauch’s license to use Ruger’s basic transfer-bar mechanism included a rider, requiring the former to have triggers just as lousy as the latter.
The Bounty Hunter had a ‘positive’ factory sear engagement with a deep full-cock notch. When you pulled the trigger, you could actually see the hammer cam back before the sear released. This, coupled with the ‘spring over spring’ design of the bolt/sear spring, made for a trigger that spoiled a near-perfect single action revolver. This was corrected by stoning the notch to a neutral angle, reducing the sear engagement just enough to eliminate creep and resetting the sear return leg of the spring to a more amenable tension. The end result is a zero-creep 3 ¾ pound trigger that does not push off or release with a sharp rap on the backstrap. If it loses another quarter pound as the parts mate and burnish, it will be all you could ask for in a transfer-bar equipped SA revolver.
One thing I won’t do on a transfer-bar revolver, is lighten the main (hammer) spring. To do so is to invite misfires. This one has sufficient firing pin protrusion and it lights every primer, leaving a good deep dent. This is one of those things you simply do not ‘fix’.
The Bounty Hunter is a robust, well made revolver. It’s also a tad bit porkier than than the Colt Single Action and its direct copies. While its aluminum components detract from its aesthetics, you get something in return- a transfer-bar single-action that operates like a Colt, is comparable in strength to the original Vaquero and weighs about an ounce less that the New Vaquero in identical barrel lengths. It’s a useful and interesting altternative, even if a little work is required to perfect it.
*Voids Warranty/Scares Bliss-Ninnys. Ask me if I care.