It’s no secret that Cimarron Firearms Company is located in Fredericksburg, Texas, a fact easily confirmed by head honcho Mike Harvey’s friendly, down home accent. And just as obvious, Mike is justifiably proud of his Lone Star heritage. So it should come as no surprise that two of Cimarron’s newest replica 19th century guns pay homage to the Texas Rangers—not only their legend, but as a pair of tributes to their historic past.
“We’ve recently become closely associated with the Former Texas Rangers Foundation,” Harvey announced when introducing these guns during Cimarron’s premiere press conference at the 2017 SHOT Show in Las Vegas. “They’re building an educational facility in Fredericksburg to educate our youth about the past history of the Texas Rangers, and it will incorporate a Texas Rangers Museum as well.”
Consequently, Cimarron has partnered with the Texas Rangers Museum to create the Texas Ranger Model P, a laser-engraved, nickel plated 4 ¾” barreled single action revolver chambered in .45 Colt and made in Italy by Pietta. Handsomely embellished with laser-etched “C-type” coverage of Helfricht-style scrollwork, an outline of the State of Texas adorns the top of the backstrap, while prominently etched along the length of the ejector rod housing is the immortal slogan of the Texas Rangers, “One Riot, One Ranger.” In addition, the words “Texas Rangers” are etched along the top of the barrel and the one-piece white polymer grips are accented on both sides with an image of the Texas Ranger badge. The prototype I examined exhibited a surprisingly smooth action and I initially thought the gun had been tuned, but I was assured that was the way it came, straight from the factory.
This eye-catching sixshooter would be equally at home as a “barbeque gun” in a tooled leather holster, as an attention-getting yet practical sidearm on the trail or at the next Cowboy Action event. Priced at $793 each, and endorsed by the Former Texas Rangers Foundation, a portion of each Texas Ranger Model P sale is being donated by Cimarron for the development of the Texas Rangers Heritage Center. Moreover, this is not a limited edition, but will become a regular—and undoubtedly popular—part of the Cimarron Firearms line.
While the Texas Ranger Model P captures the romance of the Texas Rangers, Cimarron’s second tribute—the Texas Ranger Presidio Mystery 1876 Short Rifle—embodies mystery and intrigue. It is an Uberti-made saddle ring 1876 rifle, with an unusually short (for a Model ’76) 20” octagon barrel, button magazine, and chambered in .50-95 Win. But most significantly, the left sideplate is engraved:
Texas Rangers Co. E Para Muerte de Diablos Presido del Norte Texas, 1883
The Spanish inscription roughly translates to “For The Death of the Devils,” and appropriately, there are seven notches cut into the frame, just forward of the cartridge lifter. Aside from its unique configuration, this rifle is historically noteworthy, as it is an exact copy of an original Winchester Model 1876 that actually exists. Cimarron has mirrored this rifle perfectly in its Texas Ranger Presidio Mystery 1876 Short Rifle replica, right on down to its Henry ladder rear sight (which Mike had duplicated by Marble Arms) and the misspelling of “Presidio,” just as it appears on the original.
“A retired Texas Ranger walked into my office,” Mike recalls, in telling how Cimarron came to reproduce this historical curiosity. “Under his arm he was carrying the original of this gun, wrapped in an oil cloth and the gun was coated, inside and out, with axle grease. It had been stored for a hundred years. He was wondering if we could make a copy of this gun for his two sons. I said we could, but I would also like to produce this rifle as a regular part of my line, as it is one of the most interesting guns I’ve ever seen.”
The retired Ranger related he had purchased this rifle, while on a manhunt in Mexico many years ago, from an elderly lady who told him her grandfather occasionally used to serve as a scout for the Rangers. She was unable to tell him how this rifle found its way into Mexico or why it had been so carefully preserved. Was it, the Ranger wondered, a gift to a long-forgotten individual commemorating some notable event that occurred in the county of Presidio, Texas in 1883? If so, the only reference I have been able to find was of a gunfight that year in Presidio County involving three unidentified Texas Rangers. Could this rifle have been given to—or used by—one of them? After all, Presidio County lies within the jurisdiction of Texas Ranger Company E, and shares its western border with Mexico. Plus, a noted Texas Ranger, Captain Charles Nevill, was living in Presidio County about that time and served as its sheriff from 1882 to 1890, after he had retired from the Rangers.
However, the serial number of the rifle indicates it was shipped from the Winchester factory in 1884, so it obviously could not have been used before that date, further solidifying the theory that it was a commemoration. But to whom? And why? And what do the seven notches on the frame signify? Paired with the rifle’s inscription, we can logically surmise they represent seven dispatched “bad guys,” but that is only an assumption. To further complicate things, according to the Texas Ranger who brought the gun to Mike, the ‘76 was rumored to have been stolen from its original owner. It is also known that in 1918, long after his death, there was a raid on Nevill’s ranch by Mexican banditos, and everything of value was taken. Emulating General “Black Jack” Pershing’s “Punitive Expedition” of a few years earlier, a posse of Texas Rangers quickly pursued the outlaws across the Mexican border and captured 30 of them. That may—or may not—explain how the rifle eventually ended up in Mexico. But it was never found. And why it was so carefully preserved and hidden for all these years remains a mystery, one that will probably never be solved.
The original rifle is now on loan to the Texas Ranger Historical Foundation, and Cimarron has received permission to reproduce it, with a portion of its sales being donated to the foundation. The retail price of each gun is $1,818.70, and .50-95 Win. ammo, specially loaded for Cimarron’s 1876 rifle, is available in both black powder and reduced smokeless loadings from Buffalo Arms. Thus, even though the mystery of the Presidio Short Rifle remains unsolved, thanks to Cimarron, we can at least own—and shoot—a replica of its history.