Review: Traditions Liberty Single Action Revolver

Traditions Liberty revolver right profile on leather holster and American flag

I have owned and handled many SAA type revolvers. The one that made the greatest impression on me was an engraved Colt Single Action Army. I am a shooter rather than a collector, and decided I would like to have my own engraved single-action revolver. Attempting to keep some semblance of a bank account wasn’t thrown out of the window as I searched.

I had had this type of handgun on my mind for many years, but college, hungry little anchors to provide for, housing, and other concerns were more important than an engraved SAA revolver.

 Traditions Liberty revolver right profile on leather holster and American flag
The Traditions Liberty is one handsome revolver. Behind the Liberty is a 7.5-inch barrel Traditions revolver in .45 Colt.

Today, the financial stress is relieved as I will never be a millionaire, so what the hell… I have been very happy with Pietta clones of the SAA, and when I saw the looks and price of the Traditions Liberty, it was love at first sight. The revolver features a beautiful blue finish. The engraving is nicely done with an appearance similar to acid etching, but the laser engraving is not as deep as old type German style engraving—and it costs a fraction of the original.

The style is similar to vine scrolls with border work that is simply amazing. You can spend a pleasant evening simply looking over the coverage. I am not an expert on the differences between Banknote, American, English, and Nimschke engraving, but the mix of the Pietta is excellent. The barrel, ejector, frame, cylinder, and back strap feature coverage. The hammer and trigger are casehardened. The front strap isn’t covered. The back strap engraving adds to the adhesion of the piece when firing. The grips are white polymer.

The 4.75-inch barrel length is ideal for all day packing. The revolver also features a modern transfer bar ignition system. The hammer does not contain the firing pin, but the spring-loaded firing pin is housed in the frame. When the hammer is at rest the hammer cannot touch the firing pin. When the hammer is cocked the transfer bar rises to a position that allows the falling hammer to strike the transfer bar, and the impact is transferred to the hammer. This makes for greater safety.

Engraving on the Traditions Liberty revolver
The coverage is extensive and beautiful.

The price is fair—little more than a standard revolver and much less expensive than custom engraving. When choosing a caliber, the .45 Colt had great appeal but I climbed the logic ladder and chose the .357 Magnum. The easy shooting .38 Special cartridge, which may be used in .357 Magnum revolvers, made the chambering ideal for Cowboy Action shooting. When loaded with the proper Magnum loads, there is no cartridge with better wound ballistics. In a pinch, a heavy-loaded Magnum is useful for defense against bears and the big cats, and I wanted the revolver to be an outdoors revolver.

It isn’t harmful to dry fire a transfer bar ignition system, so this was undertaken before any range work. The trigger is crisp at 4 pounds with a clean break. Since my initial purchase, I have fired perhaps 2,500 trouble-free cartridges in the Pietta with excellent results. Ninety percent have been .38 Special loads. Among the most accurate and useful are those from Fiocchi Ammunition.

The traditional 158-grain RNL loading shoots to the point of aim. The Cowboy Action .38 Special load is also a good resource. Fiocchi offers a clean burning FMJ version in both 130-grain and 158-grain weights. For those who do not like cleaning the bore, the FMJ loads are a good resource. Copper fouling occurs eventually, but these are excellent loads. The lead bullet loads are not prone to leading either—the result of good bullet composition and modest velocity. Any of these loads will group five shots into 2 – 2.5 inches at 25 yards. Yes, this show piece is a shooter! The action is smooth and the piece is fast into action and accurate.

2 revolver and semi-automatic pistol
The Liberty with other classic designs- a Colt 1911 .45 and a Smith and Wesson .44 Special.

I have also fired a number of .357 Magnum loads to gauge the accuracy and long-range ability of this revolver. The Fiocchi 158-grain XTP isn’t a hard kicker but offers excellent accuracy. I have enjoyed pleasant shooting at range up to 100 yards with this loading.

The single-action revolver may have a long hammer fall, but the base pin keeps the cylinder tight, and the revolver is accurate. I have also fired Hornady’s Critical Defense loading with the Liberty. At a strong 1,380 feet per second, this is an ideal personal defense loading.

Those who shoot cowboy action shooting remind us just how quickly and accurately a single-action revolver may be fired. Anyone armed with the Traditions Liberty would be well armed, and the Critical Defense load is a good defense loading. I have also loaded a modest number of handloads with the Hornady 180-grain XTP to about 1100 fps. If you are hiking or spelunking and using the revolver for defense against large animals, this is an estimable loading.

For defense against feral dogs, coyote, small bears, and the big cats, this revolver is ideal. Yet, it isn’t a drag on the belt. If I were using the revolver for cowboy action shooting, I would use .38 Special lead bullets and not worry about the Magnum. However, the .357 Magnum is a fascinating cartridge to work with. The more I fire the short barrel SAA in .357 Magnum, the more I am pleased with the revolver.

Are you a fan of engraved pistols? How about single-action revolvers? Which one is your favorite? Share your answers or experiences with SAA revolvers in the comment section.


About the Author:

Bob Campbell

Bob Campbell’s primary qualification is a lifelong love of firearms, writing, and scholarship. He holds a degree in Criminal Justice but is an autodidact in matters important to his readers. Campbell considers unarmed skills the first line of defense and the handgun the last resort. (He gets it honest- his uncle Jerry Campbell is in the Boxer’s Hall of Fame.)

Campbell has authored well over 6,000 articles columns and reviews and fourteen books for major publishers including Gun Digest, Skyhorse and Paladin Press. Campbell served as a peace officer and security professional and has made hundreds of arrests and been injured on the job more than once.

He has written curriculum on the university level, served as a lead missionary, and is desperately in love with Joyce. He is training his grandchildren not to be snowflakes. At an age when many are thinking of retirement, Bob is working a 60-hour week and awaits being taken up in a whirlwind many years in the future.

Published in
Black Belt Magazine
Combat Handguns
Rifle Magazine
Gun Digest
Gun World
Tactical World
SWAT Magazine
American Gunsmith
Gun Tests Magazine
Women and Guns
The Journal Voice of American Law Enforcement
Police Magazine
Law Enforcement Technology
The Firearms Instructor
Tactical World
Concealed Carry Magazine
Concealed Carry Handguns

Books published

Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry
The 1911 Automatic Pistol
The Handgun in Personal Defense
The Illustrated Guide to Handgun Skills
The Hunter and the Hunted
The Gun Digest Book of Personal Defense
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911 second edition
Dealing with the Great Ammunition Shortage
Commando Gunsmithing
The Ultimate Book of Gunfighting
Preppers Guide to Rifles
Preppers Guide to Shotguns
The Accurate Handgun
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (12)

  1. I want to thank Cheaper Than Dirt! for access to the Shooter’s Log. I appreciate the information, polite discourse, and expertise of the authors…elements very rare on the web. Although I have a lifetime of professional experience, I always learn something new from the site. And thank you Mr. Campbell for the well-written article. Your photographs and descriptions of the quality and engraving led me on a search for the identical revolver. Unfortunately, Traditions seems to have changed their engraving to a new style, and on the current model appears as more of a gold paint than engraving, although the ad still lists it as laser engraved. The engraving on your gun looks much different, and far better, than the current offering.

  2. I never did see the MSRP in the article. To be a true review shouldn’t this info be included?

    1. Typically, we do not include the price in the review. Prices change over time, and the review may be up for a few years. Currently, there are two offerings ranging from $560-$570. ~Dave Dolbee

    2. Although I understand what you are saying. However, there is a publishing date at the top of the article as a time stamp. Therefore, even ten years from now, anyone reading it should know that any stated price is outdated.

      Besides, when you mention the low price several times in the article, it’s only natural to assume that it would be included within the article somewhere.

    3. I understand your logic Brian, and agree. However, in the past, we have received far too many callers complaining that the price they read in the article, does not match the price online, so the boss made the call for it to be an “infrequent occurrence.” That being said, there are links within the article, but I will be more mindful of the language and use up one of the “infrequent occurrences” in the future for the benefit of the readers. Thanks for pointing that out and reading! ~Dave Dolbee

  3. Beautiful wepons. Something to think about for my non replica historical collection. Well written article

  4. SWEET! Love Single Action. Had a Western Marshall, in .45 LC, many years ago. Would still own it and others, but due to circumstances, I was forced to dispose of. It’s difficult to keep an collection of weapons, when you move around as much as I did for a number of years. Would still like to have a ‘ballpark’ price for this weapon.

  5. As I age my thoughts oftentimes roam to a nice SAA of the Colt variety but there are other good SAA clones to pick from, too and as my finances aren’t of the limitless variety I suppose I’ll also go the route you have out of common sense.
    I sometimes want to kick myself in the backside for trading a Ruger SAA for some other work on a firearm but it was chrome plated and I am not fond of chrome except on truck bumpers, so I don’t kick so high or hard. But it WAS a SAA, so there’s that.
    Perhaps one day, I suppose. But it’ll be blued, have some modest and tasteful engraving and, just because, chambered in .45 Long Colt. Then again, perhaps a sibling in .38/.357 would make a nice stable mate.
    As long as we are dreaming.

  6. Personally, I have no use for “wall hangers”. I think they’re beautiful, but prefer function over beauty. I have 2 single action cowboy style pistols & I like them a lot. I have a Ruger Blackhawk chambered for the 30 M1 Carbine. It’s a joy to shoot. It’s extremely accurate pistol with low recoil & should be considered a Magnum cartridge, The case length is the same as all magnums & it will shoot at the same velocity as the 357, the 41 & 44 magnums. I also have a Herter’s Power Mag I bought years ago. One box of factory rounds convinced me I don’t like shooting full power 44 Magnum loads. It gave me the “flinches” that took me 6 months to get rid of. I shoot 44 Special target loads in it ever since and it’s now a joy to shoot also. I customized this one with a self fabricated “brass 2-piece grip & trigger guard frame”. I also got rid of the original plastic grips replaced them with my own self fabricated walnut grips. It looks great & I doubt another one like mine exists.

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