Book Review: Colt’s Single Action Army – Loading and Shooting the Peacemaker

Layout 1By Mike Nesbitt

By Dave Scovill
165 pages, hard cover, $54.00
ISBN: 978-1-879356-88-7

Here is a book that is a true pleasure to read.  Of course, it is a book devoted to a subject that is very dear to me.  My own experience with the Colt Single Action Army parallels Scovill’s in several ways and I mention that only to add emphasis on how much I admire the work he did in putting this volume together.

The meat of this book is divided into twelve chapters and all but three of those chapters are related to particular calibers commonly chambered in the old hog leg.  The first chapter is about the .38 S&W Special.  Some good notes in history are included in that chapter such as the difference between the S&W version and the .38 Colt Special.  (Basically the .38 Colt Special had a flat nosed bullet.)  The .357 Magnum is given space in that chapter as well and there is no separate chapter in this book for the .357.

All of the chapters in this fine book are about shooting the Colt revolver and in those chapters about particular cartridges the focus is on loading that ammunition for use in the Colt SAA.  A good example of what I’m referring to is found in the chapter on the .44/40.  The author mentions how most sets of reloading dies for the old Winchester .44 will not size the brass down to duplicate the length of the case neck as found on factory ammo.  Some good reloading data is contained in that chapter and in other chapters too for other cartridges.

One chapter is devoted to shooting cast bullets in revolvers.  In this day when jacketed bullets seem to rule the roost, that chapter gives us some dandy information.  One of the points mentioned is how the cast bullet should be sized to match the mouth of the cylinder rather than the groove diameter of the barrel.

If there is anything missing from this book I’d have to say it is a chapter on the Colt SAA in .32-20.  That caliber is mentioned only very little.  And, from my point of view, some black powder loads could be included in the data given for each cartridge.  After all, every cartridge chambered in the good old Colt was originally black powder except the .357.

Dave Scovill’s book on the Colt Single Action Army is written and “assembled” in a way that it can easily be used as a reference, by looking up data or information on the caliber of your choice, or simply read from front to back and enjoying it all of the way.  Compliments must include the excellent photography found in this book, over 200 full color photos.  Colt’s Single Action Army is available from Wolfe Publishing Company, 2180 Gulfstream, Suite A, Prescott, Arizona 86301, web site  This book is priced at $54.00.

Editor’s note: Mike Nesbitt’s articles about black powder shooting can be found in back issues of certain magazines from nearly 40 years ago, and he’s learned a few things over that span of time. Join him now as newer stories continue in our black powder column. With Mike, you can talk about black powder cartridge shooting, from paper-patched bullets to the famous “collar button,” and we’ll hit on traditional muzzleloading too. For Mike, shooting begins with black powder.

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