Gun Test

A. Uberti's 1185 High-Wall

The .45/70 Government is one of those cartridges that refuse to die. Since its birth some 130 years ago, it has had a loyal following. Likewise, the Model 1885 Winchester single-shot, John Browning's first successful rifle design, continues to be reborn in various guises. Unite a Model 1885 with the .45/70 and you have what might be America's fundamental Dynamic Duo, or so hopes A. Uberti, an Italian gunmaker that specializes in reproductions of classic American firearms of the 19th century.

I used and tested the Model 1885 High-Wall on a Texas deer hunt. Because I plan to use the rifle in Black Powder Cartridge Silhouette competitions, I had to install the company's tang-mounted, adjustable peep sight for long shots at targets out to 500 meters. (There are no scopes allowed in these competitions.) I found that the supplied tang sight mounted easily, but I couldn't use the globe-type front sight-it didn't fit in the firearm's slot. This seriously handicapped precise aiming for accuracy testing.

The Uberti reproductions are faithful copies of the originals. Critics who compare A. Uberti's Model 1885 with a Winchester original will find little to complain about; the case coloring on the receiver, lever and hammer on my sample seemed a bit thin and colorless, but the workmanship was hard to fault. The wood-to-metal fit equals any original.

Though it would compromise A. Uberti's determination for authenticity, I'd like to see this rifle, or a special- order version, available with a barrel that is drilled and tapped for a scope. After all, scoped Model 1885's were not unheard of, even in the early years. Shooting at long range with this rifle would be more enjoyable with a scope.

Because of the aiming limitations of my open-sighted test sample, I did all shooting at 50 yards. The 50-meter, three-shot test target that came with my rifle measured less than 1 inch, but I was never able to do as well. Of several three-shot groups with both Federal and Winchester loads with 300-grain, copper-jacketed bullets, two of the three shots would usually be close or overlapping but the third shot would be nearly 2 inches away, which would translate into 4-inch groups at 100 yards. The best accuracy came with a 400-grain, soft-cast lead bullet pushed by 25 grains of IMR-4759 for a velocity of about 1,300 feet per second. Having a scope to aim with, that load would probably go 2 inches or less at 100 yards and make this new A. Uberti Model 1885 sing like a true Italian.

_ (Imported by Stoeger, 17603 Indian Head Highway, Accokeek, MD 20607; 301-283-6981; www.stoegerindustries.com)_