Wednesday, January 2, 2013

First Western Wednesday For 2013...!

Now that the holidays are pretty much history, it's time to get back on track!

Western Wednesday has always seemed to be a popular topic for discussion, so it's appropriate to start off with it, don't you think? Besides, I think that there are a large number of us that are cowboy lovers at heart!

Jan 4, 1847: 
Colt sells his first revolvers to the U.S. government

Samuel Colt rescues the future of his faltering gun company by winning a contract to provide the U.S. government with 1,000 of his .44 caliber revolvers.

Before Colt began mass-producing his popular revolvers in 1847, handguns had not played a significant role in the history of either the American West or the nation as a whole. Expensive and inaccurate, short-barreled handguns were impractical for the majority of Americans, though a handful of elite still insisted on using dueling pistols to solve disputes in highly formalized combat. When choosing a practical weapon for self-defense and close-quarter fighting, most Americans preferred knives, and western pioneers especially favored the deadly and versatile Bowie knife.

That began to change when Samuel Colt patented his percussion-repeating revolver in 1836. The heart of Colt's invention was a mechanism that combined a single rifled barrel with a revolving chamber that held five or six shots. When the weapon was cocked for firing, the chamber revolved automatically to bring the next shot into line with the barrel.

Though still far less accurate than a well-made hunting rifle, the Colt revolver could be aimed with reasonable precision at a short distance (30 to 40 yards in the hands of an expert), because the interior bore was "rifled"--cut with a series of grooves spiraling down its length. The spiral grooves caused the slug to spin rapidly as it left the barrel, giving it gyroscopic stability. The five or six-shoot capacity also made accuracy less important, since a missed shot could quickly be followed with others.

Yet most cowboys, gamblers, and gunslingers could never have afforded such a revolver if not for the de facto subsidy the federal government provided to Colt by purchasing his revolvers in such great quantities. After the first batch of revolvers proved popular with soldiers, the federal government became one of Colt's biggest customers, providing him with the much-needed capital to improve his production facilities. With the help of Eli Whitney and other inventors, Colt developed a system of mass production and interchangeable parts for his pistols that greatly lowered their cost.

Though never cheap, by the early 1850s, Colt revolvers were inexpensive enough to be a favorite with Americans headed westward during the California Gold Rush. Between 1850 and 1860, Colt sold 170,000 of his "pocket" revolvers and 98,000 "belt" revolvers, mostly to civilians looking for a powerful and effective means of self-defense in the Wild West.

I don't think that even Colt himself would even imagine just how the Colt revolver would become, both as an everyday tool back then and as a collectors piece today! I know that I would sure like to have one!

Coffee in the kitchen again today. It's trying to rain some more and the wind is picking up again!


Phyllis (N/W Jersey) said...

Never knew Eli Whitney any anything to do with Colt. Me thinks you are going to keep my reading list VERY long this year, Mr. Hermit!
Coffee in the kitchen is fine today - its 12 outside - Brrrrr!

Randall / Tennessee said...

Mr Colt was sure a game changer for sure, great way to start the western wed Jim. Yes a whole lot of us, especially ( baby boomers ) grew up with westerns on tv and dreams of being cowboys. Received a shotgun for Christmas when I was 15. I've been a gun owner ever since. Would love to add a colt to my collection also! Happy new year all!

JMD said...

Interesting information HJ. Definitely a day for coffee inside, 23 outside right now!

commoncents said...

Happy New Year! Keep up these awesome posting Jim!!

Common Cents

linda m said...

I still love to watch Westerns. Very interesting article about Samuel Colt. I would love to own a Colt 45. Coffee inside sounds good. 12 degrees and looks like snow.

Sixbears said...

It's said that God did not make all men equal -Colt did.

JO said...

Very interesting. Its funny how not many could afford them but in all the westerns everyone had one. :)
Coffee in the kitchen sounds good to me. I have some fresh ground coffee I will bring.

HermitJim said...

Hey Phyllis...
Many folks back then shared information on mechanical development and manufacturing. Maybe they were friends or just mentors!

Either way, it seems to have worked! Makes for some interesting reading!

Thanks for coming over today!

Hey Randall...
I don't know of a single boy my age growing up that didn't have some type of gun!

Thanks for the visit today!

Hey JMD...
It's chilly here at 40! I'm not crazy about the colder weather at all!

Glad you could stop in today!

Hey Steve...
I'll certainly do my best, buddy!

Have a great day, and thanks for coming over!

Hey Linda...
A good western is still worth watching, that's for sure! Dizzy likes the westerns a lot!

Would be nice to own a Colt .45, I reckon!

With your temps, sounds like we will be staying in for sure today!

Thanks for dropping by!

Hey Sixbears...
The revolver certainly was an equalizer! The accuracy made a big difference as well!

Thanks for coming over this morning!

Hey Jo...
The big change came with the improvements in the production line! Turned them out faster and cheaper, therefore more working hands could afford them!

Thanks, sweetie, for the visit today!

Dizzy-Dick said...

Everyone should own one and carry it at all times!!!