Colt Peacemaker of 1873
This .45-caliber has long been considered "the gun that won the West." Noted for its power and reliability, it was the most popular full sized revolver of the late 1800s. Turned out by the Colt Fire Arms Manufacturing Company of Hartford, Connecticut, it sold for $17 by mail order. A classic single action revolver, it remains in production today.
The model 1873 revolver, commonly known as the Colt Single Action, Peacemaker, or Frontier, was actually developed in 1872, based on the patents granted to Charles B. Richards and W. Mason. In 1873, the US Army adopted this revolver along with its black powder centerfire cartridge of .45 caliber, and issued it to troops in 2 models, the Cavalry model with a 71?2 inch barrel, and the artillery model with a 51?2 barrel. Both were chambered in .45 Colt (also known as .45Long Colt or .45LC).
Colt also initially produced the same gun in .44-40 WCF and .32-20WCF for the civilian market. The company later added more modern chamberings similar to the .38 S&W Special (.38Spl), the .44 S&W Special (.44Spl), .357 Magnum, .22LR. Civilian guns also were available in various barrel lengths, varying from 43?4 inches and up to 12 inches.
During the period from 1873 and until 1893, the US Army bought about 37,000 Colts of both models. Commercial production was ceased in 1941, with the outbreak of the World War II, with about 370 000 guns having been made in all. Then, in 1956, Colt brought the Single Action back into production due to the popular demand by the TV and film industry for "Wild West" era guns.
The "First Generation" Single Action Colts were the ones made from 1873 until 1941 (serial numbers below 357860 and with no letters). Colts made from 1956 until another cease in production in 1974 are called "Second Generation" (serial numbers in the range from 0001SA to 73319SA). Yet a “Third Generation” Single Action Army models (.45 Colt, .44 Special, .44-40 and .357 Magnum) were offered in 1976 after the company developed newer equipment and production techniques. Once again, in 1981, Colt dropped production, and for some time these legendary revolvers were available only as an expensive collectibles. At the present time, Colt again offers these guns as regular products, in the .45LC, .357Mag and .44-40, and in all standard barrel lengths.