August 24, 2022
By Bob Campbell
When it comes to collector firearms, quantity and quality mean a great deal. Some handguns made in huge quantities are immensely popular with collectors. A few real rarities are less popular. The Colt Peacekeeper is among these.
A play on the famous Peacemaker name, the Peacekeeper is a variant of the Colt Trooper and Colt MK V. There’s some conflicting information on the gun’s origins. Some point to the 1987 Colt workers’ strike as the birth of the Peacekeeper. Experienced polishers and refinishers were not available, so Colt turned to the matte-finished Peacekeeper. The other theory is that Colt could not compete with Smith & Wesson and Ruger on price, and it offered these revolvers as budget guns. Either theory makes sense, and each is possibly true. Regardless, the budget-grade Colts were not well received, and the Peacekeeper is among the least attractive Colt revolvers ever offered.
Like I said, Peacekeeper was a Colt Trooper with a simple bead-blasted finish. The grips are Pachmayr rubber that cover the backstrap and feature the Colt emblem. The revolver was offered with four- and six-inch barrel lengths. The six-inch barrel seems more common. The Colt Peacekeeper is relatively affordable as out-of-production Colt revolvers go. The Mark V action itself is durable, and the Colt Peacekeeper is among the better performers in double-action fire among Colts of the era. Accuracy is comparable to the Smith & Wesson 686 or Ruger GP100.
I mentioned the Peacemaker was based on the Mark V action. The backstory to this action begins at the end of World War II. At this time, Smith & Wesson’s short action and affordability were powerful advantages as that company introduced redesigned and improved guns. Colt revolvers were based on more complicated designs and were deemed accurate but overall less durable than Smith & Wesson. In the end, S&W captured more than three-quarters of the police market; the civilian market was similar.
In 1969 Colt introduced the Mark III revolver. This was a more affordable revolver with a new design transfer-bar lock work. The revolver was designed to restore parity with Smith & Wesson, but it was still more expensive. The new revolver was completely different from the older Official Police, and both fixed-sight Lawman and adjustable-sight Trooper versions were offered. But the design was criticized for its action and its use of sintered parts, which didn’t bode well for a gun at its price point.
About 1986 Colt introduced the improved Mark V action. This revolver changed the sintered steel hammer and other parts to cast steel—still not forged parts but an improvement. Considerable development went into what was regarded as Colt’s first short-action revolver, and the Mk V is an improvement in every way over the Mk III. Relocated internal parts and a shorter hammer fall made for a more accurate revolver. A vent rib was added to resemble the Python. The square butt grip frame was changed to a more rounded profile.
There are a lot of what-ifs concerning the MK V series. Had it been introduced a few years earlier, Colt may have regained market share. However, the Peacekeeper and the other cut-rate-finished Colt revolvers were not successful, and neither are they at the top of the list among collectors. But if you find an example at a fair price—around $1,000—it is actually a great handgun. Otherwise the Peacekeeper is merely a footnote in Colt history.