Saturday, July 11, 2015

Firearm Forum Question: Review and Testing of the 45 Colt Dakota Revolver by Armi Jager

Ask A Firearms Question:
I recently purchased for $200.00 an old 45 Colt Dakota Cowboy Revolver by Armi Jager from Italy. Is there anything you can tell me about this handgun? 
Thank you Sedge Bulnap.

Some Photos of The Colt Dakota Cowboy 45 Long Colt (LC) Revolver:

Answer :
Blog Administrator -
I am very familiar with the Armi Jager Dakota Cowboy Revolver, I use to have one.
I would like to start off by saying you got a great Cowboy Revolver and at a very good price.

Above are some of my old pictures of my Dakota 45LC.

Below is some history, downside to this handgun, upside to this cowboy six shooter, more photos, and a homemade video of the Armi Jager Cowboy Revolver.
These are now collectible.
I originally paid $250.00 for mine, did a cowboy action job, another $75.00, put around 1,500 rounds through it and sold the revolver for $450.00.

First the firearm is a cloned copy of the Colt Model 1873 Single Action Army Revolver.

A famous Cowboy Shooter named Bob Munden used the Dakota 45LC as part of of his shooting demonstrations and made the Armi Jager Dakota Cowboy Revolver famous -

This Post is Updated

Specification on the Dakota Cowboy Armi Jager Model 1873 Single Action Army Revolver that I personally owned -
Importer : Armi Jager of Italy
Manufacturer:  E.M.F. Company
Manufactured in the 1980's by F.LLI Pietta of Italy for EMF USA.
Also marketed as: EMF DAKOTA TARGET SAA
Copy of Colt 1873 Single Action Army Model with 4 3/4 Inch Barrel 
  often referred to as the 'Sheriff's Model'
Caliber: 45 LC (Long Colt)
Model: Dakota
Action: Single Action 6-Shot Revolver
Single 4-Position Hammer
Standrad Slide Ejector
Rounds: Can Handle 45 LC Lead, 45 LC Flat, 45 LC Hollow Point,  
  anybrand including properly done reloads
Wood Mahogany Pistol Grips
Barrel Length: 4 3/4 Inches (4.75)
Overall Length: 10 1/4 Inches (10.25)
Brass Metal Frame
Standard Blued Barrel
Fixed Front Ruger Style Sights
Copy of Colt Revolver (Clone)
Metal Trigger
Metal Trigger Guard Assembly
Has 3 Stamped Proof Marks on right side of Brass Metal Frame
Metal Frame, front of Trigger Guard is the Serial Number (S/N) Location
Barrel Markings:
  Top of Barrel  - Armi Jager Italy 
  Left Side of Barrel – Dakota Cal. 45 Colt
  Right Side Barrel – 2 Stamped Proof and Manufacturing Marks
  Armi of Italy is the Importer not the Manufacturer.
  Approximate Weight: With 5 rounds is 2 pounds.

About the Dakota Cowboy Armi Jager Model 1873 Single Action Army Revolver:
   Part of the information contained in this section is attributed to Sack Peterson
   a.k.a. Stag Gun Grips -
This was called Italy's first cloned Colt Cowboy Gun.
If you remember in the 60's there were a lot of so-called 'B' Rated Cowboy movies made in Italy.
Cowboy shooting became very popular in Italy and spread to other parts of Europe.
The frontier revolver made by Great Western Arms of California had a clone of the Colt Peacemaker. 
Armi Jager otherwise know as Adler Jager was a German and Italian Gun Manufacturer located in the small town of Loano Italy. Firearms production ended in the 1990s do to lack of skilled personnel according to the owner, Mr. Piscetta. There still exist a small gun store that offers gunsmithing works in the town of Basaluzzo Italy renamed Nuova Jager.
The original company was acquired in 2009 to make AR15 style weapons distributed by San Swiss Arms.
Even with strong demand, price competition drove them from the market place by 1961. Mail order houses like Navy Arms, Dixie Gun Works, and EMF were sourcing their replica inventory from central Europe, where manufacturing was less expensive.
The Colt Peacemaker clone now established as the signature piece of serious replica was in demand. The first European built reproduction of the Colt SAA was by JP Sauer of Germany. It was sturdy and inexpensive, the Sauer clone single handedly destroyed the price competition in America.
By the 60’s, gunsmiths and job shops of northern Italy became very adept at supplying US frontier cowboy replicas. There, several family shops that thrived and grew into enduring, world class gun makers: Uberti and Pietta remain today. Armi San Marco, Armi San Paolo, and Jager were very successful over the 70’s and 80’s.
Armando Piscetta and his Loano company Armi Jager started building Colt Peacemaker clones in 1962. A small USA importer, Inter Continental Arms, began selling these in the US. Inter Continental called it the “Dakota”.
Jager’s early single action was significant as Italy’s first Peacemaker clone. More so, it was quite a bit better than the German Sauer revolver. It was finished nice, functioned well, and still affordable. It established a reputation for quality among the Italian Cowboy Shooters.
The History of the Jager Single Action Cowboy Revolver -
Early on, the pattern for Piscetta’s Jager single action was set. It was blue and color case hardened with Italian hardwood grips. It had a brass grip assembly. The flamboyant brass straps are an easy to spot, but the Jager revolvers were nonetheless handsome and well finished.
Inter Continental Arms imported the Jager single action into the USA with some exclusivity through the 60’s.
In the beginning years, the Dakota didn’t have a maker’s logo. Brescian proof marks and a “Made in Italy” script were the only indicators of origin. In 1969 some of Inter Continental’s cowboy style revolvers began showing a Hammerli or a Switzerland stamp. What can be demonstrated is the Dakota was being built in two places for a time: in Italy, by Jager, and in Switzerland, by Hammerli. Hammerli built Dakotas were numbered within the existing Jager serial range, indicating an aligned if not joint venture by the two companies to furnish the Dakota to American importers.
Hammerli already owned a stellar reputation for target pistols. New Hammerli built cowboy revolvers made an immediate inpact on US Cowboy Shooters. By 1972 Hammerli was signed by Interarms to make their Virginian revolver. Hammerli then ceased building the Dakota, leaving that to Jager as before.
Demand for the Dakota replica remained, but importers came and went throughout the 1970’s. Inter Continental ceased business in about 1975. EMF picked up the Dakota trademark and became Jager’s highest volume importer. The Dakota revolver was also imported in lesser numbers by Kassnar and Navy Arms. These guns are the same, but go by “1873" or "Frontier” model name. Odd models with “IGI” and “Italguns” importer markings (Kansas model) are also Jager revolvers. By this time all guns have “ARMI JAGER – ITALY” stamped markings.
Sales of the Jager pattern cowboy revolver were robust for the next decade but eventually fell off. Cowboy action shooting was established in the 80’s. Single action shooters favored replicas with more authentic appearance. EMF dropped the Jager as its flagship revolver in favor of models by Armi San Marco and Uberti, some of which they labeled the "New Dakota". Armi Jager stopped building the Colt Peacemaker clone in 1993.
Colt Clone Model Variations -
Besides its basic color cased and blued model, Jager also did runs in Sheriff, Bisley, Buntline, and Target model configuration. A catalog has become standard among replica Peacemaker manufacturers.
The Jager’s Buntline was a detailed reproduction. Some had ladder sights, along with a finely rendered skeleton stock.
In 1980 EMF also briefly imported the Jager revolver as an unfinished kit. This was in effect a second take on the old Great Western Arms kit guns (EMF having owned Great Western for a time). Jager kits are called “Californian” models.
Inter Continental Arms contracted with Jager for a modern, big-bore hunting revolver to compete with Ruger’s Super Blackhawk. This model was called the Super Dakota. It featured target sights, an elongated grip assembly, and chambering in a selection of modern performance calibers. These guns date from 1965 to 1970. They are high quality.
Jager offered an engraved model to its distributors throughout production years.  Examples will generally conform to one of two basic patterns. Among earlier production, frames are coin finished and engraved with barrels blued. Late production engraved guns are nickel plated. Some of these late examples feature a cattle brand pattern. In all cases, engraving was etched or machine rolled.
A US Army commemorative was built in the 1980’s. These are cavalry style 45 Long Colt with 7 1/2 inch barrel. About 1000 were built. They have their own serial range.
Caliber selection was typically a standard fare of 22, 32-20, 357, 38-40, 44-40, and 45LC. Auxiliary cylinders could be purchased with several of those chambered to make for a convertible revolver.
The Dakota was at times available in 30 Carbine, one of a very few production handguns offered in this caliber.
The Dakota was available by special order in nickel finish.
Standard grips were walnut or a European hardwood.
Dakotas from 1962 to 1968 have no safety mechanism. Revolvers from 1969 to 71 generally have a hammer wheel safety. Revolvers after that have a base pin safety.  On Jagers, this is an odd "twist" base pin rather than the“Swiss” two notch pin that became common on Italian SAA replicas.
Quality, Collectable, and Value -
Italian cowboy revolvers from the 70’s are to this day described as cheaply made and poorly built.
This piece of common knowledge was never really true, The spaghetti replicas are quite good and have been from the start. They have always been steel rather than alloy. Also, they had quite a bit more hand fit and finish than was required to build them at that time.
These are traits of a high quality product, not junk.
The Jager revolver is a good revolver. Exterior dimensions are nominally larger than the original Colt Peacemaker. A Jager is without a doubt much stronger than a 1st generation Colt, a useful comparison.
As cowboy shooting grew in the USA, buyers' demand for authenticity became more stringent. Jager nonetheless declined to change its design. Ultimately its gun was usurped in the marketplace by more “true-to-Colt” ASMs and Ubertis.
Jager serial numbering was strictly numerical and ascending, starting at 1. Examples from around 1990 have serials that approach 100,000. That number is subsequently a reasonable estimate of total production over 30 years. Much of those guns are in Europe, where Jager also did business.
The Armi Dakota Legacy -
Armi San Marco failed in the early 2000 for reasons having nothing to do with the overall demand for reproduction cowboy revolvers. Uberti remained as the sole Italian clone maker, but they had just been acquired by Beretta. Rather than expand to capture ASM's market, Uberti's distribution was put under tighter corporate discipline as production got directed by Beretta sales networks.
Several mail order houses relied on Italian six shooters to anchor their catalogs, and they failed to fulfill orders. This was an obvious void for another Brescian company to fill, and it was Pietta that came into supplying the need. Having not offered a Peacemaker clone before, they started by getting Jager's old forging for the Dakota cylinder frame. They updated the build with modern CNC machining, and assembled finished guns with Colt sized screws and parts. But the lineage of Pietta’s modern rendered, authentically dimensioned the Colt Cowboy Revolver original Dakota by Jager.
Dakota” remains brilliantly evocative as a private label name for a Cowboy Six Gun. EMF owns this trademark. After contracting with Armi San Marco and Uberti over the 1990’s for Peacemaker clones, EMF began a long term relationship with Pietta in 2003.
Manufacturing -
Company: Armi Jager (Known late as Jager Adler).  Hammerli marked variant also 1969 to 1972.
Location: Loano, Italy
Model: Dakota, Frontier 1873, Nevada, Kansas, Pioneer
Calibers: 22, 30 Carbine, 32-20, 357 Magnum, 38-40, 41 Mag, 44-40, 44 Mag, 45 Long Colt
Barrels: 4.75, 5.5 (most common), and 7.5 inches
Variants: Super Dakota, Buntline, Sheriff, Target, Bisley
Years Manufactured: 1962 to 1993

The Downsides to this Revolver are -
1) The screw that holds the side ejector assembly can easily be striped, see close up photo below ....

2) The Cylinder Base Pin can be pushed in too far preventing the cylinder from rotating, see close up photo below ....

Homemade Video of my Dakota Armi Jager 45 Long Colt Cowboy Revolver with an Action Job -

The Upsides to this Revolver are -
1) Quality manufacturing
2) Very accurate
3) Easy to work on
4) Interchangeable parts with Colt

Some more photos of the Dakota 45LC -


One of my friends shooting the Dakota 45 LC in the Arizona Desert ....

Catalog from the 1980s -

==> My recommendation on the Armi Jager Model Dakota 45 Long Colt Cowboy Revolver is -
a BUY as a Collectible.

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  1. Now that is what I call a response to a question.
    Wow, I am thoroughly impressed.
    You have the very very best Firearms Information Forum anywhere.
    Greatly appreciated.
    Thank you
    Sedge Bulnap

    1. You are welcome.
      Glad to be of assistance.
      Like I posted I use to own one of these Dakota 45L Long Colt Colt Clone Revolvers. I also knew several other SASS Cowboy Shooters that have owned them as well.

  2. Fantastic write-up.
    I have come to never be surprised at what may appear as a TOPIC on those Firearms Forum Site.
    Most sites now cover the same old thing, something about the AR or some personal military item people seem to be obsessed with in their ownership nowadays.
    Just how damn much can be said on the various aspects of any AR or its variant?
    Your site explores it all, new and old and gives in-depth evaluation of each item posted.

    1. Thank you very muck your comments are appreciated.

  3. I think it’s appropriate that you cite use of my article on the Jager Dakota, which you have cut and pasted here in its entirety. Bill Peterson

    1. Dear Mr. Petersen,
      A portion of the POST is now attributed to you.
      I had all this information because I owned one of these handguns for years. Also been to that area in Italy around 1975.
      I have updated the portion that applies to you and credit is issued.
      I have also posted a LINK to your site within the article and have posted a link to your site under - Try These Interesting Links - on the right hand column of my site.
      This was an oversight, not intentional, and I apologize.
      The Firearms Guy

    2. Hello,
      There was an article posted I believe in SASS Magazine many years ago that had all this information. It had to be around 1980 maybe before.

      I still have my Dakota Armi Jager Cowboy 45 Long Colt Revolver. I was one of the first ever to by these in the USA. I also had an action job performed on my revolver back when I lived in Phoenix Arizona and competed.

      Great article post.

      Sedge you got a great deal on that purchase.
      I probably have 15,000 rounds through my revolver and never had an issue.

  4. I just updated this Post today, please take note.
    Thank you,
    The Firearms Guy.

  5. Hi there,
    Would you recommend joining SASS

    1. Carla Zeigs here
      I deceased husband was a SASS member. I still have his Dakota.
      Appreciate the article.
      Thank you.
      What I know of SASS it's members are mostly over 50 and the downside to this group is they raised the membership fee and stop printing the Cowboy Newspaper.

  6. I have a friend who has the engraved 4 5/8" version built without the front blade sight. It DOES NOT appear to have been removed...simply built without it. Any information on that variation? Thanks in advance! - Troy

    1. Troy,
      Sorry for the delay.
      Probably NOT.
      I am not aware of any special orders on these firearms.
      Also, generally speaking front sights are considered standard equipment. Foreign importers are under strict conditions make firearms to certain safety criteria.
      A good gunsmith can easily remove a front sight, fill in any gap on barrel and refinish the weapon so it matches.
      Hope this answer helps.
      The Firearms Guy
      Ask A Firearms Question.

    2. greetings. i have a .45 long colt emf armi jager ser # US160 not brass. 7.25" barrel. has 3 proof marks one is "psf" says cat 1460 on barrel. i would like to date it if possible.

    3. As stated in the post above, Armi Jager Firearms were bought out by Uberti. They were manufactured in Italy and imported to the United States. For the most part they are a Colt Firearm clone.
      The only possible way to date this is to call Uberti Firearms USA, link on my page, right hand column, and see if they can give any assistance.
      Thanks for your interest and comment in The Firearms Site, Ask A Firearms Question.
      The Firearms Guy

    4. o.k. thank you for the promt reply. cool forum.

  7. I have a old 45LC Dakota Sheriff Revolver by Armi Jager from Italy.
    It will not "clock" or "Lock" sometimes.
    I need to fix it. Ti has never been "fanned" and I shoot foam earplugs w/primer loads only. S/N 52673

    Thank you,

    1. If you look above, one possible explanation is given.
      You may be pushing the cylinder based pin in too far. This can prevent the firearm from cocking or locking into position.
      If this does not fix the issue, buy some WD40, place it in all the openings including the barrel, wait 10 minutes, wipe it down, and run a several clean cloths through the barrel, then oil the firearm well, let sit and wipe off excess.

      Are you shooting fast draw using this type of ammo round set-up?

  8. I have a jager Italy model 1873 44/40 and it came with a 44 special cylinder and I'm looking to find the oringal 44/40 cylinder call me if you have answers 5408173881

    1. As my post above thoroughly explains, this firearm is no longer made, the company was bought out by Uberti, therefore the chances of finding a cylinder is highly unlikely. As that, the best source would be eBay.
      Type in '44-40 Cylinder' also try 'Jagar Firearm Parts' and 44-40 Cylinders.

  9. Better late to the party than never getting there at all. I recently acquired one of these myself. I have read several articles also. Including the ones here. I was told that they are over 100 years old and blah blah blah. That actually would have negatively effected my decision to purchase had it been true. (I wanted a shooter) I like the modern material and feel these are very well made firearms. I have found some repair and replacement parts available. I think they claim some used and some "new old stock" as well as new. Kessler or Kessner is the company. Even though mine is not the best cosmetically I think it is beautiful. I plan on a little restoring. I hope this helps and happy shooting to you all. BRW


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The Firearms Guy

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