Saturday, August 24, 2013

Six-gun Saturday: The Colt Peacemaker

Colt SAA cal .45 Factory Engraved  shipped 1893
Image from Wikimedia Commons
Although there was a plethora of gun types used during the westward expansion of this great nation, perhaps the most popular was the Colt Model 1873 Single-Action Army or the Peacemaker as it came to be called.

It revolutionized the revolver and is considered by many to be the greatest handgun in history.  Along with the gun, Colt introduced the .45 Long Colt cartridge and it was the second gun produced by Colt to use cartridge ammunition, the first being Colt's 1872 Model Open Top.  It was the redesigned Open Top model that became the Peacemaker.

It was designed by William Mason and Charles Richards as a result of a contest among gun makers to supply the U.S. Army with a new service revolver.  The Peacemaker won the contract and became the first revolver for the Army to use metallic cartridges.

It has a long and storied history as a military service weapon, most famously with Custer's 7th Cavalry at Little Big Horn.  Teddy Roosevelt's Rough Riders were armed with the Single Action Army when they made their charge up San Juan Hill. General George S. Patton used one during the Mexican Punitive Expedition of 1916 and carried it throughout World War II.

The first generation of the Peacemaker was from 1872 – 1941.  Production was stopped during World War II so that Colt could fill other orders for the war. 

Movie Still from Rio Lobo
The rise of the Western as a genre in Hollywood and on television created a customer demand for the gun, so Colt resumed production with the second generation of the Peacemaker in 1956 and lasted until 1974. 

It was used in hundreds of movies, sometimes erroneously in movies set before 1873, such as Rio Lobo.  The most famous Hollywood Colts are the ones used by John Wayne in many of his films. 

The third generation of the Peacemaker began in 1976.  The Single Action Army has inspired clones and influenced gun designs since it was first produced.  There have been many copies and replicas made.  The most popular replica is made by Uberti, one of which I happen to own.

The Colt Single Action Army is still in production to this day.

A Fistful of Dollars


Miller, David. Illustrated History of Guns. Pepperbox Press. Kent, United Kingdom. 2011

"HistoricalFirearms Colt Single Action Army." Feb. 22, 2013. Web. Aug 24, 2013. 

"Colt Single Action Army." Military History. Sept 2, 2011. Web. Aug 24, 2011. 

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