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American Handgunner May/June 2012 Digital Edition - Page 28
THESIXGUNNER Johntaffin colt’s “new” new frontiers in .45 colt and .44 Special. that great leather is by el paso Saddlery. @ Welcome Back! ow does one improve on perfection? The original Colt Single Action Army was a study in perfect pistol perfection when it arrived in 1873. It balanced perfectly, pointed naturally, and was chambered in a powerful cartridge, the .45 Colt. It would be 1935, with the arrival of the .357 Magnum, before the .45 Colt load was shaded, and there were many of the time who would tell you the .45 Colt was still the best when it came to a fighting cartridge. As good as it was way back in the frontier times, Colt still set about to improve it. By the late 1890s, the West had been pretty well tamed and shooters were using sixguns for something besides fighting and self-defense, namely target shooting. Colt did two things to try to make the SAA better suited for punching holes in paper. The frame was flattopped and fitted with very crude adjustable sights, then it was turned into the Bisley Model in 1896, with a wide hammer and trigger and a ladle-shaped grip frame, better suited for target shooting. Neither one of these Flat-Top Target Models lasted very long and, in fact, shooters asked that the Bisley Model be made into a regular Single Action by keeping the grip frame, wide hammer and trigger but going back to the standard hogwallow trough rear sight found on all Single Action Armies. The improvements just didn’t go over very well. targets shot with the 5½" .44 Special colt new frontier showed the new colt could shoot! the new .44 Special new frontier (right) with a pair of 3rd Generation sixguns. John feels the newest generation has the best finish! Colt’s “New” New Frontier H All new frontiers are to be loaded only with five rounds, and an empty chamber under the hammer. Always! t would be nearly 70 years before Colt tried to improve the Single Action again, and this time they did it perfectly. In fact, the Perfect Single Action Army became even more perfect, if such a thing is possible. In 1960, John Kennedy was elected president and it looked like a new era had arrived, and in fact, people called that time the “New Frontier.” To celebrate this new era of good feeling and looking toward the future, Colt decided to upgrade the Single Action Army and call it the New Frontier. The mainframe was given a heavy flattop and fitted with an adjustable rear sight, matched up with a ramp front sight. The frame, including the new flattop, was beautifully case colored as only Colt could do, and the balance was finished in what Colt called Royal Blue at the time. I thought it was just about the most beautiful sixgun I had ever seen. However, I the 7½" .45 colt new frontier was in college and was a jewel but John found working to support the .44 Special out-shot the young lady it by a tad. who would eventually be known as Diamond Dot and our three young babies. There would be no New Frontier for me. But I could hope. Continued on page 89 A New FroNtIer I 28 WWW.AMERICANHANDGUNNER.COM • MAY/JUNE2012