SI Vault
Paul R. Walker
December 13, 1954
When Colt quit its Frontier Model in 1941 for lack of demand, a collecting craze began and continues hotly for the most colorful revolvers in U.S. history
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December 13, 1954

New Interest In Old Colts

When Colt quit its Frontier Model in 1941 for lack of demand, a collecting craze began and continues hotly for the most colorful revolvers in U.S. history

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Navy colt, with octagonal barrel, ivory grips and elaborate engraving for presentation purposes, was one of a pair presented to Maj. Gen. John M. Schofield by friends on Aug. 1, 1863. The plain-issue model was sought after by arms-poor Confederate soldiers, many of whom wrote home pleadingly for a pair of captured "Navy Sixes."

Army colt was presented by the citizens of the Territory of Arizona in 1871 to Lt. Charles Morton for bravery in fighting the Apaches. The workhorse of the Civil War, it was a forerunner of the metallic-cartridge model. Many muzzle-loading Army Colts, which were fired by percussion cap, were altered after the war to take the new cartridge.

Single action frontier colt, gold inlaid and engraved, with mother-of-pearl grips, gold steer horns and topaz eyes, was fancied up by a custom gunsmith, is valued at about $650. The plain Frontier Model, costing $37.50, was discontinued by Colt in 1941. Some Western sheriffs and state troopers still carry these pistols.

Baby dragoon colt, with box of percussion caps (which fired paper cartridges when these were used) and powder flask, was made in 1848. It was a pocket pistol much favored by civilians. The gun is inscribed " California, 1851," was no doubt carried during the gold rush. Miners liked the pistol because it was light and compact.

Whitneyville walker colt was made in Whitneyville, Conn., by Eli Whitney Jr. (son of the cotton-gin inventor) for Colt, then without a factory. Colt got a War Department order in 1847 for 1,000 pistols from Capt. Sam Walker who was fighting in the Mexican War and died later that year. Only about 100 Walkers have been found.

Dragoon colt, inlaid with gold, is an elaborate presentation model, valued at about $5,000. The plain-model Dragoon (average value $250) is often confused with the more valuable Walker, weighs 4 pounds 2 ounces, whereas the Walker weighs 7 ounces more. Dragoons also have 7�-inch and 8-inch barrels, Walkers 9-inch.

Frontier model colt, No. 332088, with deluxe engraving, ivory grips and silver plating, was General George S. Patton Jr.'s personal side-arm in World Wars I and II (he bought it in 1916 when a second lieutenant and carried it until his death). Like shooters before and after him, Patton favored the Frontier's fine balance and hard-hitting ability.

Sturm, ruger single six revolver was first postwar Coltlike gun to appear after the discontinuance of the Frontier Model. A .22 selling for $63.25, it closely resembles the Frontier but offers certain mechanical improvements. The company is now tooling up to produce the Single Six revolver in .38 Special and .44 Special calibers.

Great western frontier revolver first appeared in 1954, comes in three barrel lengths, in .22, .38 Special, .357 Atomic (a company innovation employing a longer cartridge than the .357 Magnum), .44 Special and .45 Long Colt calibers. Prices range from $84.50 to $125 for plain factory models. Gun shown is .44 Special caliber.

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