A prime example of why listening to the consumer is wrong


I have been saying this for years.

By Luis Valdes

Over and over again, on various online forums, social media platforms, and in the local gun shops. We hear people constantly say “if company x made product y, I’d buy it!”

Right now, I constantly hear that in regard to S&W and their M&P Series. Folks are harping about how Big Blue should make a 10mm M&P. They all claim it’d sell like hot cakes and they’d buy them.

Well, the truth is, that is hardly ever the case. Colt in the 1990s is a prime example of that. Cowboy Action Shooting was really starting to explode in the mid 1990s and Colt was producing their ever classic Single Action Army. But shooters wanting to get into the game constantly complained about the price of the Colt SAAs along with the delicate lock work.

These people constantly harped to Colt’s Customer Service Department the same message; “why don’t you guys make a gun like the Ruger Vaquero? It is more affordable and more reliable!”

So Colt, in desperation since they were doing horrible in the late 80s and early 90s gave in to what the consumers demanded. The made a Ruger Vaquero clone.

Original Colt ad from 1998.

In 1998, the released the Colt Cowboy. It was a modern production revolver. It had all the same features as the Ruger. Different and stronger lock work, transfer bar safety, invest cast receiver instead of the forged frame from the past, etc…

Original Colt press release showing the difference between the Cowboy and the Single Action Army.

As you can see in photos from Colt’s original press release, the Cowboy has a frame mounted firing pin, transfer bar safety, and different lock work to move the cylinder.

The gun was priced to be competitive with the Ruger Vaquero. It is exactly what the consumer asked for. A Colt made clone of the Ruger Vaquero with all of the Vaquero’s features but a gun that said “Colt” and had the prancing pony.

It was a dismal failure in the market.

All the people that said they’d buy one, never did. The gun languished on store shelves and it was in 2003 that Colt took this pony to the back pasture and put it out of its misery.

There is nothing absolutely wrong with the Colt Cowboy. It is in every sense, a better revolver than the original Single Action Army. It is better built, has better lock work, and was more affordable. Plus, you can safely carry six rounds and not have to worry about a negligent discharge.

Yet the very people that complained about the SAA being too expensive were the same people that complained that the Cowboy “wasn’t a real colt”. The common complaint I hear with anything that isn’t a true Colt or Colt clone (like the Uberti made guns) is that they don’t have the four clicks from when the hammer is cocked. Folks claim that the four clicks spell “C-O-L-T” and that’s how you know you have a real Colt.

These people complained that Rugers were not legit since they didn’t have the four clicks and the Cowboy was a fraud too since it only had three.

The gun in every sense was a real Colt. But the problem was that Colt listened to the consumer and the consumer is a fickle beast.

So sometimes, the consumer is not right.


  1. Interesting article Luis!
    This is a link to an American Rifleman “Dope Bag” pdf article from March 1999 on the Colt Cowboy. A search of forums indicates new replacement parts are not available.
    Glock,Springfield,Dan Wesson have all the 10mm pistols any hunter would want or need.
    I personally don’t see using a full power 10mm load for EDC.

  2. Two comments on this… One, the consumer is generally an idiot, when you look at the aggregate. As well, the people who respond to “market surveys” and “sensing sessions” are generally a very extra-speshul variety of idiot, one with a.) lots and lots of time on their hands, and b.) usually not a lot of ready spending cash.

    If you want to know if something is going to sell, as a firearms manufacturer, what you need to do is get out of the “marketing bubble” and go down to the local range/shooting area and take with you your new toy/tool. Do something with it, and watch the reaction of the guys on your left and right. If they’re going “Meh. Seen it before, don’t like it…”, you’ve got yourself a sales dud. If, however, you have a mob around the shooting position going “What the hell is that, and where can I get me one…?”, then you probably have a hit. If people are offering you money and/or ammo to try it out…? Yeah; hit.

    Second thing… 10mm probably doesn’t make a lot of sense in downtown Miami or some other venue, but when you’re up north and dealing with winter clothing, as well as out in the country where encounters with large predatory wildlife ain’t exactly unlikely? Then, the 10mm in the EDC role starts to make a lot of damn sense.

    I forget what specific load it was, but I’m not going to forget having a Chicago PD guy tell me about arresting “some dude” that had been shot at by Illinois State Police back in the 1980s, and who only had severe bruising and some very minimal penetrating wounds to show for it. He’d been wearing like five or six layers of shirt, a thick pea-jacket coat and a vest of some kind. Five torso hits, or so, and zero real effect on him. Granted, the range he was shot at wasn’t exactly “up close and personal”, but… Still… “That 9-m-m just pissed him off…” ain’t what I want to hear about someone I had to shoot, in the aftermath of it all.

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