Revisiting the Peacemakers Part 3

Revisiting the Peacemakers Part 3

Taking a page from Colt’s history

By Dennis Adler

Most respectable cow towns out west had a gunsmith and even a gun shop, with a case or two displaying new and used revolvers, and a wall rack with rifles and shotguns. There’s even an apocryphal story that author and historian Joseph G. Rosa told in his book The Gunfighter Man or Myth? about a writer for the New Mexico Democrat who observed a young cowboy deciding on the purchase of a new revolver in 1884. The gun shop’s proprietor reached into a display case and retrieved a handsomely mounted .45 caliber revolver and said, “How do you like this? It is the newest thing out – a double action forty-five.” The cowpoke looked at the Colt Model 1878 and turned up his nose, “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.” He did have a point.

There’s an old saying, “Beware of a man with one gun; he probably knows how to use it.” In this case, the warning is doubled, but what is hiding in this exotic double shoulder rig created over 20 years ago for the author by legendary holster maker Jim Lockwood?

Double action revolvers still had a ways to go before they were generally accepted and Colt’s Peacemaker would continue to rule the roost for the remainder of the 19th century. And then there is the fact that small gun shops only had a limited number of guns to sell, usually in standard barrel lengths, 7-1/2 inches, 5-1/2 inches, and 4-3/4 inches, and mainly with the most affordable grips and finishes; blued with wood, or after 1882 blued with Colt’s hard rubber Eagle grips (which remained the standard until 1896). A nickel finish cost no more than blued and had been introduced in 1877, but nickel guns weren’t that popular yet with most men who lived in the saddle; that would change with time. Most off the shelf guns, with rare exceptions, were about the same and usually sold in .44-40 or .45 Colt caliber, even though Colt’s would eventually offer .32-20, .32 S&W and .32 Colt, .38 S&W and .38 Colt, .41 caliber, .44 Russian, .and 44 S&W, as well as several European calibers and the surprisingly popular .38-40, (which was one of the more confusing calibers, since it was traditional to put caliber first and powder charge second, such as .44-40, which was a .44 caliber bullet backed by 44 grains of powder, but the .38-40 was actually a .40 caliber bullet with 38 grains of powder. That cartridge came out just a year before Colt’s introduced the transverse cylinder latch, making disassembly easier by replacing the screw that had entered from the front of the frame. This relegated the earlier models to the designation “black powder” frame, though guns built with the transverse cylinder latch were also for use with black powder cartridges only until 1898, when Colt’s announced that all new models were now built to withstand the pressures of smokeless powder cartridges.

Shop New Products

That brings us to the basic design of the Umarex Colt Peacemakers, which use the 1892 design. More importantly it also brings us to something Colt’s had been doing for years, taking orders by mail.

The 7-1/2 inch barrel was expected, but now you can order your own combinations, like this nickel model with gold cylinder, hammer and trigger which has been named “The Gunfighter.”

While small gun shops only carried the most popular barrel lengths, and only in standard configurations, Colt’s offered a far greater variety of barrel lengths, with barrels longer than 7-1/2 inches priced by the inch up to 16 inches in length. Shorter barrels were also offered as were choices of grips, mother of pearl, ivory, deluxe hardwoods, and carved and checkered styles. Pretty much, if you sent a letter to the factory, had an address for delivery and means of payment, you could get a Peacemaker just about any way you wanted. The operative words going forward are “just about.”

Twice as nice, build yourself a matching pair. Both are pellet models with rifled barrels.

The Colt “Airgun Builder”

This is Pyramyd Air’s 21st century version of writing a letter to the factory. It has taken a couple of years to put this together and get all the parts needed to produce a variety of model configurations to the customer’s order, such as the pair shown here with nickel frame and barrel, gold cylinder, hammer, and trigger. It is a handsome combination that was often sold in the 1880s and 1890s through high-end retailers like Hartley & Graham in New York City.

Each gun is a combination of separate components, frames, barrels and ejectors (which are one-piece on the CO2 models), cylinders, hammers, and triggers. The combination shown was popular in the 1880s and 1890s, especially through high-end retailers like Hartley & Graham in New York City. Such guns were almost always hand engraved, and that’s a story for another Airgun Experience.

Today, instead of a letter you can go online to Pyramyd Air’s “Airgun Builder” and pick and choose from frames, barrels and finishes for each, hammers and triggers, and grips. The system is designed so you can put the combinations together; actually seeing them in real time as changes are selected, and then place the order. The gun, just like at the Colt’s factory in the day’s of old, is then built to your specifications. Of course, you have to pick from what is currently available (other options will be added over time), and you can’t specify things like Bat Masterson’s famous requests for making it “easy on the trigger and make the front sight high and thick,” but you can choose your grips, finish and combinations, which, just like at Colt’s could result in some very interesting looking Peacemakers!

Take the barrel option to 5-1/2 inches and you have a plain version of the expensive, limited edition, hand engraved Adams & Adams Nimschke models that were sold by Pyramyd Air a couple of years ago. The prices for each option are displayed as you custom build your gun.

If you are already planning on checking out the “Airgun Builder”, next week I will begin showing you some of the most interesting combinations I have come up with.

Welcome back to the past!

Now here’s the question, what kind of nickel Peacemaker is in this holster? Let you know next Monday. And you might even end up owning it!
A custom gun of your own design deserves a proper means of storage when not on display. Every custom built Peacemaker not only comes in the factory box but the guns are delivered in black velvet storage bags.

7 thoughts on “Revisiting the Peacemakers Part 3”

  1. I got one of the last two John Wayne Duke Engraved SAA Revolvers that Pyramyd Air had when I placed my order. The engraving is impressive.

    This new custom order shop is going to be a good feature. I hope there will soon be blued finish revolvers available for customization. I’ve already tried a few variations. The one that really stands out is the weathered frame with gold cylinder, gold hammer, gold trigger, and yes, gold barrel!

    The introductory video also shows a lot of non Colt revolver parts which suggests to me that Pyramyd Air is going to add some 1911 and other model semi-autos later.

    • Charles:

      Lots of possibilities with the Airgun Builder as things progress. As for a blued Peacemaker, not apt to happen because it is too hard to have a consistent blued finish on alloy (aside from anodized finishes), so I would say nickel is going to be the most popular with gold accents, though your weathered and gold gun sounds interesting!


      • I placed the order for the weathered and gold gun with the 3.5 inch barrel yesterday. I’ll post a picture after I get it. The 3.5 inch gold barrel still has the plastic front sight insert instead of the metal front sight. I would prefer the 3.5 inch barrel with the metal front sight like the 5.5 and 7.5 inch barrels.

        I noticed something odd. With the pellet and BB nickel frames, you can choose barrel lengths of 3.5, 5.5, and 7.5 inches. With the weathered frame, only the 3.5 and 7.5 inch barrel lengths are available. Why is there no 5.5 inch barrel length option with the weathered frame?

        My first comment about possible customizable 1911 and other semi-auto models appears to be incorrect. I read a report at Hard Air Magazine about the Pyramyd Air Air-Gun-Builder. They mentioned that the additional non-revolver parts seen in the video are Ataman pistol parts.

        • Charles,

          The 5-1/2 inch weathered barrel for the Ace Airgun Builder frame is forthcoming as is a nickel trigger for the Ace. It is a matter of parts supply and allocation, the Ace will catch up soon. As for a 1911 Airgun Builder, that could be a long time coming but not impossible. The confusion with the Altman is its use of 1911 style grips. The Altman Airgun Builder was actually completed first and was used as a launch platform to create the Colt Peacemaker Airgun Builder. Two very different extremes, but same ideas.

  2. I started the assembly line rolling with an order. Would like to see optional 4 3/4 barrels . In grips white pearlite, stag like , and original looking rubber horse and eagle grips. Hopefully they will accept revolvers for rebarreling from bb to rifled pellet. Nice to see the return of the 7 1/2 barrel in pellet as well as in 177 bb. Hope to see more options in the future

    • I keep hoping the aftermarket will fill the gap for grips, one company has some, but the selections are a bit limited. Imitation mother of pearl is possible if someone would do it. Casting hard rubber Eagle and Rampant Colt grips would be the best choice of all, but you still have to adapt them to the fittings on the airgun grips. New barrel lengths are going to be a ways out, and as far as I know, there are no plans to retrofit BB models.

  3. 3D printing might be the way to go for the Horse and Eagle grips. I saw a video of a guy in Europe who used a wood burning kit to make a set of stag looking grips from the plain poly ivory. Pearl would look nice on the nickel revolvers.

Leave a Comment