The 7-1/2 inch Colt Peacemaker

The 7-1/2 inch Colt Peacemaker

Recreating the original Single Action Army in 4.5mm caliber

By Dennis Adler

                                                                 Vincit qui patitur, “He conquers who suffers.”

                                                                                                             – Samuel Colt

The “long arm” of the law was often extended by the 7-1/2 inch barrel length of the Colt Peacemaker, which was favored by a vast majority of frontier Sheriffs, City Marshals and U.S. Marshals.

The long arm of the law was extended by the 7-1/2 inch barrel length of the Colt Peacemaker which was favored by a vast majority of frontier Sheriffs and U.S. Marshals.

Although Samuel Colt had patented the first successful single action revolver in 1835 and been responsible for the greatest percussion revolvers of the mid 19th Century, he would have no part in creating his final legacy, the most enduring Colt revolver of all time, the 1873 “New Model Army Metallic Cartridge Revolving Pistol” better known today as the Colt Peacemaker.

The 7-1/2 inch barrel length Umarex model is only offered as a pellet model with a rifled barrel. Note the silver pellet cartridges in the bullet loops of the Miller-Fachet’s cartridge belt.

The 7-1/2 inch Umarex model is only offered as a pellet model with a rifled barrel. Note the silver pellet cartridges in the bullet loops of the Miller-Fachet’s cartridge belt.

Designed by William Mason, the new .45 Colt revolver was known by several names, Frontier Six-Shooter, Peacemaker, and Single Action Army or the military’s often used contraction SAA, but no matter what name was used, the new Colt was destined to become the most successful and longest-lived design in firearms history. It has survived and remained in production by the Colt’s Patent Firearms Company in a variety of models and calibers for an amazing 143 years!

The 7-1/2 inch barrel length Umarex model is only offered as a pellet model with a rifled barrel. Note the silver pellet cartridges in the bullet loops of the Miller-Fachet’s cartridge belt.

The 7-1/2 inch Umarex model is a perfect fit for this historic holster design. Not the fast draw rig of Western movies, or even some of the later Old West designs, this Miller-Fachet was made to protect the gun but be faster on the draw than traditional military flap holsters. (Holster  and cartridge belt by Trail Rider Products)

William Mason had received his patent for the Peacemaker on September 19, 1871. A second patent was issued on July 2, 1872 and a third on January 19, 1875. To this day, these dates are still stamped on the left side of the frame. Almost all of the first deliveries of the SAA were to the U.S. military, and the government continued to order the new revolvers until 1891, accounting for some 37,000 guns, with another 107,000 produced for the civilian market from 1874 to 1891. By the turn of the century Colt’s had sold more than 192,000 Peacemakers.

Over the past 143 years since Single Action Army manufacturing began, there have been very few changes to the fundamentals of the William Mason design. One of the most notable was the way in which the cylinder arbor was retained. The original SAA, now referred to as the “black powder frame” used a retaining screw in the bottom front of the frame to lock the cylinder arbor in place. Removing this screw was necessary when cleaning the Peacemaker, in order to take the cylinder out of the frame. Beginning in 1892 the retaining screw was replaced by a transverse cylinder latch in the side of the frame, just below the barrel, which simply needed to be depressed in order to release the cylinder arbor and allow it to slide out. This was arbitrarily called the “smokeless powder frame” version, although Colt’s did not guarantee their revolvers against smokeless powder until 1900. This later transverse latch design is the version used by Umarex to build its groundbreaking .177 caliber models introduced in 2015, and the latest nickel plated 7-1/2 inch barrel length pellet models.

The Umarex Colt Peacemakers bear the official Colt emblem and patent dates on the left ides of the frame.

The 7-1/2 inch Umarex Colt Peacemakers have rifled barrels for greater accuracy with 4.5mm pellets. The guns have the look, feel and handling of a real cartridge-firing .45 Colt. 

The significance of the 7-1/2 inch Peacemaker

The very first Colt Peacemaker, serial number 1 had a 7-1/2 barrel, all of the original Single Action Army models issued to the U.S. Cavalry and Army were 7-1/2 inch barrel lengths. The 7-1/2 inch barrel length was also preferred by the vast majority of early SAA owners, particularly lawmen, even when Colt’s began offering shorter barrel lengths of 4-3/4 inches and 5-1/2 inches in 1875. The 7-1/2 inch model Peacemaker was Colt’s premier revolver. In 1877, the blued finish was replaced by nickel plating as the model’s standard finish, with the original blued finish with color cased frame and hammer an optional choice.

The 7-1/2 inch barrel is significant to the Peacemaker as the first guns produced all had this length barrel. The very first Colt Peacemaker, Serial No. 1 is pictured. Note its 143 year old finish, which is weathered gunmetal gray. Originally a blued gun, it is a striking counterpoint to the new nickel plated Umarex 7-1/2 inch model. The guns are available with white or wood grained grips (pictured).

The 7-1/2 inch barrel is significant to the Peacemaker as the first guns produced all had this length barrel. The very first Colt Peacemaker, Serial No. 1 is pictured. Note its 143 year old finish, which is weathered gunmetal gray. Originally a blued gun, it is a striking counterpoint to the new nickel plated Umarex 7-1/2 inch model. The guns are available with white or wood grained grips (pictured).

Compared to a .45 Colt, the Umarex measures up with the same external barrel length of 7-1/2 inches (measured from the front of the cylinder to the muzzle), same frame height of 2-1/2 inches, and comes in a hair lighter at 36 ounces compared to an average of 40 ounces for 7-1/2 inch barrel length .45 Colt Peacemakers.

The Miller-Fachet holster was designed in the period between 1878 and1881 by Capt. Edward G. Fachet, Company Commander, Co. G 8th U.S. Cavalry. The company saddler was William Miller, who worked with Capt. Fachet to design an open top holster for use by the company troopers. This was a butt rear design and the U.S. military still favored a butt forward holster.

Designed between 1878 and 1881 by Capt. Edward G. Fachet, Company Commander, Co. G 8th U.S. Cavalry and company saddler William Miller, the Miller-Facht was an open top holster for use by company troopers. This was a butt rear design, though the U.S. military still favored butt forward holsters.

The nickel plated 7-1/2 inch Umarex Colt models feels virtually the same in the hand as a .45 Colt.

The nickel plated 7-1/2 inch Umarex Colt model feels virtually the same in the hand as a .45 Colt right down to those four famous clicks when you cock the hammer.

Putting Lead Downrange

As this is the first 7-1/2 inch model from Umarex, the expectations for slightly greater pellet velocity and accuracy than the 5-1/2 inch models is high, and I headed down to the target range with Umarex 12 gram CO2, Meisterkugeln Professional Line 7.0 gr. lead wadcutter pellets and a dozen of the airgun’s silver pellet cartridges.

Tests were shot from a distance of 25 feet using Meisterkugeln wadcutters.

Tests were shot from a distance of 25 feet using Meisterkugeln wadcutters.

The 7.0 grain lead pellets cleared the 7-1/2 inch barrel at an average velocity of 416 fps. The best six-round group measured 1.25 inches in the A-Zone of an IPSC cardboard target.

The 7.0 grain lead pellets cleared the 7-1/2 inch barrel at an average velocity of 416 fps. The best six-round group measured 1.25 inches in the A-Zone of an IPSC cardboard target.

For the test, an IPSC cardboard silhouette target was set out at a distance of 25 feet and all shots were fired using a two-handed hold for best offhand stability. The results were as satisfying as handling this remarkably authentic 7-1/2 inch Colt CO2 Peacemaker. The Meisterkugeln wadcutters cleared the long barrel at an average velocity of 416 fps, and the best six-round group measured 1.25 inches in the A-Zone of the IPSC target. In terms of loading, handling, balance in the hand and sighting, everything about the new Umarex Colt 7-1/2 inch model is pretty darn real, right up to the moment the hammer drops.

The Peacemaker has been built by Colt’s longer than any other revolver manufactured anywhere in the world, and remains to this day the indisputable icon of the American West. The new 7-1/2 inch nickel plated 4.5mm pellet models add to that ongoing history in ways that even William Mason couldn’t have imagined!

A word about safety

Single Action airguns provide the look, feel and operation of their cartridge-firing counterparts and this is one reason why they have become so popular. Airguns in general all look like guns, the Colt Peacemakers more so, and it is important to remember that the vast majority of people can’t tell an airgun from a cartridge gun. Never brandish an airgun in public. Always, and I can never stress this enough, always treat an airgun as you would a cartridge gun. The same manual of operation and safety should always apply.

7 thoughts on “The 7-1/2 inch Colt Peacemaker

  1. Glad to see that the long tube does pick up velocity . As you noted , the SAA is still in production at Colt ,in limited numbers .Colt , a shadow of its former self produced no other revolvers . Fortunately the Umarex is affordable and available.Hope to see the short barreled versions.Wonder how much poor eyesight in the old west had to do with the long barrels .


    • Should read , Colt no longer produces revolvers other than the Peacemaker. No doubting somebody is packing when you see a 7 1/2 barrel Peacemaker. The Umarex ,despite being a few ounces lighter , feels pretty solid with the long barrel, you can reach out and touch someone. If you are not carrying a brace of the shorter barreled Peacemakers, it makes sense to have a short barrel for faster draw and up close work and a 5 1/2 or 7 1/2 barrel revolver for longer range shooting.



        • And the Detective Special , Agent, Cobra, Police Positive, Trooper Official Police. Lawman etc. Gone and never coming back ,a real shame. Would be nice to see some of these resurrected as airguns.


          • I’d sign on for a Detective Special, Agent or Cobra! Just not sure the grip frame is big enough for the CO2 mechanism. Best bet would be a nickel plated 4-inch Colt Diamondback because of the larger grip size, and Umarex has already done the Python.



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