Skip to main content Skip to Search Box
Summary Article: Colt, Samuel
from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

US gunsmith who in 1835 invented the revolver that bears his name. With its rotating cylinder which turned, locked, and unlocked by cocking the hammer, the Colt was superior to other revolving pistols, and it revolutionized military tactics.

Mass production for war Colt built a large factory in Hartford, Connecticut in 1854. He introduced mass-production techniques, and his weapons had interchangeable parts, making them easy to maintain and repair. During the Crimean War 1853–56 he also manufactured arms in Pimlico, London. By 1855 he had the largest private armoury in the world. When the American Civil War broke out in 1861, he supplied thousands of guns to the US government.

Early life Colt, born in Hartford, Connecticut, made up his mind as a boy to become an inventor. One of his discoveries was how to fire gunpowder using an electric current. After a public demonstration at a mine, which covered all the spectators with mud, he was sent off to Amherst Academy. As a result of a fire caused by another of his experiments, he was asked to leave there as well. He then became apprenticed as a sailor. Watching the helm during a voyage 1830, Colt noticed that whichever way the wheel turned, each of its spokes always lined up with a clutch that locked it into position. He realized that this mechanism could be applied to a firearm.

New firearms By 1835, Colt had perfected his revolver and patented it. In 1836 he set up a company in Paterson, New Jersey, where he produced a five-shot revolver and rifles and shotguns based on the same revolving principle. These models were revolutionary, yet unreliable, and Colt's company failed 1842. But in 1846, the Mexican-American War broke out and, with a big government order, Colt was back in business. The pioneers, then starting to open up the West, soon adopted the Colt to use against American Indians and wildlife.



© RM, 2018. All rights reserved.

Related Articles

Full text Article Colt, Samuel
Encyclopedia of the History of American Management

(1814–62) Samuel Colt was born in Hartford, Connecticut on 19 July 1814, the son of Christopher and Sarah Colt. He died in Hartford on 10...

See more from Credo