What's the origin of the American cowboy tradition of pistol-caliber rifles?

Since you can milk a little more velocity from a round by using a longer barrel — was it just to avoid having to carry multiple types of ammo?

Or something else I didn’t think of?
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One Response to “What's the origin of the American cowboy tradition of pistol-caliber rifles?”

  1. John de Witt says:

    It’s a lot simpler than that: the old lever-action rifles weren’t strong enough to handle the higher pressures of the single-shot cartridges. As a matter of fact, the "pistol-caliber" cartridges like 44-40 and 38-40 were originally rifle cartridges and only later were revolvers made in those chamberings, so you have the history backwards.
    You’ll also note that there was no rifle in the 19th century chambered in 45 Colt. That’s an invention of modern CASS shooters.

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