Colt Handguns List Explained – Colt’s Most Popular Models & Less Known Releases
When you think Colt, you think quality and reliability. Officially known as Colt’s Manufacturing Company, LLC, the company was established in 1855 in the USA. It was made by Samuel Colt, hence the name. These days, it’s owned by Colt CZ Group and operates as a subsidiary for the Czech company.
Despite the original founding date set in 1855, Colt is actually a successor of a similar company started by Samuel Colt in 1836. Overtime, the firearm manufacturer has gained notoriety for superior engineering and high quality standards, especially during the 19th century and throughout World War I.
Although often associated with the revolver concept, Samuel Colt didn’t invent it, but his work contributed to the first successful model. With these thoughts in mind, here is the Colt revolvers list, as well as a few details regarding other types of firearms.
The Colt handguns list couldn’t miss the classic percussion revolvers, some of the first firearms produced under Samuel Colt’s leadership.
- Paterson represents the first commercial firearm produced by Colt. It was made between 1836 and 1842, and it was a primary option in quite a few American wars.
- Walker is a single action unit made in about 1,000 units in 1847. It used the .44 ball ammo, but it could also shoot .457 in bullets. It was made according to Captain Samuel Hamilton Walker’s requirements.
- Dragoon came to life in 1848. The .44 caliber unit was made until 1850. It was a huge success at that time, as it was made in over 18,000 units.
- Model 1849 was designed as a pocket revolver, but other variants emerged too. One of them was made for Navy use, the other one for police officials.
- 1851 Navy was a cap and ball unit. Unlicensed copies were made in the Russian Empire too. It was produced until 1873 and used by official forces in many countries and empires back then.
- 1855 Sidehammer was also designed as a pocket revolver. Some refer to it as Root Revolver, as the name was given after Elisha K. Root.
- 1860 Army follows the same rules in terms of sizing and caliber. It was very popular among naval, cavalry, and infantry personnel. The production stopped in 1873.
- 1861 Navy relied on the .36 caliber. The single action unit was used by military forces in more countries and had a variant with full fluted cylinders.
- Model 1862 was made for the .31 caliber, but it later evolved to take .36 caliber ammo. Different variants were made as well.
Metallic cartridge revolvers
Metallic cartridge revolvers helped Colt gain international recognition, despite many of its previous models being used in other countries too.
- House used the .41 rimfire cartridge, and was made until 1876. Apart from the original gun, Colt also designed a variant known as Cloverleaf. The variant became more popular than the original. It’s one of the most popular Colt derringer models out there.
- Open Top was created as a single action pocket firearm and represented one of the first metallic cartridge revolvers from Colt. It was made in over 114,000 units.
- Model 1871–72 Open Top was based on two different patents, hence the confusion regarding its name. The .44 Henry rimfire cartridge guaranteed exquisite power for its size.
- Single Action Army was known by more names, including Peacemaker or M1873. It was the standard pistol for the U.S. Army for about two decades.
- New Line was introduced in 1873 as a single action revolver. The production lasted until 1879 and counted more variants. It’s one of the most appreciated Colt .22 revolver models.
- M1877 used three cartridges, .32 Long Colt, .38 Long Colt, and .41 Long Colt. Each variant was given a specific name, so the gun is also known as Rainmaker, Lightning, or Thunderer.
- Model 1878 Frontier was a double action unit made between 1878 and 1907. The revolver is known for the wide variety of ammo it could use.
- M1889 was introduced in 1889 and produced for a couple of decades. It gained popularity in the Navy, yet the U.S. Army has also relied on it occasionally.
- M1892 became the first double action revolver featuring a swing out cylinder implemented by military forces in the USA. It used the .38 Long Colt and .41 Long Colt cartridges.
- New Police was made as a double action revolver, but it could also be shot single action. It used the Colt .32 New Police ammo and was made until 1907.
- New Service is one of the Colt .357 revolver models with the longest production line, between 1898 and 1946. Apart from .357 Magnum, it used multiple other calibers, including .45 ACP or .38-40.
- M1905 New Marine was a .38 caliber revolver made exclusively for the U.S. Marine Corps. From many points of view, it can be considered a variant of M1892.
- M1917 was made between 1917 and 1994, representing one of the most successful models from Colt. It was used in both world wars and was chambered for .45 ACP and .45 Auto Rim.
- Anaconda couldn’t be missed from the Colt snake guns list. Colt designed more models named after snakes. This one, in particular, was made between 1990 and 2003, but the production restarted in 2021. It has quite a few variants.
- Police Positive was made for four decades until 1947. The double action revolver used more cartridges, but especially .32 Long/Short Colt, .32 Colt New Police, and .38 Colt New Police.
- Police Positive Special was a small frame unit made until 1995 in more than 750,000 units. It was specifically built for police forces and was chambered for more cartridges.
- Detective Special came to life in 1927. More series and variants came out overtime, with the last one discontinued in 1997. It was chambered for .32 New Police, .38 New Police, and .38 Special.
- Cobra is also on the Colt snake guns list and is still being made today, despite the production being discontinued between 1981 and 2017. It uses more calibers, including .22 LR and .38 Special.
- Diamondback was made for the exact same calibers. Barrel lengths varied as well, depending on the variant, 2½, 4, or 6 inches.
- Official Police was produced in more than a million units and had variants like Commando for wars, Marshal for collectors, and MK III for those who wanted modern guns.
- SF VI can be described as a modern and upgraded version of Detective Special. The frame represented the main update, as it was more ergonomic and based on stainless steel.
- Python uses the .357 Magnum caliber. It was produced in more stages, and it's still made today. Variants vary based on the barrel length. It has a maximum firing range of over 200 yards.
- Trooper runs with more calibers, including .22 Long Rifle and .357 Magnum. It was marketed to both civilians and official agencies. It was also a cheaper alternative to other firearms.
- King Cobra was initially introduced in 1986. Relying on the .357 Magnum ammo, the firearm comes in different barrel lengths, finishes, and colors.
Semi-automatic pistols helped Colt maintain its reputation at the highest standards throughout the 20th century.
- M1900 is the first semi-automatic pistol made by Colt. Featuring quite a few variants, it was produced for the .38 ACP caliber. It was used by commercial customers and official military forces.
- M1902 was actually designed by John Browning, but produced by Colt. Variants included Sporting Model and Military Model. It used the .38 ACP caliber.
- Model 1903 is a .32 ACP caliber semi-automatic pistol. Despite sharing the same name with other firearms, the pistol is not related. Its name doesn’t make sense because it does have a hammer.
- Model 1908 is a compact firearm known for its concealable profile. It was made until 1948 in over 420,000 units and chambered for .25 ACP cartridges.
- M1911 is a single-action unit relying on the .45 ACP cartridge. Millions of copies were made since 1911, and believe it or not, it's still produced today. There are more Colt 1911 models explained, especially with the wide variety of variants. The pistol has also been used in most major wars.
- M1911A1 is often considered a variant of M1911, but it came out as an improvement and a solution to a demanding market.
- 2000 is also referred to as All American 2000. Using the 9x19mm Parabellum caliber, the pistol came in more variants. The frame material was the main difference, so customers could choose polymer or aluminum.
- Cadet 22 is a .22 pistol famous for its incredible reliability. It didn’t gain as much notoriety as other pistols, despite having almost no flaws at all.
- Target Model 22 has always drawn attention with its sleek and beautiful appearance. It’s well defined, has a consistent sight picture, and a comfortable grip.
- Mustang is one of the most lightweight .380 ACP pistols out there. It has a short recoil operation and iron sights.
- Mustang Plus II can be considered a variant of Mustang. It’s part of the same series and was introduced with a longer grip frame.
- Mustang XSP is similar from many points of view. Weighing less than 12 ounces, the pistol drew attention with a new polymer frame and a slightly updated appearance.
- Delta Elite is based on the M1911, but it features a few improvements. Boosting eight round magazines, the pistol can be found with blue or stainless steel designs, among others.
- Double Eagle was made until 1997 and came as a full size pistol. However, more compact variants have also been released. It was chambered for more cartridges, including 9x19mm Parabellum or .40 S&W.
- New Agent is one of the most durable pistols out there. It came out as a concealed pistol, and impressed with its innovative design and dependable profile.
- Officer’s ACP is a single action handgun produced since 1985 and chambered for the .45 ACP cartridge. It’s also based on the classic M1911.
- Woodsman saw a few different variants overtime, as the frame changed and evolved. The last variant was discontinued in 1977. All of them used the .22 Long Rifle cartridge.
- T-4 came out as a replacement for the famous M1911, which was getting a bit outdated. It came with a few improvements that changed the game.
- Commander is a single action unit made since 1950. Variants include Lightweight, Combat, Gold Cup Colt, Combat Elite, and Concealed Carry Officer's. It's chambered for 9x19mm Parabellum, .38 Super, and .45 ACP cartridges.
- Defender features a 16 round magazine and represents one of the most comfortable and realistic designs from Colt. There are more Colt Defender models out there, and all of them are extremely simple to operate.
Colt didn’t insist too much on the machine pistol market. The American manufacturer stood out with one model only, the SCAMP.
SCAMP stands for Small Caliber Machine Pistol. It uses the .22 Scamp cartridge, 5.56x29mm. It was made between 1971 and 1992 and came as a substitution for the old fashioned M1911A1.
SCAMP offered excellent value. It was slightly heavier and bulkier, but it provided much more power. Apart from this, SCAMP was also built with accuracy in mind.
SCAMP was rejected by a few military forces that already had some reliable guns, especially in the USA. It was widely used in other countries, though.
From Colt AR models and machine guns to semi-automatic rifles and shotguns, Colt tackled this segment with a few high quality options.
- 1855 Revolving was basically a family of multiple repeating rifles. They were used by official forces in the USA and quite common in a few wars. Using cap and ball ammo, they were made between 1855 and 1864.
- 1878 Hammer was a 12 gauge double barrel shotgun, with 30 inch long barrels. It was considered one of the most powerful guns of the 19th century.
- Colt-Burgess is also referred to as the 1883 Burgess rifle. It was made between 1883 and 1885 and represented Colt’s only attempt to get on the lever action rifle market.
- M1895, or the so-called potato digger had a very unusual operation and became the first gas operated machine gun to make it big. It was based on a Browning design idea.
- Lightning Carbine was initially chambered for the .44-40 caliber. Made until 1904, the pump action rifle had a few variants, mainly differentiated by the frame size.
- Stagecoach was a .22 LR rifle that gained popularity due to its Wild West design. Despite being marketed independently, Colteer was a similar rifle that’s often considered a variant.
- ACR was aimed at the American military and tried to take over the classic M16, but the upgrades weren’t sufficient. It wasn’t a total failure though, despite not making it to the general production.
- Double was a rifle relying on the 45-70 caliber. It borrowed quite a few features from the 1868 Hammer shotgun.
- ArmaLite AR-15 brought in a few different rifles. The family covers AR-15 and M16 from Colt, as well as their variants. The design has been borrowed by more manufacturers around the world.
- Monitor is practically the classic M1918 from Browning. It was produced by Colt under a license, yet it featured no major changes.
- Thompson SMG was in the same category and only produced under a license. Colt was just one of the few manufacturers producing the submachine gun.
Colt excelled in pistols and revolvers, but the American manufacturer has also designed a few calibers, mainly for its own weapons:
- .25 ACP
- .32 ACP
- .32 Short and Long Colt
- .38 Super
- .38 ACP
- .38 Short and Long Colt
- .44 Colt
- .45 ACP
- .45 Colt
- .380 ACP
Bottom line, Colt has managed to become one of the most recognizable names on the market, mainly due to its innovation throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. Many of its firearms are still widely used today, including old models that are no longer in production.
The 2021 acquisition by a Czech company hasn’t changed much, as the mix is likely to allow cooperative development between two major companies.