The Wild West is Reborn! By Morgan Haselau

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The Wild West is Reborn! By Morgan Haselau: Modern replicas  bring cowboy history back to life

It looks like something out of history books or a Hollywood movie. Named after the famous 19th century lawman, the Wyatt Earp is Italian manufacturer Davide Pedersoli’s faithful recreation of an old Wild West-style coach gun − a side-by-side 12ga ‘sawn-off’ double hammer-gun.

Originally designed to protect stagecoach drivers travelling through lawless stretches of the American West, the Earp’s 20" barrels are a solemn reminder of this dangerous time. These guns were purpose-built for law enforcement, and proved indispensable to lawmen and outlaws alike. It is a compact weapon, the overall length being only 96cm, and weighs in at just 3.2kg.

The walnut stock, chequered pistol-grip and the chromed and blued barrels combine to produce a beautiful shotgun. The barrels have 3" chambers to handle modern ammunition and both are full-cylinder (‘open bore’). True to the period, it features a metal butt-plate and a simple brass pin for a front sight. The only adornment is “Wyatt Earp” engraved on the right-hand side of the action.

The sliding safety catch – the Earp’s sole modern feature – prevents the hammers from releasing to strike the firing pins, but still permits the gun to be opened and the hammers cocked. The gun can be opened with one hand, making reloading quick and easy. With practice, it is possible to thumb-cock both hammers together, but it is much safer to cock them individually.

The double triggers are heavy, breaking at 9lbs pressure. This is disconcerting at first, but after firing a few rounds you don’t notice it. The hammers ‘rebound’ on firing and when the gun is opened, in the same manner as a hammerless shotgun, meaning that when uncocked with loaded chambers they are not resting on the firing pins.

The Earp is a pleasure to fire. We tested it using 28 gram No 7s to keep the recoil down (with heavier loads, especially 3" magnums, this will be more noticeable, since the short barrels mean less weight to absorb recoil). It is well balanced and fast-handling. It is designed for close-quarter work, and we were able to hit our targets unfailingly at 12m. Any distances beyond that would result in fewer pellets hitting the target. The ‘sawn-off’ barrels afford faster target-acquisition but the downside is that they’re not optimal for hitting moving targets. Reloading is quick, though cocking the hammers may cost a split second. 

Read the full article in the April issue of Magnum.

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