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Monday Morning Carry – 1886 Retro EDC Loadouts

Many anti-gun elements like to point out that any type of concealed carry reform will take us back to “Wild West” days. Strangely enough, we see no problem with that. The Western frontier period of America simply wasn't all that violent, although over 100 years of Western themed movies could easily give non historians that idea.

One of our passions is collecting old west period firearms, so we thought we would take a look at what kind of personal gear a frontiersman might have rolled out with on a Monday morning.

Loadout One: God made men, Sam Colt made them equal.

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Here we have a brace of Colt Single Action Army revolvers, both chambered in 45 Colt. The knife is a Bowie made by ABS Journeyman Smith Craig Camerer with red stag handles. The small pistol is a British Bulldog chambered in .38 Smith & Wesson.

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The Colt Single Action Army Model of 1873, also known as the Peacemaker, held a special place in American history from its inception. Many shooters carried a pair as they were slow to reload and load. It had to be done one round at a time in both ways and the shooter was really only limited to five rounds despite the cylinders being capable of holding six.

Safety was the reason for this, as the firing pin was mounted on the end of the hammer and when set to rest at half cock or on the primer itself, a blow to the handgun would cause it to discharge.

Our nickel plated Colt with the pearl grips was actually made in 1903 and is in the condition it left the factory. The other “Colt” is a modern version made in the 1990s by US Fire Arms of Connecticut. The one piece ebony grips are made by Joe Perkins of Outlaw Grips of Tucson, Arizona. Now doing business as Classic Single Action. If they look familiar it's because Joe made an identical set for Russell Crowe for the movie 3:10 to Yuma.

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Why a third gun? Despite what you may hear, it was not uncommon for cowpokes and travelers to check their guns in with the Sheriff or bartender before going out on the town in some jurisdictions. These primitive gun free zones were about as safe as they are today, so a quick and clever man would stash a hideout pistol in his pocket or boot.

Loadout Two: Double action Colt

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One drawback of the .45 Colt round was that in the Old West it was only a handgun round. Ammunition could run scarce and some folks liked to carry a Winchester lever action rifle and a Colt sixgun in the same caliber. This limited the shooter to lower pressure rifle rounds like the .44 WCF (44-40) or 38 WCF (38-40). In 1878 Colt rolled out their double action Frontier model in 44-40.  The horrendous trigger pull was a by-product of the era, coil springs were not yet used by Colt in handguns, but the ability to cock and fire with a single trigger pull was appreciated by some.


The backup revolver in this case is a Merwin Hulbert Single Action pocket model that has been dated to 1881. Chambered in .37 S&W and nickel plated to last several lifetimes, these revolvers display an engineering masterpiece for the time in which they were made.


The knife is a Rifleman dagger made by ABS Journeyman Smith Rob Patton, modeled after a 17th century Scottish armpit dagger.

Loadout Three: Smith & Wesson

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Colts, both double or single action, had the drawback of being slow to unload and reload. Smith & Wesson addressed this by making top break revolvers. Push up on the latch beneath the rear sight and you could load or unload all six at once. Naturally the action was not as strong as a solid frame Colt, but the Model 3 Schofield proved to be a popular frontier piece.



Unfortunately the Model 3 is a reproduction imported by Cimarron Arms. We find it more accurate than the Colts and Cimarron ensured that the latch area was beefed up and improved to handle modern .45 Colt loads (no, not the hot ones intended for Rugers and TC Contenders) as the original Model 3 was chambered in the shorter '45 Schofield.

The rest

You may notice different colored bandanas here and there. The neckerchief was the shemagh of the 19th century. It protected the neck from sun burn, acted as a dust mask, water filter, snot rag and tourniquet depending on needs at the moment.

Holsters were uncommon on the frontier, but they could be had. Our choice for a modern reproduction are those made by Bob Mernickle of Fernley, Nevada.


In actuality, big pockets were the preferred method of carry for most people, particularly the Earp brothers.

Lastly, we didn't mean to short-dick you on the coffee cups, but that was the only period mug we had. So here is an antique coffee grinder to make up for it. This was made in 1873.


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