Guns & Ammo Network


Collapse bottom bar
Subscribe

Why The Single-Action Revolver Is Timeless

by Joel Hutchcroft   |  June 20th, 2011 22

Paraphrasing a popular coffee-cake jingle of old, “Nobody doesn’t like the single action.”The single-action revolver is alive and doing very well in this the 21st century because of its timeless appeal. A lot has been written on this subject over the 175 years since Samuel Colt patented his first SA cap-and-ball revolver in 1836. Boiled down, the gun type is still so appealing for five basic reasons:

  1. The Look
  2. The Feel
  3. The Power
  4. The Durability
  5. The Accuracy

 

The classic Colt SAA has sleek, graceful lines that have made it an American icon.

The classic Colt SAA has sleek, graceful lines that have made it an American icon.

 

The shape of the traditional SA grip just feels right to a wide variety of hand sizes.

The shape of the traditional SA grip just feels right to a wide variety of hand sizes.

 

The single action is chambered for powerful factory-loaded handgun cartridges like .357 Magnum, .44 Magnum, and .454 Casull as well as hot wildcats such as .475 Linebaugh and .500 Linebaugh.
The single action is chambered for powerful factory-loaded handgun cartridges like .357 Magnum, .44 Magnum, and .454 Casull as well as hot wildcats such as .475 Linebaugh and .500 Linebaugh.

While the original Colt SAA has the reputation of being less stout, modern versions—especially Ruger (shown) and Freedom Arms—are known for their rugged durability.
While the original Colt SAA has the reputation of being less stout, modern versions—especially Ruger (shown) and Freedom Arms—are known for their rugged durability.

Serious handgunners agree that modern single actions (like this Uberti El Patron) are every bit as accurate as standard double-action revolvers and semiautomatic pistols.
Serious handgunners agree that modern single actions (like this Uberti El Patron) are every bit as accurate as standard double-action revolvers and semiautomatic pistols.

  • Tim Hope

    The number One reason is it is "DEPENDABLE!!!"

  • SgtSam

    Yes, they're dependable. But the #! reason is they are so damn good looking! Really!

  • bombshelterbob

    I've owned a dozen or so Colt & Ruger SA's over the last forty years, I've never had a stinker! I can't say that about any other action type that I've had. I still have four Rugers, my keepers.

  • Robert Hensler

    I first fell in love with the SAA watching Guy Madison as Wild Bill Hickok on TV in early 1950s – loved his nickle plated SAA's!

    Have four Vaqueros that I use for Cowboy Action Shooting

    • Alan_T

      I used to watch that , but my first love was the nickle plated . 45's that Roy Rogers carried on his show back in ' 55 ! Then they were replaced in my heart by Matt Dillion's 7 1/2 " with the stag grips ( little did I know that my love was false and se was really a Great Western ) .

  • Jonnyonwheels

    Sam Colt may have started it but Bill Ruger perfected it!!

    No offense to Colt lovers but I can buy three used Ruger single actions for what a Colt costs. Also, you really can't beat the look of a polished stainless Bisley Vaquero!

    • mkk41

      Yep , ya can buy 3 Rugers for the price of a Colt.

      And ya can probably buy 5-6 Taurus' too.

      And if the deep blue and colors of a Colt don't get ya , a nickeled SAA will.

      • Alan_T

        Amen mkk41 !

  • McKenney

    Luv my SS Ruger 5 1/2" Bisley, 45 Long Colt, trigger job, Trijicon Tritium nite sights, (custom adjustable rear), two yellow rear, one green front, 10.0 gr Unique, 265 gr Cast Performance, Starline Brass, cylinders bored byCylindersmith.com, inexpensive and professional job, very,very minor leading and improved accuracy, for around $40..

    Big holes, accurate,…and will shoot through my door if needed!! Don't come knocking/kicking or bumping in the middle of the night unannounced,ha,ha!!

  • Moosejaw

    bought my first SA…an original .45 Vaquero in 2000 and shortly after a .45 Bisley Vaquero…pounded them with many thousand of cowboy loads with seemingly no wear or tear….I also load these Blackhawk varients with Über-loads to carry as a bear stopper…and deer hunting loads…very accurate though a bit painfull to shoot with these magnum loads (think, 300 grains at 1200fps)

    it was only this year that I bought my first 2nd generation SAA Colt in the same caliber….this gun is extremely light (in comparison to Bill Rugers 'Magnums') with a better trigger and extremely accurate at the ranges this thing can shoot….(I have had to separate my ammo….my vaquero hunting loads would turn this Colt beauty into a convertable if I werer to confuse the ammo)..

    You have to love single actions.

  • Alvaro Casciani

    Love Single Action Rugers’, I had some of them before I acquired my actual Super BlackHawk Hunter Bisley, the only one I have these days. All in .44 Magnum caliber. Strong, beautiful, dependable and accurate (except for my old Vaquero) hunting guns. I couldn’t buy an original Colt SAA here in my country, impossible to afford it to me: think about we do have to pay as much as 1.200 dollars for a Ruger Vaquero you may pay less than 700 there in the States. All that said, I’m planning to buy in the future a New Vaquero SS (4 5/8 barrel) in .45 Colt.

  • http://att.net Tom

    One would have to think would the single action Colt and its clones be as popular if we didn't have all the westerns popularizing them, and didn't have a venue like "Cowboy Action Shooting"? Look what happened every time a new "Dirty Harry" movie came out the price would jump another hundred dollars or more on the Model 29, just when I thought I had enough saved up! Yes they do seam to have a better balance in the hand, compared to the double actions and autos, and I do enjoy shooting and hunting with mine. Life imitates art, and one has to wonder what the future will bring you don't see any "SA Airsoft guns out there do you? With the wars going on and the focus on the "M16" clones and wonder autos and "bean counters" running the gun companies, will our beloved single actions disappear………

  • Heartland Patriot

    Shhh, don't call .357 Magnum powerful. You'll have your head bitten off by the .500 Linebaugh crowd. To them, the mere thought of having anything smaller than .44 Magnum is preposterous, and EVERYONE knows that caliber is just popgun. To them, if you can't put a bear down with one "grazing shot", well it just doesn't belong in a revolver.

    (For the record, MOST Americans don't have to contend with grizzly bears, AND law enforcement made great use of the .357 Magnum for many years. I certainly enjoy the Ruger Vaquero in .357 that I own.)

  • jerry t

    just getting into shooting, I shoot a heritage 22 s|a the thing just rocks I bought the the thing because it is cheap to shoot and so far it it shoots mags, lr, shorts whatevevr no problems. Great gun for the money

    • Larry

      Yes they do and they have smoothed out the trigger mech. as well in the last couple of years. I have 2 still that cost just over 100.00 bucks new. They work perfectly for just going out and having a fun afternoon of cheap practice they shoot very accurately. Enjoy it Jerry as this is a cheap made in America revolver that will bring a smile to your face for a long time.

  • VA Shooter

    What is up with these Shooting Times Magazine on-line "articles"? They are like 5 lines long wih a few pics tossed in. Where's the meat and content???

  • Neil Harris

    I have several SA's in 45LC, .22LR, .22WM, 32S&W, 38S&W and 38Spl. They are all great revolvers to shoot. Each has it's own personality but they are dependable, helps with shooting skills and great fun. Long live the SA!

  • snug

    It seems you gentlemen missed the quater century leading up to the1873 SAA. The Colt Patterson was more innovative,the1851 handled better,the 1861 is more esthetically pleasant .

    The 1873 design is the culmination of these earlier weapons and with modern metallurgy and design tweeks is able to handle even loads requiring a large dose of masochism to shoot.

  • Larry

    Just bought the Ruger Single 10. I have not fired it yet but I really like the looks. I have many 22 revolvers already including a single 6 and have no need for another magnum cylinder. The price was about 50 bucks more than the 6 and has very nice upgraded walnut gunfighter grips, satin stainless steel as well as a 10 shot cylinder and fiber optic sights, this made it an easy decision for me. I don't like to shoot up all my money in ammunition and the 22 is a great little round for practice. I also don't like spending money on range fees everytime you shoot. I use depending on where I am either 22lr or in my back yard with my son for practice 22s. I do intend to probably change out the sights but I will work with them for a while first. Can't wait to shoot it this weekend!

  • Gary Smith

    There is possibly no other action that offers the power with portability as the single action to make up the perfect packin pistol. For you JT…

  • Gene

    Single action revolvers call back to our history and our romance there of. Just as Europe hasn't forgotten their knights in armor, we will never forget our cattlemen and ranchers with their trusty six shooter.

    Whether a Colt, Ruger, Heritage, or other brand; the Single Action Army revolver will always be a huge part of American culture.

  • Peter

    Does anyone know the name/model/caliber of the revolver from
    the 4th picture in this article? (34.jpg – “Blued Ruger
    single-action revolver”) -thanks

back to top