By Lars Dalseide | January 6 2014 16:44

Cutaway Colt Single Action shows you what's working inside the 1873 revolver

1873 Colt Single Action Revolver cutaway on display at the National Firearms Museum

Fairfax, Virginia - Colt's 1873 Single Action is one of the most iconic firearms of the American West. Solid, reliable, classic.

While most have eew-ed and aah-ed over the singular simplicity of the revolver, few have bothered to worry or wonder what makes it work. But if you were running the general store back in the day, you'd wonder quite a bit. That's why they came up with cutaways.

"You'll see this done on almost any gun from the 1850s up to through the 1940s," said National Firearms Museum Senior Curator Philip Schreier. "That way the salesman could show a proprietor why his gun was better than the competition's."

Down the barrel of an 1873 Colt Single Action Revolver cutaway on display at the National Firearms Museum

It started off just the same as any other gun. A little forging here, a little smithing there, and the next thing you know there's a revolver sitting in front of you. That's when the work begins.

"Just as much craftsmanship went into cutting the windows as went into making the gun," Schreier explained. "One slip and you have to start all over again."

This particular cutaway is a Colt Single Army reproduction from Val Forgett's Navy Arms. Now some may say that Val desecrated the memory of the gun by make the homage a cutaway ... they would be wrong. In fact, Val increased the value considerably.

The action of an 1873 Colt Single Action Revolver cutaway on display at the NRA Museum in Fairfax

"There are premiums attached to all cutaways," said Schreier. "Not only are they difficult to find, which increases their value, but legally they are considered non-functional firearms. That means a collector living in Washington, DC or New York City can proudly display a cutaway without fear of prosecution."

To get the rest of the story on the Colt Cutaway, check out Phil and the boys around 6:40 this afternoon during NRANews' Curator's Corner segment on Sportsman Channel.

Right side view of an 1873 Colt Single Action Revolver cutaway on display at the NRA Museum in Fairfax, Virginia

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