Barrel Lengths

When developed, the SAA was intended specifically for the US Army as issue sidearm for cavalry regiments. As such, it was given a 7½" barrel. When civilians became enamored with SAAs, shorter barrel lengths became more popular. Colt introduced the 5½" length in 1875. The even shorter 4¾" length was made on request, but did not become standard until 1879. In the late 1800s, firearms manufacturers welcomed custom orders, and Colt SAAs are known to have been shipped with barrels as short as 2½" and as long as 16". However, the first three lengths mentioned above were considered standard.

When the 2nd Generation SAAs appeared in the 1950s, the same held true in regards to barrel lengths. Then some variations of barrel lengths began to gain names for themselves. There was the Buntline made popular by the Wyatt Earp television show; it was a standard SAA with 12" barrel length. On the other end of the spectrum, came the Sheriff’s Model; it had only a 3" barrel but no provision for an ejector rod. A sub-variation of this was the Storekeeper’s Model; it was exactly the same as a Sheriff’s Model, but had a 4" barrel.