Colt 45 Peacemaker: More Than a Gun

The gun that tamed the west is now on display in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Jeff Cunningham
2 min readFeb 7, 2024
Metropolitan Museum of Art Collection: “Peacemaker” Colt Single-Action Army Revolver, serial no. 4519

The Colt Peacemaker, or the Colt Single Action Army if you’re being technical, symbolizes rugged individualism in battle and adventurism of the wild American West.

Born in the USA

Back in 1873, the folks at Colt’s Patent Fire Arms hit the jackpot. There was a burgeoning market for a revolver that was perfect for the .45 Long Colt ammo.

The answer was the Peacemaker, a single-action revolver that featured a six-round cylinder and was designed to be both reliable and easy to use. It had a simple mechanism that required the hammer to be manually cocked before each shot.

Perfect Timing

The introduction of the Peacemaker coincided with the American government’s efforts to arm its military after the Civil War. It quickly became the go-to gun for its reliability, accuracy, and stopping power.

The Gun That Won the West

The Peacemaker became synonymous with the American frontier due to its widespread use by lawmen like Wyatt Earp and Pat Garrett. It didn’t take long for Jesse James and Billy the Kid to start carrying. It was the ultimate tool for laying down the law (or breaking it) and played a starred in showdowns like the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral that contributed to its mystique as the gun that “won the West.”

Ordo Ab Chao (Order Out of Chaos)

Ironically named the “Peacemaker,” the well earned moniker was about bringing order to chaos — Western style. It symbolized power and justice in a place where the law was made at gunpoint and reflected the revolver’s role in imposing order on the American frontier. It was seen as a tool that could even bring peace — albeit sometimes reluctantly.

The Colt Peacemaker wasn’t just a firearm; it is a legacy.