October 20, 2021

The Iconic American Gun

There is a long list of things, people, and places, that no matter where in the world you travel, will always be synonymous with ‘Merica. Talk to someone in Bangladesh, and they will know about New York. Talk to someone in Sri Lanka, and they know Coca Cola. Show someone in Guatemala a picture of John Wayne, and they will offer up their version of a “Duke” impression. Each of them are uniquely, and instantly recognizable with American culture.  The very same can be said of the Iconic 1873 Colt Single Action Army.

Even though American firearm manufacturers have produced sidearms that each have a well deserved place in history, there is no gun that evokes more warm sentiment than the “Peacemaker”.  Whether it be on the big screen being wielded by the likes of Clint Eastwood in “Fist Full Of Dollars”, or Val Kilmer in “Tombstone”, or in Sepia Tone photos of Bat Masterson, Billy “The Kid”, or Butch Cassidy, the Colt 45 is simply iconic.

Whether it was in the hand of the Lone Ranger or General George S. Patton, there is just something special about them…something so special that no other firearm has been so frequently flattered as to have so many impersonators. Countless companies have offered their own version of the Single Action Army. While some have tried to stay true to the original design, some have tried, and in some cases, even improved on it.

As the credo goes…”there are many like it, but this one is mine”. While there are many duplicates, or similarly made SAA’s on the market, when it comes down to the brass tacks…if it is not a Colt Peacemaker, it just doesn’t hold the same romantic allure.  Yeah, you can go out and buy a very faithful version from some high-end, hand assembled, European manufacturer, and it might even spell out the name when cocked, but, it’s just not a Colt.

Spell out the name when cocked?                                

You know that sound that a pump shotgun makes when you rack one into the chamber? Yes…the sound that you just heard in your own mind.  Well, when you take hold of a Colt Peacemaker, and you slowly draw back that big old hammer, you will hear four very distinct, and satisfying “clicks”…..C….O….L ….T.  Every time someone with a “Real McCoy” cocks that hammer back in preparation to fire, and those four clicks are heard, a little smile can be seen creeping across the face of the shooter. It’s the very same smile they smiled all those many years ago while playing (politically incorrect) Cowboys and Indians.  The very same smile we had when we saw some old black and white movie and the hero of the film was spinning and twirling his Hog Leg in, or out of his holster, quickly dispatching 6 desperadoes, all from the hip….while on horseback…riding side saddle….at full gallop.

Even today, the Colt Peacemaker is the gun of choice for many famous trick shit artists, high-speed shooters, and is STILL one of the benchmark pieces in the collection of any serious firearm aficionado.  It’s an intangible quality that makes the Peacemaker so revered by so many.  What is even more surprising, given the fame and glory associated with the “Strap Pistol”, is just how few were actually produced during their most relevant time. Up until 1941, roughly 300,000 were produced.  What is also very surprising to many is the wide variety of barrel lengths and calibers that were among the choices that a buyer had at their disposal.

From the 3″ Sheriff to the 7 1/2″ Peacemaker, from the .45 to the .32-20, there is, and was a model suited for the desired use of any consumer. There were also other incarnations of the SAA that became iconic in their own right, if for no other reason than the myths associated with the model itself(Buntline, I’m looking in your direction).  Whether they were used to defend a homestead, bring in a Bad Hombre, or as a hammer to secure Barbed Wire on the back forty, the Colt SAA was an irreplaceable part of the American experience, and to many was the tool that put food on the table.  The Colt SAA was, and is, the Iconic American Gun.


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