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Wednesday, 15 February 2017

William Mason - Colts 'Peacemaker' Designer 1837-1913:

I'd like to introduce everyone to an American engineer who died the very same year that my father was born in Ireland.

William Mason was born in Oswego, New York January 30, 1837 (and died in 1913).

 In 1865 he was awarded Patent No. 51117 for a swing-out cylinder design - later used for the S&W .38 Hand Ejector Model 10.

In 1866 Mason left Remingtons to go work for Colts - where he was to work on various projects including building the prototypes for John Moses Browning's designs.


William Mason (with Charles Richards) designed an open top .44" for Colts and submitted it to the US Army for trials in 1872. The caliber was .44 Henry and it was submitted to the US Army for testing - but it was rejected. - They wanted a more powerful caliber with a stronger frame.

 - Mason redesigned the frame to incorporate a top strap, similar to the Remington revolvers and placed the sight on the rear of the frame. The first prototype was chambered in .44 rim-fire, but the first of the accepted production model was in the new caliber known as the .45 Colt.

  'Single Action Army' 
'Model 1873'
 'Peacemaker'.
Designed By William Mason.

Samuel Colt himself had died eleven years earlier - in 1862.

This now classic revolver remained the primary US Military sidearm for 19 years until 1892 when it was replaced by a .38 caliber revolver with a swing-out cylinder - Colt Model 1892.

To this day - versions of the Model 1873 - "The Gun That won The West" remain popular with shooters and collectors - being made and imported by many companies.
Ruger's "Updated Version" - The Vaquero.

A Winchester historian has called William Mason "one of the most significant designers of the nineteenth century"

.. It's a bit sad that most of us who know the famous SAA gun might not be able to correctly name it's designer
.. it wasn't Sam Colt.

There is a theory kicking around that the SAA designer must have been LEFT HANDED because of the loading-gate placement on the right hand side - that requires transferring the revolver into the left-hand for loading / unloading.
Conventional Loading-Gates OPEN.

 - However I would have thought that maybe this might well be more likely a hang-over from the percussion days - when you'd have needed to use the right-hands finesse & finger-tip control for placing the fiddly percussion caps securely onto the cylinders nipples.
Capping 'Ruger Old Army' Black-Powder Revolver.

- either way that suites me as I'm a 'Lefty" (.. except then I am now clumsy loading my Ruger Old Army's caps using my R/H!).

One Guy , Bill Grover, felt so strongly about this 'sinister' design that he started a company Texas Longhorn Arms that eventually closed after building "Right-Handed Colt SAAs" for some seventeen years:
Texas Longhorn Arms No.5 - .45. (L/Handed or R/Handed?)
- Beautifully Made With An 'Improved' Grip Design
& Left-Side Loading-Gate.

Life is extra good & full of interest.

Marty K.