Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About The Colt Single Action Series Pistol But Didn’t Want to Pay To Learn

No, those aren't blunts (courtesy americanhandgunner.com)

Like all print-based gun mags, American Handgunner is struggling to integrate paper and electronic content to satisfy their need to subsidize salaries, overhead, pensions and expense accounts. (TTAG operates under the assumption that overhead sucks and dead tree publications are dead—or at least limited to “touch and feel” gun-porn-in-the-John appeal.) American Handgunner‘s just posted Mike “Duke” Venturino’s Genesis Of The Colt Single Action Series. The 12-part bite-sized guide is well-written, reasonably comprehensive and nicely illustrated. Enjoy. And don’t forget to recommend TTAG to your friends. Just sayin’ . . .


  1. avatar Jim March says:

    Great, but Colt never grafted a magazine and auto-shell-ejector onto the SAA like they should have :).

    Like I proved was in fact possible…



    OK, I’ll shut up now…

    1. avatar In Memphis says:

      Dont shut up, post a video. Im curious now.

      1. avatar Jim March says:

        Unfortunately the range wouldn’t let me use a good camera…


        Better one coming. I posted a pretty detailed description of how it works. And I’ve improved the magazine latches on the 9rd extended mags since this was taken.

        By stacking a 9rd mag on top of 5 rounds in the cylinder I can get off 14 rounds with no reload. I carry it five-up in the cylinder plus the shorter 2rd mag for easier holstering :).

        In the video you’ll be able to see the shells come flying out the back. I now have a small brass shell deflector mounted on the hammer so the shells don’t sting me in the cheek. It was in there in the videos, you’ll see the shells fly about a foot or so to the right of my face.

        1. avatar JoshtheViking says:

          Ban assault revolvers! All joking aside, that is actually a pretty cool design.

    2. avatar Akira says:

      Whaaaaaaaaaaaaat in the name of high school football is that??

      Do you have videos of it in action?

      1. avatar Jim March says:

        Just posted it above.

        Maurice the FrankenRuger LIVES.

        (“Maurice” is a reference to “The Joker” by the Steve Miller Band…because some people call it The Space Cowboy…)

    3. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

      Ah, a Simpson 260 and a wheelgun. You are a man of classic and refined taste.

      1. avatar Russ Bixby says:

        I think that’s a 260P, with the mechanical safety like on my AVO.

        A moving needle can be infinitely more expressive than rapidly changing digits; I love and use my analog stuff quite a lot, my 34401A, AVO and VTVM getting about an equal share of my attention.

      2. avatar Russ Bixby says:

        I think that’s a 260P, with the mechanical safety like on my AVO.

        A moving needle can be infinitely more expressive than rapidly changing digits; I love and use my ana1og stuff quite a lot, my 34401A, AVO and VTVM getting about an equal share of my attention.

        And it P1SSES ME OFF THAT I CANNOT USE ana1og, ana1ysis et cetera round here. I’m testing SICK AND TIRED of WordOppress.

        O.K. End of capitalized rant. Sheesh!

    4. avatar jwm says:

      From a factory production point of view the 1896 Mauser made the Frankenrevolver a non starter.

      But a garage workshop and the desire to tinker makes the sky the limit. Rock on all you tinkerers, the results are fun to watch.

      1. avatar Russ Bixby says:

        There’s a certain technical cousinry to the Lewis Gun…

        1. avatar Jim March says:

          Here’s the feed cycle for the Mauser MG 213, a 20mm autocannon that was a captured Nazi prototype:


          The US used this design in 20mm and at least some 30mm cannons on Korean-war-era and later jets including the F86 Sabrejet.

          Maurice used a spring-loaded straight feed path instead of a mechanical rammer, and gas-powered ejection instead of mechanical extraction. But otherwise this is the closest relative Maurice has.

          I only found out about these halfway through building mine. So far as I’m aware no other personal weapon operates in similar fashion.


          I guess it’s also a case of “accidental Steampunk”…

  2. avatar Avid Reader says:

    Wow, talk about a Frankengun. . .

  3. avatar Russ Bixby says:

    Fu¢king wow.

    Y’know, being armed and being a geek seem to go hand in hand — at least for me and the other techies I know.

    I suspect that techies have a higher percentage of armed members that almost any other demographic, at least in a non-criminal urban setting.

    Good on ya’, sir.

  4. avatar Mark N. says:

    You can actually view the magazine on line as well, not just these snippets. And for free as well. I assume that it receives advertising income from its on-line publication, as does TTAG. Guns Magazine is the same. And if you like the portable version, you can order hard copies at the same site. And as a separate bonus, you can sign up for their monthly give-aways as well.

    Duke has been around for years, One of the installments addresses the 1873s, sand another the cartridge conversions, not just the muzzleloaders. Also details the history of the first, second and third generation colts.

    1. avatar jwm says:

      My favorites are the converted cap and balls. I used to enjoy Duke’s stuff when I got the mags. I’m a bit of a history buff and him and Garry James were on my short list of favorites.

  5. avatar Matt in FL says:

    I’m only partway through, and I realize this series is almost two full years old, but I’d still rather hear about it this way, all at once, then to have it trickled out to me one at a time over the course of a year. It’s kinda like the way Netflix is releasing all of their new series, all at once. I like “go at your own pace” TV.

  6. avatar Blehtastic says:

    Muzzleloaders fascinate me. Bows and arrows are awesome. Slingshots can be great fun in the backyard. Skipping rocks and throwing things as various as javelin, atlatl and any sort of ball is a fun pastime with your kids and family.

    There is nothing I could care less for than single action revolvers. They were a simple stepping stone in the evolutionary process of firearms. It’s like paleontologists arguing over what the most awesome evolutionary species was between Homo Erectus and Homo Sapiens.

    Who cares?

    1. avatar Mark N. says:

      A strange attitude indeed. It is hardly a mere stepping stone when there were several hundred years of single shot muskets, rifles and pistols before the advent of Colt’s design. The revolver was the first successful multi-shot firearm, and as such it was truly revolutionary. In one form or another, everybody copied Colt’s revolver design for over fifty years. The revolver as a machine was improved to a double action trigger, but there has been no remarkably important improvement since (aside from metallurgy).

      1. avatar Blehtastic says:

        I guess I should clarify.

        It’s not the single action part that makes me feel an instant sense of ennui, it’s any revolver with a cylinder that doesn’t pivot out on an arm. If you have to unload and reload one chamber at a time, or even if you can take the whole cylinder out and fiddle about with it, as Mr. Farago showed in his NAA .22 video, it’s an inferior design that is so close to a functional design as to be nothing but frustrating, and therefore should be shunned.

        Nobody should own a single action revolver except for museums for the same reason that nobody should own magazines for an AR 15 that hold less than 30 rounds or magazines for an M1A that hold less than 20 rounds. They’re an inferior tool that grabbers can point to and say ridiculous thing like “nobody needs 10 bullets to kill a deer!”

        1. avatar Matt in FL says:

          I don’t have a dog in this fight, I just want to give you props for the use of ‘ennui.’

        2. avatar Jim March says:

          You are missing several major points.

          It’s true that on an 1873 Colt or similar design the cylinder is locked in place – no “crane” to swing the cylinder out on. BUT with the guns that do work like that, each time you swing it closed you are forming a new bond between the back of the barrel and the front of the cylinder – and a new alignment. That alignment is crucial to accuracy. Because the 1873 types cannot get out of alignment nearly as easily, the fundamental accuracy of the gun can be higher than their modern cousins.

          The most accurate revolvers in the world are based on the 1873 design – including this bone-stock factory specimen that clocked MOA accuracy:


          That is the only revolver in the world I’m aware of that could run side by side with an Olympic target pistol.

          Second point: the ergonomics of the SA design supports the gun “rolling in your hand” rather than transferring all it’s recoil back at you at once. With the right grip type (esp. Ruger’s newer Bisley type grip frame and grips) the ability to handle monster recoil in a small “packing gun” format is unmatched, as John Linebaugh proves here one-handed with a 500Linebaugh:


          Finally, the people who designed the original SA wheelguns knew much more about how hand tools are supposed to fit your hands than any modern “mechanical engineer” from a gut-level perspective. The people who designed the 1873 Colt worked with hand tools on a daily basis and knew much more about how a tool fits the hand than, say, Gaston Glock. A lot more. Pick up an 1873-pattern revolver and shoot it correctly and you’ll see why.

          (NOTE: the ones Colt made after WW2 have the hammer mounted too high up – they were influenced by the “fanning” techniques Hollywood was doing, and almost all others (Ruger New Vaquero, Uberti/Pietta/etc.) are cloned from the post-war Colts. If you put a SuperBlackhawk hammer on a Ruger New Vaquero you’ll get the same “thumb reach” to the hammer that would have been found on an actual Wild West specimen.)

          For some roles you just don’t need rapid reload. For those roles the SA still has a place.

          Now, that said, I agree in large part that the reload speed stinks…which is why I rigged my New Vaquero for magazine feeding as described elsewhere in this thread! I kept most of the upsides of the SA in terms of handling and accuracy and bumped the firepower up significantly…up to 14 rounds with no reload, not bad for a sixgun (and yes, Maurice still has a six-shot cylinder).

          This is the feed cycle for a Nazi prototype 20mm autocannon called the Mauser MG 213:


          It’s broadly similar to how Maurice works, except I’m using straight-tube springloaded mags, single-stage insertion and instead of mechanical extraction I’m using muzzle gasses from the firing chamber to blow the previously fired empty straight out the back of the gun (and I bounce it off a hammer-mounted shell deflector instead of my cheek!).

        3. avatar jwm says:

          I own a single action revolver, double action revolvers and semi auto pistols. I also own bolt action, lever action and semi auto rifles. I also own a variety of shotguns. Variety is the spice of life.

          Now my brother on the other hand only owns one gun. A single action ruger blackhawk .357. He bought it new in the 70’s and hasn’t seen the need to replace or add to it.

        4. avatar Blehtastic says:

          So Jim, basically what you’re saying is that single Action revolvers suck because they’re not bolt action rifles. Interesting point.

    2. avatar Ralph says:

      @Blehtastic, there are hundreds of thousands of Western fans who love the Peacemaker.

      Ruger sells a ton of single action revolvers every year, such as the Bearcat, Single Six, Blackhawk and Vaquero lines. Single-action revolvers produce a huge part of Ruger’s revenue.

      Colt, Uberti, Pedersoli, Chiappa, Pietta, Armi San Marco and U.S. Fire Arms all make copies of Western SAA guns and a lot of people buy them. Cowboy action shooting is getting to be a popular sport and all competitors must use single action firearms.

      All things considered, I’d say that there are a lot of people who care. Not every gun has to be a black rifle.

      1. avatar Blehtastic says:

        I mean, I’m not the enemy, I’m not advocating that they be outlawed, but if I see some dude at the range shooting one, I’m gonna chuckle and call him a [email protected] under my breath.

        1. avatar Ralph says:

          I understand. Believe me, I get it. They’re impractical for sure. But they’re fun.

        2. avatar Mark N. says:

          And then there is Bob Munson, may he rest in peace, who could fire two shots with a single action so fast you could swear he’d only fired once–but two targets would be down. And he could consistently hit a gong with a .357 single action at 350 yards.

        3. avatar jsallison says:

          Great display of derpitude, there, trivial one.

        4. avatar Swarf says:

          There is room in this sport for beauty.

          An EBR may be the most efficient way to get a whole bunch of lead down range, but they are ugly as sh*t.

          A Peacemaker or any other SA revolver is slow and hard to reload and it doesn’t matter a damn bit because it is a beautiful machine and that is why you took it to the range that day; not because it is the best killing machine, but because it if a functioning piece of history.

          If I were going to call someone as the range a dumb*ss, it would be the guy whose only concern is function and who has no appreciation for the beauty of a gun.

          Besides which, an SA revolver will still defend your life.

    3. avatar Jason702 says:

      Well obviously Homo sapiens was the more awesome evolutionary species since like , we are them and H . erectus is now extinct. Now if you have said Homo neanderthalensis vs Homo sapiens that would have been an interesting dicussion.

      1. avatar Ralph says:

        Lay off, pal. Some of my best friends are homo sapiens. And I know some women who are lebanese, too. There’s nothing wrong with it.

        1. avatar jwm says:

          And all of us are occasionally erectus.

        2. avatar Ing says:

          As Kirk Lazarus said, hey, everyone’s er… homo… erectus once in a while.

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