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Best Modern & Classic Cowboy Guns

45 Colt Revolvers
We take a look at the most popular cowboy guns, break down the various models, and take a look at some of the best modern versions available.
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    My dad was a die-hard Western fan and continues to be. He raised me on TV shows and movies like Bonanza, the Rifleman, the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, Tombstone, and 3:10 to Yuma.

    As a result, I formed an early appreciation for revolvers, lever actions, and coach guns.

    Henry Case Hardening
    Henry 45-70 with Case Hardening

    I became fascinated with the history of these firearms and how closely they are tied to American culture.

    Today, we are going to explore some of the best cowboy guns ever made, as well as modern replicas and clones that embody the spirit of their original counterparts.


    1. Best Affordable Shotgun

      Stoeger Coach Gun 12 GA

    2. Best Classic Shotgun

      CZ Hammer Coach 12 GA

    3. Best Black Powder Revolver

      Pietta 1851 Navy Yank .36 Cal

    Table of Contents


    Why You Should Trust Us

    Before becoming an NRA-certified instructor and concealed carry trainer out of Florida, I was a Marine infantryman. So, I know my way around guns.

    Savage Impulse

    Today, I use my knowledge to test and review guns for several publications, including Pew Pew Tactical. At my home range, I spend countless hours analyzing, researching, and putting guns and gear to the test to bring you the best recommendations and most accurate reviews.

    Colt Single Action Army

    The Colt SAA, aka the Peacemaker, is the revolver you likely picture when someone says cowboy revolver.

    It’s the quintessential six-shooter of the era. The Colt SAA came to be because the Rollin White patent expired, and Colt wanted that sweet, sweet Army money.

    Colt SAA
    First generation Colt Single Action Army revolver. (Photo: Rock Island Auction)

    The Colt SAA went through the revolver trials of 1872 and was adopted as the standard military service revolver in .45 Colt.

    Beyond the military, it became a popular choice with law enforcement of the era. However, it was not as widespread as every cowboy movie portrays because it was a fairly expensive gun.

    The design of the Colt SAA became the standard revolver design of the era. Its layout became familiar with a single action design, a loading gate, an ejection rod, and front blade sight.

    The SAA may be one of the most iconic guns of all time. (Photo: K-Var)

    It still maintains a certain charisma and popularity among collectors. Occasionally, and unpredictably, Colt will do modern runs of the Single Action Army that are quite expensive.

    Due to its popularity, tons of companies have been producing clones of the gun at every price point.

    Taylor & Co. Smoke Wagon

    This is an Italian-made Colt SAA clone from Uberti that is inspected, approved, and sold by Taylor’s & Company firearms.

    A short-stroke competitive version of the Taylor’s and Co. Smoke Wagon. (Photo: Revolvers Only)

    These are extremely high-quality Colt SAA clones designed for heavy use and competitive SASS matches.

    Caliber includes classics like the .44-40, .45 Colt, and the more modern .357 Magnum. Barrel lengths vary, and Taylor’s and Company can even tune the revolver if you purchase it directly from them.

    Best SAA Clone
    at BattleHawk Armory

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Available Coupons

    Heritage Manufacturing Rough Rider

    There is no more affordable Colt wannabe than the rimfire Heritage Manufacturing Rough Rider.

    It’s not a true clone by any means and features a rather odd manual safety. But for less than $200, you can get a fun, serviceable cowboy-style revolver in .22 LR.

    You can get various barrel lengths and even swap the .22 LR cylinder for a .22 Magnum cylinder for a bit of extra pop.

    These are great plinkers that are easy to shoot and just plain fun.

    Best Rimfire Revolver
    at Palmetto State Armory

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Available Coupons

    Smith & Wesson Model 3 Schofield

    Alongside the Colt SAA, the Model 3 Schofield from Smith and Wesson was adopted by the US Army in the early 1870s.

    While the Colt would become the primary sidearm of the US Army, the Schofield served honorably and became a popular weapon with gunfighters of the era.

    A Wells-Fargo-marked S&W Schofield revolver. (Photo: Legacy Collectibles)

    Wyatt Earp, Pat Garrett, John Wesley Hardin, Billy the Kid, and many more carried the Schofield Model 3s.

    These revolvers were relatively innovative for the era in that they were top-break guns. They were faster to reload than any Peacemaker and, as a result, enjoyed relative popularity.

    Cimarron 1875 Schofield

    Uberti is fearless in replicating classic Cowboy guns and took on the more complicated Schofield design with grace. They produce these guns for various companies, including the aforementioned Cimarron.

    As with most Uberti guns, these are very faithful reproductions. (Photo: Gun Digest)

    Their 1875 Schofield clone comes in everything from the Army version with the 7-inch barrel to a more compact 3.5-inch barreled version.

    Calibers include the classics like .45 Long Colt, .44-40, and even .45 Schofield. If you want something a little cheaper to shoot, they also produce a .38 Special variant.

    Available Coupons

    Taylor’s & Company Russian

    Another interesting use of the Schofield was by the Russian military, where it was adopted in .44 Russian.

    Once again, Taylor’s and Co. delivers. (Credit: Gunsmack Amigos)

    This specific model has unique touches not found on American Schofields, and Taylor’s & Company offers the Russian variant in both .44 Russian and .45 Colt.

    While the gun functions identically to the American, there are slight differences in the grip, and the trigger guard features a second spur. The big hump at the rear is also a Russian design feature.

    This is the only Russian replica of the gun I’m aware of, and it’s darn cool.

    at GrabAGun

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Available Coupons

    Winchester 1873

    The Winchester 1873 lever-action rifle is often called “the gun that won the West.”

    It was used heavily by cowboys, scouts, soldiers, and frontiersmen heading west to stake their claim. Buffalo Bill called it the Boss, and they even made a Western film called Winchester ’73.

    An Original 1873 Winchester. (Photo: Antiq.com)

    These rifles are still favorites of a great many shooters, and they have been reproduced extensively. In fact, they are still in production.

    While Winchester might be owned by FN these days, they still produce small numbers of their original guns. If you have patience and a good credit limit, you can get a new production Model 1873 lever action rifle.

    The modern variants are available in .357 Magnum, .44-40, and .45 Colt. They are available in various grades of wood quality, different finishes, short and long barrels, and you can even get octagonal barrels.

    Best Lever-Action
    at Palmetto State Armory

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Available Coupons

    But if you don’t want to wait for Winchester to produce a batch of 1873 rifles, other companies are more than willing to take your money.

    Cimarron 1873 Model

    The Cimarron 1873 rifles come in tons of configurations. I’m talking about dozens of different options. Available calibers include .357 Magnum, .45 Colt, .44-40, and even calibers like .44 Special and .38 WCF.

    at BattleHawk Armory

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Available Coupons

    Variants include standard, carbine, long-range, and sporting models. Don’t forget the Texas Brush Popper and the Saddle Rifle. Variety is the spice of life, and Cimarron isn’t afraid to spruce things up.

    The Coach Gun

    Double-barrel shotguns were quite common during the Old West era. Their simplicity, power, and versatility made them extremely popular.

    Doc Holliday carried one at the OK Corral, and Wells-Fargo agents carried them on stagecoaches, hence the name coach guns.

    Doc Holliday, played by Val Kilmer, wielding a coach gun in the film Tombstone.

    We get the term ‘riding shotgun’ from the man who sat beside a stagecoach driver carrying a short-barreled, double-barrel shotgun.

    Various coach guns came from companies like Ithaca, Remington, Colt, and Parker, and affordable imports from Belgian gun makers.

    Stoeger Coach Guns

    If you want an affordable version, Stoeger has you covered with their lineup of coach guns.

    Stoeger Coach Gun in stainless. (Photo: Major Pandemic)

    These guns come in 12, 20, and .410 gauge. Finishes include a classic blued or stainless, both with walnut furniture.

    Stoeger’s shotguns feature a box lock mechanism, 3-inch chambers, a classic bead front sight, a double trigger design, and threaded for chokes.

    These guns mix in various modern features to make your coach gun more than a range toy. Best of all, they are affordable, with an MSRP of less than $500.

    Best Affordable Shotgun
    at Kygunco

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Available Coupons

    CZ Hammer Coach

    If you want something a little fancier with the iconic exposed hammers, then the CZ Hammer Coach is for you.

    A pair of dual triggers provide that authentic look and feel of a hammer-fired shotgun from the Old West. It also comes with a gorgeous deep, dark finish and a case-hardened receiver.

    Best Classic Shotgun
    at BattleHawk Armory

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Available Coupons

    It’s not cheap, but it’s a beautiful gun that gives you the authentic look and feel of classic coach guns.

    Colt Army and Navy Pistols

    The Colt Army and Navy pistols came about during the American Civil War, with the Army and Navy traditionally carrying different designs based on their intended purpose.

    Colt Model 1860 Army (Photo: Antiq.com)

    Both were black powder cap and ball pistols, which was standard for the time.

    Army models used the frame of the Colt 1851 Navy to reduce weight and bulk but kept with the Army’s preferred .44 caliber ball round.

    These revolvers were often used by horse-bound troops, and the extra power was favored in land warfare.

    The 1861 Navy used the .36 caliber ball, and the lighter, smaller revolvers were handier for sailors running back and forth carrying out critical ship tasks.

    at Sportsman's Guide

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Available Coupons

    These revolvers were more for shooting potential boarders and mutineers rather than heavy-use combat implements.

    Both guns have been copied quite a bit, and because they are black powder, cap, and ball guns, they are often affordable and fun to shoot, and you don’t need an FFL to transfer it.

    Pietta 1851 Navy

    If you want to get into black powder revolvers, the Pietta copy of the Colt 1851 Navy is a great way to do it.

    Best Black Powder Revolver
    at GrabAGun

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Available Coupons

    These revolvers are quite affordable and easy to find. The .36 caliber is soft shooting but still delivers that black powder reaction that’s a blast to experience.

    The Pietta clones are not fancy and feature simple finishes and wood grips. Despite this, they are accurate replicas and are great for learning how cap and ball works.

    Taylor’s & Company 1860 Army

    If you want a fancier replica of a black powder Colt, the 1860 Army clones from Taylor’s & Company are very well-made and absolutely gorgeous. They don’t break the bank, either.

    at BattleHawk Armory

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Available Coupons

    I appreciate that they make many different models, from realistic and historically accurate versions to shorter barreled and even snub-nose variants.

    Modern Cowboy Loadout

    We’ve covered a lot of classic cowboy guns, but let’s look at some of the more modern cowboy guns. These are not exactly historically accurate in any way, but they make for a heck of a lot of fun.

    Taylor’s & Company 1873 9mm

    The Taylor’s & Company 1873 revolver gives you a classic Colt SAA design, but they chambered it in the 9mm cartridge.

    Taylor’s & Company TC9 (Photo: AllOutdoor)

    A single-action army pistol in 9mm means you get a fun gun that is affordable to shoot. It’s become my personal favorite Cowboy gun because 9mm is so much cheaper than .45 Colt.

    On top of cheap ammo, you get reduced recoil and muzzle rise. Plus, a ton of modern loads that make the gun useful for a variety of tasks.

    at Midway USA

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Available Coupons

    POF Tombstone

    Oh yeah, the talk of Las Vegas during SHOT Show 2023 was the POF Tombstone. Not only is it a 9mm lever gun, but it’s a magazine-fed lever gun.

    It uses magazines from the POF Phoenix and has a whopping 20-round capacity. These guns also feature a Magpul SGA stock am M-LOK handguard and a threaded barrel.

    It’s the perfect space cowboy blaster if you want to LARP as Wyatt Earp in 2077.

    Be sure to check out our full review of the POF Tombstone!

    at Battlehawk Armory

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Available Coupons

    Charles Daly Triple Threat

    Two barrels are great, but what’s better than two barrels? Three, obviously.

    The Chiappa Triple Threat is a three-barrel monstrosity that chambers 12-gauge shotshells. This beastly gun turns it up to 11 for the modern stagecoach rider.

    It uses a mix of a side-by-side and over-under layout. Two barrels are side by side, and a third sits across the top. It’s big. It’s heavy, kind of silly, but also oddly irresistible.

    at BattleHawk Armory

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Available Coupons

    Final Thoughts

    Who didn’t play cowboy as a kid? The best thing about growing up is getting better toys to play with. The guns of the old west are often some of the most satisfying to shoot.

    45 Colt Revolvers and Ammo
    .45 Colt Revolvers and Ammo

    There is a ton of tactile enjoyment in thumbing back a hammer, working a lever, or opening the breach of a shotgun. I can’t explain it, but I sure as hell enjoy it.

    What about you folks? Do you have any favorite cowboy blasters to add to the list? Let us know in the comments below! Be sure to check out our article on the 10 Best Lever Action Rifles of 2023!

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    10 Leave a Reply

    • Commenter Avatar

      How can a best of "western" gun list not have? (in original or repro)
      Spencer Repeater

      Remington Rolling Block Single Shot


      Winchester 1885 Falling Block single shot

      Winchester 1886 Lever action (My favorite "Large Cartridge/High power" lever gun

      Winchester 1895 Lever gun

      February 28, 2024 8:34 am
    • Commenter Avatar

      I know everyone has their favorites, and I need to chime in with mention of the Uberti replica of the Remington 1858, a black powder pistol that when paired with a Taylor's .45LC conversion cylinder is one of the most accurate pistols I've ever fired.

      September 6, 2023 9:03 am
    • Commenter Avatar

      I have the Heritage, while I dislike the manual safety, both because of its awkward placement and it kind of ruins the look, it is a lot of fun to shoot. I recently got the Uberti Model P old model, which is pretty much an exact copy of the Colt, rigid firing pin, 4 click hammer and all. It's a 45lc, expensive ammo, but you get the feel of a real "cowboy gun".

      September 6, 2023 8:22 am
    • Commenter Avatar

      Why not mention High Standard / Higgins
      Revolver was very much a western style still a collector item!

      September 6, 2023 7:47 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Daniel Hecht

      Ruger sells more than ll the rest put together, because they are great guns, need to include them

      September 6, 2023 5:18 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Florence Brunner

      I had a Taurus .38 Special and found it hard to aim.
      I don't know what rim fire means because I know very little of gun vocabulary. I find automatics unreliable, as they sometimes jam, which is why I'm looking for a so-called cowboy gun. I want it for shooting practice (accurate aiming, so a longer barrel) and self-protection, as I am a widow living alone. Also, would prefer one with less kick-back. Does a gun with my wishes exist?

      September 5, 2023 11:44 pm
      • Commenter Avatar

        Florence Rimfire is a type of ammunition where the firing pen strikes and crushes the rim of the cartridge to ignite the primer. This type of ammo is found in 22caliber and 22 caliber magnum ammo. It is not able to be reloaded. Heritage company makes a 22 caliber revolver " cowboy gun" in a 6.5 and a 4.75 inch barrel. Both come with the 22LR " long rifle" and the 22 WMR ' Winchester magnum cartridge" cylinder. The cylinder is where you place the bullets. The 6.75 inch model also comes with a 9 round capacity cylinder vs a 6 shot capacity cylinder. The term "6 shooter". Unlike a automatic pistol where you can fire as fast as you can pull the trigger the cowboy gun is single action meaning you have to pull the hammer back each time you want to shoot it. The 22WMR leaves the muzzle of most rifles at around 1875 FPS " feet per second" while the 22caliber comes out around 1230 FPS. you can see the difference in the energy between the two. You said that you wanted it for protection. Was not sure if you wanted to carry it in your purse, under the front seat of the car, or have it on the night stand by your bed. These types of guns don't have much recoil or kick when you shoot them. Ruger, S&W, Taurus make double action revolvers. They have shorter barrel lengths and are 6 shot capacity cylinders. I suggest you go to a firearms store and look at the different types and models. Internet searches will provide a lot of information on the models and types. some firearm stores have an indoor shooting range. some will let you try different models out. Some will fit in your hand better than others. A 22caliber doesn't have the stopping power as the 38 you referenced but if you can't hit anything with it then it's doesn't matter. If it was going to be a bedside gun being shot with a 22 will get the intruders attention and make them think about the purpose of their visit. It would be better than throwing a shoe at them. I hope you find what you are looking for.

        September 6, 2023 5:09 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Len Wilensky

      Wonder why there was no mention of the Remington revolver, which many consider superior to the Colt.

      September 5, 2023 9:14 pm
      • Commenter Avatar
        Fal Phil

        Definitely an error by omission in this article. There are several features to recommend the 1875 Remington over the 1873 Colt.

        September 5, 2023 10:23 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Bill Geiger

      I am not a huge cowboy gun fan, but enjoyed the exposure to these interesting guns! I see Henry Arms recently released a 6 shooter, and it is beautiful (as are their lever action rifles). I wonder how it measures up to other wheel guns out there! It certainly wins in the "looks" dept!

      September 5, 2023 6:14 pm
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