Traditions Frontier 45 Colt Single Action Sixgun

by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & Boge Quinn

July 4th, 2013


Click pictures for a larger version.







The Frontier uses a transfer bar ignition system, to prevent firing if dropped with a loaded chamber under the hammer.





Walnut grip is expertly-fitted to the backstrap and trigger guard.





Traditions Performance Firearms in Old Saybrook, Connecticut has been importing quality replica firearms for many years, as well as offering a wide variety of traditional and modern muzzleloaders. Traditions firearms offer a lot of value for the money spent, and one of their better products is the replica 1873 Colt Single Action Army style sixgun featured here. Traditions has two grades of their Single Action cartridge revolvers; the lower-priced Rawhide, which wears a matte-blued finish, and the higher-grade Frontier shown here. Both revolvers load from the traditional half-cock hammer position, but have transfer bar internal ignition systems for safety. The difference between the Rawhide and the Frontier is in the quality of the fit and finish, with the Frontier offered in polished nickel, or the beautifully-finished casehardened and polished blue featured here.

Traditions Frontier revolvers are built by Pietta in Italy. Traditions offers four chamberings in the Frontier: 357 Magnum, 44 Magnum, 44 WCF (44-40) or 45 Colt, in either four and three-quarters, five and one-half, or seven and one-half inch barrel lengths. The sample that I have here is chambered for the 45 Colt cartridge, and wears a four and three-quarters inch barrel. Weighing in at 34.4 ounces unloaded, the Frontier balances beautifully, as expected. The bluing is a deep blue-black with a flawless polish, and the casehardening colors are as good as any I have seen on any brand of sixgun, regardless of price. The size of the Frontier 45 replicates the dimensions of the genuine Colt SAA, and it loads in the traditional manner. I like that Traditions has the hammer casehardened, as this adds a nice touch, and looks much better than do revolvers with a blued or polished white hammer on a casehardened sixgun. The sights are a traditional rounded blade front, with a square-notch rear, and offer a good sight picture. The front of the cylinder is radiused, which is also a nice touch, and makes re-holstering the weapon smoother and easier. The satin-finished walnut stocks are of the screwless one-piece design, and are fitted perfectly to the backstrap and trigger guard. It is obvious that Pietta takes some time in fitting the grips, as there are sixguns on the market that cost a lot more than this Frontier that are not fitted nearly as well.

The quality of the fit and finish on the Frontier is not only on the outside, but internal as well. The action is extremely smooth, and the effort to cock the hammer is light, compared to many single action revolvers. The Frontier uses a lightened hammer spring, reduced in width compared to a standard SAA hammer spring. The trigger pull on the Frontier shown here measured just two and one-quarter pounds resistance, with only a slight amount of creep before the release. The barrel/cylinder gap measured between four and five one-thousandths of an inch, depending upon the position of the cylinder in its revolution. The transfer bar ignition system allows the sixgun to be carried fully-loaded, using all six chambers. The Frontier cannot fire if dropped on its hammer, as can a traditional Single Action Army style revolver that has a loaded chamber under the hammer. The chamber throats are sized perfectly, to snugly hold a .452 diameter bullet.

Along with the Frontier revolver, I ordered a dandy belt/holster rig from Galco. The rig shown is their 1880s cross draw holster and 1880s cartridge belt. The belt is rough-side-out, and is flexible, as a good belt should be for comfort. The holster is beautifully finished tan, and is of classic design with no frills, but of top quality construction.  The belt is three inches wide, with the cartridge loops centered, to allow the use of a holster on either side, or both sides, as desired.

The Traditions Frontier would be a dandy choice for those who compete in Cowboy Action Shooting, but it is also a good choice for hunting or just plain fun. Many shooters, including myself, enjoy the classic simplicity of a single action revolver, as well as the historical connection to the revolvers used in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in the US.  Having the look and feel of the classic Colt Single Action Army, but at a cost that is less than half the price of the Colt, the Frontier is a good substitute for the real thing. The quality of fit and finish rivals guns that cost three times its price, and it also shoots as well as the higher-priced sixguns. Firing the Frontier hand-held resting upon a Target Shooting, Inc. handgun rest, the Frontier grouped very well using Buffalo Bore standard-pressure cast lead semi-wadcutter ammunition. This is not the sissy loads that many companies make for Cowboy Action competition, but this Buffalo Bore ammo is loaded to serious working velocities, yet is safe to use in any modern 45 Colt revolver that is in good condition.  The 255 grain Keith style bullets clocked an average of 924.5 feet-per-second ten feet from the muzzle of this short-barreled Frontier, yet the cases fall easily from the chambers. This would be an excellent load for whitetail deer or hogs, and would also be a good choice for social work. This Buffalo Bore load will group into two inches at twenty-five yards, as did a couple of different cast bullet handloads. Everything tried grouped between one and three-quarters and three and one-half inches for five shots at twenty-five yards from this Frontier. Timing and lockup was precise, and the sixgun functioned perfectly. As of the date of this review, the manufacturer’s suggested retail price on this Traditions Frontier sixgun is $515 US.

Check out the complete line of firearms and accessories online at

For the location of a Traditions dealer near you, click on the DEALER FINDER at

To order the Frontier online, go to

To order quality 45 Colt ammunition, go to,,, and

For a look at the extensive line of quality Galco leather, go to

Jeff Quinn

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Click pictures for a larger version.







Galco 1880 holster & belt rig.





Chamber throats are sized perfectly, and snugly hold a .452 inch diameter bullet.