Colt: A Man and His GunsThe Colt six shooter will always be a legend to many fighting men.
Whether you know it as an accurate, cowboy, Texas Ranger, gun-slinging, out West,corral gun, or as a little protection, the Peacemaker by Samuel Colt and SamuelColt will never be forgotten.
Samuel Colt is known as the inventor of the first revolving firearm. Colt wasborn in 1814 to a family were money was not the pressing issue. His father ,Christopher, was a man that owned his own silk mill in the town where Colt wasborn, Hartford, Connecticut.
Colt’s mother died when he was six and his father’sbusiness started to fail. When Colt Colt was seven, he was fascinated by guns.
He took apart his father’s gun in a field and was able to successfully rebuildit. At the age of ten Colt was an apprentice in his fathers mill, mostly dyingclothes. Science, adventures of an active life, and mechanics were all thefavorite passions of young Colt.
The adventures eventually led Colt intotrouble. At the age of seventeen Colt was expelled form a preparatory school inAmherst, MA.
During the years of 1830 – 1831 Colt voyaged to India.. It was duringthese years that Colt first conceived the idea of a revolving firearm. Somethink it may have come from watching the revolving wheel of the ship, turningand locking. While on board ship, Colt must have seen other revolving firearmsin London or India. He carved a wooden model of his ideal gun while he was atsea. None of what Colt may have previously seen on revolving guns could haveled to his invention. His ideas were not copied from any source, even though therevolving idea was not unique.
When Colt arrived home from sea, he showed the wooden model to hisfather and a family friend. This friend was Henry Ellsworth, Commissioner ofthe United States Patent Office. Both Colt’s father and Mr. Ellsworth weregreatly impressed by the model. They encouraged Colt to file for a patent forhis revolving firearm. In the year 1831 Colt hired a man to create the firstworking model. In 1836 Colt began the production of the first revolver afterhis petition for the patent. Between these years Colt presented lectures onchemistry and did practical demonstrations of laughing gas.
On February of the 25, in the year 1835, the first United States patentwas granted for Colt revolver. The patent that Colt received covered eight basicfeatures. First, the application of caps at the end of the gun cylinder.
Second, the application of a partition between the caps, as well as other basicideas. The other areas of the patent cover the application of certain parts ofthe gun, the principle of locking and turning the cylinder , and all of thebasic revolver parts.
In 1848, the new pocket model revolver was introduced. Colt devised analternative means of loading the gun – removing the barrel and cylinder, andeither switching an empty cylinder for a loaded one or using the axis pin as aramrod. This gun was nicknamed the “Baby Dragoon” because it resembled thebigger Dragoon. The pocket-sized pistols had a larger span of appeal to thepublic. Even Colt Houston of Texas ordered a Baby Dragoon from his friend Colt.
In 1847 the US Army contracted Colt to build his Walker revolver formilitary use. This was the first truly practical revolving cylinder firearm.
The main feature of this firearm was a ratchet of the cylinder to revolve thecylinder. The revolving was initiated by the hammer; the motion it made wascalled “cocking” the hammer. The way that the new revolver was described asworking Appleton’s Dictionary of Mechanics was:”Colt improvements in firearms , patent 1849, consist in certain improvementsupon that construction of guns and pistols which has cylindrical revolvingbreech piece, provided with a series of parrallel chambers for containing aseries of charges, by revolution of the breech upon it’s shaft, may be broughtinto line with the bore of the barrel, and be severally discharged through thesame.”What was meant by this is that a cylinder, round piece of metal, containedseveral charges (at this time black powder is still being used), that revolvedaround a center point that aligned the charge to be able to be fired ou thebarrel of the weapon. In 1873 Colt revised the Colt revised the current designand created the Single Action Army revolver. This revolver is commonly calledthe Peacemaker. In 1896 with the advent of smokeless gun powder the SAA, or thePeacemaker, was updated and mass produced using Eli Whitney’s mass productionideas.
Houston told Colt, “(If) you have a small pistol, or will soon have onemade of choice quality, I wish you to bring it with you as I wish to purchaseone. I did not know (of them) until a few days since- I then saw one for thefirst time and was greatly pleased with it.” The type seen be Houston was anactual Baby Dragoon with a square-back trigger guard and a Texas Ranger scene onthe cylinder. This particular scene was of a Texas Ranger and an Indian in afight scene.
The Colt revolver served a great purpose for the Texas Rangers. Thispocket-sized gun could be casually carried around and easily reloaded. Thebeauty of the gun was its six consecutive shots and its precise accuracy. TheTexas Rangers and other Texas gunslingers know Colt as the “cream of the crop”in gun making, supreme revolving techniques and great precision make Colt thenumber one gun for Texans.
Bibliography:1. The Handbook of Texas, p 382The Texas Historical Association 2. Colt : An American Legend, all pagesWilson Publishing ; Robert Lawrence Wilson 3. How It Works, p 3240H.S. Stuttman Inc.
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