1873 Colt Single Action Army Revolver

1873 Colt Single Action Army (SAA) Revolver

1873 Colt Single Action Army (SAA) Revolver

You’ve no doubt seen them on TV westerns and on the big screen. They are such a part of our history and culture in the United States that a lot people probably hardly ever notice anymore. I’m talking about those revolvers. A large number of these are the legendary Colt Single Action Army revolvers. Easily the most famous pistol in all of American history. In 1873, the US Government was conducting tests on a new military service revolver. Having just come out of the age of the old percussion revolvers that used nitrated paper or linen cartridges and fulminate of mercury percussion caps, they were moving into the future of firearms technology by switching over to the new all-in-one self-contained cartridges that we are familiar with today. They did not really come into being until 1860, when Benjamin Tyler Henry perfected the invention of Daniel Wesson (yes, of Smith and Wesson fame) and put it to work in his wonderful new lever-action repeating rifle, which later came to be the legendary Winchester Rifle. Unlike the old percussion firearms, these could be used in any weather or conditions, and were more reliable and less prone to errors. What made things really work for the legendary Colt Single Action Army (SAA) revolvers was the fact that the cartridges were compatible in both rifles and pistols, which certainly helped to launch Colt to great heights. The SAA is still made, and in demand as much as ever. A true working pistol that helped to “Win the West” and cleaned it up afterward. As an example, take a look the old Wild West, especially places like the old Arizona and New Mexico Territories. What used to be dangerous and lawless places are now much easier to live in, thanks to the taming of those territories. The Colt revolvers played a major part in that. Famous lawmen like William Barclay “Bat” Masterson and Wyatt Earp, soldiers like TE Lawrence (as in Lawrence of Arabia) were fond of the famous Colt revolvers. So were the outlaws such as William Bonney, better known as Billy the Kid.

The guns that truly won the West are represented here. There are acutally two firearms that get credit for winning the West. The Colt was the PISTOL that won the West, and in the rifle department, that honor goes to the Winchester. While the SAA was originally chambered for over 30 different calibers, the ones most people associate with are the well-known .45 and the Smith and Wesson SW .44. Later Colts had the cylinders lengthened to accept longer cartridges. The longer cartridges hold more powder, and thus have a higher velocity. I could go on and on about the most legendary revolver in American history, but if you wish to read more, please visit GunClassics.com, where you can also find my “Gun Pages” a resource with information and stories of many other legendary firearms throughout history.

For authentic non-firing and blank-firing replicas of the most famous firearms of all time, please visit GunsOfOld.com, where you’ll also find a large selection of accessories, re-enactor gear from many different periods of history and more.

A Pistol Like No Other; The Luger P08 Parabellum

Luger P08 Parabellem basic diagram

One of the most successful and famous pistols of all time, the legendary P08 Parabellum, designed by Georg Luger was manufactured by the DWM (Deutsche Waffen und Munitionsfabriken) and saw service in World War I in the German and Swiss military, usually as an officers’ sidearm. They were in service in the Swiss military starting in 1900, and Germany in 1904. Both the Imperial German Army and Navy used the P08. It found it’s way to various parts of the world, and even saw use in the Chinese Civil War. The American military also bought 1,000 of the P08 pistols for field testing, although they ended up going with the now legendary M1911 .45 semiautomatic pistol.

In the early 1900’s there was a lot of devlopment and modification to the P08 which ranged from 7.65mm to 9mm, and even included a version which had a 32-round drum-type magazine affixed to the butt, along with a removable wooden stock, that fit cleverly into a holster.

While modern firearms load and eject by pulling the breech straight backward and letting it spring forward, the P08 has a hinged arm that is pulled upward, forming an “A”shape by using a textured knob, which then springs back into place, loading the firing chamber. An 8-round spring-loaded magazine inserted into butt of the grip supplies the ammunition. This design is instantly recognizable and makes the P08 one of the most famous pistols of all time. It is also  the first 9mm semiautomatic pistol, a format still manufactured today by many firearms producers.

In addition the the innovative locking mechanism, the P08 was also noted for it’s accuracy, ease of use, and is easy to take down and reassemble for maintenance.

In 1930 production was assumed by the Mauser company, who made the P08 until 1943, when the war started to go downhill for Germany.  The famous “Parabellum” was a favorite sidearm of German officers, and was still in wide use in World War II, even after the introduction of the more modern P38, made by Walther.  There was also a commercial version of the gun with an extended barrel, made in the 1920’s.

Many of the P08 pistols were captured by allied troops and taken home to end up in various private collections, and are still in circulation today, and often turn up in auctions. They are available in various states of repair, and most still are able to fire rounds, which are still available, mostly in the successful 9mm format. They are now very expensive to acquire. They can range anywhere from $1,000 to upwards of $8,500, or even more.

The popularity of the P08 has waned little owing to it’s sleek, compact design, the mystique of their connection to NAZI Germany, not the mention the incredibly unique locking mechanism that loads and ejects cartridges like no other gun ever made.

To check out some of the Most Famous Guns in History, visit GunClassics.Com, where you’ll find info, facts, photos, links and more.
For authentic replicas of these Famous Guns, made of steel and / or wood, with working mechanical parts, both blank-firing and non-firing replicas, framed replicas and box sets, re-enactor gear and more, Please Visit GunsOfOld.com.  There you can also find an authentic, non-firing replica of the Luger P08 Parabellum.