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GUNS Magazine July 2010 - Page 82
A hAlf-century WIth sIxGuns Traditional single actions. ecember 1954. The Senate censures Senator Joe McCarthy; D Bing Crosby is starring in White Christmas; Davy Crockett is fighting Indians on Disneyland; RCA introduces a 21" color TV; and Actions. They instead turned out to be two relatively new single actions from Great Western, a new company that had just started production in Los Angeles, Calif., turning out replicas of the Colt Single Action. From that day forward I had to have a Single Action Army. Being a highschool junior and paperboy from a nongun family, that wasn’t likely to happen very quickly. However, by December 1956 I had graduated from school, gone to work and had my first Colt Single Action. It was a 4-3/4" 1900s-era .38-40 in excellent condition with faded case colors, thin bluing and worn gutta percha stocks. It was gorgeous! Fifty years after seeing that first cover, I was awarded the privilege of shooting those same two .45 Great Westerns for the 50th anniversary of this magazine. You can bet a lot of personal single-action history happened in between those two events. Great Western had started producing replicas of original Colts in 1954. (They actually used pictures of genuine Colt Single Actions in their advertising.) When Colt ceased production of the Single Action Army on the eve of WWII, they said they would never produce it again. Not only was the machinery worn, but sales had been going down steadily as shooters discovered Smith & Wesson .357 Magnums and Colt 1911s. Great Western had received a letter from Colt in the early 1950s reiterating their plan to never resurrect the Colt Single Action Army, and Great Western even bought some parts from Colt. Never say never, as by 1956 Colt was back in the Single Action business. By 1956 the .38-40 was basically a dead cartridge, so perhaps that’s why I was able to pick up my first Colt at reasonable price. A few months after finding my first Single Action, a brandnew 7-1/2" .45 Colt now known as a 2nd Generation Single Action showed continued on page 81 Great Westerns I am 15 and a junior in high school. I had a paper route with 103 customers and collected 35¢ from each one on Friday evenings. I had to ride the bus downtown within the next three days to pay my bill. Every weekly trip would also see me visiting two large newsstands looking for anything about guns. There were no gunspecific magazines being published yet—or so I thought. However, companies like Fawcett regularly published gun-related 6x9" paperbacks selling for 75¢ (which I still have a large stack of), and I was looking for the latest edition. This trip would prove to be different than any other. I made my way past the lunch counter to the back of the store to see what I could find. Suddenly, something catches my eye; I see the word GUNS on the top left corner of a magazine. Could it actually be a new magazine? My heart rate increased considerably as I reached up and retrieved the first issue, dated January 1955, of this magazine. No way could I know what an effect this publication would have on my life. The first cover was what I thought to be a cased set of a pair of 4-3/4" Colt Single It all started with that first January 1955 issue of Guns. Taffin’s first two Colts are long gone, but they have been replaced by this 7-1/2" 2nd Generation .45 and 4-3/4" pre-War .38-40. 82 WWW.GUNSMAGAZINE.COM • JULY 2010