Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Mr. Colt On Western Wednesday...!

What would the west have been without a handy six shooter, one that was almost affordable?

Thanks to a young man named Colt, the "pocket Revolver" became a very sought after tool for many in the frontier. It is still much sought after by gun collectors today.

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.

Guess a lot of cowboys owe a debt of thanks to the government for financing young Mr. Colt in the development of his early handguns. Like I said earlier, this became a very handy tool indeed!

Coffee in the kitchen this morning. Still a tad cool outside.


Chickenmom said...

Hubby just loves your Western Wednesday Mr. Hermit! 35 here and foggy, but looks like the sun may pop out soon!

linda m said...

Great story today. And thank you Mr. Colt for inventing a handy "tool". 24 and clear here after over two weeks of dreary weather. supposed to see the sun today. Yay!

JO said...

Colt made quite a name for himself and living.

Raining here I think for the next 3 days. See you all in the kitchen.

HermitJim said...

Hey Phyllis...
I'm happy that the hubby likes the western stories. Some of them are fun, for sure!

Thanks for coming over today!

Hey Linda M...
Some tools were more useful than others, I reckon. Life savers in some cases!

Thanks for dropping by today!

Hey Jo...
He was a fairly young man when he did it, also. Outstanding inventor.

Thanks, sweetie, for coming over today!

Dizzy-Dick said...

I, too, really like your old western blog postings. I still watch the old black and white cowboy shows on the Western Channel.

Rob said...

Sometime back I read a piece on Colt and the quote "God made man, but Samuel Colt made them equal".

With Mr Colt's pistol a 98 pound woman would have the means to defend herself from a much larger man was the example used.

It's wet & cool here in western WA state..