Hello and welcome back to another Edition of The Rimfire Report! This ongoing series is all about the rimfire firearm world and its many guns, ammunition choices, and shooting sports. Last time we took a look at Federal Automatch 22LR in The Rimfire Report: Is Federal Automatch Secretly the Best Bulk Ammo?. This week I am at the helm and filling in for your usual host Luke C. When Luke asked me to fill in for today, I had to consider my inventory of rimfire firearms and settled on my J.P. Sauer & Sohn Western Marshal 22LR revolver. I have written about it as far as its history goes but I never actually sat down and did a full-on review. If you are curious about its broader history, please check out the Curious Relics articles (Part One and Part Two) on our sister site AllOutdoor.com. Let’s dive into my review of the J.P. Sauer & Sohn Western Marshal 22LR Revolver!
Rimfire Revolver articles on TFB & AllOutdoor:
Brief History Recap: J.P. Sauer & Sohn Western Marshal 22LR Revolver
It all really begins with Colt ceasing their production of the Single Action Army in the early 1940s. This decision was made because Colt wanted to devote more time and resources to the war effort at the start of World War Two. No plans were in place to ever bring the old Colt SAA back. This left a couple generations of people who either grew up in the boom of the old west or younger ones who watched in romanticized and depicted in the golden age of film without an example they could easily go to a shop and pick up for themselves.
With this void in the market and the love still felt for the design, Ruger took up some of the slack by introducing their Single Six 22LR revolver in June 1953. Meanwhile, an engineer by the name of William R. Wilson (he went by Bill) set out to manufacture and export copies of the famed Colt 1873 Single Action Army. Over time he enlisted the help of Haywood “Hy” Hunter (known for his mail-order catalogs) and J.P. Sauer & Sohn who established a new base of operations in Eckernförde, West Germany. In 1954 The Great Western Arms Company began production of Colt SAA clones.
They were manufactured through J.P. Sauer & Sohn, imported by The Great Western Arms Company, and sold mostly through Hy Hunter. Those Hy Hunter catalogs became a great marketing force for these western revolvers but unfortunately, they were the only marketing. This resulted in the Great Western Arms Company going into financial turmoil with one investor/debtor taking control and getting rid of Hy Hunter in favor of E&M (Early & Modern Firearms, Inc.) and Stoeger. By late 1958 the Great Western Arms Company went bankrupt and ceased to import.
Sometime in the 1960s importation and distribution were taken over by a former employee of Hy Hunter and it was done under the name Hawes Firearms Co. Production of these revolvers (rimfire or otherwise) ran up until roughly 1980 when the Hawes Firearms company went out of business because of a bunch of lawsuits regarding accidental discharges. I have not read of any particular fault to attribute to the cause of these accidental discharges besides these revolvers having a frame-mounted firing pin with no transfer bar system.
Note: For those of you who crave a deeper depth analysis or just an interesting story overall beyond my personal articles regarding this subject, there is an excellent and in-depth book out there called Great Western Arms Company; Revolvers and Derringers Manufactured from 1954 to 1964 by John Dougan and Jim Hoobler.
Specifications: J.P. Sauer & Sohn Western Marshal 22LR Revolver
The specifications for the most part are attributed to my revolver alone. It is a J.P. Sauer & Sohn Hawes Western Marshal chambered in 22LR. If I had to guess its year of manufacture it would most likely be in the very late 1960s or early 1970s. It is a single-action revolver built extremely similar to the Colt Single Action Army. Everything operates the same. The firing pin is fixed to the frame which is considered outdated since it does not have a transfer bar. Like with the Colt Single Action Army, the half cock does not serve as a safety.
- Years Produced: From roughly 1957 to 1980
- MSRP In 1975: Roughly $80 ($441.35 in 2022)
- Chambering: 22 Long Rifle
- Barrel Length: 3”, 4.25”, 5.5”, 6”, 6.5”, and 7.5”
- Weight: Roughly 34 Ounces
- Action: Single Action
- Capacity: 6
- Front Sight: Fixed Front Short Half Moon
- Rear Sight: Top Strap Groove
- Grip: Rosewood, Faux Stag, Faux Pearl, Black Rubber.
Range Time: J.P. Sauer & Sohn Western Marshal 22LR Revolver
Back when I acquired this revolver, I was full of hope. I love single-action revolvers. They are just so mechanically satisfying. I have other rimfire revolvers such as a Ruger Wrangle but this was the first one that is on par with an actual SAA, size wise I mean. I do not shoot my Ruger Wrangler very well or at least it does not shoot well, I am sure it is a combination of both. I have been craving another single-action 22LR revolver to hopefully have more fun at the range.
The J.P. Sauer & Sohn Hawes Western Marshal 22LR actually shot quite well. It grouped decently and consistently but it had one noticeable flaw: it shot about three or four inches high at 15 yards. This is almost certainly a result of that very shallow and short front half-moon sight. Most Colt SAA-style revolvers have a very large front sight just in case they need to be shaved down for the user’s comfort and accuracy. This revolver unfortunately never had a large sight, to begin with. If it continues to bother me that much I will go ahead and alter or replace the front sight.
The trigger was fair and the smoothness of the action is softer than that of the clanky modern pot metal guns. The faux stag grips leave a lot to be desired but they are a relic of their time and fit their value. I will probably make some walnut ones one of these days since I cannot find replacements to my liking.
Conclusion: J.P. Sauer & Sohn Western Marshal 22LR Revolver
When I picked up the J.P. Sauer & Sohn Western Marshal 22LR, I had high hopes. It has delivered for the most part. I can quickly and accurately shoot so long as I hold a few inches low. The action is soft and smooth. The faux stag grips are a bit old-school and tacky (tacky as in cheap…they are actually kind of slippery). I think if have the time and implement some alterations this could be a much more fun gun to shoot but as of right now, I feel so/so about it as a whole. I like it but it could be better.
I had never heard of these specific old pot metal revolvers until this one dropped into my lap. After the fact, I found out they were extremely common. It makes me wonder if any of you folks have one or two out there. What do you guys and gals think? Thanks as always for stopping by to check out The Rimfire Report and we’ll see you again next week. Hope you folks enjoyed and thank you very much for having me!
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