As a kid, one of my first actual cartridge guns was an old second (or maybe third)-hand Ruger Single Six, which back in the 1980s was a lot cheaper than what they are now. I probably put enough bullets through that little revolver to wear the rifling smooth. No pop can was safe.
Recently, I have kind of rediscovered that joy with a new single-action rimfire wheel gun from Heritage Firearms in Georgia– the Barkeep. An homage to the chopped down Sheriff’s Model and Storekeeper variants of the Colt Single Action Army, the .22LR Barkeep runs a 2.68-inch barrel while keeping a near full-sized grip. The short length deletes the traditional onboard ejection rod but gives the gun a kind of old-school snub-nosed look to it.
Sweet shooting and running about $180, it also accepts a .22WMR cylinder.
My review on the Barkeep over at Guns.com.
The above Colt Single Action Army revolver was ordered as a gift for President Theodore Roosevelt’s 54th birthday. Factory engraved and silver-plated, it was shipped four days before his birthday, just over a week prior to the election of 1912 where he ran on the Bull Moose ticket, and 10 days prior to his famous assassination attempt in Milwaukee. It was lost to history for years.
Complete with Colt factory engraving by master Cuno Helfricht, this M1873 “Peacemaker” now ranks (at time of the auction) as the third-highest firearm ever offered by Rock Island Auction Company– and last week picked up $1.3 million smackers before the gavel ended a wild bidding war.
Sadly, I am sure it will disappear for a few years into a private collection, then resurface only to be sold for a higher bid, and this will be the closest that the public will ever get to it.
Gratefully, though, lots of TR’s hardware is well-preserved in various museum systems. For instance, I worked with Sagamore Hill National Historic Site and Springfield Armory last year to detail his specially-ordered M1903 (SN#0009), which is in their collection.
Samuel Colt’s iconic revolver works peaked during the Civil War while the inventor and founder himself passed away in 1862. This left his company behind to try and compete against other revolver makers (looking at you, Smith & Wesson) who were using Rollin White’s breech-loading cartridge wheel gun patents. Once White’s patent tanked in 1870, William Mason and Charles Brinckerhoff Richards at Colt filed patents for their own Model 1871-72 Open Top revolver.
This six-shot single action, chambered in the same .44 Rimfire cartridge used by the Henry lever-action rifles of the day, soon morphed into a chambering in Colt’s new centerfire black powder .45 cartridge and submitted for a new U.S. Army handgun contract to replace older cap-and-ball revolvers.
And the rest was history.
More in my column at Guns.com
This amazing early Colt Single Action Army, SN 5405, has an 1874 production date and “U.S.” stamps and a serious 7.5-inch barrel. The gun, likely an OWA (Orville Wood Ainsworth) proofed model, falls in the possible serial number range of Colts that were at the Battle of Little Bighorn, which is SN 4500 to 7527.
This makes sense as this gun is in the Canadian War Museum and was associated with Sitting Bull.
“Sitting Bull, a Lakota Sioux chief, and his followers came to Canada with this weapon after the 1876 battle of the Little Big Horn in the United States. The presence of these armed warriors worried the Canadian government. Officials feared that Canada’s western First Peoples would ally with Sitting Bull and use violence to disrupt settlement.”