This small firearm is the weapon of choice for countless cowboys and cavalrymen in the Western movie genre. It is a revolver, which refers to the rotating barrel containing the ammunition and the “single action”…
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When the gun first came into production in 1873 (Mings, 2010, p. 1), it was designed with an elegant simplicity. The key principles that lie behind the design are admired as a model for the whole design process, because they encapsulate what it means to match up exactly the purpose of the object with its form. The metallic sound of four clicks indicates the four step process of design: click one is a preparatory move, setting in place a safety lock; click two is a half cock position which allows the cylinder to be rotated and the gun to be quickly loaded with multiple bullets; click three engages the cylinder with the barrel and the fourth click signifies that the gun is ready to fire. Safety, flexibility, commitment and readiness are therefore the four key design principles of the gun, and the four stages in its firing. (Mings, 2010, p. 1).
The main reason for the popularity of the Single Action Colt is its functionality. It is a small and relatively light weapon, which is requires two hands to set up, but can be easily fired by one hand. This is a significant advantage over a two barrelled shotgun which is unwieldy, takes much longer to load, and fires only two cartridges each time it is loaded. The elegant simplicity of its design makes it reliable, which is a major consideration in a conflict situation. For law enforcers it has the advantage of being easy to store and to use, even on horseback. Its nicknames were “Peacemaker” and “Frontiersman” because it was so adaptable to the difficult conditions of the frontier trail. Classic battles such as the ones in “Stagecoach” (1939) “Gunfight at the O.K. Corral” (1957) and more recently “The Mummy” (1999) and “Kill Bill” (2003 and 2004) feature the Colt Single Action revolver (imfdb website, 2011).
The illustrious history of this firearm extends far beyond the movies, however. This little revolver, nicknamed also the sixgun,
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