The (Hand) Gun that Won the West: Colt Single Action Army
By Chris Eger
Call it the Single Action Army, Colt 1873, or Peacemaker, the iconic Colt .45 has been a crowd-pleaser for over 140 years. (Photo: Richard Taylor/Guns.com)
SEE COLT SAA 1873 MODELS OF ALL VINTAGES
When Colt’s Firearms introduced a new cartridge revolver in 1873, heads turned, and history was made.
Samuel Colt’s iconic revolver works peaked during the Civil War while the inventor and founder himself passed away in 1862. The left his company behind to try and compete against other revolver makers (looking at you, Smith & Wesson) who were using Rollin White’s breech-loading cartridge wheel gun patents. Once White’s patent tanked in 1870, William Mason and Charles Brinckerhoff Richards at Colt filed patents for their own Model 1871-72 Open Top revolver.
Colt’s 1871/72 patents for the Open Top revolver, seen here referenced on a circa-1913-made gun, led to the Peacemaker in 1873 (Photo: Richard Taylor/Guns.com)
This six-shot single action, chambered in the same .44 Rimfire cartridge used by the Henry lever-action rifles of the day, soon morphed into a chambering in Colt’s new centerfire black powder .45 cartridge and submitted for a new U.S. Army handgun contract to replace older cap-and-ball revolvers. The new long-barreled six-shooter, with its .45 Colt chambering, was adopted in