Image Courtesy icollector.com
Colt – it was the Gun that Won the West. The Colt .45, or Peacemaker, was developed in 1869 for sale to the Army. The quality and ease of use of the single action revolver made it immediately popular in the civilian market as well. The metallic cartridge ammunition made a vast improvement over the old cap and ball revolvers. In a 7 ½ inch barrel length it was carried by Wyatt Earp and George Armstrong Custer. (The famed Buntline Special, 12 inch barrel attributed to Earp is more legend than fact.)
But as iconic as the Colt .45 is, it was a follow on model to it that really won the west. In 1877 Colt began to produce the Frontier Six-Shooter in a .44 caliber which fired the same .44-40 round used by the Model 1873 Winchester lever action rifle (ironically also known as the Gun that Won the West). This innovation allowed for the carrying of the Colt revolver in combination with a light accurate long gun while packing a single type of ammunition. When trekking the vast distances of the west this lessening of a man’s load could be a life saver. Later combinations of the Colt and Winchester in .38-40 and .32-20 calibers also proved popular.
So it was not so much Colt’s Gun that Won the West as it was the .44-40 ammunition – The Round that Won the West.
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