Over and over again, on various online forums, social media platforms, and in the local gun shops. We hear people constantly say, “If company X made product Y, I’d buy it!”
Right now, I constantly hear that in regard to Smith & Wesson and their M&P Series. Folks are harping about how Big Blue should make a 10mm M&P. They all claim it’d sell like hotcakes and they’d buy one in a minute.
Well, the truth is, that’s hardly ever really the case. Colt in the 1990s is a prime example of that.
Cowboy Action Shooting was really starting to explode in the mid 1990s and Colt was producing their ever-classic Single Action Army. But shooters wanting to get into the game constantly complained about the price of the Colt SAAs along with their delicate lockwork.
These people continually harped to Colt’s customer service department, repeating the same message; “Why don’t you guys make a gun like the Ruger Vaquero? It’s more affordable and more reliable!”
So Colt, which wasn’t doing well financially at the time, gave in to what the consumers demanded. They made a Ruger Vaquero clone.
In 1998, they released the Colt Cowboy. It was a modern production revolver that had all the same features as the Ruger including different and stronger lock work, a transfer bar safety, investment cast receiver instead of the forged frame from the past and more.
As you can see in photos from Colt’s original press release, the Cowboy has a frame mounted firing pin, transfer bar safety, and different lock work to move the cylinder.
The gun was priced to be competitive with the Ruger Vaquero, too.
It was exactly what the consumer asked for. A Colt-made clone of the Vaquero with all of the Vaquero’s features, but a revolver that said “Colt” and featured the prancing pony.
It was also a dismal failure in the market.
All of the people who swore they’d buy one never did. The gun languished on store shelves and finally, in 2003, Colt took that pony to the back pasture and put it out of its misery.
There was nothing particularly wrong with the Colt Cowboy. It was in every sense, a better revolver than the original Single Action Army. It was better built, had better lock work, and was more affordable. Plus, you could safely carry six rounds in the cylinder and and not have to worry about a negligent discharge if the revolver was dropped.
Yet all of those people who complained that the SAA was too expensive complained that the Cowboy “wasn’t a real Colt.” The common gripe I hear with anything that isn’t a “true” Colt or a Colt clone (like the Uberti guns) is that they don’t have the four clicks from when the hammer is cocked. Folks claim that the four clicks spell out “C-O-L-T” and that’s how you know you have yourself a real Colt.
Those people complained that Rugers weren’t legit since they didn’t have the four clicks and the Cowboy was a fraud, too since it only had three.
The Cowboy was, in every sense, a real Colt. And it was a good revolver. The problem was that Colt listened to the consumer and the consumer is a fickle beast.
Sometimes, the consumer isn’t right. The hard part is knowing when.