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Broadside
March 16, 2007, 07:28 AM
Why did Colt name the Colt Single Action Army as such? Weren't single action revolvers invented prior to double action revolvers?

As a more broader question, I understand what the terms single action and double action mean, but I am curious as to the original of those terms as they relate to firearms.

Thank you.

James K
March 16, 2007, 12:59 PM
Actually, Colt didn't call it that until much later. They originally called it the "New Model Army Metallic Cartridge Revolving Pistol." (How's that for catchy advertising?) The gun we call the 1860 Army was called the "New Model Holster Pistol."

Later, when the double action pistols were introduced and also called "Army", the term "Single Action Army" was applied to the earlier gun. The terms "Army" and "Navy" in that period did not necessarily mean that a revolver had been adopted by those services, only that it was in the Army (.44/.45) or Navy (.36/38) caliber.

The reason for the caliber difference was mainly because sailors were rarely called on to defend against cavalry and the .44/.45 was considered necessary for shooting horses. (In the days before PETA and political correctness, it was common to shoot the horse, not the rider. A dead or wounded horse meant loss of the rider as well, plus it was more of an obstacle to other cavalrymen than a dead or wounded trooper would be.)

Jim