5 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Samuel Colt

On February 25, 1836, American inventor Samuel Colt patented his revolver. Many historians have said that the Colt firearm altered the course of history.  Here are 5 things you probably didn't know about the gun manufacturer and industrialist...

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A Sea Voyage Inspired the Design for the Colt Revolver In 1830, when Samuel Colt was a teenager who had been expelled from school, he took a sea voyage on a ship going to London and Calcutta, India. While onboard the ship, he became obsessed with the ship’s wheel, which he noted could be spun or locked into one position. Reportedly, this observation sparked his idea for a revolving chamber capable of holding six bullets that could lock into place. He later used this technique to create a prototype revolver gun that used a cylindrical design and could fire multiple bullets without the need to be reloaded.

The Company Grew Because of the Mexican-American War Colt found himself strapped for money after his initial gun factory failed, but interest in his revolver, which held five shots, grew once again as the Mexican-American War raged in the mid to late 1840s. American soldiers and groups such as the Texas Rangers found the weapon useful, and this increased its popularity. Captain Samuel Walker, a famed Texas Ranger who fought in the war with Mexico, collaborated with the inventor. The result of this collaboration was the Walker .44, and this gun made Colt’s name synonymous with weapons of war.

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Colt Used Assembly Lines Before Henry Ford Did In 1913, Henry Ford began using assembly lines in his factory, but Colt used them even earlier. His revolvers were mass-produced and his facility in Hartford turned out 150 guns a day. The venture was successful because the guns were constructed using interchangeable parts, which made the finished product more easily available and affordable.

Colt Was Creative at Advertising His Weapons to Increase Sales Samuel Colt realized that he would sell more guns if people knew about them, so he made every attempt to keep them in the public eye. Most people don’t realize that the famous western artist George Catlin was commissioned by Colt to include his guns in paintings, and they appear in many of them. In addition, Colt hired people to write stories and features that included his revolvers, in an early type of what's known today as "content marketing."

He Never Held a Colt .45 in His Hand He never held a Colt .45 in his hand.The Colt Single Action Army handgun, better known as the Colt .45, was not released until a decade after Colt’s death in 1862. Dubbed the “Peacemaker” and “the gun that won the West,” the Colt .45 served as the standard service revolver of the U.S. military between 1873 and 1892.