Welcome, if you are a newcomer to this fun bi-weekly segment of AllOutdoor.com! The last time around I covered the history of a German-made revolver that was once extremely common but has since drifted into obscurity. This time (due to that obscurity) we are closing out the old JP Sauer & Sohn Western Marshal. Let’s dive right into the rabbit hole!
Welcome to our recurring series of “Curious Relics.” Here, we want to share all of our experiences, knowledge, misadventures, and passion for older firearms that one might categorize as a Curio & Relic – any variant that is at least 50 years old according to the ATF. Hopefully along the way you can garner a greater appreciation for older variants like we do, and simultaneously you can teach us things as well through sharing your own expertise and thoughts in the Comments. Understanding the firearms of old, their importance, and their development which lead to many of the arms we now cherish today is incredibly fascinating and we hope you enjoy what we have to share, too!
Variations: JP Sauer & Sohn Western Marshal
Hy Hunter Western Six Shooter: These were the first of what would become the generic Western Marshal series after Hy Hunter left the picture. Catalogs at the time mention that they have the same size and weight as the “Peacemaker”. They list three barrel lengths (4.25”,5.5”, and 7.5”) and a whole host of cartridge options. They were marketed to be chambered in 22, 38 Special, 45 Long Colt, and 357 Atomic. Yes, you heard right…357 Atomic (we will have to cover in a POTD). The long story short on that cartridge is that it is not and potentially never was a thing but 357 Magnum and 38 Special work just fine in these guns. These guns and their cartridges are held over from the Great Western Firearms Company days. By the looks of it, they all came “blued” with wood, faux stag, or faux pearl grips.
The Hawes Marshal Series: During the Hawes company stint importing and selling basically the same stuff as Hy Hunter did they had some variations of their own. Cartridge options were 22, 357 Magnum (and 38 Special), 45 Long Colt, and 44 Magnum. Some included convertible cylinders to convert to 9mm, 441-40, and 45 ACP. Barrel lengths that I have seen are 3”, 4.25”, 5.5”, 6”, 6.5”, and 7.5”. One important note is that these revolvers had both small-frame and large-frame options.
- Western Marshal– Fully blued frame, cylinder, and barrel. Brass trigger guard and backstrap. Faux stag grips or rosewood grips.
- Montana Marshal – Fully blued frame, trigger guard, backstrap, cylinder, and barrel. Mentioned to be a “deluxe” model. Rosewood grips.
- Deputy Marshal – Fully blued frame, cylinder, and barrel. 4.25 Barrel and chambered in 22. Black rubber grips or faux pearl.
- Federal Marshal – Color case hardened frame, black barrel, and cylinder, brass backstrap and trigger guard, one-piece walnut grip.
- Chief Marshal – “Target model” Oversized frame and grips. Grips are made of rosewood. Adjustable target sights.
- Texas Marshal – Fully nickeled and faux pearl grips.
- Silver City Marshal – “Nickeled” frame, blued cylinder and barrel, brass backstrap and trigger guard, faux pearl grips.
Dating: JP Sauer & Sohn Western Marshal
Dating these revolvers is pretty much impossible. I do not see any markings on mine anyway that would lead me to surmise a date. However, given the leaps and gaps in manufacturing and manufacturers, we can guess or at least have a date range for some stuff. For example, if you have any of the early Great Western Arms Company revolvers it was a fate range of around 1957 to 1959. There may be some bleed over into 1960 but I am just as unsure about this stuff as I was two weeks ago.
The true Hy Hunter era was from around 1960 until roughly 1964/1965 when the Hy Hunter brand went through some legal issues. The guns were still made by J.P. Sauer & Sohn but I am unsure of who (could have been multiple companies) took up the mantle of importation and distribution. By 1967, the Hawes Firearms Company is formed by a former employee of the Hy Hunter conglomerate and begins importing and distributing the previously mentioned revolvers under the Hawes name. For example, my barrel is marked with the “JP Sauer & Sohn” and the frame has “Hawes Western Marshal”. Early Hawes revolvers will still be noted “Western Six Shooter” since they were probably a carryover from old parts and stock. This data gap is a little finer from 1967 to 1968. The Hawes brand (and probably others) imported and distributed these revolvers until roughly 1980.
Specifications: JP Sauer & Sohn Western Marshal
The specifications for the most part are attributed to my revolver alone. It is a JP Sauer & Sohn Hawes Western Marshal chambered in 22. 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. This feature is one thing that led to supposed accidents, negligent discharges, and injuries caused by defects. 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.
Aftermarket Parts & Accessories: JP Sauer & Sohn Western Marshal
As far as aftermarket parts the results are promising but few. Besides the old hold-out eBay the main source for anything out of the JP Sauer & Sohn revolver catalog is Numrich. Surprisingly they have a whole host of parts for each frame size. Perhaps, yes not a huge variety of parts but the ones that matter to make a broken gun not broken. I was not able to find many other sources other than Hog Island Gun Parts which I have never heard of before. I did find some grip sets on gungrip.com. Beyond those sources, I was unable to track down any sort of official accessories.
Range Time: JP Sauer & Sohn Western Marshal
Range time with the JP Sauer & Sohn Hawes Western Marshal was hopeful. I say that because I own or have shot a couple of the common pot metal single-action revolvers that are on the market these days and I either perform very poorly with them or they genuinely do not shoot well. I obviously am still hoping it is the latter of the two. The JP Sauer & Sohn Hawes Western Marshal 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 was fine with me at the moment because I could simply aim that much below my intended bullseye. The front sight blade is plain and simply too short. Most single-action army clones have ginormous front sight blades so adjustments can be made if need be. 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.
Final Thoughts: JP Sauer & Sohn Western Marshal
When I picked up the JP Sauer & Sohn Western Marshal in 22 I had high hopes. It was 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 loading and unloading is speedy and efficient, unlike some other revolvers that do not index perfectly in line with the ejector. The faux stag grips are a bit old school and tacky but I hope to make some walnut ones soon enough. All in all, I really enjoy the JP Sauer & Sohn Western Marshal!
In closing, I hope our Curious Relics segment informed as well as entertained. This all was written in hopes of continued appreciation and preservation. We did not just realize how guns were supposed to look and function. It was a long and tedious process that has shaped the world we live in. So, I put it to you! Is there a firearm out there that you feel does not get much notoriety? What should our next Curious Relics topic cover? As always, let us know all of your thoughts in the Comments below! We always appreciate your feedback.