When it comes to firearms there’s no name more recognizable than Colt. No other brand of firearms has had such a significant impact on both history and the development of modern firearms. There’s a popular post-Civil War saying: ‘Abe Lincoln may have freed all men, but Sam Colt made them equal.’ It was the invention of the revolver in 1836 that brought fame and fortune to industrialist and inventor Samuel Colt. However, his impact on history goes far beyond the revolver. Here we’ll look at how Samuel Colt and the revolver made men equal and forever changed the world.
Samuel Colt’s legacy starts with a patent for a revolving barrel firearm in 1836. The idea is said to have come to him while working as a seaman where he carved out a prototype model from wood. The same year, 1836, he opened the first factory in New Jersey at the age of 22 with the help of a prominent businessman family member. Initially, despite good performance, sales were sluggish and didn’t really pick up until the 1850’s. In 1851 Samuel Colt became the first American to open up a factory in England and extend his reach into an international market. Furthermore, he adopted a number of England’s precision machinery tools to help perfect and create perfectly uniform firearms heralded for their reliability.
War and the American West
For anyone in the firearm business war will always bring business. Already a prominent and successful businessman the Civil War in the mid 19th century continued to boost his sales despite his waning health. Samuel Colt is reported to have sold to both sides until war was actually declared at which time he only supplied Union forces. After his death in 1862, at the age of 47, control of the company went to Mrs. Elizabeth Colt and her family. This proved to be no hamper to the continual growth of Sam Colt’s business as it seemed to flourish in the coming decades to ultimately reach the iconic symbol of the American West. Personal firearms and pistols became the law in the lawless west and Sam Colt’s company was at the forefront with a strong reputation and a capability of mass producing well crafted firearms.
Modern Colt Firearms
Colt continues to this day to make firearms and has a history of supplying American forces with weapons for every major war during the 20th century. The Colt company is even responsible for for the M15 (though they didn’t invent the AR15 it is based on) which has become synonymous with modern warfare and especially the war in Vietnam. Though there have been some financial problems in the later part of the company’s history they are still manufacturing quality firearms to this day and still might even be in the process of changing the future of the world.