Craftsman at Pedersoli (Pedersoli makes the 1886 for Uberti) have created an old-world masterpiece of color case-hardened steel on the receiver, a beautiful blued 25.5-inch octagonal barrel and a precisely fitted, Grade A, checkered walnut stock and forearm.
Taking it out of the box I instantly noted its heft: This is no 1892 carbine. Fully loaded, the 1886 weighs just under 10-pounds. Given some of the stout loads I was shooting, I didn’t mind the weight. One thing to note right, this is one smooth action. No disrespect to any Marlin 1895 owners intended but working the lever on the 1886 will never be mistaken for the Marlin. In fact, the Uberti 1886’s action is so smooth as to feel the same whether there is any ammo in the rifle or not. John Browning is known for hitting-it-out-of-the-park designs and the 1886 is no exception. All operations on the Uberti 1886-- from loading to chambering a round to aligning the sights to squeezing off a shot—are smooth and positive.
After pushing a patch through the barrel and wiping down the rifle I grabbed a couple of boxes of Hornady .45-70 Leverevolution and set in to seeing what this rifle was capable of from a bench rest. I was quickly, once again, in awe of this rifle. Though the point of impact was very different between the 250gr and the 325gr rounds, both types of ammunition were putting 3-shot groups into 1.5” groups at 100-yards with me using the stock irons! I have some great Winchester rifles and I am happy if I can keep 3 shots in 3 inches with ammo they like. To get behind a brand-new lever action rifle that I’ve never fired before, using ammunition I’ve never shot before and with my old eyes lining up barrel-mounted factory iron sights was amazing! I made a few sight corrections and left the day with 3 shots touching the x ring on a B27 target.
I figured it was a fluke. So I tried it again the next day. I experienced the same 1.5-inch groups. I was seriously impressed with this rifle. During the summer I had been practicing all summer with my 1892 .44 magnum from a sitting position as that is the most stable position I’m likely to be in during deer season. I was able to keep very tight groups with the Uberti, thanks in part to a trigger that crisply broke at 4-pounds. Lucky for me, I had secured a gun tag for deer and also secured permission to hunt some choice private land that has always proven to be productive for me.
Going to the field with this rifle, sighted in for the 325-grain, Hornady ammo, I had tremendous confidence. I had memorized the drop out to 150 yards and I knew the reputation the .45-70 325gr Leverevolution has for taking deer. As I waited in my stand, I could see deer move at sunset (state law allows shooting up to ½ hour after legal sunset). About 15 minutes after sunset, with my ability to make out my sights quickly diminishing, I ranged an 8-point buck that walked toward me and stopped 140 yards out in the middle of a snow-covered corn field. He looked at me and would not give me a broadside shot. I knew in a few minutes I would be unable to see my sights clearly and if the buck got any further, I would have to pass on the shot. I took the shot. The .45-70 polymer-tipped round struck the buck in the center of the chest and sounded like Thor’s hammer when it hit him. He ran in a small circle and fell where he was shot.
A couple of days after my deer hunt, Turnbull Restoration sent over a color case-hardened FF3 mount so that I could mount a Burris Fast Fire III using the factory-drilled holes in the receiver of the 1886. By turning the mounting screws one at time, and just a little bit until they were both tight, and then setting the top set screw, I was able to get the mount platform parallel to the barrel. The 3 MOA Burris Fast Fire III mounted easily to the mount and sight-in went smoothly. The Fast Fire 3 sight on the Turnbull Restoration mount is a super slick setup for low-light shooting and is quicker to get on target.
My son came home on leave from the military during gun season and I offered him the opportunity to use the 1886 with the red dot sighted-in for the very effective 325gr Hornady rounds. He took me up on the offer. We set out to the same field and about the same time of day, 10 minutes or so after sunset, we saw deer walk onto the field from 100- to about 150-yards. About 220-yards out I saw a monster buck but I waved that shot off for my son. There were mature does much closer and he took the largest of them at 109 yards. She bucked up instantly and she ran roughly 35 yards into thick timber. We found her quickly, tracking her blood in the snow.
As it turned out, this was the last deer we harvested for the season. And as we searched the woods in the dark woods the red dot managed to get bumped and banged around a bit. I sat at the bench the next morning and shot at a fresh 100-yard target. Three rounds printed just over an inch and all three were still on target.
Galco also sent along a beautiful Butt Cuff that allows storage of 6-extra rounds of .45-70, which, realistically, is enough to get me through a deer hunt, or season, realistically. The first-rate quality of Galco leather perfectly matched old-school beauty of the Uberti.
Kudos to Uberti for providing us 21st century cowboys a modern version of the original big-game, big-bore lever action. It’s as accurate as it is beautifully made. It impressed me so much I had to buy the sample rifle. Turnbull Restoration has added tremendous capability to this classic rifle. Their FF mount is rock-solid and the color case-hardened steel perfectly matches the Uberti’s receiver. And I’ve long been a supporter of Burris Optics and the Fast Fire 3 is just another reason why. Fast Fire 3s work after being dropped in the snow (don’t ask), getting bumped on trees in the dark and after expending many rounds of .45-70 ammunition.
|Model||Caliber||Capacity||Grooves||Twist||Barrel Length||Overall Length||Weight|
|Uberti 1886 Sporting Rifle||45-70 Government||8 + 1||6||1 in 18"
1 in 460mm
Hornaday LEVERevolution ammo designed for lever action rifles and revolvers, features Flex Tip technology of the FTX and MonoFlex bullets. Safe to use in tubular magazines, these bullets exhibit higher ballistic coefficients and deliver dramatically flatter trajectory for increased down range performance.