Colt Cowboy Revolver
A Legendary Revolver Modernized for the 21st Century
I was looking into the dark recesses of my gun safe the other day and I came across a Colt Cowboy revolver. I hadn’t thought about this gun in several years, and only remember that I have it when I do my semi-annual inventory. I recall buying this Colt Cowboy single action revolver late in 1999, the year after they were first introduced. I had already seen them in the gun magazines several months before and there it was in the display case at Shooters Corner. I just had to have it, and its reasonable price tag of ($589.00) helped me make my decision.
Being a child of the fifties, I saw all of the black and white western serial shows and movies that came on the TV set during those days. The Lone Ranger, carried a nickel plated Colt Single Action revolver and loaded it with real silver bullets. When I bought this Colt Cowboy, I envisioned buying cowboy leather gear and joining the Single Action Shooting Society, (SASS) but alas I never seemed to find the time to do it. I already owned one true Colt Single Action Army and one Colt New Frontier single action, but I never fired either one of them because they were so expensive, I thought that shooting them might depreciate their value. I reckoned that I could fire this less expensive Cowboy as much as I wanted without causing much harm.
The Colt single action revolver was first introduced in 1873 for the U. S. Army. It has become the most instantly recognized and familiar revolver to the American public. Almost all little boys of my age had a silver plated cap gun that looked like the timeless Colt SAA. My new grandson will have one too as soon as I can find one. In this 21st century of political correctness they are not as prevalent as they were in my day. The design of the Colt Cowboy lends into self to close range instinctive shooting. With the 5 ½ inch barrel its balance in my hand is exceptionable and the barrel is just heavy enough to prevent excessive muzzle flip. With its 2.4 pound empty weight, it’s not a hideout gun. It’s meant to be carried in a holster on the belt by a man on horseback. The old cowboys set about twirling their peacemakers on their trigger finger to demonstrate their skills to the saloon girls, but this is NOT a safe endeavor with a loaded weapon.
In my research for this article I watched a plethora of old black and white movies depicting life in the old west. (My job is so tough sometimes.) Both the hero and the villain utilized the Colt Single Action revolver in their deeds, good and bad. In one movie an older pistolero had become a saloon keeper. He had a sign above the front door of his saloon that read NO GUNS ALLOWED. Only he and his young employee who was sweet on his daughter were allowed to wear guns. Naturally this was fine with the law abiding town folk who turned their pistols in at the door and felt safer for doing it. Then along came three obvious outlaws who ignored the sign, (they probably couldn’t read anyway) and walked into the saloon wearing their Colt single action handguns. The old pistolero challenged them and demanded they surrender their guns before entering his saloon and a shootout occurred. The old pistolero managed to get off one shot before a barrage of outlaw lead cut him down. Only law abiding citizens are unarmed by gun laws, criminals will always find a gun somewhere when they need one.
My Colt Cowboy single action revolver has a blue-black finish on the barrel, cylinder, trigger guard and grip. The frame looks like its case hardened, but alas it’s just a very stylish applied finish that looks a lot like the real thing. The rear sight is just a grooved channel atop the back strap just like the original Colt Peacemaker SAA. The front sight is a simple blade sight and it not readily adjustable. (You have to file down the front sight to change the point of aim.) The trigger pull on this revolver is quite heavy. I’d estimate six to seven pounds of pressure is required to fire the weapon. (Probably some lawyer recommended this heavy trigger pull.) A good gunsmith that is familiar with the Colt SAA could bring this trigger pull down to an acceptable three or four pounds which would also aid in accuracy. I still say that this gun was designed for snap shooting at close ranges, so a light trigger pull might not be that useful after all.
The Colt Cowboy revolver has a modern transfer bar ignition system which allegedly allows you to carry it fully loaded, (six rounds) without fear of discharge if you drop it and the hammer is struck, however I DO NOT RECOMMEND THIS HABIT. I believe in the tried and true method of loading five rounds in the cylinder with the hammer resting on an empty chamber. Call me old fashioned, but this method has been working for 125 years and I see no reason to change it. If you know you’re walking into a gunfight at high noon, then maybe you would load all six rounds, otherwise LOAD WITH FIVE AND STAY ALIVE.
The old west had its share of pistoleros both good and evil, but the fastest I’ve ever seen in real life with a single action revolver is a gentleman named Bob Munden. His draw was so fast that the TV people had to show it in slow motion so it could be seen. His accuracy was so good that he could throw a simple aspirin into the air and draw and shoot the aspirin into tiny pieces before it hit the ground. Bob died recently this year at age seventy and he was still performing. He passed away on the way home from a performance while driving his car with his wife. Gods speed Bob Munden, a true pistolero and a fine gentleman.
Well I’ve just surpassed my allotted word count for this article, but as I close I want to remind you that a gun is just a tool that can be used for good or evil. It’s the hand of the man wielding said tool that decides how it’s used. Remember to support the NRA to protect your gun rights. They are in the fight of their lives right now and need all of the support you can give them. Always shoot legally, proper practice prevents poor performance when it counts, and be safe out there.