The 1873 Colt .45 Single Action Army revolver is the most famous handgun in the world.  No Hollywood Western movie would ever be complete without one.

The .45 Colt has been owned by a multitude of notable people including Buffalo Bill, John Wesley Hardin, Theodore Roosevelt, Wyatt Earp, Pat Garrat, Sam Bass, Judge Roy Bean, Billy The Kid, The James Brothers, The Dalton Gang, John Wayne, Robert Mitchum and many more.

 

 

 

The .45 Colt was easy to shoot, regardless of your marksmanship skills, your height or weight, be you a strong man or a seven stone weakling...the Colt .45 made all men equal.

Consequently it was known as  The Equalizer  and it was also known as the gun that won the West.

The modern Italian Uberti reproduction below sports a brightly colored blued barrel, cylinder and trigger guard with traditional case hardened hammer and frame.

 

 

The U.S military saw the potential of the revolver and adopted it straight away as did the cavalry, lawmen, outlaws, homesteaders, prospectors and well almost everyone.

The revolver fired  a powerful cartridge, it was accurate and it was deadly...a true man-stopper.  Even today, handguns that fire this round are revered quite highly by the shooter.

 

 

The Colt .45 SAA Single Action Army is one of the worlds longest lived production revolvers of all time, such was and still is its popularity.

The U.S Army welcomed the Colt .45 and adopted two versions, the Colt Army with five and a half inch barrel and the Colt Cavalry with a seven and a half inch barrel.

 

 

The modern Italian, Uberti reproduction below sports a deep blued barrel, cylinder, trigger guard and grip housing.  To finish off the overall effect, the hammer and frame have been case hardened in the traditional style, the grips are artificial pearl.  Quite a stunning revolver!

 

 

Both of these guns fires the .45 Long Colt cartridge, the civilian models were sold in a variety of different barrel lengths from four inches up to twelve inches and a target shooting version called the Colt Bisley, seen below, with a lowered hammer spur and different shaped grip was manufactured.  About forty thousand Bisley's were produced.

 

 

Some thirty-seven thousand Colt .45 SAA revolvers were sold to the U.S Army from 1873 to 1893 and production didn't stop until December 1941 when America joined World War Two.  At this time about four hundred thousand Colt .45 SAA's had been made.

In the mid 1950's there was a sudden surge of demand for the Colt .45 SAA due to the publicity gained with all the Western movies and TV series. As a result, the Colt .45 SAA is still made under license by several manufacturers to this day.

Below is shown a modern manufactured Uberti reproduction of the .45 Colt Cattleman 1873. It is simply superb and hard to distinguish from the real thing.

 

 

First production Colt .45 SAA revolvers were made from 1873 until 1941 with serial numbers all below 357860.  Second production Colt .45 SAA revolvers were made from 1955 until 1974 with the serial number 0001SA to 73319SA.

Third production Colt .45 SAA revolvers were made from 1976 until 1981 and were offered in a variety of calibers including .44 special, .357 Magnum, and .38 Special.

At this present time Colt are again manufacturing the SAA, for how long until they stop and then take it up again is anyone's guess.

Below is a typical example of a modern Italian manufactured .45 Colt revolver that has been manufactured to fire .44 Magnum bullets instead of the .45 Long Colt bullet.

 

 

The Colt .45 SAA is a very robust gun, it is made from three major components, the cylinder frame, the handle frame with trigger guard and the barrel.

These are simply held together with several screws, the same system that is used today on modern revolvers. 

The revolver is loaded by pulling the hammer back half cocked then opening the swing out port gate on the rear right side of the revolver housing and simply dropping in each bullet in turn.

To fire a shot, the hammer is pulled back full cock by the thumb or fanned back by the palm of the hand and the trigger is pulled.  If the trigger is already pulled then simply fanning back the hammer and releasing it will fire the gun.

 

 

To unload the gun, the hammer is set to half cock then the gate is opened and the ram under the barrel is pushed up to shove the empty cases out one at a time. The cylinder can be taken out by unscrewing the base pins and pulling them out, the cylinder then falls out.

There is no safety catch on a revolver so people in gun clubs normally only load five shots instead of six, leaving an empty chamber under the hammer. Below is an excellent engraved .45 Colt Cattleman revolver from the Italian company of Uberti.

 

 

 

Below are the entire one hundred and five years of production serial numbers for the Colt Single Action Army.  The dates are  from 1873 up to 1978 respectively and the serial numbers are inclusive.  Example: serial number 14990 would be for the year of 1874 and 191990 for the year 1899.

 
COLT SINGLE ACTION ARMY & BISLEY REVOLVERS 1873 - 1940
YEAR & SERIAL NUMBER YEAR & SERIAL NUMBER YEAR & SERIAL NUMBER YEAR & SERIAL NUMBER
1873 ---------- 1 1890 ---- 130000 1907 ---- 288000 1924 ---- 346400
1874 -------- 200 1891 ---- 136000 1908 ---- 304000 1925 ---- 347300
1875 ----- 15000 1892 ---- 144000 1909 ---- 308000 1926 ---- 348200
1876 ----- 22000 1893 ---- 149000 1910 ---- 312000 1927 ---- 349800
1877 ----- 33000 1894 ---- 154000 1911 ---- 316000 1928 ---- 351300
1878 ----- 41000 1895 ---- 159000 1912 ---- 321000 1929 ---- 352400
1879 ----- 49000 1896 ---- 163000 1913 ---- 325000 1930 ---- 353800
1880 ----- 53000 1897 ---- 168000 1914 ---- 328000 1931 ---- 354100
1881 ----- 62000 1898 ---- 175000 1915 ---- 329500 1932 ---- 354500
1882 ----- 73000 1899 ---- 182000 1916 ---- 332000 1933 ---- 354800
1883 ----- 85000 1900 ---- 192000 1917 ---- 335000 1934 ---- 355000
1884 ---- 102000 1901 ---- 203000 1918 ---- 337000 1935 ---- 355200
1885 ---- 114000 1902 ---- 220000 1919 ---- 337200 1936 ---- 355300
1886 ---- 117000 1903 ---- 238000 1920 ---- 338000 1937 ---- 355400
1887 ---- 119000 1904 ---- 250000 1921 ---- 341000 1938 ---- 356100
1888 ---- 125000 1905 ---- 261000 1922 ---- 343000 1939 ---- 356600
1889 ---- 128000 1906 ---- 273000 1923 ---- 344500 1940-41 - 357000

COLT SINGLE ACTION ARMY & BUNTLINE & NEW FRONTIER 1956 - 1978
YEAR & SERIAL NUMBER YEAR & SERIAL NUMBER YEAR & SERIAL NUMBER YEAR & SERIAL NUMBER
1955-56 -------- 1 1962 ---- 35650SA 1968 ---- 46300SA  1974 ---- 69400SA
1957 ----- 8800SA 1963 ---- 37300SA 1969 ---- 49000SA 1975 ---- 70500SA

1958 ---- 18500SA

1964 ---- 38500SA 1970 ---- 52600SA 1976 ---- 73201SA
1959 ---- 23400SA 1965 ---- 40000SA 1971 ---- 59400SA 1977 ---- 82200SA
1960 ---- 28500SA 1966 ---- 41500SA 1972 ---- 61700SA 1978 -- 90500SA-99999SA
1961 ---- 33600SA 1967 ---- 43800SA 1973 ---- 64400SA -
After serial number 99999SA serial numbers started at SA01001 for 1978
COLT NEW FRONTIER SINGLE ACTION ARMY & BUNTLINE 1961 -1978
YEAR & SERIAL NUMBER YEAR & SERIAL NUMBER YEAR & SERIAL NUMBER YEAR & SERIAL NUMBER
1961 ---- 3000 NF 1965 ---- 5000 NF 1969 ------ 5900 NF 1975-77 ---- 7288 NF
1962 ---- 3006 NF 1966 ---- 5500 NF 1970 ------ 6000 NF 1978 -------- 7501 NF
1963 ---- 3850 NF 1967 ---- 5700 NF 1971-73 ---7000 NF -
1964 ---- 4700 NF 1968 ---- 5800 NF 1974 ------ 7088 NF -

    

I hope that you have found this page to be of interest, why not visit some more of my webpages on guns via the links below.

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Page created August 11th 2007.   Updated November 20th 2012