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.