Handguns > Revolver

Century Int'l Arms 1873 Single Action Millennium

The 1873 Single Action is a tremendous value for those interested in cowboy-action shooting or an inexpensive recreational revolver.

6/13/2013

It has been said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. If true, Colt’s Single Action Army (SAA) revolver might be the most fawned over firearm ever. Known as the Model P or Peacemaker, Colt’s SAA was designed for the U.S. government service revolver trials of 1872. In subsequent years, soldiers, lawmen, cowboys and outlaws would make it the most iconic firearm of the American West. The fascination and appeal of the revolver has not diminished, which is why Century Int’l Arms, a company that partners with overseas manufacturers to bring interesting firearms stateside, is offering the 1873 Single Action Millennium Revolver.

Manufactured by Italy’s Pietta, the gun imitates the third generation Colt’s SAA, which has been available since 1976. The test revolver had a 5½-inch barrel and a case-colored frame. The remaining metal surfaces were deeply blued and the general fit and finish were well executed, as there were no proud areas, nor external milling or finish marks.

Those looking for an authentic clone of Colt’s SAA might be a tad disappointed in anything but the real McCoy. That is because, to some, the patent markings that appear on the Colt’s are aesthetically pleasing. Outwardly, the Italian copy does look like an original Colt’s, and it will fool all but the most savvy at arm’s reach. One internal area where the 1873 Single Action Millennium revolver does mirror the Colt’s is in that it too has a round recoil plate machined and set into the breech face. There’s also the distinctive four clicks—one for each letter in “Colt”—when the hammer is cocked.

The trigger pull was consistent at 5 pounds with absolutely no creep or take up, and overtravel measured about 1/8 inches. We prefer a pull weight of around 4 pounds; however, the crispness of the 1873’s trigger left little to be desired. The action was also smooth. After 200 rounds the cylinder was marked around its circumference by the bolt.

A nice surprise was that the revolver was sighted-in perfectly straight out of the box. Always a concern with a fixed-sight single-action revolver, no alteration was necessary; at 10 yards the revolver delivered bullets dead-on to an inch low with all loads tested. Another pleasant discovery came during accuracy testing at 25 yards. The average for five consecutive, five-shot groups with three loads measured 1.86 inches; for a $375 revolver, we were quite pleased.

With “bench” testing completed, we fired 10 shots from the 1873 Single Action Millenium Revolver at a 12x18-inch steel target at 50 yards from the standing position and achieved seven hits. Likewise, at 100 yards from the prone position, we scored six strikes—impressive to say the least.

Concerning the ammunition, we noted inconsistent velocities during testing. With the Federal and Winchester loads, velocities were about 200 fps slower than advertised; however, the Sellier & Bellot load, touted as reaching 708 fps was spot-on. Consistency with regard to velocity was found only with the Winchester load.

Concerning functioning, only after becoming exceptionally dirty were there issues, and even then, they were reserved to Sellier & Bellot loads binding the rotation of the cylinder and making it difficult—not impossible—to cock. There were also some case size inconsistencies with the Sellier & Bellot ammunition, which likely exacerbated the problem. And, in some instances, the claw on the hand would scar the case’s head. None of these issues were present with the Winchester loads.

In addition to the 1873 Single Action Millennium Revolver we evaluated, there are other variants offered by Century Int’l Arms, including 4¾- or 5½-inch-barreled versions and those in .357 Mag. A less expensive version with a bead blasted, matte finish is also available in each configuration.

For those interested in cowboy-action shooting or looking for an inexpensive recreational revolver, the Century Int’l Arms 1873 Single Action Millennium Revolver represents a tremendous value. In fact, given its performance, it’s likely one of the best deals going for a clone of the famous Peacemaker.

Manufacturer: F. A.P. F. Lli Pietta SNC, Italy
Importer: Century Int’l Arms, Inc.; (800) 527-1252; centuryarms.com
Caliber: .45 Colt (tested), .357 Mag.
Action Type: single-action center-fire revolver
Frame: case-colored steel; bead-blasted blue available
Barrel: 5½" (tested), 4¾"
Rifling: six-groove, 1:16" RH twist
Cylinder Capacity: six
Sights: grooved topstrap and fixed blade front
Trigger: single-stage; 5-lb. pull
Overall Length: 11"
Width: 2"
Height: 5½"
Weight: 35 ozs.
Stocks: walnut-stained hardwood
Accessories: owner’s manual
Suggested Retail Price: $375

Century Arm 1873 Shooting Results

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14 Responses to Century Int'l Arms 1873 Single Action Millennium

Robert VanElsberg wrote:
March 14, 2014

I bought a Pietta 1873 in .357 Magnum a week ago and I regret it deeply. It has almost no forcing cone and what it does have shows deep machine marks. As a result in 50 rounds it leaded worse than any handgun I have owned during the past 40 years. As I was cleaning it I looked into each individual chamber in the cylinder and found rough marks where parts of the chamber were left unpolished. And the regulation of the fixed sights was horrible. At five yards the bullets impacted a good 8 inches low and two inches left. Because I had read several Cabelas reviews that were positive and the review abovr, I bought the gun instead of a nice Ruger I could have gotten for less than $20 more. Tomorrow I am offloading this poor example of quality control and buy the Ruger.

Chris wrote:
December 31, 2013

I bought one of these at Academy Sports in November 2013. It was in .22lr. Very heavy and nicely built. paid roughly $350.00 You guys need to know they they are currently being sold under the brand name of 'Traditions'. Yes they are made by Pietta.

MAC MCMAHON wrote:
November 07, 2013

HAVE BEEN TRYING TO FIND THIS REVOLVER IN OKLAHOMA SINCE THE ARTICAL CAME OUT IN NRA MAGAZINE. NO LUCK. NO ONE SEEMS TO EVEN HAVE AN IDEA WHEN AND IF THIS GUN WILL BE FOR SALE ANYWHERE IN THE U.S. LOCAL GUN DEALER VERY UPSET WITH CENTURY INT'L FOR NOT RESPONDING TO HIS CALLS, E-MAILS ETC.

Austin Lee wrote:
September 08, 2013

Brett, where are you finding the gun? the only place I've seen it is on centuries website and they just say ' coming soon..

Brett wrote:
September 03, 2013

The biggest problem is finding this gun. There aren't many local places that sell it. And those online sites that do end up wanting $50 in shipping on top of the FFL transfer fee. How about list somewhere to buy it for the MSRP? Elsewhere it's listed for $500 or more for a $375 gun

Harry Martin wrote:
August 17, 2013

Friend of mine has a Clone SAA in Italy and the hand the connects the hammer to the cylinder ratchet gives trouble. There is a spring embedded in the rear of the hand and it looses its tension. It is merely clenched to the hand. Can end an evenings practice.

C.E. Harris wrote:
June 28, 2013

Cylinder gap may also be an issue. You can expect about 10fps velocity loss for each 0.001' increase in cylinder gap above mean assembly tolerance in calibers such as .38 Special or .45 Colt, where fast-burning powders and lead bullets are used at mild pressures. A 4-inch gun with minimum gap of 0.003' may deliver higher velocities than a 6-inch gun at maximum assembly tolerance of 0.008'.

John S wrote:
June 21, 2013

Agree the writer should have given individual chamber/barrel dimensions and of course always take anything a gun mag reviews with a grain of salt...somebody's hand is always getting washed in this business. Now as for the Pietta, I'm a gunsmith and have worked on Pietta, Uberti, and Colt SAAs. As for the Italian clones, Uberti quality has been more consistent over the years, however over the last 5 or so years the Piettas have improved both in quality and consistency and currently their SAA clones in my opinion are a better made and finished gun than the Uberti…and less expensive to boot. Outside of the roll-marks, the Pietta rivals the Colt in fit, finish, and function. I currently own one Uberti and several Piettas. My Uberti, which is a farm work gun, has one problem…the metal around the firing pin hole is soft and I’ve had to stone it down twice as the firing pin has ridged it out enough to scratch case heads. The finest SAA I currently own is a Pietta in .357 cal from about 2009 when they were being imported by, I believe, Legacy Sports and it is roll-marked as a Puma Westerner. At the time I had the opportunity to buy several and I only bought one…a poor decision I regret as I would love to have a brace of the Puma Westerners. I’ll never sell it. I’ve bought several Pietta SAA’s in the last few years because I like them better than the Ubertis. The recent Piettas have very crisp, albeit slightly heavy triggers (5-6 lbs) and come from the factory with very good trigger jobs and lightened springs. I do a light trigger job on the Piettas and get them down to a crisp 3.5 to 4 lbs. The Ubertis come from the factory with heavier springs and a smooth but creepy trigger (which is the original SAA design). I haven’t seen the new Century Arms SAA yet so I would say wait until you can get your hands on one before you buy. If they are typical recent Piettas then they are an exceptional value at that price. I’ll be ordering a pair each of the .357 and .45.

Robert Abel wrote:
June 20, 2013

Don't know the quality of the firearm. But it is on their website, 2nd or third screen under handguns. Would like to shoot it for myself before having an opinion. I have a Great Western that I love. Others say they are junk. To each their own. each gun may vary. Keep um Loaded is all I can say. Robert

bushwacker wrote:
June 20, 2013

I agree with Dan Taylor, I can't find it either. I also question the cylinder mark after 200 rds. I have a .38 that has no mark after, maybe a 1000rds. However if this gun is available, give me a dealer name.

Dan Taylor wrote:
June 18, 2013

This gun doesn't exist on the Internet except for the NRA article. Can't find it at the company web site either.

Shooter X wrote:
June 18, 2013

Unfortunately, Pietta Arms is known for the lack of quality manufacturing for previous SAA models they've produced. Why this was not brought forth in this article is both surprising and disappointing, and causes me to wonder the reason for this review...that is, whether its purpose is to actually review or rather to promote this particular product???

Tom Hobbs wrote:
June 17, 2013

Appears to be a real value for those who like single acton firearms. A good "all-around firearm".

jr ewing wrote:
June 17, 2013

ammunition inconsistency as described most definitely indicates a potential problem with the firearm used. individual chamber and throat dimensions should have been measured, as well as the internal dimensions of the barrel itself. such initial results demand the ammunition be tested in other firearms. to leave the reader (customer) with more questions than answers reflects poorly on the article and the people associated with its contents.