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Colt Single Action Army (Colt 45 / Peacemaker) Six-Shot Percussion Revolver (1873)

Authored By Staff Writer | Last Updated: 8/12/2014

Concerning the American Wild West, the Colt Single Action Army revolver became the stuff of legend.

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The Colt firearms firm certainly hit its stride in the 1800s, helped no doubt by the American Civil War and goings on along the Western Frontier. Perhaps their biggest contribution to the movements was the Colt Single Action Army revolver - otherwise known as "The Peacemaker", the "M1873", the "Model P", the "Colt 45" or, simply, the "SAA". Regardless of the name, the revolver became one of the most popular sidearms in the history of sidearms with it seeing action through the Indian Wars, the Spanish-American War, the Philippine-American War and the Range Wars to name a few. The revolver lasted in "official" US Army roles from 1873 to 1892 though its use survived much longer outside of the military thanks to its popularity with the public. While other weapons lent themselves to the title of "The Gun That One the West", few can argue the reach that the Colt Single Action Army revolver - a gun that was brought back into production multiple times since its inception because of the public demand for the classic type - has had on developing both America itself and its prized gun culture.

In the time leading up to Colt's excellent SAA design, a key patent owned by Smith & Wesson - noted as the "Rollin White Patent" of 1855 - protected the use of a "bored-through" cylinder design utilizing metallic cartridges. Once the patent had expired in 1869, the field was open for any and every firearms firm to move in and develop their own designs and a plethora of revolvers soon permeated the gun markets from America to Europe. In 1873, the US Government was on the lookout for a new service revolver aimed at arming Cavalry elements, prompting Colt's Patent Firearms Manufacturing Company (founder Samuel Colt passed away in January of 1862) to lend its talents in supplying the required piece. After successfully clearing evaluation, the Colt design was accepted into service with a signed procurement contract as put forth by the US Army. From there, the legacy of the fabled "Colt 45" was secured. Upon entering service, the new Colt Single Action Army replaced the outgoing Colt Model 1860 Army percussion cap revolvers then in service.

Interestingly, the Model 1873 was nothing overtly special in its design, form and function. The heart and soul of the firearm was naturally its six-round, rotating cylinder nestled within a bridged frame. The receiver was solid and contained the major working components to manage the cylinder, trigger and hammer functions. The barrel was fitted ahead with the extractor rod installed underneath. A blade-and-notch sight was standard on early production models. The hammer was clearly visible at the rear of the receiver while the pistol grip was adorned with wood for a relatively comfortable hold. The trigger was set low in the design, protected by an oblong ring. The Colt 45 was characterized in type as a centerfire, single-action revolver, based on both the type of ammunition it fired (black powder centerfire) and the key function of the trigger itself.


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Specifications for the
Colt Single Action Army (Colt 45 / Peacemaker)
Six-Shot Percussion Revolver


Country of Origin: United States
Manufacturer: Colt's Mfg Co - USA / Aldo Uberti - Italy / US Firearms Mfg Co - USA
Initial Year of Service: 1873


Overall Length: 260mm (10.24in)
Barrel Length: 121.00mm (4.76in)
Weight (Empty): 2.20lbs (1.00kg)


Caliber: .45 Long Colt; .44-40 WCF; .38-40 WCF; .32-20 WCF; .22LR; .38Spl; .357 Magnum; .44Spl
Action: Single-Action; Rotating Cylinder
Feed: 6-round cylinder
Rate-of-Fire: 6 rounds per minute
Range: 300ft (91m; 100yds)
Sights: Iron Front


Variants:
Single Action Army - Base Series Designation


SAA - Alternative Name; abbreviation of "Single-Action Army".

New Model Army Metallic Cartridge Revolving Pistol - Offiial US Army Designation.

Peacemaker - Alternative Name

Model P - Alternative Name

M1873 - Alternative Name

Colt 45 - Alternative Name

Colt Frontier ("Frontier Six Shooter") - Based on the Model P but chambered for the .44-40 Winchester cartridge for mass-market appeal.

Colt Bisley - Target Pistol

Colt Cowboy - Appearing in 1999; modern transfer bar safety installed.

Storekeeper - Compact form with 3 inch barrel

Buntline Special - Long form with 12 inch barrel; popularized by Wyatt Earp.


Operators:
United States