The new Colt 1873, officially referred to by the factory as the Model P and unofficially dubbed the “Peacemaker,” was just what the U.S. Army was looking for and their first-order resulted in 8,000 of the 7-1/2″ Cavalry Models being purchased in 1874 followed by 6,400 the following year with the last order for 3,000 being in 1891. The total number of Cavalry Model Colts purchased by the United States Government was just over 37,000.
Although the original barrel length was set at 7-1/2″ in 1895, 2,000 were returned to Colt for inspection and repair. Approximately 1/4 of these were condemned and most of the rest had the barrels cut to 5-1/2″, which soon became known as the Artillery Model length. In 1901 2,600 5-1/2″ Artillery Model revolvers were inspected and repaired by Colt with 550 being shipped to the Philippines immediately. By this time someone had made the foolish decision to mothball the .45 Colt Single Action in favor of the new double-action design of the New Model Army/Navy in .38 Long Colt. When this cartridge proved entirely inadequate against the Moro tribesmen in the Philippines, the old .45 Colt was taken out of moth balls and shipped to the troops.
From 1873 to the end of production in 1940, there was a grand total of 356,629 Colt Single Actions produced. Their greatest year of production was 1902 with 18,000 units manufactured. However, by 1935 and 1936 only 100 left the factory each year. Shooters were discovering other options such as the .357 Magnum Smith & Wesson and certainly the .45 ACP 1911 Government Model. We were in the midst of a depression, the machinery was wearing out and there would soon be a great demand for wartime production. It was time to end the Colt Single Action.