It's huge for a 22LR (Travis Pike for TTAG)
Previous Post
Next Post

I officially have two guns that were made in Western Germany, and both wear the Sauer name. My SIG Sauer P220 was the first, which I adore. Now I have a JP Sauer and Sohn revolver. Specifically, a .22LR wheel gun known as the Western Marshal. This Colt SAA replica was imported by Hawes Firearms Company of Los Angeles and I acquired it through my local gun store.

My local gun store is doing a remodel and reorganizing, and along the way the owner, who’s a personal friend, is finding a variety of bizarre guns he’s acquired over time. Florida had a weird quirk in its gun control laws that allows you to bypass the three-day waiting period for a handgun by trading in another handgun. As a result, he’s has a number of bizarre guns people have traded in — many of them broken — to avoid the waiting period. One was the Western Marshal revolver we have here.

The Short and Sweet History of the Western Marshal

JP Sauer & Sohn began producing these revolvers in the mid-60s, from what my research can find. After Ruger created the Single-Six, the six-gun market took off alongside the crazy rise in western films at the time. Well, that inspired several gunmakers overseas to import much more affordable six-gun replicas including Rohm, and JP Sauer.

West Germany made some neat guns (Travis Pike For TTAG)

Their cheap nature and rather reliable design ensured they were affordable to all. Since gun control is both racist and classist, the 1968 Gun Control Act was born, and inexpensive handguns were banned from import, and the sporting purpose clause was introduced. This banned a number of inexpensive handguns from importation. The Western Marshal was likely part of that ban.

I’m not an expert on the GCA or the points system it uses to classify handguns, but from what I’ve researched, it seems like the Western Marshal doesn’t get many. It’s a pot metal frame, has non-adjustable sights, falls into the 22LR category. However, it does have a long overall length of 11.5 inches, and it is quite heavy. At two pounds and six ounces, it’s a little heavier than the Rough Riders with a 6.5-inch barrel even though it’s only got a 5.5-inch barrel.

The Western Marshal certainly provided that western feel and look (Travis Pike for TTAG)

JP Sauer produced the gun in a variety of calibers, including .45 Colt and .44 Magnum. These were apparently imported until 1980. I can’t find any information if the GCA affected the .22LR variant. If you look at the point system, the caliber and lack of adjustable sights don’t add many points to the gun’s import factor.

The Cool Factor

The cool factor of this gun comes from the fact that’s it is a 1:1 replica of a Colt SAA…or very close to it. It’s larger and heavier than the current .22 LR ‘reproductions’ from companies like Ruger and Heritage. It feels like a ‘real’ gun, for lack of a better term.

The Western Marshal is huge and heavy. Everything from the thick barrel profile to the massive cylinder make the Western Marshal a substantial, solidly-built handgun.

The thick zamak barrel and steel insert give it pistol whipping weight (Travis Pike for TTAG)

In other words, the Western Marshal a product of its time. It lacks a transfer bar, but has a frame-mounted firing pin (OK, so it’s not an exact replica of the Colt SAA). However, the size and weight make it feel like a very capable weapon, just one that’s chambered in .22LR.

The Western Marshal came with a variety of different grips, but mine has a set of hand-carved grips. I’m guessing the original owner of this revolver lost or broke the original grips. They then carved their own, and I’m not judging. I couldn’t carve grips as nice, although these are rather rough.

Look at that massive cylinder (Travis Pike for TTAG)

The Western Marshal was a budget-friendly handgun then and they still are, when you can find one. They don’t have much collector’s value, and the demand for them is low. I’m not losing out on any real value with my lack of original grips. Actually, I think the hand-carved grips add a little panache to the gun and give it a story.

They ain’t fancy, but I couldn’t carve grip myself (Travis Pike for TTAG)

Zamak seems to be the material of choice to build the majority of the gun (hence the relatively low value). Zamak is a cheap mix of zinc, aluminum, magnesium, and kupfe(copper). It’s what most of us call “pot metal.” The barrel is thick and seems to be zamak around a steel barrel insert.

How It Handles

The Western Marshal delivers fun at the range. I can see why guns like this were popular. It’s a .22LR cowboy gun, and it’s tough for a revolver like this to not be a fun little shooter (see affordable current models like the Heritage Rough Rider and Ruger Wrangler). All that extra weight makes the Western Marshal feel much more capable than it is and delivers almost no recoil or muzzle rise. It barely moves when it goes bang.

It’s fun to play one-handed cowboy. (Travis Pike for TTAG)

The fixed front sight and rear trench sight are just what you’d expect from the gun. It’s accurate enough to hit a 4-inch gong at 25 yards. Not too bad, and at close range, I feel plenty confident in popping snakes and squirrels with the Western Marshal.

No coper jacketed rounds, sorry (Travis Pike for TTAG)

Does it make me feel like a cowboy? Darn tootin. Something about the series of clicks you hear as you pull the hammer to the rear is something that will always delight me. The short trigger pull is so utterly smooth, and the gun’s design forces me to cast aside modern shooting styles. I like to blade myself to the target and shoot with one hand.

It’s huge for a 22LR (Travis Pike for TTAG)

If you gave me another of these guns, you know I would be a two gun man….at least at the range. The Western Marshal and guns like it are just a ton of fun. That’s where they excel, and since most of my shooting is done for fun, that’s just fine with me.

Reliability 

The Western Marshal is surprisingly ammo picky…not in terms of reliability, but in terms of fit. Copper-covered rounds don’t squeeze into the cylinder. The projectile seems too wide to allow it to smoothly slip in. Standard lead projectiles fit the cylinder fine. I might be able to force once in there, but why? It seems like I’d be asking for trouble.

There were a number of soft hammer strikes that failed to ignite the round on the first go around. However, rarely did the rounds make it past the second pull before they went bang. Is this an inherent flaw?

It’s old, but functions almost perfectly (Travis Pike for TTAG)

Are rimfire rounds a little harder these days? Is this gun just old? Well, who knows If it was a defensive pistol, I’d have problems with that. For me, though, this is just a fun little .22LR cowboy cannon.

The JP Sauer Western Marshal is just plain cool. Its size and weight make it feel like a ‘real’ gun. For a cheap pot metal revolver, it’s very smooth and seemingly well-made. While it might not have much monetary value, it’s made me smile at the range, and that’s certainly worth the price.

Previous Post
Next Post

16 COMMENTS

  1. Oh hell you would have to rub salt in a wound ,wouldn’t you.
    The first pistol I bought was a Hawes Saur and Sons. Beautiful, rose wood grips, brass backstrap.
    Traded it for a tank full of gas at a gas station when traveling across America and hit hard times.
    I suppose your next up will be a Colt Trooper Mk3?

  2. Buddy of mine had a .44 mag Hawes branded SAA. Took it and my Colt Trooper mk 3 to the range. 3 rounds in and his Hawes malfunction so badly, internal parts breakage, that it was inoperable after.

    That Colt went through all my ammo without a hitch.

  3. Bought an inexpensive 22/ 22 mag. peacemaker clone made by Herbert Schmidt. Now 55 years later it still shoots great but due to the excessive clearance between the forcing cone and the cylinder, ear plugs are a must. It has been accurate and dependable.

  4. I have a Hawes black powder 1851 Colt Navy with 5″ barrel labeled “Marshall.” Heavy as sin, but utterly reliable and shoots straight. Never could find out much about Hawes after it disappeared from the scene. But I do still see NEW Sauer western style pistols–and reviews suggesting that they are of questionable reliability.

  5. My grand father Had a Western Marshal 4″ .357 magnum. If I had a chance to buy one I would. LOTS of memories there, never got to fire it while he was alive but did after he passed. That gun fell into an uncle’s hands who wasn’t of the best repute and disappeared afterwards.

  6. J. P. Sauer’s (HAWES) .44 mag was a great gun I wish I still had. Got a .44 RUGER, and got rid of the HAWES, When SIG bought out Sauer, seems that the single action revolvers were no longer being made. Too bad.

    • IIRC, SIG partnered with JP Sauer. This enabled several SIG designs to be considered for military/LEO contracts. These contracts stipulated the arms MUST be produced in Germany, with NO exceptions.

  7. A .357 Hawes found its way to me for $100 because “the timing was off” or “something was wrong in the clockwork.” It had a big red “DO NOT FIRE” tag attached in the display case.. It had no grips, and had been wrapped in paracord. I could see the issue. An end was wedged in the mainspring. A set of white grips with the nickel finish made it look suitable for the Lone Ranger! Runs good, too.

    • 🙂 Grips hacked from plywood by somebody who never heard of files and sandpaper, apparently…but hey, if they fit and you can grip ’em…

  8. I get “obscure” and “object,” but I don’t understand “desire.” Was anyone searching for one, or did you decide it was kind of fun once you go ahold of it?

  9. I have the Western Marshall in .45 Long Colt. It was my first centerfire handgun. I used it as a camping gun for years and loved it.
    I dont shoot it much anymore. Factory loads are too expensive, and my handloads foul the barrel (after one cylinder) with a lead sleeve that probably boosts pressures too much and definitely wrecks accuracy. After two cylinders forget it. Its fun but lots of other revolvers less ammo picky and more capable.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here