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4,196 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Colt reintroduced the Single Action Army (SAA) revolver in 1955. It was a popular revolver, but even then, the price was high. THE AMERICAN RIFLEMAN magazine for December 1955 had an advertisement for the Colt SAA in .38 Special or .45 Colt for $125.00. Colt decided that they needed a .22 caliber single action revolver to capitalize on the interest in .22s and to compete with Ruger in the rimfire area. Thus, the Frontier Scout was created in 1957. The Frontier Scout was a little smaller that a SAA (7/8th scale) and weighed about 24 ounces. And the price was within the reach of most sportsmen, at $49.50 retail.

There were many variations of these .22 caliber single action revolvers and they are described briefly below in the order of introduction by Colt.

The Q Series “Duotone” revolvers were introduced in November of 1957 (serial number 1000Q) and were characterized by "in-the-white" aluminum alloy receivers, grip frames, ejector rod heads and loading gates, and by serial numbers that ended with the letter "Q". The cylinders, ejector rod housings, base pins, screws, triggers and barrels were made of steel and blued. Q series revolvers were produced for only about five months with the last serial number being 16520Q which was recorded in March, 1958. The Q series revolvers were offered only in .22 Long Rifle (LR) and only with 4 3/4 inch barrels. Grips (or “stocks”, if you prefer) were molded checkered black plastic with the Rampant Colt in an oval at the top. Colt called the grip material “checkered ebony composition”. The guns were shipped from the factory in two-piece cardboard boxes with a top covered in a brown wood grain paper with the Colt logo in gold. The inside of the box was lined with green paper and usually had the Colt logos in gold. Some of the very earliest boxes did not have the interior Colt logos. An instruction sheet or booklet and warranty card was always included with the revolver. Other paper items were sometimes included such as NRA membership application cards and gun care flyers. Usually a barrel cleaning brush also accompanied the revolver. The gun was wrapped in heavy brown, rust preventive paper. Serial numbers were usually marked on the outside bottom of the boxes in black marker.

F Series Frontier Scouts in Duotone finish followed the Q series revolvers. Initially, the F series had the same "in-the-white" receivers, grip frames and other parts as the Q revolvers but in September 1958 the “all-blue” model was added to the product line. The aluminum alloy parts were colored dark blue to match the steel barrel and cylinder. Along with the all-blue finish, the Buntline Scout model was introduced in 1958 with a 9 1/2 inch barrel. Plain walnut wood stocks were also introduced in 1958. The factory fitted wood stocks did not have medallions and were routed on the back (inside) to increase strength. When shipping Frontier Scouts with factory fitted wood grips, the boxes were usually marked “WS” in black on the end label and on the outside bottom of the box along with the serial number.

In 1959, the .22 Winchester Magnum Rimfire (WMR) chambering was added to the Frontier Scout and Buntline Scout lines. It is interesting to note that Colt never marked its .22 single action revolvers with “WMR” or “Winchester Magnum Rimfire”. The marking used was always “.22 Magnum”. Because of the differences between the .22 LR and .22 Magnum cartridges, barrels for the latter had to be bored to different dimensions. The barrels were not interchangeable so, in order to facilitate identification by assemblers, barrels bored for the .22 Magnum were finished with a rounded crown. The crown on the .22 LR barrels remained flat. In 1961, the Duotone finish was discontinued with about 40,000 having been produced. In the same year, a decorative scroll pattern was stamped into the bottom of the grip frame.

The guns were shipped from the factory in two-piece cardboard boxes with a top covered in a brown wood grain paper with the Colt logo in gold. The inside of the box was lined with green paper and had Colt logos in gold. Later boxes lined with black paper did not have the logo on the inside bottom. An instruction sheet or booklet and warranty card was always included with the revolver. Other paper items were sometimes included such as NRA membership application cards and gun care flyers. Usually a barrel cleaning brush also accompanied the revolver. The gun was wrapped in heavy brown, rust preventive paper. Serial numbers were usually marked on the outside bottom of the boxes in black marker. Later boxes with black bottoms had the serial number written in white marker.

In 1964 Colt introduced the “dual cylinder” Frontier Scout revolvers which were designed to fire the .22 LR or .22 Magnum cartridges by merely changing the cylinder in the gun. These guns had barrels bored for the .22 Magnum chambering and were marked “.22 CAL”. The dual cylinder guns were shipped in a special tan two-piece box with a cut-out in the bottom for the revolver and for the accessory .22 Magnum cylinder. A small label was affixed to the end of the box stating the finish (blue) and the two calibers.

Another change initiated in 1964 was the pinning of barrels into the frame. Owners of these guns had found that the steel barrels tended to unscrew from the alloy frames with extended use. Colt fixed this problem by installing a transverse pin to prevent movement of the barrel. This change was made sometime in the serial number range of 175000F to 178000F.

Wood stocks were discontinued in 1965, although a small number of Frontier Scouts were fitted with rosewood grips with gold Colt medallions in 1967. In 1969, the .22 Magnum was discontinued as a specific caliber. Dual cylinder Buntline Scouts were introduced in 1969. The dual cylinder Buntlines were shipped in the same extra long wood grain boxes as the single cylinder Buntlines but a special label which indicated the finish (blue) and the two calibers was affixed to the end of the box and “DC” (for dual cylinder) was usually marked on the outside bottom of the box.

F series revolvers were sold from 1958 until 1971 with about 246,000 produced. The highest serial number known is 245423F.

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4,196 Posts
Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
The K series Frontier Scouts were introduced in 1960 and were finished in bright nickel plating. Serial numbering started with 1K. Receivers, grip frames and loading gates were made of Zamak alloy which was considerably heavier than the previously used aluminum. Barrel lengths and chamberings were the same as the F revolvers. All K series revolvers were fitted with plain walnut grips and most were shipped from the factory with wood presentation cases lined with red fabric. The cases were marked on the outside with an impressed Colt logo in the center of the lid and were "French-fitted". This consisted of gluing a cardboard cutout of the revolver in the bottom of the case and covering it with red cloth. Usually the cloth in the inside lid was red satin with the Colt logo in gold and red velvet was used for the bottom where the gun rested.

Beginning with the K series revolvers, Colt began shipping pairs of guns with consecutive serial numbers in addition to single revolvers. Pairs were two Frontier Scouts, a combination set with one Frontier Scout and one Buntline Scout or two Buntline Scouts. Calibers were mixed as well; some pairs were both .22 LR, some were both .22 Magnum and some were one gun of each caliber. After the first year or two of production, the logistics of maintaining consecutive serial numbers in pairs of guns became too time consuming and many pairs were shipped with non-consecutive serial numbers. In most cases, special wood presentation boxes for two revolvers were used. In ten years of production (1960 to 1970) about 44,000 revolvers were produced in the K serial number series.

As in the F series, the decorative scroll pattern on the bottom of the grip frame was introduced in 1961 and in 1964 dual cylinder nickel Frontier Scouts were introduced as was the change to the pinned barrel. Dual cylinder K Frontier Scouts were usually shipped in the same box as the dual cylinder F series revolvers. The only difference was a small white end label with red printing that indicated the nickel finish and both calibers. 1968 was the last year for the .22 Magnum as a separate caliber and the dual cylinder Buntlines were first produced in 1969. The highest serial number on record is 43987K.

The P series or "Frontier Scout '62" revolvers were introduced in 1962 and featured a new "Midnight Blue" finish combined with the heavy Zamak alloy receiver and grip frame of the K series. The series started with serial number 999P. The new finish on the grip frame and receiver was apparently a painted or dipped coating that was glossy black. Unfortunately, this finish was highly variable with regards to durability. Many revolvers have survived with mint finish but others, even some unfired specimens, have suffered significant damage from minor handling. Barrel lengths and chamberings were the same as in the F and K series revolvers. Guns were fitted with synthetic grips called "Staglite" which resembled real stag horn material with silver colored Colt medallions. The early grips had a nickel-plated screw and escutcheon (size was similar to the center fire Single Action Army grip parts), while the later ones used a smaller nickel plated or blued screw and escutcheon similar to the other Frontier Scouts. The Staglite grips themselves varied also. Some had a smooth finish and were nicely contoured to the grip frame. Others, usually later examples, were darker in color, "blockier" in shape and had a rougher finish.

As in the F and K series, the dual cylinder P series Frontier Scouts were introduced in 1964 as was the change to the pinned barrel. The ’62 Scouts never had plain bottom grip frames because they were introduced after the decorative scroll was added in 1961. The last year for the .22 Magnum as a separate caliber in this series was 1967 and the dual cylinder Buntlines were first produced in 1969. The last P models were shipped in 1971 with about 67,000 having been produced.

There were many variations in the boxes for the P series revolvers. The earliest P revolvers were shipped in a red, white and black "picture" box which had six round pictures of cowboys, Indian fighters, gunslingers and others on the lid with a revolver shaped cutout in the box bottom. The later guns were generally shipped in tan cardboard boxes with revolver shaped cutouts in the box bottom and some of these had additional cutouts for the extra magnum cylinder. Early single cylinder boxes had the price ($59.50) printed directly on the paper liner. The price marking was not present in dual cylinder boxes. Except for the labeling, these boxes were very similar to those used with the F series dual cylinder guns. Dual cylinder boxes had a small white label on the end which indicated the model (’62) and the calibers. With these boxes, the serial number was not written on the outside bottom as it was with previous guns. Instead, Colt protected the box with a plain cardboard sleeve and the serial number was written on the outside of the sleeve. Unfortunately, most sleeves were discarded by the original purchasers of the revolvers, so the boxes usually cannot be matched unequivocally with the guns inside.

P series Frontier Scouts and P Buntline Scouts were shipped in regular wood grain boxes like other Colts and some were shipped with wood presentation cases. The Buntline boxes did not have a special label for the P model. The label used was the same as for the F series guns with the notation about “ebony comp. stocks” crossed out with black marker and the full serial number including the letter suffix written on the outside bottom of the box. Like the K series guns, many consecutive serial numbered sets were produced in the P series and these were usually shipped with the wood cases. One very interesting consecutive set was called the "Matched Pair" and consisted of two .22 LR Frontier Scouts in a double gun box with special graphics. This set is quite rare today. The P series revolvers were produced from 1962 until 1971 with a total of about 68,000 guns.

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4,196 Posts
Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
The G series Peacemaker .22 and New Frontier .22 revolvers were introduced in 1970 and the first production serial number was G10001. These guns were a major change in Colt's .22 single action revolver line. They more resembled the full size Single Action Army revolvers because the receivers and loading gates were made of steel and were case hardened in colors. Grip frames were made of aluminum alloy with a blue finish. The Peacemaker .22 had fixed sights like the previous Frontier Scouts, but the New Frontier .22 used a ramped front sight and the same adjustable Accro rear sight that was used on many other Colt handguns at the time. All revolvers were marked ". 22" on the barrels but were shipped either with the .22 LR cylinder alone or as combinations with .22 LR and .22 Magnum cylinders. (No .22 Magnum-only G series revolvers were produced.) Barrel lengths were initially 4 3/4 inches (later 4.4 inches), 6 inches and 7 1/2 inches (the Buntline) and muzzles were always finished with a rounded crown. The .22 Magnum cylinders provided with the dual cylinder revolvers were initially fluted like the earlier Scout cylinders, but in mid-1971 the design was changed to an unfluted Magnum cylinder. The 4 3/4 inch barreled revolvers were only made for about the first year or so of production. Then the barrels were shortened to 4.4 inches. A lot of confusion exists around the short barrel length, primarily because Colt was very inconsistent about the barrel marking on the box labels. Many 4.4 inch barreled guns were shipped with labels stating 4 3/4 inches. This problem overlapped into the later L and GS series revolvers. The Peacemaker .22 with the true 4 3/4 inch barrel has become quite a sought-after variation because of the popularity of this revolver model and the rather limited production.

A new shipping box was used for the G series guns. This was a two-piece yellow box with white bottom, which had a detailed label on one end. This box was not used for any other Colt handguns. In 1973 and 1974 these guns began to be shipped in Styrofoam boxes with wood grain outer paper shells. These were similar to the boxes used for all other Colts at the time.

Colt did not pin the barrels on the G series guns. The tight steel-on-steel fit was sufficient to prevent the barrel unscrewing problem that was experienced with the Frontier Scouts. The G series used the same one-piece grip frame as the Frontier Scouts. It is interesting to note; however, that Colt did (at least initially) take some extra care with the fitting of the grip frame to the revolver. For about the first 20,000 revolvers produced, the last three or four digits of the serial number were stamped into the grip frames on the left side near the front. Some numbers were still stamped after the first 20,000 or so, but many times the serial number of the revolver does not match the numbers stamped into the grip frames. During the 1972-75 manufacturing period, some revolvers can be found with the same two or three digit number scribed into the grip frame and grips. This practice seems to have been somewhat haphazard; however, because sometimes the numbers don’t match and sometimes only the grips are numbered.

The L series Peacemaker .22 and New Frontier .22s were a subset of the G series revolvers. They were identical in every respect to the G revolvers, except that the serial numbers began with a capital "L". L series revolvers were only produced in 1974. It is generally believed that all L revolvers were shipped as dual cylinder guns. Barrel lengths were 4.4, 6 and 7 1/2 inches. Total production of G and L series revolvers was about 190,000 and lasted from 1970 until 1977. The highest serial number on record is G199229.

Colt used a new model numbering system with the G series revolvers which was included in the information written on the box end label. It consisted of the “G” letter prefix and four digits. The first digit indicated the model (1=Peacemaker .22, 2=New Frontier .22), the second digit told the user if the gun was shipped as a single cylinder gun (2=.22 LR only) or a dual cylinder gun (4=.22 LR and .22 Magnum), the third digit represented the barrel length (4=4 3/4 or 4/4 inch, 6=6 inch and 7=7 1/2 inch). The fourth digit was always “1” for the G and L series revolvers built in the 1970’s; it indicated the blue and case colored finish.
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Production of the Peacemaker .22 revolver ceased in 1977. Production of the New Frontier.22 ceased as well, but was started up again in 1982 with the GS series at serial number G200001. These were quite similar to the earlier G series New Frontiers with the addition of a cross-bolt safety which, when activated, would prevent the hammer contacting the firing pin. The GS revolvers were only produced in .22 LR. Barrel lengths were 4.4 inches, 6 inches and 7 1/2 inches and barrels were finished with a flat crown. Initially, all production was the same blue and color case hardened finish as the earlier G series. However, in the last year or so of production the finish was changed to "Full Blue". With the Full Blue finish, the receiver and grip frame were not highly polished like the barrel and cylinder but finished in a dull dark blue or black.

The G series model number system was continued with the GS series. All the digits in the model number had the same meaning; however, in the guns finished in full blue, the fourth digit was “5”. Model numbers have also been observed with a “BL” suffix. It is believed that this was sometimes used to indicate the full blue finish. Why Colt used the “5” finish indicator with some guns and the “BL” indicator with others is unknown.

Unlike the earlier single action .22 revolvers since 1964, the GS series cylinders were not marked with the caliber and at some point, the design of the rear face of the cylinders was changed to a simpler design. Also, the decorative scroll on the bottom of the grip frame which had been used since 1961 was discontinued. One interesting variation of the GS series were the revolvers which were fitted with 4.4 inch barrels from the .22 caliber “The Duke” John Wayne commemorative guns. This barrel had a high blade front sight instead of the ramped front sight used on other New Frontier .22 revolvers. It is also important to know that all actual “Duke” commemorative .22 revolvers were built on the GS platform and had the cross bolt safety that is the defining feature of the series.

Interestingly, the 1982 factory price list had an entry for the New Frontier 22 with a Coltguard finish. However, only a few prototype revolvers with this finish are known, and it is likely that these were never actually produced for commercial sale. The GS series revolvers were shipped in white Styrofoam boxes with dark wood grain heavy paper shells (similar to the boxes used on other Colt handguns at the time). In 1986, the change was made to a maroon colored paper shell with the “150 Years of Colt Craftsmanship 1836-1986” logo. Production ceased in 1986 with approximately 19,000 revolvers having been produced.

The Colt Frontier Scout and related models offers a fertile field for the gun collector. Since they were made for a relatively limited time, it is possible for the searcher to find representative specimens of most variations. On the other hand, there are enough unusual types to keep the collector's interest up and the prices are much more moderate than the larger Single Action Army revolvers.

This article is dedicated to the memory of Don Wilkerson, whose book "The Colt Scouts, Peacemakers and New Frontiers in 22 Caliber" (Walsworth Publishing Co. 1993) is widely regarded as the foremost reference work on this subject and to Beverly Haynes, Joe Canali and Paul Szymaszek whose work at the Colt Historical Department is so necessary to collectors of Colt's firearms. The Wilkerson book is still in print and can be purchased from Carol Wilkerson at Wilkerson Family LLC (816-746-4790). The cost is $40 including shipping. Wilkerson’s book was the source for much of the information in this work.

- - - - Bruce Buckner
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