As most anyone who is married knows all too well, failing to remember a significant anniversary is a mistake best avoided. In view of that, we always strive to point out important milestones as they pertain to the world of firearms—and in this issue we mark two. The first is no less than the 100th anniversary of this magazine. That’s right, not counting our predecessors The Rifle (1885), Shooting & Fishing (1888) and Arms & the Man (1906) it has been nearly a full century since the first issue of The American Rifleman was published for NRA members.
That was in 1923, of course, and after dropping the article in 1978, we arrived at the moniker that has now topped our covers for the past 45 years—albeit in a variety of type styles. In recognition of that heritage and our mission, the current name was also appended a few years ago with “The World’s Oldest And Largest Firearm Authority.” So, in this first issue of 2023, we are pleased to kick off a year-long celebration of the centenary of NRA’s original Official Journal. For more on the history of the magazine and its nameplates, see the Opening Shot in our January 2023 issue. Also, in July, expect to find a full-length story featuring highlights about the people, products and events that have filled all 10 decades of the magazine’s many pages.
Also in this issue, we recognize the 150th anniversary of one of the most significant firearm designs of all time: Colt’s Single Action Army. Please note that the SAA pictured above is not just a run-of-the-mill example, but is Serial No. 1—no less than the first production Peacemaker ever made. It was, unbelievably, found on a farm in New Hampshire in 1925 and subsequently purchased for $4. After changing hands among various collectors and through auction houses in the ensuing years, the gun ultimately brought a hammer price 14 years ago this month of $852,900 and today resides in a private collection. The remarkable story of the legend that Colt SAA No. 1 began is expertly told by one of its biggest fans, Field Editor Rick Hacker. Related coverage for other fans of the Peacemaker, albeit ones with higher serial numbers, can be found in this month’s Q&A, Favorite Firearms and Handloads—the latter of which suggests a modern-yet-mild recipe for the .45 Colt cartridge that is virtually synonymous with the seminal wheelgun.
In recent coverage of more modern developments, "Sako’s Modular S20," contributor Matt Robertson examines a unique hybrid bolt-action rifle design from the highly regarded Finnish maker that can be easily transformed by the user from tactical to hunting formats in just minutes. Then, in “NovX Pentagon Ammunition,” Field Editor Aaron Carter tests the innovative Calhoun, Ga., company’s monolithic copper hollow points now loaded in both popular pistol and rifle chamberings. Also, be sure to check out Field Editor Bruce Canfield’s “‘Limited Standard’: The M1919A6 Machine Gun” to find out how, sometimes, the U.S. military’s quest to modify existing platforms in an effort to create a greater force multiplier results in less-than-desirable outcomes.
Having begun to take a look back at our century-plus achievements in publishing—along with a major manufacturer’s incredible success with a single firearm design during the past century and a half—has proven a pleasant distraction from the daily tasks of keeping pace with our dynamic and ever-changing industry. But we know that training our eyes on the road ahead is even more important than not forgetting where we’ve been. As we begin work on future magazines, we hope you enjoy the results of our latest efforts.