Testing Fiocchi Cowboy Action ammo
Like many Americans, I was raised watching John Wayne, Clint Eastwood and others riding high in the saddle, with a Colt .45 on the hip and a Winchester lever action close by. Those movies have spawned an entire industry among grown adults… Cowboy action shooting and re-enactments are a very popular pastime. In fact several firearm companies currently offer modern replicas of the Peacemaker .45, lever action rifles and even period clothing. Still, the true participant wants the actual gun that was used in that era, as do collectors. Unfortunately many of those original firearms are not capable of safely shooting modern high velocity ammo.
Recently Fiocchi released their line of Cowboy Action ammo and it has been quite popular. Fiocchi has included some of the more frequently used calibers, including, 32 S&W Long, 38 S&W Short, 38 Special, 357 Magnum, 44 Special, 44-40, and of course 45 Long Colt. This line of ammo is loaded to lower case pressures and velocities, therefore most older smokeless powder guns can safely shoot it. . Older guns often cannot take the increased pressure of typical factory loadings, thus many collectors were forced to reload if they wanted to fire their old but prized possessions. Enter Fiocchi and their Cowboy Action lineup. The engineers have developed safe loads for older firearms that may have been relegated as safe queens.(Care should always be used – when in doubt check with a capable gunsmith)
Even though modern firearms are “proofed” to higher velocity and pressures; a large majority of the cowboy action clan prefer to shoot lower recoil ammo as well. The Cowboy Action loadings are perfect for those who do a lot of shooting and therefore want a reduced recoil ammo but without the hassle of reloading. These loads are designed to be accurate, clean, and offer enough power to knock down targets without putting excessive wear and tear on the firearm or shooter.
I took notice of the Cowboy Action line when I realized I had no more reloads for my “relic” a nearly century old, Colt Police Positive, 38 Special. Most current 38 Special ammo is pretty hot. In fact it can be difficult to find any loads that are not +P velocity. I have always shot only low power loading through this old gun in hopes that it might endure another few decades of use. Thus when I noticed the 38 Special, Cowboy Action load; item # 38CA; which has a velocity of only 640 fps, my eyes lit up! This particular load is approximately thirty to forty percent lower than normal offerings, making it perfect for antique guns. My hope was to find a reliable, clean burning, accurate ammo for this 99 year old revolver but also something that would shoot well in a new gun as well. To properly test the Fiocchi Cowboy Action ammo, I borrowed a new Ruger Valero in 357 Mag, (4 inch barrel) to provide a standard to compare the Colt Police Positive (also 4 inch barrel) to.
I had no ability to chronograph this load, nor did I have access to a Ransom rest forproper bench shooting. All test firing was done off hand, in an outdoor range, but at carefully measured distances from five to ten yards. I had no misfires through either revolver, and recoil was pleasant and manageable even for a thirteen year old lady.
Fiocchi’s Cowboy Action loads burned clean, and caused no damage or wear to my ninety-nine year old Colt. Of course I did manage slightly smaller groups at longer range through the modern Ruger Valero, but I attribute that to the better sights of the Ruger versus the thin front and rear sight of the Colt. I much preferred the well used and slick as a whistle trigger of the Colt to the stiff single action only Ruger. Closer range shooting showcased the honed trigger of the Colt.
I rarely get the opportunity to shoot revolvers, so I truly relished this chance to fire two American classics side by side. Fiocchi gave me the forgotten pleasure of how fun that old Colt can be! I look forward to putting some more lead down her barrel next year when she turns a full century old. Whether you are searching for ammo for your old safe queen, or simply honing your cowboy skills; look no farther than Fiocchi. Their Cowboy Action line will fit the bill perfectly.
Photos and text by Tom Cannon