Gun Digest

5 Classic Colt Guns You’ve Got To Own

These are the five iconic Colt firearms that will crown your gun collection.

What Are The Colt Guns You Need To Own:

The ground shifted in 1836. Samuel Colt was at the epicenter. In that year, the ambitious businessman introduced the gun that arguably changed it all – the Colt Patterson. While it wasn’t the first repeating arm to come down the pike, it was the first successful one. And arguably, it changed gun designs, not to mention the world, forever. From that point on, a single shot loaded from the muzzle just wasn’t going to cut muster.

Learn More: Colt Reviews You Need To Read

Had the Paterson revolver been all Colt contributed it would have been enough to cement his place as one of the greats. But the man and his company have a litany of greatest hits that prove gems of any collection. And, with a few exceptions, Colt still manufacturers all of them, making it fairly simple to add one of the classics to your gun safe.

So, without further ado, here are 5 Colt guns every shooter should aim to add to their collection.

Colt 1911

Undeniably, John Browning’s 1911 is among the greatest pistol designs. Successful service in two World Wars is enough to put it at the top. While there are many gunmakers – custom and otherwise – that turn out renditions of this piece of American badassery, Colt continues to set the standard. Given the company’s long history with the pistol that’s how it should be.

Plus with Colt, there’s no shortage of riffs off the original 1911 design. Need a deep cover piece? Check out the minute Mustang Lite. Looking for a top-end competition pistol? The Gold Cup more than lives up to its name. Honestly, if you have an objective, Colt has a 1911 to meet it. Overall, for my money, there are two standouts in particular: the Colt Government Model and Colt Combat Commander.

An entry-level option, the Government Model (MSRP $799) nonetheless is a superb pistol. A direct descendant of the original M1911, it’s full-sized and boasts many of the features of its predecessor – straight cocking serrations, fixed sights, etc. It’s also available with series 70 or 80 firing systems. However, the .45 ACP isn’t simply a slice of nostalgia, it’s also a shooter – more than fit for home defense or on-the-dot target shooting.

As practical as a Roth IRA, the Combat Commander (MSRP $999) is the best of both worlds. Its 4.25-inch barrel makes it more viable for concealed carry. Yet it has the heft to soak up recoil, thus make the pistol lightning fast and dead-on accurate on a follow-up shot. A step up in price, the Combat Commander is still a value, boasting premium features such as genuine Novak Low Mount sights, G10 grips and Colt’s dual-spring recoil system. Either choice, you’re definitely getting functional shooters.

Colt AR-15

Colt M4 Carbine

Colt and the AR-15 have been intertwined since the rifle’s beginning. Well, almost its beginning. And up to a few years ago the gunmaker was still producing them for the U.S. Military. In turn, they know their way around what has become America’s favorite rifle. While the gunmaker offers a number of choices (including AR-10s, if that’s your groove), arguably the LE6920 is among the best – even measured against other manufacturers. Yup, it’s as plain as red bricks. But it’s got it where it counts – performance and accuracy.

Now listed at the Colt M4 Carbine (MSRP $1,099), the LE6920 is a stout gun. Chrome-lined barrel, forward assist, staked gas key bolts, double-heat shield handguard – it comes with all the features that ensure its ruggedness. Which is perhaps why it’s extensively used by law enforcement. But it will excel at any task you might charge it with – home defense, varmint hunting and plain old high-powered plinking.

Yeah, like any firearm you’ll have to play around to find its sweet spot with ammo. However, with a 1:7 twist in its 16-inch barrel the 5.56/.223 has a lot of wiggle room – stabilizing bullets up to 80 grains.

Colt Single Action Army

The Granddaddy and progenitor of all modern single-action revolvers is the Colt Single Action Army.

In the past, Colt has attempted to jettison perhaps its most famous handgun. When you’re a gunmaker contracting with the U.S. Military, it makes sense you might want to shelf what, by all standards, is an anachronism. But they’ve paid for those misbegotten endeavors with the Single Action Army and thankfully it soldiers on in its catalog today.

While an actual historical Wild West Peacemaker would be the prize of any collection, most of modest means will never gather one up. That’s alright, given many consider the company's Third Generation SAA revolver (MSRP $1,799) perhaps better made than any preceding it. And true to the original design.

Outside of some minor details, the modern Colt Single Action Army is identical to the smokeless-powder framed first generation that came out in the late 1890s. This means, for safety, you only load five rounds and leave the hammer on an empty chamber if you’re carrying it. Don’t and you’ll set yourself and your foot up for a bad day.

Off the shelf you can choose from a 7.5-inch barreled Cavalry model, 5.5-inch barreled Artillery model and 4.75-inch “Gunfighter’s” model. Across the board, they are chambered in the traditional .45 Colt, feature a notched rear sight and blade front, a blued barrel and color case hardened frame. Of course, if you’re looking for more accouterments you can always call the custom shop. But with the stock models you’re getting everything you want out a single-action army – including the name Colt.

Colt Python

In 1955, Colt’s Firearms introduced what many believe to be the most elegant .357 Magnum revolver ever created—the Python. This example is an Ultimate Python in stainless steel and has the best features found with any Python, plus the bonus of custom grips to make it one of the nicest .357 Magnum revolvers one can find.

Things get trickier adding possibly best revolver ever made to your collection. Discontinued and highly popular, anymore you might have to sign over your first or second born to afford one. And, in my humble opinion, those holding their breaths for the Python to join the reboot “snake gun” series are doing so in vain.

There’s little to no possible way for the company to produce a hand-fitted and hand-polished gun (which the original was) at prices all but gilded coastal swells could afford. And if it wasn’t manufactured to that same standard, wouldn’t it pretty much be a Trooper with a full lug and vented rib?

Anyhow, if you have the bank account to chase a Python you certainly won’t be disappointed; the .357 Magnum lives up to its billing. Given its tight tolerances and the master craft to create them, the double-action is hair-splittingly accurate. Makes sense, given the Python was conceived as a target gun. An adjustable rear sight is part of this equation, but the most noticeable aspect that gets the six-round revolver on target is its trigger pull. It’s smooth… freshly powered baby bottom smooth.

If all that isn’t enough to close the deal, the Python is absolutely breathtaking in appearance. That facet alone, would all but solidify its status as king of your gun safe.

Colt Woodsman

This is a Second Series Match Target manufactured in 1968.

The Colt Woodsman is the quintessential .22 semi-auto pistol. It’s a shame they aren’t still made. Because when it comes to accuracy, classic lines and reliability the pistol had them in spades. Figures, given John Browning came up with the original model that would go on to become the Woodsman.

Part of the reason why the rimfire proved so accurate is how it was manufactured. An early 1900s design, it required a lot of machining and hand-fitting. In turn, the Woodsman was tight as a drum. But the design itself also helped make it a shooter. In particular, the steep rake of its grip made it a naturally pointing pistol, particularly when shot one-handed. The gun has the look of a competition pistol because, in for many shooters, it was used for that exact purpose.

Most iterations of the Woodsman also came with some pretty nifty features, such as fully adjustable rear sights, last shot hold open and thumb rest. And these – primarily found in the First and Second series – can run a pretty penny. Thousands of dollars that is. But if you’re willing to settle for a more pedestrian and contemporary model, such as the Third Series Huntsman or Targetsman, you’ll only have to spend in the hundreds. Given these still whip the bullseye, they are in many cases a great value.

Colt Articles You Need To Read

Now that we’ve gone over some of the classic Colt firearms, it's time to look deeper into individual models. Here are some review and features on the gunmakers iconic offerings.

Colt 1911

It still remains America’s favorite handgun, and there are a host of different models that draw in premiums on the collector’s market.

Colt Python

Widely considered to be one of the best revolvers ever made, and with production ceased for more than a decade, it’s also among the most collectible.

Colt Cobra

Fans of Colt’s earlier double-action revolvers should rejoice, as news of the American manufacturer’s jump back into the double-action revolver game.

Colt AR-15

Nearly identical to the M16A4 in every way, with a few notable exceptions.

Colt Defender

Revamped to improve upon the areas that kept it from being perfect for concealed carry.

Colt M4

Priced affordably and comes ready-made for customization.

Colt Delta Elite

Offers serious stopping power for hunters or shooters in an accessory-ready platform.

Colt Model 1903

A very collectible pistol, and a great shooter – even by today’s standards.

Colt Commander

An accurate, fast-shooting pistol perfect for everyday carry.

Colt King Cobra

The gunmaker once again has a .357 Magnum double-action revolver in its catalog.

Colt Competition

A true, out-of-the-box 1911 for the competitor.

Colt Gold Cup Trophy

A snappy Series 70 trigger and a National Match barrel, it's an incredibly accurate pistol.

Colt M16A1

A reproduction, semi-auto-only M16A1 that faithfully replicates the look and features of the original, Vietnam-era rifle.

Colt Combat Unit Carbine

A direct-impingement gas AR featuring the company's first production mid-length gas system.

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