By Luis Valdes

When folks think of the Wild West, Cowboys, and Six-Shooter. Most folks think of the. 45 Colt Single Action Army. Yet one of the most popular rounds back then was the .44 WCF (.44-40) and more Six-Shooters from Colt, Smith & Wesson, Merwin & Hulbert, and Remington were chambered in that cartridge and sold on the civilian market.

Why? Simple!

The Winchester 1873 and later the Winchester 1892 along with the Marlin 1894 wetr all chambered in the .44 WCF. .45 Colt back then wasn’t chambered in lever actions. That didn’t happen until long after the Wild West became the Settled West and Hollywood started to make Westerns on the Backlots of their Studios.

As WWII ended and the Westerns began, production and popularity of the .44 WCF started to wane in popularity while the .45 Colt started to gain popularity.

So much so, that because of Ruger and their massively strong wheel guns, that the. 45 Colt was given new life as a quasi Magnum load.

But we’re not talking about the Ruger. Oh no, we’re talking about Big Blue and their two N-Frames chambered in these timeless cowboy cartridges.

S&W chambered two commemorative anniversary models in these old-school bronco busters.

The six-inch barreled Model 25-3 celebrating Big Blue’s 125h Anniversary and chambered in .45 Colt. The other is a five-inch Model 544 and it was made to commemorate the Texas Wagon Train that went around to the Lone Stat State to celebrate their 150th Anniversary.

The Model 25 is a pre-1982 production gun, it came from the factory with a pinned barrel.

The Model 544 was a post-1982 production gun. So, no pinned barrel.

Now, these are limited commemoratives that should live in their fancy felt lined boxes. Well, they don’t, not with me. Guns are meant to be well maintained and cared for. But they’re made to be shot, and shoot then I do. You can see the drag line on the cylinders.

The six-inch is a fun hog gun and the five-incher is a mighty fine open carry or home defense piece.

Both rounds aren’t slouches. A 225gr lead slug is no laughing matter and neither is a 250gr one either. Sure, neither are on the same level as the .44 Magnum, but honestly. That’s a good thing.

These are soft shooting N-Frames and allow the recoil adverse to get the benefits of a full-bore DA revolver. Both can even be fed by HKS speed loaders.

The .45 Colt in its original black powder loads saw action all over the Wild West, Cuba, and the Philippines. The .44 WCF also had a long history too. Serving a long career with the Spanish Guardia Civil with their Winchester 1892 clones, the Tigre in .44 Largo.

So, out of the two, which would you take?


  1. Difficult choice, but I’d have to give the nod to the pinned barrel with such heavy slugs. I own a 625 in .45 Colt, and it is my go-to sidearm when I’m in the mountains.


  2. Wild, wild west says:

    The 25.


  3. D.E. Watters says:

    The downside to the Model 25-3 and its fancier fraternal twin, the 25-4, is that a bunch of them shipped with oversized chamber throats. They also have shorter cylinders than the later production model, the 25-5. This limits the overall length of the ammunition which can be used. Some folks capitalized on this by having a 25-2 cylinder fitted to their 25-3 so they could swap cylinders and use either .45 Colt or .45 Auto at their whimsy.


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