A New Old Friend


Earlier this year at the Media Day event just before the SHOT Show, I stopped by the Colt shooting booth just to see what the company had to offer. Most of the attention was garnered by the 1991 Series DAO and the New Agent compact pistols, but my attention immediately focused on the only revolver on the table.

As popular as the semi-auto pistols are today—any gunner can ID the profile of a 1911 or Glock in his sleep—the profile of the Single Action Army is instantly recognized the world over by almost anyone. The revolver that languished on the table had a deep, rich blue barrel and cylinder, along with the characteristic Colt color casehardening. Rather than the norm of black rubber, checkered rampant Colt grips, these were two-piece smooth walnut with a gold Colt medallion embedded in them. Atop this revolver was a set of adjustable sights, instantly indicating this was the New Frontier version. I picked it up and saw “Colt New Frontier SAA .44 Special” stamped on the left side of the barrel. Seriously smitten, I immediately made ready to shoot my new old friend.

As I have said several times in print, I believe the .44 Special is the best all-around handgun cartridge extant. For virtually any reasonable—and quite a few unreasonable—tasks asked of a handgun, the .44 Special will not only just do but do so exceedingly well, especially if you handload. Need a powder-puff but accurate load? A smidgen of Alliant Unique or IMR Trail Boss will launch a bullet that will chew out the X-ring with monotony and not bruise one’s tender paw. How about a controllable cartridge that will put the smackdown on a determined thug? Eight grains of the aforementioned Unique behind a Lyman 429421 245-grain semi-wadcutter will serve admirably. And if the desire is a powerful thumper to put down a deer or wild pig at reasonable handgun range, 14 1/2 grains of Alliant 2400 will punch through both gristle plates of a boar or the shoulders of a buck. That wonderful cartridge in a favorite platform garnered my entire attention that day. It took a lot of determination to see what else was available at Media Day.

Fast-forward to late last week when a copy of that same New Frontier was delivered to my little piece of heaven. Like Yogi Berra once said, “It was like déjà vu all over again.” As I opened the package, I was taken back some 40 years to when I purchased my first handgun. It, too, was a Colt New Frontier in .22 LR with an extra .22 WMR cylinder. I still have it. Thousands of rounds have been pushed through that little revolver. About a decade later, I bought my first SAA, a .44 Special. I still have it, too. Tomorrow I’ll take all three to the range, the newest one for an evaluation in an upcoming issue of American Hunter; the other two just for the simple joy of shooting some of my favorite revolvers.

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1 Response to A New Old Friend

Michael Van Winkle wrote:
October 15, 2011

I have shot many rounds of 44 caliber at metal targets in my youth, and hunted deer with this caliber also. As I ponder getting into Elk hunting with a pistol, I wonder if the 454, 460, 475 Linebaugh or 500 S & W should be considered, for a humane kill? When do you set the 44 aside and look at a more powerful handgun? Which of the newer calibers would you go to? I have had a S &W 460 for a few years, but never hunted with it, before it fell victim to my son's college education budgetary needs. Like to hear from you on this issue. This is my first ever blog communication.