Umarex Legends “Ace in the Hole” Part 1 Part 2
No Colt is Expendable!
By Dennis Adler
Barney Ross, (Sylvester Stallone), leader of an elite group of, shall we say “seasoned,” mercenaries known as The Expendables have every imaginable weapon at their disposal, but Ross carries a backup gun that leaves most modern pistols in the dust, a modified Colt Peacemaker with a ported barrel and round knob fanning hammer. The customized 3-inch barreled Colt is a piece torn right out of Wild West history yet suitable even in this 21st century series of action adventure films. Why a Colt Peacemaker, “…because nothing is faster” and Stallone proves it in all three Expendables films where the Colt six-shooter plays a pivotal recurring role.
The Backup Gun
A lot of Old West mythology surrounds handguns and the speed with which they could be drawn and accurately fired. But one of the fastest was a short-barreled Colt, and although antiquated by modern standards, Colt’s early short-barreled models were already legendary before the first Peacemaker snub-nose was introduced in the 1880s. Before that, short-barreled Colts, either factory built or altered by gunsmiths for individual customers, were rare birds indeed, and often referred to as “Belly Guns” which were carried inside the waistband, in a pocket, or secreted in a holster behind the back. The latter is the style adopted by Barney Ross (Stallone) for The Expendables.
The first factory-built Colt Belly Gun was a percussion (loose powder, cap and ball) revolver using the new .36 caliber 1862 Colt Police Model as the starting point. This was a special order 2-inch barrel length version with a re-contoured and plugged barrel lug, and no loading lever. The same was done to the .44 caliber 1860 Army, although not by the Colt factory, and done again to the first 1860 Army cartridge conversion guns built in the 1870s. The popularity of snub nose cartridge conversion models was not lost on Colt’s which first picked up the idea for the short-barreled Peacemaker in 1882, technically the first “Sheriff’s Model” Single Action Army with a 2-1/2 inch barrel and no ejector. It was a one-off design on special order, but in 1888 the short 3-1/2 inch barrel Sheriff’s Model became a standard production gun. Of course, shorter barrel lengths had already been available as special orders with barrels as short as 2-inches in length.
One such gun with a few added modifications (even a little wilder than the modified gun used by Stallone in The Expendables!) was carried by former Texas Ranger and U.S. Deputy Marshal Sebastian Lamar “Baz” Outlaw in the late 1880s. Better known as Bass Outlaw, the Marshal’s Colt had a 2-inch barrel without front sight, altered hammer, rounded grips, and the front half of the triggerguard cut off to make it faster to shoot. The cutaway triggerguard also made it easy to drop the gun in a front pocket with the back of the triggerguard catching on the edge to keep the grips within quick reach.
No Colt is Expendable
Modifications to Colt revolvers were often done on older guns, many sent back to the Colt’s factory to be refurbished. A number of 7-1/2 inch barreled Colts used by the U.S. Army were returned and refitted with 5-1/2 inch barrels. Mag-na-ported barrels and fanning hammers, however, were not 19th or even early 20th century ideas, and when it comes to movie guns, the Barney Ross SAA first seen in the original 2010 film is pretty much a unique idea, despite the long history of modified Peacemakers since the 1870s.
That Umarex chose to copy the movie gun instead of building the obvious 3-1/2 inch standard Peacemaker is more of an acknowledgement to Sylvester Stallone’s Expendables movies (which have been pretty successful) than it is to the history of Colt. So for Old West fans, the new Legends “Ace in the Hole” may be Western inspired, but it is unquestionably “Expendable” in design.
In Part 2 we examine the details and ready the “Ace in the Hole” for an Old West quick draw test.