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United States Military Revolvers

Historically one of the most popular guns for military and police use, the revolver was a drastic improvement over the single-shot muzzle-loading firearms previously available. The military saw the advantages of the platform and quickly moved to revolvers.

The first mass-produced American military revolver was the Colt Paterson, which saw limited use in the Second Seminole War in Florida. Revolvers armed state militias shortly after, with manufacturers including Remington, Colt, and Smith & Wesson producing competing designs for military acceptance. The Colt Single Action Army was the most popular of these single-action revolvers.

The Colt Model 1889 was one of the first double-action revolvers issued to the U.S. Army. It featured the revolutionary swing-out cylinder. The Army placed an order for the Smith & Wesson 1899 to supplement their Colt stocks. The Smith & Wesson 1899 would later be known as the Model 10 and be one of the most popular revolvers ever produced. Even after the advent and acceptance of the M1911 semi-automatic pistols, revolvers like the Colt and Smith & Wesson M1917 models were still issued. Today, revolvers have been replaced with semi-automatic pistols around the world. Revolvers designed for and used by the U.S. military are popular with collectors due to their rich history.

Quick Facts

  • The M1917 revolvers in .45 ACP were manufactured and issued because the M1911 could not be made fast enough for World War I
  • While never issued officially, Smith & Wesson produced a silenced revolver for use by tunnel rats in Vietnam
  • The Colt Single Action Army served for 19 years in the United States military

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