Handguns > Revolver

Colt Sheriff's Model Revolver

The Colt Sheriff’s Model is an accurate rendering of a century-old classic.

3/4/2011

For nearly all of the past 138 years, Colt’s of Hartford, Conn., has made the Single Action Army revolver in .45 Colt. Produced in many barrel lengths, calibers, finishes and styles, one of the more popular variations is the so-called Sheriff’s Model. The first were made in the 19th century and were known at the Hartford factory as the “ejectorless” Single Actions. The Sheriff’s Model terminology came from latter-day collectors, who also sometimes used the term “Storekeeper’s Model.” This interesting variation on the Peacemaker is now back in the Colt catalog.

By any name, the gun is simply a Single Action Army manufactured without the ejector rod or ejector rod housing on the barrel. This was done to create a simpler, easier-to-carry revolver useful in the Frontier era for short engagements that might not demand quick reloading. Colt made up the guns on special order, fitting them with barrels of any length the customer wanted. Eventually, it became obvious that either the 3 or 4-inch barrels were the most popular. The frame of the Sheriff’s Model differs slightly from the frame of the standard SAA in that the regular guns have a loop of steel on their front right edge. This loop or socket accepts the rear end of the ejector rod housing, which is held to the barrel by a screw. Without an ejector, the loop of steel is superfluous. Colt made those early versions by taking regular frames and removing the loop, which resulted in a non-symmetrical profile. It isn’t particularly attractive, so a different frame was used when the company made up short runs of the Sheriff’s Models on two occasions in the post-World War II period. This current run also has a more pleasing symmetrical shape. Reloading the gun requires the use of a short dowel to punch-out fired cases. More commonly, modern shooters would probably perform the extraction/ejection process with a common lead pencil or ballpoint pen.

To please history buffs, Colt offers the new Sheriff’s Model with either the 3-inch barrel, or the more popular (at least in the Frontier era) 4-inch barrel. There is a choice in chamberings as well, .45 Colt or .44-40 Win., and our sample was a 3 inch, .45 Colt. Also, .45 Schofield ammunition—essentially a short version of the original .45 Colt—works in any revolver chambered for the .45 Colt.

Colt finishes the new guns in the traditional way. The main frame and loading gate are color case-hardened, producing surface hardness, as well as a rainbow of dark colors that gun aficionados often find attractive. Other portions of the gun—barrel, cylinder, trigger guard, backstrap and screws—are polished and blued.

On this model, Colt installed a new set of checkered black stocks with the Rampant Colt in an oval at the top. Toward the bottom of the stocks is a precisely rendered Federal Eagle. Although the material appears to be some form of plastic, the quality of the material and die are excellent. It is an accurate rendering of an earlier gun. Combined with the high quality of the machine work and polish on metal parts, the stocks finish off a modern version of a timeless classic.

The lack of the ejector rod and housing, combined with a shorter barrel, produce a gun with a distinctively different balance. It is light at the muzzle and handling must be adjusted accordingly. That’s particularly true when shooting against the clock, as in Cowboy Action matches. Properly handled, the Sheriff’s Model can be a speedy revolver to work.

At the range, evaluation shooting involved three different types of current-production ammunition loaded for use in SASS matches. This means a soft lead bullet of round-nose flat-point style loaded at very modest velocities. Recoil was noticeable, but not onerous. As it is with most Peacemakers and their many copies, the revolver tends to roll muzzle-up when fired, as originally intended by Col. Colt. Another Peacemaker feature was also apparent—the Sheriff’s Model tends to shoot low. That’s because the front sight is higher than it needs to be so the end user can file it down to match his hold and a particular load. Evidently, the current designers set out to build a version of an old classic that flies in the face of the cliché that “they don’t make them like they used to.”

The Sheriff’s Model is an accurate rendering of a century-old classic and a handsome little revolver. For the purists among Colt’s customers, it is pleasing to note that this new version is built on an original-style blackpowder frame, as were those thrilling guns of yesteryear.

Manufacturer: Colt’s Mfg. Co.; (860) 236-6311; www.coltsmfg.com
Caliber: .44-40 Win., .45 Colt (tested)
Action Type: single-action, center-fire revolver
Frame: solid, case-hardened steel
Barrel: 3" (tested), 4"
Rifling: six-groove, 1:16" LH twist
Cylinder Capacity: six
Sights: fixed, square notch rear, blade front
Trigger Pull: single-action; 3 lbs., 8 ozs.
Overall Length: 8½"
Width: 15⁄8"
Height: 4¾"
Weight: 34 ozs.
Accessories: hard case, lock, manual
Suggested Retail Price: $1,290

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6 Responses to Colt Sheriff's Model Revolver

Bill-Life Member wrote:
May 05, 2011

Re.: Tim Cooke: I agree it'd be fun, but I don't think ANY Concealed Carry pistol or revolver should be regarded in the light of how "fun" it would be. Concealed Carry should ALWAYS be regarded as it is: Very real and VERY serious. Your life and that of your loved ones is riding on you and your choice of firearm. The Old Timers usually set their beloved .45 Long Colt Single Actions aside as soon as good D/A swing-out revolvers hit the market. Many that survived into the Colt auto pistol era moved on into early Colt and Savage autoloaders and praised them as the "ultimate". The Sheriff's model is indeed Fun, and I'm going to buy one myself as I always wanted one (I just LIKE them.) but for a serious CC? They were the best available in their era, they are still very effective in the delivery phase. If one is very practiced in handling a single-action, the Colt is just as reliable and deadly as it always was, and the .45Colt is a proven "fight stopper". However, consider this: You have only 5 shots (not 6-no transfer mechanisim like a Ruger) and no ejector rod. Veeeerrrry sloooooow reloading. I think I'd go with a good 5 shot .38/.357 2" DA swing-out revolver for serious Social Encounters. But, to each their own. I make holsters, and I did make a shoulder holster for a 3" Sheriff's Mod. not too long ago. And, this was a long-time L.E. vet with several "encounters" in which he walked away. His opposition didn't. Go Figure.

Sid Williams wrote:
March 11, 2011

I like it.Does anybody know if they are readily available?

glenn somers wrote:
March 11, 2011

Would be good gun except for the price I still prefer my BondRanger Derringer 45/410 very accurate with 45longcolt 4"barrell and with 3"410 magnum buckshot doesn't make a lot of diferrence just be behind it when the trigger is pulled! LOL!

Dale wrote:
March 10, 2011

These would be good back in the old days when towns outlawed the carrying of guns. One of these in a pocket or waist band would be an equilizer kept out of sight until needed.

Tim Cooke wrote:
March 09, 2011

At $1,290 it's pretty pricey, so I guess I'll wait for the inevitable clone. The 3" version might be a fun Concealed Carry pistol.

John McPherson wrote:
March 09, 2011

The 45 Schofield does have a slightly larger rim which may or may not work in guns chambered for the 45 Colt. It is not absolutely sure to work. I have found it not to work in several gums I own which are chambered for the Colt round.