Quick Quips: 5 Facts About Samuel Colt

Samuel Colt is highly regarded in the ranks of firearms designers and manufacturers. In fact, he’s one of the first people who come to mind in the firearms world. Today we’ll take a look at a few facts about him.

Samuel Colt. (Photo: Wikipedia)

1. Samuel Colt used assembly lines before Henry Ford.

In the 1850s (half a century before Henry Ford used them), Samuel Colt utilized assembly lines to make revolvers in his Hartford Connecticut factory. By 1856, Colt could produce 150 revolvers per day by using interchangeable parts. By producing so many guns per day, he was able to keep his prices down, making his weapons widely accessible to more people.

2. His idea for a revolving chamber came from a surprising source.

Colt came up with his idea for a revolving cylinder gun while on a voyage to London and Calcutta in 1830. He noticed how the ship’s wheel could spin or be locked and this fascinated him. He reasoned that a gun could be designed with a revolving chamber, and whittled a crude model using scrap wood. Upon his return, Colt enlisted the help of more experienced gunsmiths, who came up with a prototype revolver that could fire multiple rounds.

3. He was 21 when he got the patent for his revolving pistol.

In 1836, at the age of 21, he received a patent for his revolving pistol. That same year he opened his company, Colt’s Patent Arms Manufacturing Company, in New Jersey. The company enjoyed some sales in Texas and Florida, with the guns being used in the Seminole War. Unfortunately, the company closed in 1842 due to a lack of military contracts. This failure found Colt deeply in debt.

In the 1840s, Colt’s five-shot revolvers had become popular with the Texas Rangers (Colt didn’t know this at the time). Texas Ranger Captain Samuel H. Walker later wrote to Colt, “Without your pistols we would not have had the confidence to have undertaken such daring adventures.”  During the Mexican-American War in 1846, US Army soldiers who served with the Texas Rangers were impressed by the revolvers too. Together, Colt and Walker improved the design of a .44 caliber revolver, with General Zachary Taylor ordering 1,000 Colt revolvers in 1847. Needless to say, this was a major boon for Colt’s business.

4. Samuel Colt built a town and called it Coltsville.

Once his firearms business was back on its feet, Colt built a town of some 200 acres along the banks of the Connecticut River in Hartford. He named it Coltsville. It had the world’s largest private arms factory as well as a railroad depot, parks, and orchards, and the German immigrant workers lived in replica Swiss cottages. He gave his workers one-hour lunch breaks and a 10-hour workday.

 5. He never got to hold the “Peacemaker.”

The Colt .45 Single Action Army, also known as the “Peacemaker”, was the standard service revolver between 1873 and 1892. Unfortunately, Colt died in 1862 and he never actually got to hold the Peacemaker.

Colt Single Action Army revolvers aka Peacemaker
A few examples of the Colt Single Action Army, aka the Peacemaker. (Photo: American Handgunner)
Jim Davis served in the PA Dept. of Corrections for 16 ½ years as a corrections officer in the State Correctional Institute at Graterford and later at SCI Phoenix. He served on the Corrections Emergency Response Team (CERT), several of those years as a sniper, and also the Fire Emergency Response Team (FERT). For 25 years, he was a professional instructor, teaching topics including Defensive Tactics, Riot Control and Tactical Operations, Immediate Responder, and cognitive programs as an adjunct instructor at the DOC Training Academy. He was then promoted to the title of corrections counselor, where he ran a caseload and facilitated cognitive therapy classes to inmates. His total service time was close to 29 years. He was involved in many violent encounters on duty, including incidents of fatalities.

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