The Colt Single Action Army information page
|Cavalry model||Engraved SAA||Bisley model||click pix to enlarge|
Background information on the Colt Peacemaker
Photos & for sale listings of first Gen. SAA's
The classic Colt Single Action Army ("SAA") was introduced in 1873, and remains in production today. In our collective consciousness, it remains the gun most associated with the American West, where it was unquestionably the most popular full sized revolver of the late 1800's.
Although S&W produced more big sixguns during this period, many of them went to overseas military contracts. While the S&W offered faster reloading and arguably greater accuracy, the Colt won advocates in the West for power and reliability. In its most common chamberings of .45 Colt and .44-40, it offered a power edge over the S&W .44 Russian round. Futher the solid frame Colt tended to be sturdier under harsh usage than the S&W top-break automatic ejection pattern.
No less a luminary than Theodore Roosevelt noted in the 1890's "Every ranchman carries a revolver, a long … Colt or Smith & Wesson, by preference the former". Altho the S&W top-break design was supplanted by hand ejector revolvers in the early 20th Century, the basic SAA design continues to be the basis of the most powerful modern single action hunting revolvers made today.
Calibers & configurations – The classic .45 Colt
chambering was by far the most popular, accounting for nearly half of the
pre-WWII SAA's. The "Winchester Centerfire" calibers – .44 WCF (44-40), .38 WCF
(38-40), and .32 WCF (32-20) placed 2nd, 3rd & 4th in popularity; doubtless in
part due to the fact that paired with an 1873 or 1892 Winchester they allowed
the usage of the same cartridge in both rifle and revolver, simplifying supply
logisitics. The now obsolete .41 Colt was the only other caliber produced in
significant quantity, altho a number of other chamberings were available on
special order. Standard barrel lengths were 7-1/2", 5-1/2", and 4-3/4",
with others available on special order. Special guns made without ejector rods
or housings were called "Sheriff's Models" or "Storekeepers Models", and
often had shorter than standard barrels. The SAA was used by the US military
from it's introduction through the Spanish American War & Philippine
insurrection. The original 7-1/2" barrel martial version is called the "Cavalry
Model" by collectors. Many military SAA's were refurbished by Springfield
Armory or Colt for reissue with a shorter 5-1/2" barrel, and these are called "Artillery
Models" today. The Bisley model was introduced in the 1890's, and
featured a redesigned grip & hammer.
Photos & for sale listings of Bisleys
A target sighted model was made, known as the "Flat-top". Other SAA nicknames included the "Peacemaker" (any SAA) and "Frontier Six Shooter" which is marked on SAA's & Bisleys chambered in .44-40.
Movie Guns - For the past several decades, Hollywood Westerns and TV Horse Operas have featured SAA's in the hands of the White Hats, the Black Hats, and the Good the Bad & the Ugly. Several of the Colt SAA’s listed below are listed as "Movie Guns." These are from a collection I bought from a fellow who provided props and consulting for TV and movie Westerns. He stated that these guns were guns that had been used for television or movie props. They tend to be well used and abused, often with mixed parts, and some of them stamped with "E" or "EE" or similar - not sure what this stands for but he believed the marking of a prop house before he got them. Although these guns lack condition, I find them interesting as guns that may have played a role in the history of the American West and the making of the Myth of the American West.
BACKGROUND INFO – Second & Third Generation Colt SAA’s
The First Generation Colt Single Action Army revolvers listed
previously were produced between their introduction in 1873 and WWII. Production
resumed in 1956, and these guns are known as "Second" generation Single Action
Army revolvers, which are quickly identified by a "SA" suffix at the end of
their s/n, and continued through 1975. In 1976 a "Third" generation
of Colt Single Action Armys was introduced. On these, the "SA" marking is moved
to the front of the s/n.
Photos & for sale listings of 2nd & 3rd Gen. SAA's
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