The Colt revolver was invented by Samuel Colt (1814-62) who was awarded a patent for the use of the revolver during firing with no reloading. Samuel Colt was born in 1814 in Hartford in Connecticut. When he visited his father’s mill in Massachusetts, he developed an interest in mechanical products and he dismantled objects such as fire-arms to understand their functioning mechanisms. The invention of the Colt revolver is attributed to the manner in which Colt was interested in the functioning of the ship’s wheel while he was working in the navy. During this period at the navy, Colt developed a six-barrel cylinder and other components that formed the Colt revolver (Edwards, 1957). Colt was the founder of the company that produced the revolver. In order to promote the production of more revolvers, he opened an armament company involved in the production of revolvers with interchangeable parts. The initial activities of the use of the Colt revolver involved the production of hand-guns belt, pocket pistols and rifles. All models involved the use of revolving cylinder that was loaded with gun powder and bullets. Primer was included on a strike plate and combustion took place by pulling the trigger and enabling the hammer to strike the plate.
Figure 1. Samuel Colt
Colt Revolver uses
The first usable colt revolver was invented in 1831 when Samuel Colt obtained a patent for the revolver in 1836 during the Texas Revolution. Thus, the revolver was also used during the revolution. Mass production of Colt revolvers first took place in 1937 at Paterson, New Jersey by a manufacturing company that was patented to produce them. The main variations of the revolver that were produced include: the 28 caliber Pocket Model, the .36 caliber Holster, and the .31 caliber Belt Model. During the Texas Revolution, the Republic of Texas was supplied with 180 pieces of .36 caliber Holster model of Colt Revolvers for use by the Navy in 1939. A number of these guns were also provided to the Texas warships and were used in the war against Mexico in the next four years (Haven, 1978). Due to the pleasure of Colt regarding the purchase of the guns by Texas government, he engraved the scene where the battle was won by the Texas Army in almost 500,000 revolvers. A number of Colt Revolvers were also used by the Texas Army during the quasimilitary expeditions. They were used during the Council of House Fight in San Antonio and during other expeditions. The revolvers were also issued to Texas rangers.
Figure 2. Colt revolver and its Components
Failure of the Colt Gun Revolver Business
Colt needed a government contract for his guns, thus he visited the office of the US secretary of war, but it was judged that the use of precision cap in the gun was highly innovative and thus unreliable. Variations in sales in the Republic of Texas and Florida did not result into revenues that could enable the success of Colt as well as creating the expected impression to the clients. Finally, the shareholders of the company took control of the patent Arms Manufacturing and Colt participated only as a sales agent (Haven & Belden, 1962). This company collapsed in 1842 and its assets and inventory were auctioned to the highest bidder. Thus, Colt focused on a different business of producing the submarine ignition battery that enabled him to produce a waterproof cable that could transmit electricity under water.
Figure 3. Internal Structure of the Colt revolver
The Need for More Guns During the US Expansion
When President James K. Polk was elected in 1995, his plans of expansion of Texas were implemented. Due to the existence of a new opportunity, a sample of the revolving holster was submitted by Colt to the US department of war. During the Mexican War in 1946, Colt visited Captain Samuel H. Walker who was the Mounted Rifleman of the United States. After collaboration between Colt and Walker on the design of new guns of improved designs, General Zachary Taylor requested for the production of 1000 colt revolvers. These guns were provided to the army in 1947. The factory that produced Colt revolvers was based in Hartford under the management of Elisha K. Root. Under the guidance of Root, The Colt Patent Fire-Arms manufacturing company mechanics continued with the practice of innovations in the production of Colt guns. In the initial periods of 1950’s the company opened a subsidiary in England and a new Hartford factory involved in the production of armament was constructed in the Connecticut River. By 1856, it was possible to produce 150 weapons on daily basis using interchangeable components. Colt revolver was now highly demanded in various parts of the world due to its quality and dependability. Since Colt was himself a masterful promoter, he positioned his firearms within the myths in America and hired artist George Catlin to design paintings that depicted Colt revolvers in use by people participating in sports and exploration in North and South America.
The Use of the Colt Revolver during the Civil War and Beyond
In the 1850s, there were increased tensions in the North and South and the American War was imminent. Colt sold a number of revolvers to Southern states. On the other hand, during the actual war in 1861, he focused exclusively to supply the Union Army with the revolvers. In addition, the popularity of his rifles was effective compared with the Connecticut Rifles, a volunteer company that operated within his home state (Hosley, 1996). The Patent Fire-Arms Manufacturing Company owned by Colt operated at full capacity and the total number of employees was estimated to be 1000 in Hartford. By that time, Samuel Colt attained high level of healthiness in the United States. The Colt Revolver continued to be used among such arms in Texas and in the West for a significant part of the 19th century. The Single Action Model of 1873 referred to as the peacemaker or six-shooter was the standard sidearm of the power military, the Texas Rangers and a number of cowboys in the plains. Due to restrictions on the use of handguns in Texas in 1880s, there was a decline in its possession. The use of the Colt revolver is attributed to be one of the factors that enabled the settlement of the Great Plains. The Cot revolver and Texas are generally associated with history, symbol of revolution and an important factor in the world wars of the 19th century.
Edwards, W. B. (1957). The Story of Colt’s Revolver: The Biography of Col. Samuel Colt (p. 187). Castle Books.
Haven, C. T. (1978). A History of the Colt Revolver. Bonanza Books.
Haven, C. T., & Belden, F. A. (1962). A History ofthe Colt Revolver.
Hosley, W. N. (1996). Colt: The Making of an American Legend. University of Massachusetts Press.