The Guns of Alan Harton's Single Action Service



by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & Fermin Garza

June 18th, 2007





There are many who hang out the shingle: "Gunsmith", but few who actually live up to the title. To me, a gunsmith is not the fellow at the local gun shop who can mount a scope and clean a rifle, but a true gunsmith is a combination of machinist, metallurgist, artist, mechanic, and welder, with perhaps a bit of magician thrown in. There are few who can be counted among the best, but recently I was introduced to the work of Alan Harton of Single Action Service in Houston, Texas, and he certainly qualifies.

Having never met Mr. Harton, I had seen some of his work briefly before, but had never been able to closely examine any of his revolvers. A couple of weeks ago, I was talking with a good friend of mine and fellow Shootist, Fermin Garza, while at the Shootists Holiday at the NRA Whittington Center near Raton, New Mexico. Fermin asked if I wanted to see some nice custom single action revolvers, knowing full well what my answer would be.

One at a time, he would extract a padded case with another custom Ruger from his pickup, laying it on a table in front of me. The guns exhibited many custom features such as beveled cylinders, barrel bands, custom sights, re-contoured top straps, big bore five-shot cylinders, etc., but the high quality of the work is what really impressed me the most. There is just something about a custom single action that is done right; subtle differences that are hard to explain with words, but are readily apparent to someone who has seen, handled, and shot a lot of custom revolvers. I have seen many customs that had all the features; cool sights, five-shot cylinders, and everything else, but they just weren't "right". The features on Harton's guns flowed together, instead of  being merely an assemblage of parts.  The lines were right, the dimensions right, the proportions right, and the feel right.

One very impressive gun was a Colt Single Action Army that Fermin dragged out of a pistol rug. It was a beautiful seven and one-half inch sixgun that appeared perfect in every way. Then he showed to me the "before" picture. That old Colt had been blown apart at some time, and Alan Harton meticulously rebuilt the thing, starting with only half a frame. The pictures do more to detail that Colt that I could ever describe. In fact, all of the guns that I examined are better detailed in the pictures. Enjoy!

One gun that Alan Harton builds that I did not get to see, but heard about, is a six-shot .32-20 conversion on a Ruger Single Six frame. I can't wait to try that one at the range! Look for a review here later.

If you like what you see here, give Alan Harton a call. His turn-around time is relatively quick, and his prices are reasonable. Contact him by telephone at:  713-772-8314 or 713-907-6031.

You can email Mr. Harton at:

Jeff Quinn


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Starting with a blown-up frame, Alan exquisitely re-built this Colt.
















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