Black Hills - .45 Schofield
When people think of cowboy guns, they often conjure up an image of the Colt Single Action Army, chambered for the .45 Colt cartridge. A gun that is often overlooked but shouldn’t be is the Smith & Wesson Schofield, chambered for the .45 Smith & Wesson.
The Schofield was a member of Smith & Wesson’s family of Model 3 revolvers, which were large-frame, top-break designs. Named for George Wheeler Schofield because he designed a different latch mechanism for the gun, it was easier and faster to reload than the Colt, which had to be done one round at a time. The Schofield revolver ejected all six spent cases at a time.
Even though the US military issued both the Colt SAA and the S&W Schofield, there was a problem with compatibility. The Schofield’s .45 S&W cartridge was shorter than the SAA’s .45 Colt cartridge. This meant that you could fire S&W ammo in the Colt, but not the other way around.
Sure, it was faster to reload than the Colt, but it lacked in knockdown power. At just 283 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle, it trailed behind the .45 Colt 490 foot-pounds by an astounding 58%.
Ultimately, this bit of oversight by S&W led to their gun’s downfall. Introduced in 1875, the .45 Smith & Wesson cartridge saw just 17 years of military service, being replaced in 1892.
Despite its short-lived military service, the cartridge lives on in the world of cowboy action shooting. Now known by most as the .45 Schofield cartridge, Black Hills Ammunition’s Authentic Cowboy Action line of ammo boasts 13 different loads - one of which is the .45 Schofield.
It simply wouldn’t be right if a company with “Black Hills” in its name didn’t make cowboy cartridges like the .45 Schofield - and they know it! “Being from Dakota Territory, it’s only fitting that we make ammunition for the Cowboy Action Shooter. … We ensure every load is authentic. We sweat the details. To that end, we’re proud to offer period correct ammunition fit for 1880 or tomorrow afternoon.”
With a 230-grain, round-nose flat-tipped bullet, the .45 Schofield from Black Hills Ammunition has a muzzle velocity of 730 fps and a muzzle energy of 276 foot-pounds. True to its origins, these modern loads will never be mistaken for behemoth manstoppers. That’s perfectly fine, though, because they aren’t designed to do that. Instead, Black Hills Ammunition has crafted a round that will allow any cowboy action shooter to skin their Schofield and place accurate shots on target with the confidence needed to win the match. ~ T. Logan
Logan is a historian with a focus on firearms history and development. He runs High Caliber History LLC and has more than a decade of experience working for the Smithsonian Institution, the National Park Service, and the NRA Museums. His ability to present history and research in an engaging manner has made him a sought after consultant, writer, and museum professional. The ease with which he can recall obscure historical facts and figures makes him very good at Jeopardy!, but exceptionally bad at geometry. For more information, please visit www.highcaliberhistory.com.