COLT SINGLE ACTION ARMY 1873 "PEACEMAKER"
The gun presented here is a monument in the history of the American Frontier. It is also the only 19th century revolver of which the production is still running to-date, 136 years after its first issue on the market and with only some minor improvements on the original model.
This is a Colt Single Action Army model 1873, also known as the "Peacemaker".
Since many very detailed books and articles concerning this revolver and its variants have already been published, I will limit this article to a few important points of its history.
This example is a "Cavalry" model, featuring a 7 1/2" barrel.
It is chambered for the .45 Lon Colt CF cartridge, which is the original standard calibre for this arm. It is a six-shooter.
Since it does not bear any martial stamps (US on frame and inspector's cartouche on the left grip), it has no military past and was from the start a commercial version of this legendary revolver.
According to its serial # 80XXX, it was made in 1881-82. The revolver has lost all of its original finish and shows traces of intensive use, but its lock still works perfectly and the hammer still engages the 3 clicks.
The lock is identical to the one designed in 1847 for the Walker. It is a single action lock that was given a 3-click hammer on this model.
A slight pull backwards on the hammer takes the firing pin out of its channel and locks the hammer and cylinder, avoiding uncontrolled discharge if the gun was dropped or the hammer hit. This system was not new and was not a Colt invention. It is the forerunner of the rebound hammer and it was already present on many European revolvers issued before the birth of the Peacemaker.
The second click is the classical half-cocked position, in which the hammer keeps the locking cam down in order to allow the cylinder to be turned freely for loading/unloading operations.
The third click is the full-cock or firing position, with the hammer pulled back to the maximum. In this position the cylinder is locked again, with one chamber in alignment with the barrel. Very classical as well. Except for the safety position of the hammer, the maker brought no alterations to the old lock mechanism issued in 1847.
Although technically obsolete already before it was issued with its fixed cylinder, its loading gate and its single action lock, this revolver was immediately widely adopted in the US and abroad, and broke many records.
Started in 1873, the production was abandoned in 1948; however, under pressure of the market, the Colt Company decided to resume production of the model in 1951. It is still running today, however not anymore in the Colt factories. The SAA is now produced by other licensed makers such as Cimarron or Ithaca.
It has also widely been copied all over the world, but not one of these copies, wether good or bad, could ever compare to the genuine Peacemaker.
The Peacemaker offers incomparable handgrip and balance. Once drawn out of its holster, the gun literally becomes part of the shooter's arm. This is probably due to the specific shape of the grip, which is only a slight improvement on that of the percussion models.
The Peacemaker is a reliable and sturdy handgun with a huge stopping power that keeps shooting in the worst thinkable conditions such as low temperatures, droppings in mud, dust or sand, broken or lost trigger... For the users along the Frontier, these qualities were largely sufficient to compensate the technical obsolescence of the revolver.
After having become the typical sidearm for the military during the Indian Wars period but also for the cow-boys, marshals, outlaws and adventurers of all kind who lived in the American West during the last quarter of the 19th century, the Peacemaker celebrity was enhanced by its use in theatres and Hollywood movies that made it a legend.
It is still a desirable item for the today's collectors all around the world, and good original and not overworked examples still reach high rates.
This revolver was produced in several calibres ranging from .22 to .476 British. It seems like frames were not tested for smokeless powder before the end of WW 1.
Colt 1873 Single action army
Caliber 41 LC.
Pearl grips – Barrel 5"1/2 – Colt factory letter.
Made in 1894.
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