The Hawken Rifle

Winchester would later popularize the slogan “The gun that won the west” to describe their 1873 line of Lever Action rifles, however nothing helped open the west to settlement and American expansion like the Hawken Rifle. The men using these rifles returned with tales of adventure, excitement, and freedom. These stories captivated a nation and helped spark the long march west for pioneers and men seeking their fortunes.

1847  Walker Revolver

Captain Samuel Walker was an original Texas Ranger that fought in both the American Indian and Mexican-American wars. He came to a financially broke Colt with the idea of a revolver that was powerful enough to take down a horse in a single shot. The result was the simply massive 1847 Walker which saved Colt from financial ruin. The Walker remained the most powerful handgun produced for 87 years.

1851 Navy Revolver

Colt’s early flagship pistol was immensely popular during larger push west in the second half of the 19th century. They were in heavy use well after being made obsolete by newer designs and their proliferation was only slowed with the advent of the metal cartridge shooting 1873 Single Action Army. The “Navy” name is a slight misnomer as more were sold to land armies and civilians than the navy. The 1851 was a favorite of Wild Bill Hickok, Doc Holliday, and was the service revolver of the famed Texas Rangers.

1873 Single Action Army

The image of a cowboy will forever be paired with a trusty revolver on his hip. For most, that conjured image is of a Colt Single Action Army even if they are unaware of it. There is good reasons for this. Thousands were sold and used in Indian Wars, Revolutions, and drunken shootouts outside of western saloons. Hollywood is also to blame with late, greats like Roy Rogers, John Wayne, and Steve McQueen who all made appearances with this iconic piece. The SAA continues to be one of the most popular revolvers with hunters, history buffs, and people that just enjoy the old aesthetic.

The Henry Rifle

Known to the Confederate Troops as the rifle you “loaded on Sunday and shot all week,” the rapid firing capabilities of the Henry Model of 1860 was feared and envied Union weapon. The tactics of the Civil War failed to advance in time with the weaponry and the Henry Rifle went largely underutilized by mainline troops. That being said, the Henry Rifle became the blueprint for the incredibly popular Winchester Lever Action rifles that would come next.

Model 1873

It was the “Gun That Won the West” even though Colt would claim the exact same moniker for their 1873 Revolver. In truth, they may both be right in their claim. The 1873 had feeding issues with the popular .45 Colt cartridge and was initially only offered in .44-40. Colt, not wanting to lose any customers, started offering a revolver chambered for Winchester .44-40. The result of this was a “perfect pair” of rifle and sidearm that used a single type of ammunition. The Model 1873 was immensely favored by the military and gunslingers alike. Buffalo Bill Cody used one in his time as an army scout and had nothing but praise for the rifles.


Want to learn more about rare old guns that aren’t featured on this list? Learn from a master and check out Forgotten Weapons.