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July 6, 2011

Cimarron T.T.N. Model 1878 Coach Gun Side-by-Side 12 Gauge By Ralph Winingham, Gun Tests
From the 06-01-2009 Issue of Gun Tests

Classification:Long Guns
Model Name:T.T.N. Model 1878 Coach Gun Side-by-Side
Model Number:T.T.N. Model 1878 Coach Gun Side-by-Side

Gun Tests June 2009

This ancient design pointed fast and shot devastating patterns at both Cowboy competition ranges and home-defense distances. Triggers need a little work to be just what we want.

Cowboy Action Shooting members, whose increasing numbers show no need of a stimulus package, have developed their hobby into a tribute to the gun battles of the Old West—both real and fictional. Shotguns often figured into these armed conflicts, normally giving the scattergun handler a distinct advantage over opponents armed with a handgun or rifle, as long as the battle was up close and personal.

One of Hollywood’s classic depictions of how a shotgun could turn the tide in a gun battle was in the 1966 movie “The Professionals,” featuring Academy-award-winning actors Lee Marvin and Burt Lancaster.

Marvin, armed with a Winchester Model 1897 pump-action shotgun, faces down eight mounted bandits armed with bolt-action rifles as they meet in a narrow canyon. With just a little help from Lancaster, himself armed with a Winchester lever-action rifle, Marvin clears the canyon of bandits as he touches off seven shotgun blasts in rapid succession. Most of the bad guys don’t even have a chance to get off a shot before they are knocked out of the saddle.

Although the battle is pure Hollywood, this type of shotgun action and its recreation on film has become a driving force behind the increasing popularity of the veteran firearms. Both the side-by-side hammer guns and the pump-action hammer guns of old left a distinct mark in history and are now resurfacing in the form of replicas finding favor at shooting competitions across the country. The popularity of the simple and easy-to-handle shotguns is also growing among people interested in home-defense firearms.

For a trip back to the past, Gun Tests selected a side-by-side to see if there is any advantage or downside—other than the number of shots—to an Old West style shotgun.

The test

Gun Tests June 2009

An English-style splinter forearm felt good with this shotgun, but might not offer a lot of protection from barrel heat if the shooter is burning up a lot of rounds in a shooting session. Control of the shotgun, even using heavy loads, was no problem.

shotgun was a Cimarron T.T.N. Model 1878 Coach Gun 12 Gauge Side-by-Side carrying a price tag of $480 in the new gun rack at Dury’s Gun Shop in San Antonio (

The shotgun was a recreation of the solid, dependable and well-used scatterguns of the Old West. With its 20-inch barrel and simple action, the firearm also fulfills a modern duty as a self-defense shotgun for home owners. Shotguns firing typical hunting loads in a home-defense situation have the advantage of providing stopping power that will not pass through walls like handgun or rifle slugs.

To determine effectiveness, Gun Tests selected three distinctly different types of ammunition for testing. For the Cowboy-Action range, the ammunition was Rio Target 2.75-inch loads with 1 ounce of No. 8 shot that produced an average muzzle velocity of 1,210 fps. For home-defense loads, they used Winchester 00 Buckshot 2.75-inch loads firing nine pellets at an average muzzle velocity of 1,325 fps, and Remington Express Power Piston 2.75-inch loads with 1.25 ounces of No. 6 shot pushed at an average muzzle velocity of 1,330 fps.

In the home-defense simulations, the magazine staff limited patterning tests to a range of 20 feet (recreating a shot across a typical room) and relied upon Birchwood Casey Shoot-N-C 12-inch targets to determine pattern effectiveness. Here’s Gun Tests' test report:

As we assembled the side-by-side Cimarron, we got the distinct impression of it being a simple, effective shooting tool, and we were not disappointed.

Although the drop in the stock of the shotgun caused some brief concern (quite a bit of drop in the stock was common among old-time shotguns), we found that the pointing ability of the short double barrel was very good, and we were

Gun Tests June 2009

Gun Tests was originally concerned about the large amount of drop @ heel in the stock (typical of an old-time side-by-side), but really liked the feel of the half-pistol grip.

easily able to put the shot pattern in the middle of the target every time.

The overall length of the Model 1878 was 36.5 inches, with its 20-inch barrel, and the drop at the comb was 2.25 inches, combined with a drop at the heel of 3 inches. As noted, we quickly adjusted to the dimensions. Because of the double triggers, we measured the length of pull at 14.25 inches from the front trigger and 13.5 inches from the back trigger. Despite the short barrels, the shotgun tipped the scales at 7.5 pounds, which probably was a factor in it delivering less felt recoil than we had expected.

We were a little annoyed with the trigger pulls of 7.0 pounds on the front trigger and 9.25 pounds on the back trigger. They were heavier than most shooters would like, and we would recommend a trip to the gunsmith for tweaking to reduce the pulls to a more acceptable break point.

Overall, we like the handling ability of the shotgun at the patterning range and with the Cowboy Action targets. This is not a shotgun designed for a lot of clay target use, so we limited our testing to shots at steel plates and some close, trap-style targets. In each test, the shotgun performed flawlessly and was surprisingly easy to keep on target.

Adjusting to cocking the hammers and using the double triggers was not a problem for our test group of experienced shooters. That may be a concern for less-veteran shotgun handlers, and we would suggest new owners spend a little practice time to make sure they can handle the hammer gun. One advantage to the hammers is that the shooter always knows when the shotgun is cocked

Gun Tests June 2009

Very simple to assemble and re-assemble for cleaning or storage, GT appreciated the way the shotgun was a neat, compact package.

and ready to fire.

On the patterning range, we were very impressed with the performance of the side-by-side. At a range of 20 feet, the shotgun consistently placed 100 percent of the 00 buckshot loads (nine pellets) in the 10-ring of the 12-inch target. With the exception of one or two pellets, the same nearly perfect pattern was obtained with shots using the No. 6 shells. It is hard to be critical of 100-percent performance.

Moving over to the Cowboy-Action steel plates, also set up at close range, we easily handled a pair of knock-down steel plates with the lighter No. 8 loads. Like the older versions of side-by-side shotguns, the Model 1878 featured extractors rather than ejectors, and shells had to be pulled from the chambers. However, by opening the action and turning the shotgun upside down, the shells would slide out for quicker reloading.

Gun Tests Said: Our overall impression of the side-by-side was that it provided a very pleasant trip back in time to the days of the Old West and also proved to be a very capable, two-shot home-defense firearm. Other than the downside of being limited to two shots, we could find few blemishes on this rugged and dependable side-by-side shotgun. Handling ability, patterning, and overall ease of use was very good. We would recommend a little gunsmith work on the triggers.

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