How Do You Define Perfection?
I ‘m talking about technological perfection. It would be a mature technology, evolved into a pinnacle of form, function and craftsmanship that despite the passage of time cannot be significantly improved.
The term “state of the art” does not apply—that only means “the best we can do today.” Technological perfection describes something that will endure despite the passage of time virtually unchanged because there is no way to make it better than perfect.
You might guess that I have something in mind here. Obviously, it must be a firearm, but bear with me a moment more.
The basic technology received modest interest when it was introduced, but was not really successful. However, over a period of 37 years, it evolved until it was offered to the U.S. Army as the standard military service revolver in 1873. It was accepted and served in this role for 29 years.
In the civilian world, it became (along with the Model 1873 Winchester rifle) the “Gun That Won the West.” It is an iconic firearm design that has endured for 144 years.
By now, you have figured out that this firearm is the legendary Colt Model 1873 Single Action Army—The Peacemaker.
Is this perfection? I think so. Of course, other revolver designs, notably the double-action revolver, offer more fire power and utility—but that’s the point. They are other designs. The single-action revolver is in a class by itself.
Even competing single-action revolvers by Ruger, Freedom Arms and a host of other designs mimic the Colt Peacemaker as much as possible. I have been blessed to own quite a few single-action revolvers over the years, and I still own several. They are chambered for cartridges ranging from .357 Magnum to .454 Casull (yes, even .45 Colt).
Yet, I have never actually owned an honest-to-God Colt Model 1873 Single Action Army until about five months ago.
I have lots of reasons that I’ve never owned one. Being a gun nut, I have many different shooting interests, competitive pistol shooting, high-velocity magnum rifles, M1 Garands, night-vision, silenced firearms for hog-hunting, etc.
Mostly, the reason I’ve never owned a genuine Colt .45 Peacemaker is they’re just too doggoned expensive. They’re such a highly prized sidearm that cowboy shooters and collectors have driven prices into the stratosphere.
Then a fellow gun nut showed me his unfired, mint-condition, Colt .45 Gen 2 Peacemaker. It has ivory grips mated to a color case-hardened frame that contrasts nicely with a rich, Colt blue 5 ½-inch barrel and cylinder (which, incidentally, is unmarred by any cylinder drag marks).
A four-digit serial number means it probably was made in the first or second year (1956 or 57) of Gen 2 production.
It is beautimous!
I suddenly discovered an itch I didn’t know I had. Dave and I often do a few gun trades, so we proceeded to haggle. Some of my stuff became some of his stuff, and my itch was soon scratched.
I know that some of you might throw rocks at me for what I did next, but I couldn’t help myself. I had to take it to a local firing range and shoot it—not much, but enough to confirm that the sights are dead-on at 10 yards. By the way, there are still no cylinder drag marks, which attests to Colt’s craftsmanship.
But the story doesn’t end there.
I think there’s a law written somewhere that says a genuine Colt Model 1873 must have a proper western leather holster and gunbelt complete with cartridge loops. As I mentioned before, I have several other single-action six guns. An Uncle Mike’s Cordura holster threaded onto the belt holding my pants up has always been good enough for them, but this is a different matter.
I became a man with a mission.
I always liked the looks of the six-gun holster worn by John Wayne in The Shootist, the Duke’s last movie. So I wasn’t surprised to find out that a Texas company, El Paso Saddlery, made the John Wayne holster.
The company has been in business since 1889 and has built a stellar reputation using only the finest premium quality leather and old-fashioned craftsmanship to make a wide variety of western and modern gun rigs.
Fortunately, my bride decided that good gun leather would make an excellent Christmas present. When it comes to gun stuff, she has long since given up on Christmas surprises. So, I got the green light to make it an El Paso Christmas.
Looking at the El Paso website, I soon found the Duke’s holster. It’s a standard catalog item (#44). It’s nothing fancy, just a working cowboy’s holster that keeps your six-gun protected from most knocks and scratches while keeping it handy to use if needed. Being a southpaw, I needed the port-side version, but that’s no problem with this model.
I mated it up with a “Texas” belt (#2) a 2 1/2-inch-wide gun belt with 24 loops sized for .45 Colt cartridges. It’s not a Hollywood “buscadero” two-gun rig. It’s not embellished with fancy leather tooling. It’s just fine quality leather, put together by an equally fine craftsman to create a reliable outfit for a working cowboy.
Don’t misunderstand me, I don’t claim to be a cowboy, but I have on rare occasions swung a leg over a horse in the high country of the west. If I am so fortunate to do so again, I can assure you that perfect single-action technology will be riding on my hip, encased in the finest leather to keep it safe and secure just in case I need it.
—BY STAN SKINNER
TACTICAL GEAR REVIEW
Eyes Wide Open
One of the most common shooting mistakes I see most shooters make is to close one eye while they shoot. You can see this weakness even if they are wearing darkened shooting glasses because their faces will look uncomfortably distorted as they close or squint their non-dominant eye to get a clear sight picture.
Watch any expert marksman while they engage in a course of fire with a pistol, bow, shotgun, or close quarters carbine and you will notice they keep both eyes open all the time. The only time they will close one eye is for precision long range shooting through magnified optics.
Closing one eye puts you at a tactical disadvantage. If you are half blind you lose a good 70 degrees of situational awareness. In a defensive situation this could be detrimental to your safety.
From a hunting and shooting standpoint, shooting with only one eye limits your depth perception which is also vital for shooting when you must estimate ranges. It is also slower to shoot with one eye as it slows multiple target transitions besides leading to eye fatigue.
But how do we train to keep both eyes open? Old school techniques involve months of dry fire training coupled with placing scotch tape or petroleum jelly over the non-dominant lens of your shooting glasses until your eyes learn which sight to use. But Texas-based Advanced Tactical Defense has recently introduced the AimFaster sighting system that optimizes the dominant eye sight picture while eliminating weak eye recognition instantly solving the problem of squinting while shooting.
The AimFaster is best described a plastic molded “trough” that mounts up against your front sight preventing your weak eye from picking up the image. Over the past months I have used this setup to train several students who had difficulty keeping both eyes open while shooting pistols.
One was an experienced shotgun shooter who at first look called the AimFaster attachment an ingenius invention. Before using it, he stated that every time he tried to shoot with both eyes he was always seeing a confusing image of the front sight with both eyes, however with the AimFaster mounted it cleared his sight picture completely.
If you are like me, and have already trained your eyes to work with a front sight, there is still an advantage to using the AimFaster. It helps you align the pistol on target faster because you have an entire trough to look down increasing your alignment speed instead of searching for the front sight placement.
Although this will also help train your eyes to know which eye is to pick up the front sight, you might want to keep it mounted on your pistol for the speed advantage.
The AimFaster installs in seconds onto any flat-top slide with an adhesive 3M strip so it won’t damage the finish on your firearm. It runs $24.95 and comes with a money back guarantee, so it’s risk free. Find out more at www.adtacdefense.com
—BY DUSTIN ELLERMANN