Gun History: Colt Firearms

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.

The Beginning

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.

Custom Ammunition

True marksmanship is a rare thing. It’s the impossible drive for perfection where millimeters can matter. A marksman should have an intimate relationship with his firearm but also an unwavering confidence in his ammunition. Custom ammunition is quickly becoming popular for serious hunters and marksmen for its unwavering consistency and quality assurance. The fact that it can be custom built to your specific needs gives you a lot of versatility and the ability to craft your own perfect bullet. Here we’ll look a bit more at what sets apart custom ammunition from its factory counterpart and if it may make a nice addition to your arsenal.

What Do You Get?

When you purchase custom ammunition you get a lot more than a hefty price tag. Most companies offering custom ammunition do so for a certain clientele that expects the best available with quality assurance and customer service with it. These are companies looking to build a rapport and often willing to have an open dialogue to help you find the right ammunition for your needs. So, what do you get? Exactly what you want. It’s not uncommon for the conversation to start with what kind of gun you are using, what game you are hunting, and what you want and expect from your ammunition.

Some examples of what a company will do with your custom ammunition include: individually check each casing for correct size, powder charges meticulously weighed, finished rounds are visually inspected and polished, hand packaged with performance data labeled, ammunition boxes personally labeled, and hand loaded magazines. These are just a few examples of the lengths some companies will go to ensure your satisfaction with their custom ammunition.

If you are interested, most companies are also willing to send out sample packs that you can test out and see if you find something to your satisfaction.

Does Ammunition Really Matter?

This really depends who you ask. Serious hunters will swear by their preferred brand. Others might not care too much. It depends how much accuracy and reliability really matters to you. This isn’t to say that factory ammunition is bad. In fact, factory ammunition is the best it has ever been but there is always room for improvement and mass produced ammunition will never have the same quality assurance as custom ammunition. When a single shot can really matter there’s no reason not to make sure you have the best possible ammunition available.

A Parent’s Guide to Gun Safety

When both guns and children reside in the same household it comes down to the parent to responsibly manage both. Parents play a very critical role in developing safe practices and are responsible for the safety and wellbeing of their children. Education is key but also preparation and proper firearm management methods. Think of it as a multi-tiered plan for the safety of your children: education and preparation. This means that your firearm should be safely secured but your child should also be educated in the off-chance they do encounter a gun. Here we’ll look at some of the basics of child safety as well as parental responsibility when it comes to firearm ownership.

Safety

When it comes to home gun safety and children the best and always most encouraged solution is going to be to lock up your gun in a safe. There has never been an instance of a child cracking a gun safe and then harming themselves or another. All instances of gun related injuries and children begin with the child having easy access to the firearm. Cable locks are another great option if you don’t have a gun safe. Just make sure that it is not operational when you aren’t using it.

Education

The second step for gun safety and children is education. Children are curious and will more actively seek out things that they don’t understand. Take some time to sit down and talk with them about what gun is, how it works, and what it means when you shoot someone. This is important so that guns won’t be a mysterious and intriguing object for children. Of course its up to your discretion when you want to have this talk and if you want to teach them how a firearm works. Regardless though, education is a very important part of firearm safety.

One great place to begin is with the 12 golden rules of gun safety. These are fundamental in safely operating a firearm and would be effective in helping children to understand both the danger and power of guns.

Locking Gun Racks

Locking gun racks provide a unique in between solution for gun storage. While it’s not quite as secure as a safe it is better than nothing (or a non-locking gun rack) when it comes to safety. There are a number of interesting methods and varieties for different numbers of guns as well as varying levels of security. There’s even wall mounted locking pistol racks available. Here we’ll look at some of the basic pros and cons of locking gun racks and

How Do They Work?

Most locking gun racks commercially available are actually simple modifications on the standard gun rack. Usually there is a metal bar that passes through the trigger guard which is secured with a padlock. There are different versions available for both long guns and pistols.

Pros

Locking gun racks are a nice in between solution for gun owners that want security but may not have the budget for a gun cabinet. Locking gun racks are usually not as pricey as a gun safe and offer a reasonable degree of security at the same time. Another perk is if you want to show off your guns but still require some degree of safety. While it won’t look as good as a non-locking gun rack the guns will not be readily accessible by children of burglars. Additionally, this is a nice semi-mobile solution for gun storage as opposed to a full gun cabinet which can weigh thousands of pounds. While these are typically wall mounted they are a lot easier to pick up and move if need be.

Cons

The security of a locking gun rack is nowhere near that of a high quality gun cabinet. Experienced burglars will be able to access your firearms in a much shorter amount of time when compared to a gun safe. That said, it’s much better than nothing. Most locking gun racks are secured with a simple metal bar and a padlock. Another downside is that for long term storage it is more difficult to control the humidity and temperature than inside a safe. Depending on where you live this may not be a problem but it is worth c

Long Distance Marksmanship

When it comes to long range shooting accuracy there are a lot of small factors that can have a big impact on your accuracy and the success of your shot. You might even need to tap into those high school physics classes you slept through and crunch some numbers if you really want to make a long shot. World class snipers are known for a keen attention to detail among other things that makes it possible to hit a target over a mile away. How does one go about making the necessary measurements and calculations to make such difficult shots? It’s important to first recognize what factors will change your bullet’s trajectory and then understand how to change your aim to compensate. Here we’ll look at some of the different factors that come into play when shooting long distances and how you can learn to calculate your own shots.

Wind

When it comes to wind it’s important to recognize when it will be a problematic factor for making a long shot. Typically, when wind is steady it can be easily calculated and won’t be a huge issue for an experienced marksman. However, gusty and unpredictable winds can make even the most professional snipers lose their accuracy. Now, imagine a target 1,000 yards away with a windspeed of 5 m.p.h. moving perfectly perpendicular to the target. How much will this cause your bullet to drift? Assuming a caliber between .45 and .90 with a velocity of 1,300 feet per second the bullet will drift a full 75 inches. Each additional mile per hour increase in wind speed will add another 15 inches of drift. Of course this is a textbook example but the basic idea remains the same for real life conditions. With some basic math and geometry you can get a general idea for how much the wind will impact your bullet’s trajectory in a real life scenario.

Temperature

This is one factor that might often be overlooked by amateur marksmen. In general warm air is less dense than cool air and will experience less of an elevation drop and will even retain more of its kinetic energy upon arrival at the target. Using the same scenario as before with a target 1,000 yards away we can get a general idea of just how much the air temperature will impact the accuracy of a long range shot. Again, using a bullet caliber between .45 and .90 and a velocity of 1,300 feet per second a bullet will drop 1,700 inches at a temperature of 40 F, 1,650 inches at a temperature of 60 F, and 1,600 inches at a temperature of 80 F. This works out to an decreased drop of 50 inches per 20 degrees Fahrenheit over 1,000 yards. In terms of impact energy every increase in temperature by 20 degrees yields about an extra 40 joules. Additional temperature factors include the temperature of the barrel, the shooter, and the ammunition though these get a bit more complicated and much more difficult to calculate.

Humidity

This is one factor that is actual less important that you might think. The general reasoning is that humid air is going to be more dense because it is holding more water however this is not the case. In fact, humid air is less dense than dry air. Here we’ll look at the same scenario before and we can see just how much humidity will impact a long shot’s accuracy. The difference of elevation drop between 100% and 0% humidity (over 1,000 yards with a bullet velocity of 1,300 ft/s) is only 5 inches. Compare this to a 20 degree change in temperature that causes an elevation drop difference of 50 inches and you can see how minimal of an impact humidity actually has.

Elevation

Lastly, another important factor is the elevation or barometric pressure of where you are making your shot. This can have a significant impact on your accuracy for the same reason that temperature does: air density. Assuming the same conditions as the rest of our examples a bullet at sea level will drop ~1,670 inches while one at 2,500 feet will drop ~1,640 inches and one at 5,000 feet will drop ~1,610 inches. As you can see and might have expected by now the increase in elevation means the air is less dense which causes the bullet to retain more energy and decrease its drop in elevation.

Gun Locks

When it comes to securing a firearm there are a ton of great options available aside from the often immovable gun safes. Gun locks are a great alternative when you need a more mobile security solution or something that will fit a more conservative budget. While it’s certainly no replacement for a safe it does make for some nice supplemental firearm security. The basic idea is quite simple: prevent the gun from firing so long as the lock is secured. Seems simple enough, right? It is. However, there are also a lot of different varieties available with different perks and drawbacks that could make a difference. Here we’ll look at how different gun locks operate and what to look for if interested in purchasing a gun lock.

Trigger Locks

This is perhaps the most controversial gun lock available that recently gained publicity through the supreme court case D.C. vs Heller in 2008. The basic gist of it is a small locking mechanism that is placed over the trigger of a gun that prevents the trigger from being activated. In theory it’s a great idea with a low impact and great potential to make firearms safer but there is one worrisome caveat. Trigger locks are notorious for being used improperly and resulting is dangerous misfires. Imagine a loaded revolver with a trigger lock and a cocked hammer. You can’t lower the hammer without access to the trigger nor can you open the cylinder with the cocked hammer which leaves you in a precarious situation having to remove a trigger lock very carefully on an armed weapon. Hopefully the trigger lock design will be amended in the future but for now there are a number of safer alternatives available for securing a firearm.

Cable Locks

With the black sheep of gun locks out of the way it’s time to move onto the more trusted designs available for safely securing a firearm. The tried and tested method and almost ubiquitously endorsed method for securing a firearm is the cable lock. The great part about this is that it’s not even a special ‘gun specific’ design but rather just a clever method for rendering a firearm inoperable with a basic cable lock. So, how does it work? A cable lock is simply a braided metal cable that is secured with a padlock or combination lock that is threaded through the ejection port and out the magazine port of semi-automatic pistols. This means that the firearm cannot return to battery nor have an inserted magazine. A cable lock can even be used on a revolver to prevent the cylinder from closing or on rifles with some clever attachment.

Bore Locks

This is another interesting approach to securing a firearm with a simple locking mechanism that is inserted into the bore of the firearm. These are basically long slender pieces of metal that are inserted through the bore of a pistol that prevent the chamber from being loaded as well as prevent the cylinder from rotating in the case of revolvers. These are typically equipped with a key for locking purposes. In general the biggest perks of having a bore lock is it is the quickest way to go from inoperable to operable while still maintaining a high level of security when locked.

How to Disable a Firearm

While earlier we looked at a number of different gun locks available there are also a lot of different methods for rendering a firearm inoperable without a lock. Knowing how to disable a firearm temporarily is a very important skill and will make you a more knowledgeable and safer firearm owner. Additionally, there are some interesting methods for permanently rendering a firearm inoperable (deactivating) that may come in handy under certain circumstances. Here we’ll look at different ways to safely and effectively disable a firearm. This is a fundamental skill when it comes to firearm safety and something every firearm owner should at least have some rudimentary knowledge about.

Permanent Inoperability

There’s a big difference in methods when it comes to rendering a gun inoperable temporarily compared to permanently. Permanently rendering a firearm inoperable is typically a good solution when you want to display a firearm or you plan on regularly using it for safety demonstrations. There are a few different methods for permanently rendering a firearm inoperable that we’ll look at here. Firstly and probably the most common method is removing the firing pin (the part of the firearm that transfers contact from the hammer to the live round) and welding the hold closes. This method is viable for most guns. If the firing pin cannot be removed it can be ground down or cut so that it cannot make contact with the ammunition chamber. Another option to permanently render a firearm inoperable is to prevent a round from being chambered by welding a small steel bar in or across the ammunition chamber. This is a slightly less eloquent solution but equally effective in rendering a firearm permanently inoperable.

Temporary Inoperability

One method that is very popular for temporarily rendering a firearm inoperable is the use of gun locks. There are a lot of different types of locks available that are all very effective in making sure your firearm won’t be able to discharge live ammunition while locked. In general for a firearm lock to be legally recognized as temporarily inoperable the key needs to be stored separately from the firearm. Another very simple method is to remove any and all ammunition and store it separately. Lastly, there are a number of crucial parts on any firearm that can be removed to temporarily render it inoperable. This includes: the firing pin, the breech block, or the bolt among others. If you have any experience field stripping a weapon this should be a relatively easy task.

Biometric Finger Scanners

Biometric locking mechanisms are quickly becoming a favorite for gun and gun safe owners. There are numerous perks to this kind of locking mechanism that really outshine the competition for your home gun safe. The main perk is the quick and easy access that can be granted with a fingerprint scanning lock. This kind of locking mechanism is best suited for gun owners that keep their firearm in a safe for purposes of home security. Biometric locking mechanisms can be outfitted on any kind of safe; and are even in recent years being used for laptop computers and automobiles.

Imagine the scenario of a home intruder late at night in your suburban home and in your moment of panic you cannot properly enter your combination safe in a timely manner or you fumble with your digital keypad and the automatic lock down goes into effect. With a biometric finger scanner you have the quickest and easiest way to access your gun safe in case of a home emergency requiring self defense for you and your family.

The additional perks of a biometric fingerprint scanning mechanism is that it can be programmed to read a variety of fingerprints including those of your family as well. In the past these have been at times untrustworthy and inaccurate but with advancements in technology these scanners are quickly becoming incredibly reliable. Biometric locking mechanisms are quickly coming to represent the pinnacle of avant-garde home security.

Furthermore it is possible for those seeking additional security to pair a biometric lock with a digital keypad. This allows for additional security and a wide range of customizable options. Also, biometric locks are not solely limited to fingerprint scanning but can also include retinal scanning, voice recognition, or even face recognition. For the purposes of a gun safe, fingerprint scanning is likely the quickest and most accurate of the bunch but there are many options to choose from.

Bear in mind the perks of a biometric locking mechanism when you plan to purchase your next home gun safe. The ease of access it provides could be the difference between a thwarted robbery or a dangerous situation for your family.

Military Surplus

It’s no secret that being a hobbyist gun owner can be expensive. There are tons of peripherals that seem to just add up over time and might be putting a dent in your wallet. One often overlooked way to pick up gear for cheap, however, is military surplus. This is equipment that has been retired or discarded from the army and is being sold at discount prices to the general public. This equipment may not be the top of the line but it’ll be cheap, usually fairly well made, and generally you can find tons of great stuff with lots of applicable uses. Military surplus stores can be found all across the country and here we’ll look at a few different things that you’ll likely be able find and might make for a good and cheap purchase.

Clothing

Clothing and camouflage is generally ubiquitous among military surplus stores. This means boots, hats, pants, shirts, jackets, and pretty much everything. This gear is usually cheap to purchase and generally of a ‘practical’ quality. It will be sturdy and well made but perhaps not the highest quality available. This gear is great for hunting and camping. Additionally there is a lot of tactical gear that can be bought which includes vests, belts, helmets, backpacks, gas masks, and all sorts of goodies. Check it out and you might just be surprised what you’ll find.

Survival Gear

For any survivalists out there you might want to think about becoming friends with the employees at your local military surplus store. There are tons of great options for those who are interested in preparing for the unknown catastrophes of the future. You can buy bulk emergency meal kits, medical kits, compasses, water purification systems, and all sorts of goodies that’ll come in handy in the event of a disaster. I was even able to find a radiation detector while browsing military surplus online.

Camping

Military surplus is also a great boon for all of the campers and hunters out there. You can buy tents, mosquito nets, backpacks, boots, lanterns, flashlights, camo, cots, canteens, rope, and more at most military surplus stores. Camping equipment can be quite expensive when you shop at some of the high end retailers and it really shouldn’t be when you can pick up most of the same stuff for half the price at military surplus. While it might not be name brand it will certainly get the job done.

Firearm Peripherals

Lastly, there’s lots of good gun peripherals to be bought as well. Some stores will sell ammunition though this is actually less common. More likely you will be able to find hard and soft cases, sights, grips, holsters, ammo cans, slings, and much more. Really, you never know what you’ll find but there will always be a lot to choose from. Check out military surplus next time you’re looking for a budget solution to a need for gear.

Sport Shooting

For the competitive spirits out there it might be time to check out sport shooting. If you think you’re the fastest or the most accurate shot around it might be time to really put it to the test and see if you’ve got what it takes. There are a huge number of fun sub-categories to competitive shooting so it’s likely you can find a niche for yourself and some wholesome competition. Here we’ll look at some of the basics and how to get involved in competitive shooting; it can be a great way to learn about local gun culture and firearm safety.

Shooting is a serious sport. It has been a staple of the summer olympics since its inception in 1896. The lineup has changed over time and many of the subcategories have come and gone during that time but shooting has always remained. It might not take the same athleticism as some sports but the concentration, dedication, and precision are all qualities of sport shooting that are unparalleled by other sports. Current sub-genres being practiced at the summer olympics are: 10 meter air pistol / air rifle, double trap, 50 meter pistol, 25 meter rapid fire pistol, 50 meter rifle prone, 3 position 50 meter rifle, skeet, and trap. If you’re very serious these are going to be the most important to practice.

So, how do you get started? The first step is pretty simple: learn to shoot. The basic hub for your initial foray into the world of shooting is likely going to be a local shooting range. This is where you will begin to practice shooting as well as where you can find help, clubs, teams, and like-minded individuals to help keep the competitive spirit alive. There are youth shooting clubs available in most places that will place a high emphasis on safety as well as local adult leagues where you can compete for small prizes and, of course, prestige.

While you can certainly pick much of this up as you go it also might be a good idea to get a look at some of the basic rules of sport shooting before you begin. The largest governing body for sport shooting is the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) which is where you’ll be able to find most of the basic guidelines as well as upcoming competitions and pretty much everything you need for sport shooting. It’s another great way to begin though in general it’s going to be catered towards the more serious competition while as an amateur you’ll be better off in your own local scene for some time.

So, check it out. It can be a lot of fun and a great way to instill some discipline in today’s rowdy youth. Sport shooting is highly regulated and not dangerous. All it takes to get involved is get out there and find some friends or join a club and start shooting!