- Stoeger OWD I 033_gowfinalProduced by Uberti on the .22 Stallion frame, the OWD (Old West Defense) is a compact six-gun in .38 Long Colt/.38 Special and would have been the perfect hideout gun for a Pinkerton man or Wells Fargo operative.
- Stoeger OWD II 007_gowfinalThe OWD (bottom) is almost identical in size with the Colt 1877 Lightning (top) which was Colt’s first double-action six-shooter. It was chambered in .38 Long Colt and was a favorite of lawmen and outlaws.
- Stoeger OWD I 034_gowfinalHere you can compare the Uberti OWD with a replica of a full-size Colt Model P (SAA) with a 5.5” barrel (top). In the late 19th century the OWD would have been considered a “pocket pistol.”
- Stoeger's OWD 002_gowfinalAuthor put the OWD through its paces at a two day, 10 stage CAS match and found the little sixgun to be fast-handling, reliable and the grips fit his hand to a ‘T.’
- Stoeger OWD I 064_gowfinalUnlike the Colt Lightning, the OWD with its short 3.5” barrel has an ejector rod and housing. The Colt had to have a 4.5” barrel for the factory to fit it with an ejector assembly.
- Stoeger OWD I 061_gowfinalLike the Colt Lightning, the Uberti OWD has a “birdshead” grip, so-named because of its looks. The grips are one-piece walnut with nice hand checkering.
- Stoeger OWD I 054_gowfinalTwo features distinguish the scaled-down OWD from being an exact SAA reproduction; the firing pin is mounted in the frame of the OWD and the chambers in the cylinder are counter-bored or rebated to enclose the cartridge case heads.
As with all the CAS-related guns I receive to test, I wanted to shoot the Uberti OWD in a SASS-approved CAS match, but first I had to know where the sights were on this diminutive centerfire six-gun. I headed down to the ammunition locker and since the barrel is stamped .38 Colt, I grabbed a box of Black Hills cowboy loads in .38 Long Colt, which carries a 158-grain round-nose, flat-pointed bullet. I also included .38 Special cowboy loads from Hornady, which had a 140-grain bullet; Ten-X with a 130-grain bullet and Winchester with a 158-grain bullet — all are lead with flat points. I put up a round, medium-sized 8-inch target to get an idea on the sights and then proceeded to shoot a few rounds with each load with the target at the 7-yard line. Using a two-handed hold, I put 15 rounds into the center of the target, most in the red X-ring, with no hits outside the 10-ring.
To check the accuracy potential of the OWD, I moved the target stand out to 10 yards and from the bench shot four 5-shot groups with each of the test cartridges using oval-shaped targets. Results were somewhat mixed, and nearly all of the less-than-the-best groups were my fault. I had a little trouble seeing the rounded front sight and the 4+1 Syndrome was alive and well, spoiling a number of nice tight groups. Still, all in all my best group measured a scant 0.65 inches and was just one enlarged hole using the Ten-X .38 Special cartridges. Second place went to the Hornady cowboy loads with a 1.61-inch cluster and it seemed that both the shooter and the gun preferred the ammunition with the lighter weight bullets. My point of aim was pretty much 6 o’clock of dead center and as I mentioned earlier, the fixed sights were very well regulated.
As a primer for the upcoming CAS competition I loaded up the Uberti OWD revolver with various mixtures of test ammunition and did some rapid fire shooting at a full-size silhouette target from about 5 yards. The target was light blue in color, which, along with the wide front sight and generous rear sight notch, really helped me in the acquisition of a quick sight picture. The gun seemed to fit well in my medium-sized hand and using a two-handed hold I found it very easy to rapidly manipulate the hammer. The birdshead grip felt natural in my hand and the finely checkered panels on the side of the grips greatly assisted in shot-to-shot recovery. All that was left to do now was to hunt through my cowboy leather gear collection and come up with a holster and belt that would work well with the reduced-size frame and short barrel.
For the upcoming CAS match I selected a holster from El Paso Saddlery that normally carries a .22 RF SA revolver. It is called the 1890 “Original” and has a single loop that is riveted to a wide skirt so you can easily thread it onto a full-size cartridge belt. Mine is finished in a russet brown with a border stamping and is lined; a hammer thong is standard equipment. This holster was reputed to have been carried by both Texas Ranger Captain John Hughes and the killer of John Wesley Hardin, El Paso Constable John Selman. It was mated with a canvas and leather cartridge belt of unknown make that I’ve had in my leather collection for many years.
The CAS match to which I took the Stoeger OWD revolver was a two-day, 10-stage event hosted by the Pleasant Valley Renegades SASS Club. The first six main match stages were shot on Saturday with the final four stages and awards coming on Sunday. I paired my OWD with a Ruger New Vaquero in .38/.357 and my long guns included a Stoeger 12 Gauge Coach Gun and an 1873 Winchester carbine also in .38/.357 caliber. As I often do, I shot in the 49’er classification. The OWD performed admirably and I found it was quick to get on target and easy to control in rapid fire. The checkered birdshead grip and my hand were a perfect combination. I walked away on Saturday with maybe not the best of recorded times, but no procedurals or misses.
On Day Two I really thought I had the potential to shoot a clean match, but the last round, on the last target, with my lever gun, I let one go too early and hit the grass about 6 inches to the left of the target. So much for a clean match — so I then decided to concentrate on speed. I ramped things up a bit and thought I had improved my times somewhat. It irked me just a tad that I did not have another miss the rest of the day and would have had a clean shoot except for that one lousy shot. Cowboy-up Bill! I ended up with a green 4th Place ribbon in 49’er, the first one I have ever received.
I really enjoyed shooting the Stoeger Old West Defense six-shooter and despite its small size I think it works great for SASS competition. I still don’t like the rebated cylinder chambers, but I think its good points far outweigh the bad and would seriously consider it for my battery and for a new shooter, buckaroo or cowgirl, it might be ideal.