The Colt Single-Action Army Revolver goes by many names, including the SAA, M1873, and Model P. The most common alternative moniker, however, was the Colt Peacemaker, as it could settle even the toughest of scores. The U.S. Army felt striking confidence in the firearm. Adopted by the branch in July 1873 and put into use until 1892, this infamous six-shooter was used during the height and decline of the American cowboy. Learn more about this iconic piece of Americana and why Colt revolvers continue to stand the test of time.
The History of the Colt Single-Action Army Revolver
Colt’s Patent Firearms Manufacturing Company wanted to avoid paying a royalty to Smith & Wesson and was limited due to a patent, meaning development couldn’t begin until April 4, 1869.
The company used the brains of William Mason and Charles Brinckerhoff Richards to create a weapon that could be adopted as the standard military service revolver following the United States government service revolver trials of 1872 held by the company.
It was a rousing success. The Colt Single-Action was born and began being produced in 1873. More than 457,000 Colt Army Single-Action Revolvers were created for use.
Serving as the primary U.S. military sidearm, the Colt .45 was a popular choice and would even become adopted by the U.S. Cavalry, albeit with some size modifications.
What Caliber Is a Colt Single-Action Army?
The Colt Single-Action Army .45 is the most popular caliber; however, through its lifespan of service, there’ve been many calibers used. Here are the most common examples:
- .22 LR
- .32-20 WCF
- .357 Magnum
- .38 Colt
- .38 Special
- .38-40 WCF
- .44 Special
- .44-40 WCF
- .45 ACP
- .45 Colt
Many other calibers have been applied to the Peacemaker, but these are the most widely used.
American Westerns Solidified Their Popularity
It’s no debate that the Colt Single-Action Army Revolver was more than capable of getting the job done. This would lead to its reputation preceding it and the boom in popularity the firearm would experience in the late 19th century. But American cinema of the time period immortalized the weapon forever.
In the Silent Era, during the end of the Wild West, the single-action Army Colt saw prominence. But this wouldn’t last too long, as the invention of sound with moving pictures would see a decline in Westerns around 1927.
In the 1960s, a resurgence of Westerns was once again captivating audiences, particularly those starring Clint Eastwood. Notable examples include A Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More, and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.
These films would once again start romanticizing the Wild West and, with it, the Colt Single-Action Army Revolver. Such weapons continue to stick in the minds of collectors, history buffs, firearm enthusiasts, movie lovers, and Americans of all sorts.
A Study of the Colt Single-Action Army Revolver
Written by Ron Graham, John A. Kopec, and C. Kenneth Moore, A Study of the Colt Single Action Army Revolver is a comprehensive guide on all things Colt SAA. You’ll be able to learn about different models and calibers with an easy-to-read format and vivid images to enhance the experience.
The Colt Single-Action Army Revolver may not be the most technologically advanced handgun on the market, but it’s still a great firearm option. Though soon replaced by the M1911, the idea and iconic .45 caliber remained serving the American Armed Forces throughout many different wars until being replaced in 1985 by the Beretta M9 pistol.
Image: Creative Commons