Heritage, 2010, Volume 1 Page: 29
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Family legend has it that he killed a buffalo with this Colt Dra-
goon revolver, which has his name inscribed on the backstrap.
The next step in the development of the Colt single-action re-
volver came with the introduction of the Model 1860 Army per-
cussion cap revolver.
With the improvements made in production of higher quality
materials, especially "English silver steel," Colt was able to totally
redesign his revolver. He was able to produce a much improved,
lighter-weight firearm that would still discharge a .44 caliber bul-
let with a comparable force to the 1848 Army revolver model.
This newer 1860 version only weighed two pounds ten ounces, a
pound-and-a-half less than the previous model. This higher grade
steel made for a firearm that was practical to pack on one's per-
son instead of in a saddle holster, the manner in which the older
revolvers were carried because of their weight. Now an individual
could carry a firearm that was up to the task for any situation that
developed, and in the 1860s and '70s when these guns saw most
of their use, dangerous situations happened on a daily basis. Hav-
ing an accessible firearm often made the difference between life
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The final step in the evolution of the Colt single-action Army
revolver is the model of 1873, which has gained popular rec-
ognition by its prominent appearance in Hollywood movies.
Unfortunately, Sam Colt, who died in 1863, never saw the pro-
duction of this firearm that made his name famous worldwide.
The Colt Model 1873 single-action Army revolver was a com-
pletely different design from its predecessors. It was a solid frame
revolver, which was made to fire .45 caliber fixed cartridge am-
munition and could be loaded more easily from the rear of the
cylinder. This design allowed for a light-weight powerful handgun
for which extra ammunition could be conveniently carried on a
belt ready for a quick reload.
In the Old West of the 1870s-1890s the Colt single-action revolv-
er, also known as "The Peacemaker" or the "Frontier Six-Shooter,"
was the weapon of choice for many, including some notable his-
toric figures, and along with the Winchester rifle, came to symbol-
ize that era of American history.
In Texas, the Colt single-action Army revolver of 1873 remained
in service well into the 20th century and even today, is carried by
some older gun enthusiasts.
These Colt "thumb busters," as they were called, hold a very sig-
nificant place in Texas history as evidenced by the number of them
that are held in museums throughout the Lone Star State. Colt
single-action Army revolvers were used by soldiers, Rangers, and
civilians in Texas for more than 50 years to help bring peace and
civilization to the people of Texas.
Tom Power, of Utopia, researches, collect, collects, and sells antique and
historical firearms. All photos courtesy of the author.
HERITAGE Volume 1 2010
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, 2010, Volume 1, periodical, 2010; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth254216/m1/29/: accessed September 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.