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Best and worst SAA clones? Advice, please.


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I’m new to the game and currently shooting a set of original Vaqueros in 38/357. I want to get a set of SAA clones (just cuz) in .45 Colt and am curious if there truly is a difference in quality between the major companies, or does it all just boil down to personal preference?  I am really fond of the octagon barrel models, and I’ve been looking at the Pietta Gunfighter II, but this led to my question of quality differences between Uberti, Pietta, etc.  While we’re at it, why all the discussion about “4 click” vs. “3 click”?  Is this a case of preference or is there a material difference?

 

Thanks for your wisdom, as always!  
 

Let ‘er rip!

 

JJ

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I think for a suppository pistol both Pietta and Uberti are about the same quality.  Most (if not all) will benefit from some action smoothing. Preferences are with fit and feel, for some historical accuracy plays into it, others it’s coloring.   The 3 vs. 4 click, now there’s a discussion.  How do you feel about a transfer bar?

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I have three Uberti-built SAA clones; two are 3 click, one is 4 click.  Two are Cimarron, One is Stoeger import.  The overall quality is close to the same, but the Stoeger has some scratching on the hammer where the frame had burrs, and the spring is a bit heavier on the Stoeger.

 

As for the clicks, I think the main difference is the three click models have a different kind of safety, therefore more moving parts.  (You can see YouTube videos on the Uberti firing pin that was used since 20216.)  The 4 click models with a solid firing pin on the hammer is probably more foolproof, but I've only heard of a few breakdowns.  If having trouble during a match is abhorrent to you, you can convert a 3 click to 4 click for approx $100, or hack a fix yourself for less money but maybe a bit of risk.

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Edited by Diamond Jake
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Pietta is a close copy of the real Colt SAA.  Many parts will interchange.  The Uberti is scaled up and parts will not interchange.  Uberti does not have a bushing around the firing pin hole like Pietta and Colt.  Pietta has a pressed in cam on hammer that can be replaced like Colt.  Uberti has a cam as part of the hammer. 

 

1036252639_PiettaEleminatorhandandhammerAug2018.jpg.86c73b77daa06b5c7947ac1ab70d870f.jpg2025745250_PiettaEleminatorfiringpinbushingAug2018.jpg.841b2d2d352e2dfbcf28ce908f7fd6d8.jpg

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Both pietta and uberti have put out junk and quality depending on when it was built.   if your looking at used.    If your looking at new currently I'd put pietta ahead. As John said I'd put the great western 2 as the best out of the box currently being imported. 

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PLUS ONE to John Barleycorn

 

Current Uberti SA Replicants are questionable based on the funky retract firing pin (3 click gun)

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I have Uberti, Great Western [original] and Armi San Marco.

I think my ASM's the most similar to a Colt.  The only "noticeable" difference is the two position cylinder pin that acts as a "safety."  A real Colt in can be slid in to do away with it if you don't want it.  I have two of these.  One is a black powder frame set up to be are replica of a GI SAA.   The other is a generic one that I used as the basis for my "Big Iron."

But, I think ASM is gone now.

Great Western, the original clone, was a great gun, but it has some very odd differences, such as a frame mounted firing pin.  But if you can find one, they are worth getting.   Mine's a .44 Magnum.

I've got a handful of Uberties in different configurations, and the most striking oddity about them is the way a chunk of metal on the hammer falls down into a slot when you are on the safety notch, that pretty much makes it a real safety.   It's a weird looking thing, but easily ignored.  Fit and function of the guns is excellent.  Of course, these area earlier, "four click" guns.

I don't have any Piettas, USFA's or that new company that's making 'em here in the US that has gotten good reviews who's name I can't remember.

Of course, I've got a plethora of Colts from all  generations.   Can't go wrong with any of 'em in my opinion.

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The best clone? I would say USFA followed by Standard Mfg. There are some that would argue that USFA surpassed Colt in quality and their prices reflect this opinion.

But Uberti makes a heck of a gun for the money and mine will most likely outlast me. (I do not have any Piettas so I can't speak to them.)

 

If a person is concerned about the traditional 4 clicks to spell C-O-L-T for traditions sake, then the octagon barrel models should be removed from the discussion as Colt never made an SAA with an octagon barrel. It is a recently offered fantasy piece only. If you like them, I have no issue with them, but you won't find a 1880s tinplate with a cowboy holding one.

 

In my opinion you already own the most reliable SAA clone going; the Ruger Vaquero.

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To all who replied - thank you!  This is all great advice. It makes sense that any mfg over time can suffer from volatility in quality but it sounds like, generally speaking, they’re all serviceable. As for period-originality, I’m not super hung up on that but I also want to stay fairly close to the traditions of the game. As for octagon barrels - no doubt they are a modern incarnation - I just think they look darn cool!  Being that I’m not in dire need, and prices are currently high, I’ll take my time to find the ones that suit me best. Like most of you, I’m sure that’ll be only one stop on this long train ride!!

 

BTW - I scored my Vaq’s from John Barleycorn last august and darn glad I got em then. Fine shooters and a fine fella to bargain with. 

 

thanks again gents. Happy shooting!

 

JJ

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17 hours ago, Warden Callaway said:

Pietta is a close copy of the real Colt SAA.  Many parts will interchange.  The Uberti is scaled up and parts will not interchange.  Uberti does not have a bushing around the firing pin hole like Pietta and Colt.  Pietta has a pressed in cam on hammer that can be replaced like Colt.  Uberti has a cam as part of the hammer. 

 

1036252639_PiettaEleminatorhandandhammerAug2018.jpg.86c73b77daa06b5c7947ac1ab70d870f.jpg2025745250_PiettaEleminatorfiringpinbushingAug2018.jpg.841b2d2d352e2dfbcf28ce908f7fd6d8.jpg

Warden, thank you very much for this in depth answer, with photos to boot!  Much appreciated sir!
 

JJ

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Is price important?

 

Hard to beat a well cared for used Uberti or Pietta that you get for $400.

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looks like you got everything i would have suggested , ive had most all and agree with whats been said , you probably will find one more to your liking than another eventually , i think if someone is willing to let you - try a few - i have my preferred now after many years of messing about and spending money to get here , but it was great fun messing about to get there in my case - not recommending buying them all to figure it out unless your also so inclined , 

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My major disappointment with Pietta is you can have a wide variety of styles, finishes,  and materials as long as it's 357 Magnum or 45 Colt.   While they have a couple 44WCF and maybe 44 special, they are very limited in configuration.   

 

I'd like bright polished stainless with black powder frame in 38WCF with extra 40S&W cylinders with lowered hammers. 

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The pair of 4 click Uberti's that I bought from Cimarron at least 25yrs ago have been good and solid guns. I did some slicking up on them when I first got them. Recut the forcing cone, fitted and replaced the Bolts, new cylinder pins, tuned springs through out, reamed the cylinders for consistency, touched up the ratchet, replace the Hand spring setup, added new front sights, added trigger stops, custom grips, installed Low/Wide hammers. Other than that they are completely Stock guns.  :ph34r:

 

Snakebite

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You can still get Uberti's with fixed firing pin in some of their line.

 

I personally can't stand the MIM parts Pietta is using they don't even try to

clean them up. All the triggers have 2 mold marks on them.

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On 6/15/2021 at 12:37 AM, JJ “Reb” Wainwright 110206 said:

Oh boy!  That’s just swell!

 

Thanks, Reb.   If was a lot of fun getting this put together.  I chalk it up to my own silliness.   The gun it's made from is a fairly ordinary Armi San Marco.   Never given me a lick of trouble.

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As stated above, pluses, and minus's, exist, on all the clones.

 

The older Armi single action, I have, has real casehardening, and puts both Uberti, and Pietta, to shame...but...Armi is out of business now. 

Pietta's quality has really come way up, in the last few years, but it really had no other direction to go, but up.

I prefer the lack of barrel writing, on the Uberti Cimarron's. They hide most of the writing under the loading lever, or the ejection housing, unlike Pietta, who vies with Ruger to see how much wording they seem to feel they have to put on the barrel. 

 

Some say the Pietta is smoother, some say the Uberti has better/tighter tolerances. Pietta has the Great Western II, Uberti has the Old Model with the blackpowder frame, and even the antique finish, or charcoal blue, option. Uberti has the "3 click" version, if you wish to load all six rounds, but of course, SASS doesn't allow that, so Uberti corrected a problem that did not exist, with SASS  :blink:.

I load six rounds when I am plinking in the cow pasture, but load 5 in other, more formal, situations, that have more rules than a Nun in a convent.. 

 

The best Italian clone, as already stated, will need some tweaking, out of the box...(not talking about the old USFA revolvers, or the current Standard revolvers...just the Italian clones).

 

It just depends on what you want, and can live with. If you forget your paperback novel, when you are in the deer stand, you can always take out your Pietta, and read the "mini-novel" on both sides of the barrel. If you want a black-powder frame, 4 click, revolver, then Uberti/Cimarron is the way to go. If you want a close Colt clone, then an old, used USFA, or a current made Standard. If you want an Italian clone that is close, internally, to a Colt, then a Great Western II. 

 

Not sure if Pietta offers a clone in .38 WCF, or .32 WCF, or a blackpowder frame, but Uberti does...so choice of caliber, and frame style, may be a consideration for you.

 

So...it's Pietta, Uberti, an old used USFA, or a current made Standard...or an old used Armi. Not a ton of choices, but it beats a stick in the eye.

In today's clone world, there are a heck of a lot more choices, than when I first started shooting the clones, back in 1965...(probably before a lot of you were even a glint in your parent's eyes).   

 

it ain't perfect, but it's all good.

 

My Two Bits. 

W.K.

 

 

 

   

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6 hours ago, Waxahachie Kid #17017 L said:

As stated above, pluses, and minus's, exist, on all the clones.

 

The older Armi single action, I have, has real casehardening, and puts both Uberti, and Pietta, to shame...but...Armi is out of business now. 

Pietta's quality has really come way up, in the last few years, but it really had no other direction to go, but up.

I prefer the lack of barrel writing, on the Uberti Cimarron's. They hide most of the writing under the loading lever, or the ejection housing, unlike Pietta, who vies with Ruger to see how much wording they seem to feel they have to put on the barrel. 

 

Some say the Pietta is smoother, some say the Uberti has better/tighter tolerances. Pietta has the Great Western II, Uberti has the Old Model with the blackpowder frame, and even the antique finish, or charcoal blue, option. Uberti has the "3 click" version, if you wish to load all six rounds, but of course, SASS doesn't allow that, so Uberti corrected a problem that did not exist, with SASS  :blink:.

I load six rounds when I am plinking in the cow pasture, but load 5 in other, more formal, situations, that have more rules than a Nun in a convent.. 

 

The best Italian clone, as already stated, will need some tweaking, out of the box...(not talking about the old USFA revolvers, or the current Standard revolvers...just the Italian clones).

 

It just depends on what you want, and can live with. If you forget your paperback novel, when you are in the deer stand, you can always take out your Pietta, and read the "mini-novel" on both sides of the barrel. If you want a black-powder frame, 4 click, revolver, then Uberti/Cimarron is the way to go. If you want a close Colt clone, then an old, used USFA, or a current made Standard. If you want an Italian clone that is close, internally, to a Colt, then a Great Western II. 

 

Not sure if Pietta offers a clone in .38 WCF, or .32 WCF, or a blackpowder frame, but Uberti does...so choice of caliber, and frame style, may be a consideration for you.

 

So...it's Pietta, Uberti, an old used USFA, or a current made Standard...or an old used Armi. Not a ton of choices, but it beats a stick in the eye.

In today's clone world, there are a heck of a lot more choices, than when I first started shooting the clones, back in 1965...(probably before a lot of you were even a glint in your parent's eyes).   

 

it ain't perfect, but it's all good.

 

My Two Bits. 

W.K.

 

 

 

   

Sage advice W.K.  Thank you for taking the time to write this!  Very helpful. JJ

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