Jim Keenan said:
Can you imagine hundreds of settlers discarding their shotguns, Winchesters, and Colts and taking up Bulldogs to fend off an Indian attack? I can't.
I think what the author meant was that more of that price range of gun was in use than were the Colts, S&W, etc. we normally see in movies & associate with the Old West. As you noted the Colts were considerably more expensive than the Bulldog & for most of the pioneers would have been out of their price range.
"For a man, be he ever so much resolved to do his duty as a parent, can't be flogging his children all day....."
The Memoirs of Barry Lyndon, Esq. (William Thackeray).