Firstly a very WARM
Where the knowledge of things pertaining to the use, Performance, and History of Black Powder Percussion revolvers is Encylopedic! And the advice FREE! There is probably an accumulated several Hundred Years of total experience among the combined members, and most are friendlier than a Spotted Pup!
I, Personally, have shot only Pietta Revolvers since at least 1988, and have nothing but praise for their reliability and strength. I began with twin Eight-Inchers in 1988, and lost them during a rather messy divorce in 2003. I was out of state when the Divorce became final, and it was the only time I wished I believed in VOODOO! For I'd have made a clay figure of the Bitch, and stuck LOTS of pins in it! I now have three Sheriff's Models, and I really like the shorter barrels on them. The eight Inchers are a mite Muzzle Heavy for most people.
While I have not personally seen any originals shortened in this way, I have always had a profound respect for the ingenuity of man, and know that there MUST have been "Gentlemen Who Went In Harms Way," and thought up little dodges that would, "Give Them An Edge!"Having a slightly shorter barrelled revolver would, in my Humble Opinion, have definitely been, "An Edge!"
When Edward C Judson, (More commonly known as Ned Buntline!) presented Wyatt Earp with a 12" barrelled revolver, he gave similar guns to other noted frontiersmen. Most straightway took them to a gunsmith and shortened them to a more realistic length. I believe that Bat Masterson shortened his to 4.75", which was a length that became very popular, "Out West." Being the same length as the ejector rod housing!
The truth has been muddied considerably, firstly by Dime Novel Authors, and lastly by "Hollywierd!" The whole idea of "Fast Draw," came about in my opinion, because it was common in the journalistic Parlance of the 1860's, when writing about a Gunman of some Notoriety, to say of this person, that he was, "Quick to Shoot!" This did NOT MEAN he was fast on the draw! It meant he was a bad-tempered Son-of-a-Bitch, who was liable to resort to the use of Deadly Force, at very little provocation, especially if he had had a few drinks!!! The writers who made up the scripts for early Western "Oaters," must have thought that they would try and get some realism into their scripts, so must have thought to themselves, "Lets look up some of the Old Newspaper accounts of what these guys got up to!" They read, "Quick to shoot," and immediately translated it into, "Quick on the Draw!" We who are interested in the TRUTH of History, have suffered from this Romantic Claptrap ever since! So in case you have not guessed by now,
"THERE WAS NO SUCH THING AS, "FAST DRAW," IN THE OLD WEST!" If a man knew trouble was a-coming, he reached for a shotgun or rifle! (If he had any sense at all!) Pistols were carried because they could be carried easily, did not interfere with a man walking about his daily duties, and were mighty comforting things to have around, if the "Fecal Matter DID hit the Rotating Air Circulating Device!" Amongst Law Officers it became slightly, "Bad Manners," to deliberately "SHOW" a concealed Weapon, and advertise that you were armed. Some High Ranking Lawmen today hold to a similar view! While not a law officer any more, I still carry a pistol every day, but mine is a short-barrelled (5.5" Sheriff's Model. Remington Black Powder Revolver.) I have a load for this gun, that gets 945 fps with a .457 ball, and should I catch a person trying to kill someone, (Including myself!) I do believe that this load, taken Twixt Wind and water, would remove him from the Welfare Rolls Permanently!
I am not bloodthirsty, and honestly hope that I never have to kill another man. It can bring lots of trouble down on one. But
I don't want to cow down under the threat of some thug either! So should some person be unwise enough to threaten my well being and my life, let the chips fall where they may!
Percussion Revolvers killed very efficiently in the War of Northern Aggression, and will do so today with equal efficiency, if a
man takes the time and trouble to clean and load them with great care, and CONSISTANCY!!! They are often legal to carry with one, in many states that would forbid one to carry a cartridge gun! And a .44 caliber packs a very hearty punch, that if aimed Judiciously, will even discourage a Creature like a Mountain Lion, from chewing on your ankle! (Or somewhere else!)