During the early 20th century, to improve upon the rare pre-war Colt Flattop Target Model P, the late Elmer Keith spent a lot of time and money tricking out Single Action Army (SAA) revolvers with adjustable sights. One might think this was what ultimately inspired Colt to come out with a Second Generation target version of its famed Peacemaker years later, but such was not the case.
While Keith and others did, in fact, try to convince Colt to make a target version of its famous Single Action Army, or Peacemaker, after it was re-introduced in 1955, it is more likely that the company was motivated by Ruger’s adjustable-sighted .357 Mag. Blackhawk, which had been selling briskly ever since it came out the same year Colt brought back its Model P. Still, it took seven years before Colt caught up to the Blackhawk with the New Frontier. Although it was announced in December 1961, shipments didn’t begin until 1962.
The New Frontier was mechanically and almost physically the same single-action revolver as the Peacemaker, with the exception of a beefier topstrap, finely serrated ramp front sight and an Elliason adjustable rear sight—the same sight Colt had been putting on the Gold Cup National Match since 1957. Of course, the familiar SAA hammer profile had to be trimmed a bit off the top to clear the protruding rear sight, but the gun was a noteworthy competitor to the Blackhawk.
The introductory price was $150, serial numbers had an “NF” suffix, and barrel lengths were the same as the SAA, including 4¾" (discontinued in 1965), 5½", 7½" and 12", while chamberings were .38 Spl. (the least popular), .357 Mag., .44 Spl. and .45 Colt.
Sporting two-piece walnut stocks, the guns were handsomely finished in Colt Royal Blue with color-casehardened frames. A few were nickel-plated, while engraved versions are rare. New Frontier production—along with Colt’s Model P—was temporarily halted in 1975 to update the machinery. This marked the end of “Second Generation” guns, which were then superseded by “Third Generation” versions.
Although only 4,200 Second Generation New Frontiers were made during their 13-year production run, they never approached the popularity of Second Generation Peacemakers. Interestingly, in 1981, this particular 99-percent gun was re-sold for $571.50. Recently, these Second Generation guns have been gaining in value; in 2020, the same gun, sans its original gold box but still unfired, sold for $1,400.
Gun: Colt Second Generation New Frontier Chambering: .45 Colt Serial No.: XXX84NF Manufactured: 1967 Barrel: 7½" Condition: Excellent (Modern Gun Standards) Value: $1,400 to $1,500
Note: Gun is missing its original box (four versions were used from 1962-’75), brochure, test target, factory-supplied screwdriver