Colt’s “New” New Frontier


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How does one improve on perfection? The original Colt Single Action Army was a study in perfect pistol perfection when it arrived in 1873. It balanced perfectly, pointed naturally, and was chambered in a powerful cartridge, the .45 Colt. It would be 1935, with the arrival of the .357 Magnum, before the .45 Colt load was shaded, and there were many of the time who would tell you the .45 Colt was still the best when it came to a fighting cartridge.

As good as it was way back in the frontier times, Colt still set about to improve it. By the late 1890s, the West had been pretty well tamed and shooters were using sixguns for something besides fighting and self-defense, namely target shooting. Colt did two things to try to make the SAA better suited for punching holes in paper. The frame was flattopped and fitted with very crude adjustable sights, then it was turned into the Bisley Model in 1896, with a wide hammer and trigger and a ladle-shaped grip frame, better suited for target shooting.

Neither one of these Flat-Top Target Models lasted very long and, in fact, shooters asked that the Bisley Model be made into a regular Single Action by keeping the grip frame, wide hammer and trigger but going back to the standard hog-wallow trough rear sight found on all Single Action Armies. The improvements just didn’t go over very well.


Taffin Tests Colt New Frontier Loads

Test-Fire: Colt New Frontier .44 Special x 5-1/2”

Load Muzzle Velocity (fps) 5 Shots/20 Yards (inches)
Federal 200LSWCHP 886 1-5/8
Winchester 240 LFN 724 1-1/4
Hornady 240 XTP/ 7.5 gr. Unique 877 7/8
Speer 240 Gold Dot/ 7.5 gr. Unique 880 7/8
Speer 240 JHP/ 17.0 gr. H4227 882 1
Speer 225 SWCHP/17.0 gr. H4227 1,001 1
Lyman #29421/7.5 gr. Universal 966 1-1/4
NEI 260 KT/7.5 gr. Unique 947 1-1/2
RCBS #44-250 KT/7.5 gr. Unique 889 1-1/8
RCBS #44-250 KT HP/ 17.5 gr. H4227 986 1/2
Oregon Trail 240 LSWC/6.0 gr. Unique 833 7/8
H&G 250KT/7.5 gr. Unique 959 1-3/8
NEI 260 KT/ 7.5 gr. Unique 928 1

Notes: Groups the product of best 5 of 6 shots at 20 yards

Test-Fire: Colt New Frontier .45 Colt x 7-1/2”

Load Muzzle Velocity (fps) 5 Shots/20 yards
Black Hills 250 RNFP 765 1-1/8
Federal 225 LSWCHP 821 1-1/4
Remington 255 LSWC 817 1-15/8
Winchester 250 LFN 742 1
Lachmiller #45-255/7.0 gr. HP38 859 1-1/2
Lyman #454424 KT/10.0 gr. HS-6 825 1-1/4
Lyman #454424 KT /20.0 gr. H4227 997 1-3/8
Lyman #454309/8.0 gr. Unique 946 1-3/4
RCBS #45-255KT/10.0 gr. HS-6 841 1-1/4
RCBS #45-250 FN/10.0 gr. HS-6 884 1-3/8
Oregon Trail 255 SWC/7.0 gr. HP38 859 1-1/2
Oregon Trail 255 SWC /8.0 gr. Unique 888 1-5/8
Oregon Trail 250 RNFP/8.0 gr. Unique 917 1-1/8
Oregon Trail 250 RNFP/6.0 gr. Red Dot 818 1-1/8
Oregon Trail 250 RNFP/6.0 gr. N-100 766 1-1/4
Oregon Trail 255 SWC /7.0 gr. HP38 825 1-1/2

Notes: Groups the product of best 5 of 6 shots at 20 yards.

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