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Single-Action Revolvers

In "The Gunfighter: Man or Myth?," historian Joseph G. Rosa wrote of a young cowboy's disdain for the new double-action revolver in 1884: "Ain’t worth a row of beans. No man ’cept a tenderfoot wants that kind of thing. Give me an old reliable all the time. Ye see, a man that’s used to the old style is apt to get fooled, not pull her off in time, and then he’ll be laid out colder’n a wedge."

Cowpokes of the time were not the only ones to treat the newer technology with a mix of suspicion and trepidation. Accustomed to cocking their gun each time before firing, many others from badge-wearing sheriffs to black-hatted gunslingers preferred single-action revolvers as old reliables. Even today, in the minds of purists, single-action revolvers are the only option.

The most enduring symbol of the single action gun is the Colt Army Peacemaker, the revolver that ruled the American West perched on the hips of cavalry troops from 1873 onward. But there were many others. Among the most appreciated was the Remington 1875. Chambered for the U.S. Army's .45-caliber Colt ammunition, the 1875 was Colt's first foray into the metallic cartridge market.

In the 20th century, the Ruger Blackhawk became a popular single action revolver choice. More recently, the Italian-made Uberti 1873 Cattleman single-action revolver, patterned after the Colt, has gained a dedicated following, while the Old West-style Ruger Vaquero has come to be the preferred tool of cowboy action shooting trade. Single-action revolvers continue to have a loyal following among shooters and collectors alike.


Quick Facts

  • A Colt .45 Model 1873 single-action revolver with a distinctive stag horn grip owned by General George S. Patton sold for $75,000 at a June 2015 Profiles in History auction
  • A rare Custer Battlefield Colt Army Revolver that was given to Chief Two Moons, who appears on the U.S. Nickel coin, sold at a 2014 James D. Julia auction for $94,875
  • An engraved black-powder Colt single-action Army Revolver taken off the hip of slain bank robber Bob Dalton sold for $322,000 in a 2012 Rock Island Auction sale

Recommended Items at Auction

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Confederate Blockade Run Kerr Revolver
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A MARLIN NO. 32 STANDARD 1875 SINGLE ACTION REVOLVER
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Sellers Who Sell Single-Action Revolvers


Rock Island Auction Company

Rock Island Auction Company

Poulin Antiques & Auctions

Poulin Antiques & Auctions

Helios Auctions

Helios Auctions

Fleischer's Auction House

Fleischer's Auction House