There are three basic pistol types; the semi-auto, the double action revolver, and the venerable single action revolver. Today, let’s take a look at the single action revolver.
The single action revolver is a pistol where the trigger performs only one function; releasing the hammer. The hammer must be cocked each time to fire the gun. Single action revolvers usually have very good triggers with light pulls, little creep, and not much if any overtravel. They make for excellent hunting and target guns when chambered in appropriate cartridges.
The first really successful single action guns were invented by Samuel Colt in 1836. The 6 shot percussion fired Patterson model revolutionized the handgun industry. Other manufacturers came onto the market, but Colt dominated in the 1800s. Remington’s New Army models of both 1858 and especially 1860 improved the strength of the revolver and were used extensively during the American Civil War. In 1872, Colt won a contract to supply the US Army with a new handgun that fired a self-contained cartridge.
The Single Action Army model of 1873, also known as the Model P, Peacemaker, M1873, and SAA, has, like the ’73 Winchester, been described as “the gun that won the West.” The iconic form of the SAA has been copied by many other manufacturers and is produced today by both domestic and foreign companies. The most prolific single action revolver manufacturer today is Ruger with its Blackhawk, Single Six, and Super Blackhawk models. One of the very best early single actions was the Smith & Wesson Model 3. This was a top break, six shot that could be emptied and reloaded much more quickly than the Colt. However, Colt had the edge with the military as it was chambered in 45 caliber. S&W sold thousands of Model 3s to the Russian military during the late 1800s. These guns were chambered in, guess what, 44 Russian.
These were in my opinion, better and more efficient guns than the Colt, and better suited to cavalry. I’ll be attending the Bob Ward’s shooters demo day this Saturday in Missoula. While I won’t be able to give you the results of extensive gun tests, I will give you my initial impressions of some of the firearms that recently have come onto the market.
Be safe and good shooting.