Colt Single Action Army: Shooting The Legend

Alex C.
by Alex C.

The Colt Single Action Army revolver served the United States for two decades as its main handgun, and has be heralded by some as the greatest handgun ever made. It has been called the SAA, M1873, the Colt .45, and of course the Peacemaker. A mainstay of any Western film, you need to shoot one to understand the allure.

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Firearm Featured:
Colt Single Action Army

Full transcript …

– [Voiceover] Hey guys, this is Alex C and today we’re taking a look at a handgun that to me represents the frontier spirit of the late 1800’s America.

It lies perfectly at the junction between beauty and functionality.

This is the Colt Single Action Army.

Also known as The Peacemaker.

A wise man once said, “This is “the greatest handgun ever made.

“Six bullets; more than enough to kill anything that moves.” If you get this reference, you are awesome.

Single Action Army functions just about like any other single action you’ll find on the market today, with the distinctive four clicks when you clock the hammer.

First one being the safety notch.

Second one being so you can load it or unload it.

A third one which I really don’t know what it does.

And then the fourth one fourth one means ready to fire.

To load it you open the loading gate, take it to the second notch, take the cylinder to where you want to unload it, and then there is a slide on the front to remove the spin cartridge.

So with that quick overview let’s hit the range.

– Alright, so now that I’ve talked a little bit about the Colt Single action Army, we’ve got Patrick R out here and Patrick you’ve never owned a single action revolver.

– No. no.

– Now you’ve owned quite a few double action revolvers.

– Not quite a few but I think I’ve had two or three.

– And you’ve got a Colt Python which is arguably the pinnacle of what a double action revolver can be. – [Patrick] Yeah.

– [Alex] Which is also a Colt which is nice.

General handling impressions of the Single Action Army; what do you think? – It’s extremely pointable.

I really like it; it feels at home.

– Okay. And obviously you know how to work the Single Action Army the loading gate and everything. – [Patrick] Yeah – [Alex] Not too strange to get accustomed too.

– No it’s not; it’s a little fiddly but you know, given the time period that it was designed in, I think it was a pretty solid choice.

– But does it feel better than the Nagant revolver? – (laughs) Anything does; a rock does.

– But you can’t suppress this one.

So I’d like to throw that out there.

– No that’s okay. – [Alex] Yeah.

Anyways let’s say we get shooting.

– Yeah.

Alright so I’m going ahread a take a couple shots with the Single Action Army and well you know in the cowboy movies you always see them shooting from the hip so I’m going to give it a shot on my first shot.

(click) (gun fires) Way high. We’re not doing that anymore.

(gun fires) (laughs) (gun fires) (gun fires) (gun fires) (gun fires) Man, I like that a lot.

Trigger’s fantastic; pulling the hammer back’s really, you know, very instinctive.

Decocking the gun, it’s not hard either.

All in all I really like it; I wish they were more common.

I guess they are kind of common.

(click) (gun fires) (click) (gun fires) (click) (gun fires) (click) (gun fires) (click) (gun fires) (click) (gun fires) Alright, loading the Single Action Army is pretty straightforward.

You pull it back to the second click.

Half cocked position, open the loading gate.

Slide a round in, rotate the cylinder.

Repeat the process.

Thankfully the.45 Colt we’re using in this revolver is a pretty big round and it’s not as fiddly as the Nagant revolver was to load.

So there you go.

And it’s on there.

(click) (gun fires) (click) (gun fires) (click) (gun fires) (click) (gun fires) (click) (gun fires) (click) (gun fires) Alright so the video wouldn’t be complete without one of us trying to fan the revolver.

Alex was mistaken earlier, I actually have a tiny little NAA Single Action Revolver but it doesn’t really match, or qualify I don’t think.

But I’ve tried fanning that and it’s a lot of fun So let’s give this one a go.


(gun fires) (gun fires) (gun fires) (gun fires) (gun fires) That’s a little terrifying because it’s not quite as pointable as a modern semi-auto for me.

I just don’t have as much time on something like this but I mean it’s fun but a little bit nerve racking.

Alright guys, so we just got done at the range with the Colt Single Action Army and I have to say I’m sad that it took me this long to get behind one.

I really enjoyed it alot.

– You know guys, to be honest I would put a nice single action revolver on your gun bucket list.

Everyone needs to shoot a nice single action revolver at least once, it’s up there.

To me it’s as important as shooting an M1 Garand once in your life.

– Right. Yes.

– Well maybe it’s just me being a Texan and this is kind of close to my heart, you know, the cowboy culture and stuff.

– Right, right. You know, one thing that does kind of keep people off of these is the price.

I think their pretty seldom I believe.

– Colt is still making these.

I checked GunBroker and you can get a new in-box one for about $1500.

However there are so many used ones out there.

For example, this one was made in 1993 and you can get second gen, third gen ones for way under $1500.

And of course there’s other great single actions on the market. – [Patrick] There are, yes.

– [Alex] Ruger makes a fantastic firearm called the Blackhawk revolver.

I’m sure most of you are familiar with that.

But it is every bit as much a gun as this one.

– Yes. I mean I’ve had an opportunity to handle a Blackhawk and I’d say that their pretty darn close.

And I think they offer convertible versions of that as well.

– They do and also this comes in.45 Colt.

It comes in 44-40. It comes in all sorts of calibers,.38,.357.

However, I wanted the original, you know,.45 Colt.

Just because to me that’s correct and kind of cool.

– Yeah. No. I agree. It’s such a hard hitting round.

Our steel plate was really kind of moving quite a lot whenever we’d connect.

– Absolutely guys. Rounding out a revolver collection, if you’re a revolver guy, a single action is one of those that I think you need to have.

– Yeah. If you’re a revolver guy, absolutely.

– Be it a Single Action Army, a Blackhawk, or what have you.

But I think we’ll close out the video by saying we had a great time shooting this you know. – [Patrick] Yeah.

– [Alex] Some guns we come out here and it seems like a chore but I honestly felt like, let’s put it this way: I had a great time with this.

– Well I don’t know about you but shooting is never a chore for me. – [Alex] (laughs) – [Patrick] But I mean I really did enjoy shooting the Single Action Army.

– I guess I should rephrase that; when I shoot a gun like the Nagant revolver, it kind of makes me think – [Patrick] A workout, sure.

– [Alex] Let’s finish this video up and get to the next cool gun.

– Right, I mean a work out sure, but never a chore. – [Alex] (laughs) Right.

– [Patrick] If you have an opportunity to get behind one go ahead and do it, you won’t regret it.

– Anyways guys, I’d like to thank Ventura Munitions for providing the ammo for this test.

– Yep, and Grizzly Targets for providing their tough AR500 Steel Targets.

– Absolutely guys, I’m Alex C.

– Patrick R.

– Thanks for watching TFB TV, hope to see you next time.

Alex C.
Alex C.

Alex is a Senior Writer for The Firearm Blog and Director of TFBTV.

More by Alex C.

Join the conversation
2 of 45 comments
  • Don Ward Don Ward on Oct 20, 2015

    While this is definitely not a definitive Colt SAA video (I know more about the weapon than the reviewers and I ain't no expert), HOLY heck, the negative nancies and handwringing in these comments.

  • Iksnilol Iksnilol on Oct 20, 2015

    I think the single action design is way safer in the extreme magnum calibers. I am thinking a 500 S&W single action is less likely to be accidentally bumpfired than a double action.