The Factory Shop

The Factory Shop

Back in the day when a man could order a Colt Peacemaker

By Dennis Adler

In 1873 the first Colt Single Action Army pistol was built. Serial No. 1 was the foundation for all Peacemakers to follow.

Every gun of the Old West has a story, sometimes it is a short story, sometimes it is a legacy. But every one has a story. About 148 years ago the Colt Peacemaker was a brand new gun. Colt’s Superintendent of the Armory, William Mason, had received the original patent for his design on September 19, 1871. A second patent was issued on July 2, 1872 and a third on January 19, 1875, all of which were assigned to the Colt’s Patent Fire-Arms Mfg. Co. The very first Colt Single Action Army, a 7-1/2 inch barrel model, was manufactured in 1873 and bore serial No. 1, the very gun you see pictured above. (In 2009 it sold at auction to a private collector for a record $862,500). read more


History teaches us that the past is never forgotten

History teaches us that the past is never forgotten

Some modern airguns with their roots in the 19th century

By Dennis Adler

As a handgun owner, long before I began writing about handguns as an occasional columnist for Guns & Ammo over 20 years ago, back when Garry James was editor, my interests were mainly historic firearms, (same as Garry), and that is what I wrote about in G&A, as well as in my first gun book, published in 1998, on the history of Colt’s 2nd and 3rd generation black powder guns. A dozen gun books later, on subjects as varied as Winchester shotguns, guns of the Civil War, guns of the American West, cartridge conversions of Civil War era black powder guns, and the history of the Colt’s Patent Fire-Arms Mfg. Co., my interests have never changed; so in my mind, modern handguns are essential to modern times, but historic guns are quintessential to handgun history, and to a great extent, American history. read more


Legends Ace in the Hole vs. Dan Wesson Model 715

Legends Ace in the Hole vs. Dan Wesson Model 715

Short barrel revolvers meet by chance

By Dennis Adler

Built for Sylvester Stalone’s character in The Expendables the gun at top is a heavily modified 3-1/2 inch barrel length Colt SAA with a ported barrel and unusual hammer made for fanning the gun. The ported barrel is used to reduce muzzle lift by letting gasses escape allowing the upward force of the gasses to help push the muzzle down. Ported barrels, also known as Mag-na-port (the company that invented barrel porting), are used today for competition guns, as well as general firearms, rifles and even shotguns.

Can a gun that never existed in the 19th century, be compared to a gun that didn’t exist until the 20th century?It is a curious question that you can only ask in the world of CO2 handguns.

The Umarex Legends Ace in the Hole is the gun that never existed as a real gun in the 1870s, at least not in the entire configuration of the .45 Colt that was made up for The Expendables movie, upon which the Ace is copied, but there were snub nose Peacemakers in the past, even ones with shaved hammers and no front sight. But, there were no ported barrels and no fanning hammers back then. The Ace in the Hole falls into a hole that makes it unique, but not authentic to actual Colt designs. But given that at least three such Colt Peacemakers of The Expendables design now exist (with custom movie guns, rarely is a single gun built, usually at least three are made so there are backups in the event a gun is damaged during a scene).  read more


A conversation about attraction

A conversation about attraction

The collector’s eye

By Dennis Adler

The answer to the question, “What got me into collecting replica air pistols,” would seem logical, the first replica air pistol I reviewed 19 years ago, the Walther CP99. It is in my opinion one of the finest multi-shot pellet firing CO2 pistols ever made, and I have purchased every one I ever tested, but it isn’t the gun that got me into collecting.

The other day a friend asked what got me into collecting replica air pistols? I thought the answer was obvious from my recent Retrospect articles on the Umarex Walther CP99, but as it turns out that really isn’t the case. At the time, 2001, when the First Edition Blue Book of Airguns was published, I wasn’t an airgun collector, I had a few but I was a gun collector; air pistols were not something I had developed an interest in acquiring; remember, this is almost 20 years ago.  

The First Edition Blue Book of Airguns was simply an editorial project for me as Special Projects Editor for Blue Book Publications. The book was, in fact, a collaborative effort between me, publisher Steve Fjestad, and the inspiration for the book in the first place, Dr. Robert D. Beeman. So to honestly answer the question, “What got me into collecting replica air pistols? I would have to look back at the actual centerfire guns I was collecting 20 years ago. read more


When Centuries Collide – an adventure in CO2

When Centuries Collide – an adventure in CO2

By 1915 Texas Ranger’s were mixing .45s

By Dennis Adler

There was a period in the early 1900s when lawmen were carrying the Colt Peacemaker and the .45 ACP Model 1911. This was especially true in Texas where Rangers began carrying the .45 Auto around 1915. And while the “Old West” was fading away by then, throughout Texas, New Mexico and Arizona, and in the Oklahoma oil fields, not that much was different when it came to crime. The semi-auto gave lawmen (and outlaws) another choice in guns, but the Peacemaker was still favored by those on both sides of the law.
When this picture of eight Texas Rangers was taken in 1915, only one of them had switched to carrying a 1911, the man standing second from the left in the top row. (Photo courtesy Former Texas Rangers Assoc.)

In the early 20th century, it was not unusual to see a Texas Ranger packing a .45 Colt and a .45 ACP.This seemingly incongruous pairing of Peacemaker and 1911 was an interesting part of Sam Peckinpah’s groundbreaking 1969 western, The Wild Bunch, which took place in 1913, and had an eclectic mix of Single Action Colts and Model 1911 semi-autos. This same mix was taking place in real life, at the same time, in Texas and throughout what remained of the American West. And these two legendary Colt models were still being carried during WWI, and well into the 1940s. But the period from around 1915, when the 1911 was first coming into the hands of civilians, lawmen, and outlaws alike, the choices of sidearms worn by Texas Rangers covered the entire last three decades of the 19th and first 15 years of the 20th centuries, along with a mix of smaller caliber Colt semi-autos, early S&W double action revolvers, and Winchester slide action shotguns from the 1890s.   read more


Refinishing a Peacemaker Parts 4 & 5

Refinishing a Peacemaker Parts 4 & 5

The pursuit of imperfection

By Dennis Adler

What exactly are you looking at? An old Colt SAA in a copy of Matt Dillon’s holster from Gunsmoke? No, this is the former NRA commemorative in a new suit, well, let’s make that, old suit of clothes! (Holster by Chisholm’s Trail)

The hard part, polishing off the factory finish, is done and that is the most labor intensive part. Now we shift to the cleaning of internal areas such as the cylinder chambers, and as much of the operating mechanisms as can be accessed without disassembly of the gun. This is to remove any debris that got past the taped parts of the gun in the various steps thus far. The fine grit created by polishing off the original finish is going to get into places no matter how much you try to prevent it. It is like dust, it goes everywhere. read more


Refinishing a Peacemaker Part 3

Refinishing a Peacemaker Part 3

The pursuit of imperfection

By Dennis Adler

Why save the fame for last? It has more curves and small areas to work around than the rest of the gun and it has the most open surface areas where debris from polishing the surface can get into exposed mechanisms. It’s the blue tape prep job.

This is where we are starting today with the frame still bearing its Umarex weathered finish. You should note that the pitting in the left recoil shield was part of the weathered finish and there is nothing that can be done about that, but, the color case finish I will be applying in Part 4 will help blend that in. Some areas of the frame will still have some dark weathered finish remaining but that again will blend in with the application of bluing and oil mix used to create the faux case colored appearance. You can also see the amount of space behind and in front of the cylinder and frame and this must be sealed off.

Covering all openings

If you hold the gun up and look at the side you can see all the open spaces that are in front of and behind the cylinder. These open areas need to be sealed off as much as possible, starting with the cylinder, which gets wrapped. You need to tear a strip of blue tape and then tear off the extra width and save it. Put the first piece at the top of the cylinder with an edge protruding past the front, and then with the hammer on half cock rotate the cylinder and press the tape onto the cylinder. Then turn in the front edges. Use the narrow strip of tape you tore off to do the back of the cylinder. read more