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Think back to the days when America had two major handgun manufacturers: Colt and Smith & Wesson. Now consider this when speaking of their big-bore handguns: Smith & Wesson was identified more often with a .44 caliber, as in .44 Russian and .44 S&W Special, but for Colt it was .45’s. First came the .45 Colt in 1873 with a revised version in 1909. Then, beginning in the early 1900s, the company began toying with a rimless .45 for use in autoloading pistols. Of course that became the .45 ACP.

By my count, Colt produced four basic handguns for those two .45’s. First was the Single Action Army in 1873, which in the beginning was simply called the “strap model.” That’s because it was Colt’s first handgun with a topstrap connecting the front and rear of the frame. The SAA name came because it served the U.S. Army from 1873 till 1892 and was even revived for combat during the Philippine Insurrection in the early 1900s.