Shooting Sixguns of the Old West

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Shooting Sixguns of the Old West

Until recently if someone judged the Old West by television and movie prtrayals, there was only one sort of handgun in use.

 That, of course, was the Colt Single Action Army which was also commonly called the Peacemaker. In truth it was the premier revolver produced during the heyday of the Frontier Era. Considered in all its styles and calibers more SAAs were made from 1873 to 1900 than any other single type of American revolver.

However, it was not the only handgun about, nor was it the first revolver to take the then new metallic cartridges. In fact it was not even the only revolver being manufactured in considerable numbers by Colt during the same time frame. From 1870, when the era of metallic cartridge firing sixguns began until 1900 which is generally considered the end of the Wild West, Colt, Remington, Smith and Wesson, Merwin & Hulbert, and a few other lesser known companies collectively produced hundreds of thousands of metallic cartridge firing sixguns. These handguns were at least of comparable quality to the Colt SAA, and some exceeded it by a wide margin. The primary target market for all of those revolvers was the American West.

For almost a century now all of these 'other' sixguns have merely been historical oddities to most shooters. In fact, other than avid collectors, few have even cared enough about them to learn the differences between various versions of say the Smith & Wesson Model #3, or how to operate one of Merwin & Hulbert's uniquely functioning handguns. As far as actually shooting such guns, aside from the Colt Peacemaker, very few Old West sixguns have ever been put back into use.

That has started to change, and I feel that this has come about from the enthusiasm generated by the great sport of cowboy action shooting. This new game, which has actually been played by some people for nearly 20 years as of this writing (1997), has caused many of its competitors to focus on the types of guns, clothing, leather gear, and even horse equipment that was actually used during the taming of the American West.

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